Boozy Barrels

For the love of oak, that tastes good! 

Aging wine in oak barrels simply makes wine more palatable for the consumer. If your mouth starts to water just thinking about a buttery Chardonnay with flavors like shortbread and vanilla, that flavor is oak's influence on your wine of choice. Cool, huh?

I needed a birthday gift last week for my boyfriend who loves a good Old Fashioned and is mostly indifferent to wine. I know, who is indifferent to wine? Well, he is and I definitely am all for everything involving any kind of wine. So, on a recent trip to my local Vons (let me qualify--it was in Scripps Ranch because the one near my house on Adams Avenue has one aisle of wine and never has what you're looking for), I discovered bourbon and whiskey barrel-aged red wine.  

Interesting, I thought, what flavors does this aging process impart? Would whiskey lovers pick up tasting notes they also find tasty in whiskey/bourbon?

Wait, I don't even know much about barrel-aging wine! I work at a restaurant called The Barrel Room, for goodness' sake. So I got to it already and did some investigating into the history of barrels and their impact on the wine making process.

Origins

Clay pots and amphorae are some of the first methods used in wine storage during ancient Greek and Roman times. Clay-based vessels predate wooden containers for storage of wine. During the late 2600 BC in Egypt, straight-sided, open wooden buckets that employed the craft of the cooper were documented. Fully-closed barrels were first developed during the Iron Age (800-900 BC) for holding wine, beer, water, milk, and olive oil. Trade and transportation encouraged shippers to use only sealed wooden containers (fragile clay vessels were not ideal) so then the craft of cooperage was launched. 

Advantages of Barrel-Aging

Subtle flavors are imparted to the wine as it ages in the barrel. A barrel essentially does two things:

  1. It allows a very slow introduction of oxygen into the wine.
  2. Certain characteristics of the wood are imparted into the wine (vanilla).

For red wines, controlled oxidation takes place during barrel aging. This gradual oxidation results in decreased astringency and increased color and stability. Fruit aromas evolve into more complex ones. By utilizing a program of topping the wine (filling up the barrel) while it is in the barrel and then racking the wine, these beneficial effects occur over a period of many months.

Oak wood is composed of several classes of complex chemical compounds, each of which contributes its own flavor or textural notes to both red and white wines. The most familiar flavor of these are vanilla flavors, sweet and toasty aromas, notes of tea and tobacco, and an overall structured complexity of tannin that mingles with the tannin from the fruit itself (in the case of red wines).

The specific compounds creating these delightful nuances in the finished wine are:

  • Volatile phenols (cool band name, eh?) containing vanillin
  • Carbohydrate degradation products containing furfural, a component yielding a sweet and toasty aroma
  • "Oak" lactones imparting a woody aroma
  • Terpenes to provide "tea" and "tobacco" notes
  • Hydrolysable tannins, which are important to the relative atringency or "mouth-feel" of the wine.

Aging Wine Before Bottling

After fermentation, wine is racked several times to remove the bigger solids. Young wines can be rough on the palate. Youthful wine is raw and "green", which needs to settle for some time before consumption. This process can be done in neutral containers like stainless steel, cement vats, older casks, etc. or in smaller and newer wood barrels, which are not neutral-tasting but will influence the developing wine.

Well, I hope you have learned a little bit about the barrel-aging process now that you've read this info! This was a fun one and further encouraged me to explore the world of wine. It's scientific, it's interesting, and it's freaking delicious!

 

 

Wine for Fun

And just like that we have moved onto February 2017. Geez, time flies!

Our team just celebrated 2016 with our holiday party and it made me think: each shift we work as a team, we juggle knowledge about wine, serving guests, and knowing the world of food all at the same time. It can seem like a whirlwind for even the most experienced team member but alas, those shifts are the ones we especially enjoy that glass of wine once we clock out. 

