Many people have told me that they love visiting Mexico. Though it sounds wonderful and the people are so friendly, I’d never placed it high on my ‘to visit’ list until I had a sampling of the lively flavours of Mexico at the Canadian Beef Experience Tapas event at the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence (CBCE). I was blessed to be included among 24 Calgary based influencers invited to this delicious event.
The Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence is the headquarters for Canadian Beef and serves as an important catalyst between the Canadian beef industry and the rest of the world. The centre allows them to showcase Canadian Beef farmers and to host, educate, and train global consumers under one roof. Recently eight of Mexico’s top chefs came to Calgary to learn more about our Canadian beef industry. They spent a week or so touring local farms and beef processing centres, then had the opportunity to cook with some of the best Canadian beef available. The flavours and techniques they used while creating the Mexican ‘Tapas’ showcased Canadian Beef in the most wonderful ways.
Team 1 – Chefs Jonatan Gomez Luna and Fernanda Silva. Chef Gomez Luna and Silva worked seamlessly together to create an Inverted Tostada which was presented upon a rich mole and topped with pickled red onions, radish, and onion ash. The ‘wedge cut’ of beef that they used was a small cut near the rib area which they marinated, then cooked sous vide for 20 hours. The results were ultra tender beef that melted in my mouth. I would give anything to learn how to make that mole!
Team 2 – Chefs Patric Cros and Alexis Bostelmann used braised chuck flat (Montreal steak) to create this tapas based on sopes, a popular Mexican street food. Besides the chuck flat, they made tiny beef chorizo-style meatballs with Saskatoon berries and a hibiscus morita sauce. All those flavours went really well with the little sip of mezcal provided. Team 3 – Chefs Federico Lopez and Javier Plascencia were quite ambitious with their tapas, using two different cuts of beef and two separate tapas. The first was a small tostada that was literally a party in my mouth when I ate it.
There were so many amazing flavours in that carpaccio style petit filet. I loved the burned onions and garlic, jalapeño powder, and especially the pickled puréed blackened onions aioli with a burned radish relish. All these smoky flavours were highlighted with the finishing touches of mint, lemon & jalapeño with shaved toasted hazelnuts to finish.
The second tostada from Team 3 was marinated & grilled tri tip with cucumber, scallions, red onion, cilantro, & lemon. Again, it was a lively mouthful…especially heightened by the little slices of hot peppers used to finish the tostada.
Team 4 – Chefs Josephina santa Cruz and Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain really knocked it out of the park with their Mexican twist on Vietnamese Banh Mi. They braised, then shaved some chuck flat and served it marinated in soy sauce, star anise, pineapple juice and fish sauce. It was wonderful with the traditional pickled carrots, cucumbers, onions, and cilantro.