Tuesday, April 09, 2013

DOWN MEXICO WAY



Chef Salvador Vasquez would put many celeb chefs to shame. As the visiting guest chef for InterContinental KL's Mexican Fiesta promotion (from now until April 15), the extrovert chap thoroughly charmed everyone with his candid remarks and funny antics during his brief food demo. But when it comes to cooking and food, his heart is definitely in the right place and his passion is as fiery as the Mexican chilli peppers he cooks with!
 
Madam Lourdes (pix above) from the Embassy of Mexico was as pleased as punch by the great turn-out at the opening night of the Mexican Fiesta. 
"Mexico has long been recognised for its natural beauty and traditions that reflect centuries of history and cultural legacy," she said. "In 2010 the UNESCO committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage even included Mexican cuisine into the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - a great honour for the country's food heritage."
Famous for its distinctive ingredients and incredible diversity, Mexican cuisine is currently served at the Serena Brasserie throughout the promotional period. Chefs Salvador Vasquez and Tania Gonzales from Presidente InterContinental Mexico were flown in specially by KLM to prepare the plethora of Mexican delicacies that are guaranteed to set tastebuds tingling.
Chilled glasses of Sangria and baskets of Guacamole con Totopos (tortilla chips with guacamole dip) were served the minute we were seated followed by more palate teasers in the form of mini sliders . What an invigorating way to kick off our Mexican feast!
 

There were several outstanding dishes from the buffet that night. A top fave of mine was the Barbacoa de Cordero de Hidalgo - superbly tender lamb that's barbecued covered in banana leaves then sliced and served with a smokey sauce that hinted of chilli pepper and spices. Another hearty speciality is Salpicon de res La Mexicana (meat strips Mexican-style). I recommend you pair the meat with some Arroz a La Mexicana (Mexican rice) and Ensalada de Nopales (Cactus Salad).
Other gems that had us going for seconds are Camarones al Pasilla y Guayaba (plump, succulent shrimp in chilli guava sauce), Chicken Poblano with Chocolate, Chile and Ancho Sauce (unforgettable slightly bitter chocolate hints discernible in the dark, tasty gravy) and Fish Veracruz (red snapper laced with piquant, tangy sauce).
Good things come to those who wait and boy, the queue was never ending at the counter where the scrumptious Quesadillas y Tortillas Calientes (corn tortillas with assorted fillings) are cooked on the spot. Yup, I daresay they went like hot cakes!
Then it was showtime by Chef Vasquez who regaled us with his cactus salad-making skills. It's a traditional staple in Mexico where the plant grows in abundance. For the salad, it's dethorned, cut into thick batons and marinated in salt for a little while. Then the cactus is mixed with tomato strips, sliced onion and some coriander. The resultant texture is similar to that of softened French beans with a mild gummy aftertaste.
 
The proverbial icing on our dinner 'cake' was a wide variety of renowned Mexican dessert such as Flan al Caramelo (creme caramel), Churros (deep-fried pastry fritters), Arroz Con Leche (rice pudding), Berlinesa (friedpuffy Mexican dough balls), corn tarts and luscious Mexican candies. 


The Mexican Fiesta is served for lunch and dinner priced at RM82++ per person (lunch) and RM98++ per person dinner). For reservations, call Serena Brasserie, InterContinental KL. Tel: 03 2782 6228 



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