This post is going to be as random as they come but I wanted this first post of February to come at you with quotes about wine, enticing pictures, and organized charts delving into all aspects of how wine exists.

February is the month of love, a feeling that only grows within myself each time I learn something new about wine. Hopefully some of this entertaining info makes you fall deeper in love with wine as well or perhaps appreciate it for exactly what it is.

So take it all in and embrace the wonderful weirdness of wine!

“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” 
― Paulo Coelho
“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”
― Rumi, circa 1200’s
 
“A gourmet meal without a glass of wine just seems tragic to me somehow.”
― Kathy Mattea
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” 
― Ernest Hemingway
winemakingimage.jpg

How the heck do you make wine?! Let's find out!

Modernized Wine

Images of rolling hills filled with succulent vines, rustic tasting rooms, and open land come to mind when imagining a traditional vineyard. 

That's a shot I took myself on a visit to Ponte Winery in Temecula Valley. While I do enjoy making the trip up to Temecula, I was stoked to find out that there is a modern take on wine making and it's #trending. 

Here I am at Daou Winery and Tasting Room in Paso Robles after completing a 4-night 5-day, 38-mile backpacking journey in King's Canyon National Park. It was an incredibly beautiful tasting room, enveloped in marble counter tops and set high on a peak that overlooks all of Paso Robles. We loved the wines we tasted there (as you can see on my face).

Urban wineries, in contrast to traditional wineries, are very hip and modernized, located in the city rather than the country. In my neighborhood (Adams Avenue / North Park area) there are two that have popped up and being a wino, I've always wondered what Urban Wineries are all about. 

There is a lot of freedom in urban wine making. Depending on what varietal they want to work with in a given year, urban wine makers have the option to transport that specific grape from the succulent region they were grown to their urban facility for the wine making process. Urban wineries allow winemakers to essentially go grocery shopping for the ideal grape.

I looked up Negociant Winery in North Park and was amazed by the varietals they made wines with, some of which I hadn't heard of and others like Zinfandel, which I know and love. 

Ripe fruit is taken from vineyards and then carted off to an urban setting for the crushing, fermentation, and aging processes, making it easier for wine lovers like me to taste wines without the commute. Where do the grapes come from you ask?

Urban Winemakers do not grow their own grapes--rather, they are sourced from established vineyards, larger ones that grow for mass production, and grow enough to sell their fruit by the ton to other winemakers. Even grape farmers who grow the fruit but don't make wine will sell to urban wine makers. 

In San Diego, there are 12 urban wineries. You can scope the details about all of them here: http://sdurbanwineries.com/sduw-map/ 

This approach to tasting wine is a nice middle ground between making the trip to Temecula to get the whole vineyard/tasting experience and shuffling to the grocery store in sweats to buy a nice bottle of vino for a night in.

Written by: Sara Cortez

Wine Wisdom

Feel empowered this holiday season knowing you have these 10 interesting facts in your back pocket to counter your know-it-all Aunt who went to Italy for a week and now acts like she's a Master Sommelier. Put Auntie in her place AND feel good knowing you're that much closer to entering the new year more smarter than the last. Knowledge is power! 

Wine fact #1. The custom of hitting glasses together with a “cheers” greeting dates back to old Rome, where people enjoying wine together could also get poisoned together. Bumping glasses made wine spill from one to the other,  ensuring that there wasn't any poisoning going on. Seriously...this tradition started even earlier in ancient Greece where the party's host customarily had to take the first swig and swallow to show his guests that he didn't intend to poison them. Things could get messy clanking glasses and spilling potentially poisonous wine but at least you could have the peace of mind knowing at least you weren't the only one getting poisoned.

Wine fact #2. When in Rome takes on a very different meaning for this fact: In ancient Rome, it was forbidden by law for women to drink wine. If a Roman man caught his damsel drinking wine, he would be legally allowed to kill her. Good thing we live in the 21st century in America, my female friends. Denying a woman her wine nowadays could end very badly for the forbidding male. I know I would get myself in a serious battle with my man if he tried telling me I wasn't allowed to drink my wine. 

