The continuation of Chef Lamberto Valdez’ wonderful interpretations of Mexican cuisine keeps getting better and better. On the last post – Viva Mexico! – A Mexican Cuisine Extravaganza by Chef Lamberto Valdez (Part 1) – I wrote about the chef and his colorful openers consisted of guacamole, ceviche, and the Aztecs traditional soup. So without further due, let’s get on with the main course!
Well, entering the main course, I have to admit that I had no clue at all about it. For me (and many people, I bet), Mexican food is all about guacamole, tacos, quesadillas, or even Tex-Mex stuffs have always been thought as pure representation of Mexico. Now, after this encounter, I realize that Mexican cuisine is more than that and Chef Valdez taught us all about it eloquently.
We started with crepes filled with lobster meat. While that may not be Mexican, but Chef Valdez actually wanted us to know about their proud tradition in making mole sauce as the accompaniment of the crepes. The making of this signature sauce is often made into competition back in Mexico and it’s a complex process by using a lot of ingredients while also took a long time. Well, it kind of reminds me of Minangnese does it with its dishes but of course, this one’s different.
Mole may use up to 25 – 30 ingredients and that involves cacao and dried chilies. The result after 5 hours of painstaking process, it’s not only silky and savory but has that sweet, thick elements came from cacao. It’s just fascinating, especially when you know that it may be originated since thousands of years ago back in the times of Aztecs or Mayans and it uses chocolate, a native ingredient unknown to many parts of the world back then. You really have to imagine it combined with the crepes filled with Canadian lobsters, arugula, and feta cheese. Mamma mia!
Next we have the Carne Asada, or the hanger steak grilled to medium degree a la Mexico! First, the meat has to be marinated first using sauce made from garlic, onions, and other traditional herbs, making it a tad more acidic. After grilled, the steak then served with a green sauce or what they call as ‘poblano’ – a mixture of green bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro. The accompaniment was a well-presented mashed sweet cassava, garnished with cherry tomatoes and Guajillo chilies. Needless to say, it was the ultimate part of the whole deal!
Let’s head next for the grilled shrimps with chipotle sauce over fried rice. While that may sound simple, the process of making the fried rice was actually a bit complex. Chef Valdez told us that he had to do several procedures to make the fried rice right. First he had to make the rice green (I feel like Mexicans really love green color after all as seen from their national flag) by mixing them with cilantro, parsley, poblano sauce, jalapeno, and chicken stock. Then to reach the desired size, which is relatively bigger than our normal rice, he had to gone through frying and steaming first before served. Well well, it’s interesting as well as delicious. So you got the whole Mexican style by just having this dish – the poblano, jalapeno, and chipotle. Rich!
The last bastion of the main course came from the red snapper done in Veracruz style, the coastal old town where the Spanish first colonized Central America. That’s also the very reason why this dish has a Spanish influence as seen from the red rice. The huachinango or red snapper was seared lightly and drown in style with Hass avocado puree which was really delicious, topped with black olives, green olives, and capers. These gave the snapper a complex flavor of buttery thickness came from avocado puree, unique flavors from olives and capers, and the juicy salmon as the main star. The Spanish part came with the red rice, fried with tomato sauce for the color. Majestic!
As for the closure, this talented chef who’s also excelled in English and French, presented us with both Chocoflan and the eclectic chewy Churros with caramel sauce and jackfruit compote. What a way to finish the lovely lunch and although I really wanted to stay a bit longer, it was already almost 5 pm and gotta rush back home to beat the traffic!
Well, Chef Valdez presented us with what I call as a brilliant way to promote his country’s tourism. Back then I had a jealousy over a friend who had her time enjoying Yucatan beach or at how people adore Acapulco and so on, but now I have more confidence to really travel there one day and discover more than just Tex-Mex.
Thank you Chef Valdez, until I see you someday soon at Westin Ubud!