Wine fact #3. The old kings of Egypt, however, avoided wine entirely because they believed that the red alcoholic beverage was actually the blood of men who attempted to fight the gods and failed. Thank goodness for science and debunking myths! Egyptians were, however, all about their version of beer rather than wine, brewing a sweet, thick, and low-alcohol drink consumed for nutritional value over getting a buzz.

Wine fact #4. Are you a wino and also a crazy person? If you visit Vietnam, go ahead and ask your waiter for a glass of cobra wine. Venomous snakes aren't preserved for their meat but for their venom, which is dissolved in the liquor. Venom is not a threat to the drinker here because its proteins are unfolded and therefore made inactive by the ethanol and would also be denatured by stomach acid anyway. If venom isn't your thing, try the cobra wine--made using the body fluids mixed with wine and consumed immediately in the form of a shot. Snake blood wine is prepared by slicing a snake along its belly and draining its blood directly into the drinking vessel filled with rice wine or grain alcohol. Let's take a bloody shot, mate! 

Wine fact #5. During prohibition in the United States, grape juice concentrate manufacturers took advantage of the lust Americans had for drinking alcohol and decided to slap a clever warning label on their grape juice products saying, “After you mix the concentrate with water, please do not keep the mix in a barrel for 20 days – as it will turn into wine.” Think it might take a bit more than just placing grape juice and water in a barrel but what do I know?!

Wine fact #6. The world champion of recognizing wine by smell is Richard Juhlin, a Swedish Champagne writer, who correctly named 43 out of 50 champagnes in Paris at the annual Spectacle du Monde tasting in 2003. For comparison, the second place winner was only able to recognize 4 of them. Juhlin also earned the title of holding the record in tasted champagnes since 1998 (currently, he has tried more than 8,500 different champagnes). This guy really nose his wine!

Wine fact #7. Although most of us cook with wine (maybe spare a splash in the actual food being prepared) it is best not to keep your wine in the kitchen. There is too much heat which could damage the wine’s quality. Don't keep your wine chillin' in the fridge either (unless it's a white wine)--just too darn cold in there. Find a cool, dark closet somewhere in the house where you can keep all your bottles. Hopefully the skeletons in there don't drink all your stash.

Wine fact #8. If you own a collection of bottles, don’t age or store them standing upright--this can cause the cork to dry out, potentially shrinking and allowing oxygen/air to get in the bottle. Always keep wine bottles lying down on their side (unless it has an artificial cork or screw-cap).

Wine fact #9. A survey in Australia produced results which showed that women who drink 2 glasses of wine a day tend to enjoy sex more than women who do not drink at all. Bet those Romans are kicking themselves for sure now!

Wine fact #10. People who have wine phobia are called Oenophobia. It might sound funny, but this phobia, just like others, cause the victim a lot of suffering, especially if they go out to restaurants a lot. The most common reason why people fear wine is because it contains alcohol, which is a toxin that could cause unpleasant effects. People suffering from methyphobia (fear of alcohol) would fear wine and beer (zythophobia). Sufferers would not drink wine themselves and avoid people who are drinking wine because they worry that drinking wine may make them act unpleasantly towards them. 

Fear not, friend. Wine production is only advancing right now, and we are here to enjoy every last drop of modern viticulture. 

Written by: Sara Cortez

 

 

Strike the Match

Sip, savor, enjoy. Food pairing is the wonderful practice of finding harmonious pairings by evaluating flavor, texture, aroma, and intensity. 

Pairing wine with food can be broken down into two categories:

Congruent vs. Complimentary.

Congruent pairings share compounds whose fusion results in a more intense flavor profile due to similarities in flavor notes.

Complementary pairings counteract each other displaying opposite compounds resulting in a balanced-out effect when combined.

Here are a few tips for pairing this with that:

Acidic Food: 

If what you're eating is acidic and puckers your inner cheek, avoid drinking a wine that's low on the acidity scale. Wines with high acidity will shine here but ones with lower acidity will taste flat. Combine higher-acidity foods with equally-acidic wines because no one wants a wine they'd describe as flat. Ew.

Pungent Food: 

Some cheeses out there are darn right stinky. Accompanied by a powerful flavor, Gorgonzola is a cheese that begs to be dancing with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah on the taste buds. Even a Zinfandel with fruit-forward qualities would be a great match.

Rich Food: 

We gotta get a palate cleanser up in here for this dish. Red, red, tannic red is the go-to in this case, providing just the right amount of dry taste and texture you'll definitely be craving. Fat content in some cheeses and meats (or even avocados) coat the mouth, inviting a scrumptious Cabernet Franc to slim things down.

Bitter Food:

Think of that bitter-tasting and gritty texture identifiable in cooked spinach. Same thing as tannins in red wine! Foods in this category tend to magnify the bitter taste of tannins so choose a sweet wine with little to no tannins.   

Spicy Food:

Reel in that Riesling! I adore spicy stuff and once I discovered how delicious a cold Riesling tastes with some fiery Indian Curry, I decided it was my favorite flavor combo. Milk is a close second when the heat gets real. 

Sweet Food:

This is the best news I've heard all day...DOUBLE SWEETS! If it's sugary, get to poppin' a varietal that has honey characteristics, like a Roussane, Chenin Blanc, or Muscat.

Sometimes it's nice to be intentional with your wine consumption but I, too, have paired Hot Cheetos with Meiomi. These are simple suggestions in case you do decide to plan some pairings out.

If you're like me, it's a plan for me, myself, and I because just in case it's as disastrous as my decision to have an entire bottle of Rosé with chocolate chip cookies and pizza, let's say there aren't any hard rules in pairings--taste, decide, indulge. Wine does not judge. 

Which Wine Are You?

You find out a lot about people when you go out for drinks. There are those that go for pricey cocktails with half a shot of alcohol and lots of interesting ingredients while others drink craft beer and craft beer ONLY. Some sip on scotchety scotch scotch.

 

Who else is with me when I say that wine is my preferred beverage of choice?

Now, use your judgment here and if you're at a dive bar, the wine may be as gross as the restroom around midnight, and you're probably better off with a mixed drink.

You can't help but judge your friend that gets ugly when they have whiskey yet give them a few glasses of Riesling instead and they're fun-loving and hilarious. So, is there a correlation between your go-to varietal and who you are? 

Chardonnay drinkers, say hey! This varietal is not-so-subtle and neither is the personality of those that adore this golden-hued wine. When you're out with someone who orders a Chardonnay without looking at the menu, know that they will want to share their crazy stories or analysis of the social scene. These die-hard Chard lovers are just as bold as the varietal they adore. 

Rosé is one of my personal favorite wines and I enjoy it because I am one to really enjoy being different. Red and white are the main categories everyone knows about but what about some pink drink? Rosé can be dry, sweet, subtle, and versatile and from my experience is also delicious as a sparkling variation. This varietal is for those that reject the notion that this is only a red-and-white world!

Zinfandel is zippy and bold but also a crowd-pleaser. Those that sip on this varietal embrace edginess without being overbearing. When out with a Zin drinker, do something slightly sinful yet tasteful and enjoy the vibes they put off. Adventurous yet refined, people that go for Zinfandel are bound to be adaptable and interesting. 

Sauvignon Blanc drinkers know and enjoy complexity and focus. When your friend orders a Sauv Blanc, be sure to ask them how they feel and think about the topics you cover in conversation. Loudness is a characteristic that just does not flow with a Sauvignon Blanc fan, so keep things concise and intellectual. 

Riesling has wiggled its way into my preferences and it is lovely. Probably not the lowest calorie wine, it pleases the palate initially then provides a lingering dryness after the first sip. Sweet and tart, Riesling just wants to have fun, and so does their fan club. These taste buds prefer candies with fruity qualities over rich chocolate sweets.  

Finally, an ode to the most treasured thing that has BUBBLES. Champagne for everyone, darling. What better way to enjoy getting a buzz than a flute of sparkling something? Universally revered, and that's just the way you like things to be. If you pop bottles on the reg, you're definitely more comfortable around others. I say, I'll drink champs regardless--Netflix and chilled bubbly? Sign me up! 

Whatever your preferred wine reveals about your personality is based on research from a wino so take this with a grain of salt and stick to your guns (or grapes).

Drink to enjoy, as always. Try something new or never change. Wine doesn't judge. 

Pairing Notes with Notes

"Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence."

Rhythmic beats, luxurious wine, delicious food. That's what you'll experience at our upcoming wine dinner we are calling, "The Sound (and Taste) of Music." Chef Gerardo's wife-to-be, Kenya, just so happens to also be an incredibly talented singer who will be performing at the dinner accompanied by her friends and fellow musicians from Mexico. After a year of performing in a live Jazz band directed by the renowned Jerry Lopez, she started her own project called, "Reverb", in which she has recorded some killer ballads. Her approach to singing is simple:

"Singing is a responsibility much more than it is about being admired and rewarded. It's about asking myself, 'how can I serve through my art and what can I do to support my community?'"

Gerardo reached out to local drum maker and King Drums workshop owner, Alex Vasquez, whose drums are designed with passion and creativity. https://www.facebook.com/kingdrumsco/ 

See the product of his incredible craft when you check out this wine dinner, since he's the one providing the drum kit for the musicians. Look for the catchy KING emblem on that drummer's instrument when the snare rolls and the beat hits. 

You will be greeted by a slow-tempo Latin style of song called Bolero as you sip an Albariño, a crisp and refreshing white wine. According to the first wine guide website to come up on my Google search, the classic dish to pair with Albariño is pulpo, or octopus. Bite into Grilled Octopus with Baby Corn, Roasted Potatoes, and Seaweed and the first course of the sensory symphony concludes. 

Next, auditory awesomeness continues when you hear the theatrical sounds common in musicals. Think The Sound of Music. What's art without something sparkly in-hand? Dull and boring. We know this, so your second course will start with the always upbeat and bubbly Roederer Estate Sparkling Rose. Floral strawberry and sugar cookie aromas dance on the nose, lightening up complex flavors in the BBQ Prawns that were just placed in front of you. 

Third course will keep you listening, tasting, and loving life--this is when Pork and Pinot unite in perfect harmony. Generally, Pinot Noir exhibits ruby colors in the glass, provides mouthwatering acidity, and exhibits tea-like tannins supported by a silky mouth-feel. Pinot Noir is a wonderful wine to pair with a wide variety of food because of its bright acidity, complexity, and rich fruit character. It is one of the few varietals that pairs well with a delicate poached salmon or a complex pork roast. This course features a classic Italian pork roast called Porchetta which will be paired with an earthy and famously-funky varietal: Pinot Noir. Funk music brings a strong rhythmic groove to the party that perfectly compliments the Pinot in your glass. Why can't every concert taste this good?  

Ah, yes. Blues. Soulful sounds move smoothly to your ear and that sip of Merlot just got more velvety than usual. Four courses in and your taste buds are prepped for some game. Elk is the name of the game and it's jammin' with flavors of black cherry and cocoa nibs. It's around this time during the dinner that you feel you have been sufficiently serenaded, but like any great performance, there is indeed an encore.

Melodic Bossa Nova from Brazil is based on samba music with less percussion. Enticing yet comforting, you are relaxed by the Latin tunes as 20-year Port fills your glass. Scoop up some coconut ice cream and dig into the buttery Brazil Nut Tart, and you find yourself cheering from the inside out. All of these sights, sounds, sips, and spoonfuls come together to leave you fully entertained. Each musician played their art just for you, both chefs shared their creativity through the dishes cooked just for you, and each winery hydrated you with the stomped fruits of their labor.

Make like a metronome and let's count you in!

To purchase tickets for The Sound (and Taste) of Music wine dinner, go to the Events tab. Check there for information about all of our future events and wine dinners.

Written by: Sara Cortez

Who's Cookin'?

Mention the word chef and images of made-famous-by-T.V. chefs like Gordon Ramsay scolding some poor soul in Hell's Kitchen, or bleach-blonde Guy Fieri "rollin'out", maybe even Paula Deen with her Southern twang and heavy use of butter come to mind. Hey, if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen. Our chefs at TBR can definitely handle the heat which was confirmed when I brought whole fried habaneros to work and Chef Gerardo Martinez devoured all four. Chef Trevor Chappell is no amateur with handling heat either--when Urge had their 6th Anniversary, Urge's Executive Chef Chuy created a hot sauce made from Carolina Reapers (no big deal just the world's HOTTEST pepper) and Trevor threw back those torturous wings like it ain't no thang

Both Chefs at The Barrel Room can certainly devour some seriously spicy food but the metaphorical heat they deal with on a daily basis comes from the pressure to create new and enticing specials, holding down the kitchen when the restaurant is at capacity, and overseeing each dish as it is prepared and plated before the guest takes the first bite. 

Let's get to know them both a little better:

Trevor’s passion for cooking started at a very young age on the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay. Growing up in a family of food and wine lovers, he was consistently surrounded by wonderful tastes and smells. His older sister is a pastry chef and his parents are both great cooks and wine connoisseurs. Holidays at this household are no joke.

When he gets a chance to step out of the kitchen, Trevor jumps on any opportunity to be outdoors. Whether its hiking, camping, paddle boarding, mountain biking, or snowboarding, he is always looking for a new adventure. His passion for traveling has led him to Europe multiple times where he immersed himself in the cultures and cuisines of many countries. You can see his passion for European cuisine through his cooking.

How do you get your inspiration?
A lot of it comes from my daily interactions and experiences with my peers, friends or family. Traveling and dining around the world has given me many different experiences, and inspirations to go along with them. Reading cook books and sharing photos of food on social media are also big influences.
Do you have a favorite wine?
It’s impossible for me to pick a single wine. One of the greatest things about wine is how diverse it can be and that there is always something new to try. I really enjoy trying new varietals or regions. However, my two favorite varietals are Pinot Noir and Syrah. 
Where did you grow up?
San Diego, right down the street from TBR.
Name some of your top spots to grub in San Diego.
Ironside Fish & Oyster, Jake’s Del Mar, Bracero, Tiger!Tiger!, Cucina Urbana, and Nine Ten are some of my favorites.
Are there any foods you don’t really care for?
Fast foods and highly processed or imitation foods. Besides that, I like almost everything.
What do you love most about being a chef?
Making people happy through my expression of food. That feeling you get after working all day and night, feeding hundreds of guests, and hearing about their experience with a smile on their face. Seeing the immediate effects of all your hard work, it’s hard to explain that feeling, but there is nothing quite like it.
Was there someone in particular that inspired you to pursue a career in culinary arts?
My passion for culinary arts streamed from my family, particularly my Grandmother. She was an amazing cook.
What has been your greatest challenge while on the path to becoming an Executive Chef?
My greatest challenges have been juggling my time for family, learning to let go, and not stressing the little things. Early in my career I struggled a lot with taking everything too personally. Being a Chef can be very demanding, but also very rewarding. The challenges along the way, only make the reward that much sweeter at the end of the day.

Gerardo's passion for food started at age 12 when he was working at his father's taquería in Sinaloa, México. He fell in love with the way he could please people and draw smiles just by serving them a good taco (seriously, who DOESN'T love tacos?). He drew from this passion for customer service and decided to study culinary arts in Tijuana. Now, he is in the process of attaining a Master's Degree in Mexican Cuisines. Charcuterie is another passion that drives his cooking style at TBR--he runs a charcuterie program that expresses the seasonality and local meats. He loves to eat more than he loves to cook and enjoys listening to and playing jazz music, especially the drums. He values the ancient roots of food and seeks to explore where certain ingredients originated from and how they were used in the past. Traveling, mastering various cooking techniques from different cultures around the world carrying only his backpack, chef knife, notebook, and a camera; THAT is the ideal vacation for G. 

Favorite kitchen equipment or tool?
My knives. I think a knife tells a lot about a Chef, the way you maintain it, sharpen it, your knife preferences, it really describes a chef's style of cooking and finesse. Another tool is the meat grinder, it is really a love-hate relationship. Charcuterie is a passion that I discovered a couple years ago while working with Chef Joe Magnanelli from "Urban Kitchen Group". After emulating some recipes from cookbooks, I really found in charcuterie a "therapy" of some sort that both helps me with my creative processes and challenges me to experiment more with meat curing techniques.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
If I was to label the way I cook based on a country, I would call it Mexican. If I'm describing the way I cook based on a philosophy, it would be "down to earth". I like to cook with what I have in hand; really, the only one who should decide what we cook with should be the land. Seasons give and take away, and I like to cook as "naturally" as I can. If I'm in San Diego, seafood is the answer and small farmers dictate what to put in the pan. If I'm in Chicago, it might not be wise to get shrimp from Mazatlán but there is amazing trout or some other fish or produce for options. This way, I believe that we grow more as individuals by acknowledging that there is a limitation that is called "time and place". This helps us consider more things, like the culture where the product is transformed, the traditions and so many things that employ the utilization of a single product in a specific place within a specific time.
What are some of your favorite foods to cook with?
Mexican ingredients, the unknown ones. For example, there are more than 120 varieties of corn just in the state of Tlaxcala, the smallest state in México! I love to get a hold of them and start studying them and how they differentiate from the other ones. Fruits too, there are some interesting kinds of fruit like mamey, the sapotaceae family, just so many "treasures" that we have and still are unknown to outsiders.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for a week, where would it be and why?
Right now, it would be Chiapas, because it is a state that I feel attracted to for multiple reasons. One, because it hosted many European settlements in the nineteenth century, so they have a very interesting charcuterie culture that is heavily influenced with ingredients native to that state. Also because of its biodiversity and its views, it is a paradise of mountains, amazing flora and fauna. Chiapas is a state that I would love to experience deeper.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I see myself running a restaurant and getting more involved in social matters. My first passion is to serve, then to cook, so serving is a milestone in my life and I feel that I need to get more involved in giving back. It might not be through just charity events but I would love to somehow figure out how to use the platform that I'm on right now to help people and communities that are in need. The cacao producers in México for example, in the last century, were "contaminated" with a purple variety of cacao trees, so the quality of the produce from the tree is very low. There must be a way to support the small farmers to start growing better cacao trees so we can recover the native quality of this amazing product.
It’s the end of world as we know it. What would be your “last supper”?
Tacos de buche, Oh yes! I would just love to be at a taco stand with carnitas, suadero, al pastor, birria, and longaniza, and call it a day. Nothing else.

Do you like In-N-Out? What's your go-to order?
I mean, who doesn't? I would call it one of my guilty pleasures. Cheeseburger animal style, extra yellow peppers.
Your sweet tooth is needy. What is your go-to sweet snack?
Coffee. I don't really have a particular sweet snack that I like. If I want something sweet, I look for beverages. The salted maple latte from Dark Horse Coffee is a go-to sweet snack for me.
 

Written by: Sara Cortez