Broken Spanish Pre-Tacolandia Night of Modern Mexican Cuisine
Tacolandia 2015 is upon us! For those not in the know, Tacolandia is an annual event that Bill “Street Gourmet LA” Esparza and LA Weekly host, and it is the most epic taco-centric food festival ever! This is the third year of the event, and the third I will be attending. The events have not been without their issues (my Tacolandia 2013 and Tacolandia 2014 recaps, for your reading pleasure), but they run a tighter ship each year. It’s one of my favorite food events of the year, and I can’t wait to head down to Olvera Street this afternoon!
[Update: Read my Tacolandia 2015 report now!]
I had planned on writing a Tacolandia preview post this week but just got too busy at work. Plus, with 80+ participants, where would I start? Fortunately, I had an opportunity to attend an event last night, hosted at the not-yet officially opened Broken Spanish restaurant, and sponsored by DeLeón Tequila, that showcased the modern Mexican cooking of four of Tacolandia’s participating chefs from the motherland, Mexico, and two of my favorite chefs in L.A. So, while the chefs will likely not be serving the same dishes at Tacolandia, this will nonetheless act as a preview!
The event was totally sold out, but I was invited to attend the hour-long cocktail reception beforehand. The signature cocktail of the evening was the Next Level, made with agave, lemon, orange bitters, and DeLeón Tequila, a very smooth and drinkable concoction.
One of the bonuses of the evening was that the menu included beverage pairings, which was not originally advertized. I got a preview of the second course pairing, the Reposado, with grapefruit bitters, creme de cacao, tamarind, and, of course, DeLeón Tequila. Boy was this cocktail potent! Definitely better paired with food, I think.
When it came time for dinner, a no-show allowed me to get a seat at one of the tables! Thank you, whoever you were, for not showing up! ;-) Onto the courses…
Aguachile by Wes Avila, scallop, cilantro, chile de valle, apple: I’m a huge fan of Guerrilla Tacos‘ chef Wes Avila. I’ve written one or two posts on just GT, not counting when he’s participated in events such as Tacolandia and Taco Madness. He is one of my favorite chefs in L.A., and his Aguachile did not disappoint. Originally he had wanted razor clams for this dish, but they were unavailable, so instead he got his hands on some gorgeous scallops. The flavors of his dish were clean yet bold, and a great start to the meal!
Taco by Ray Garcia, clam, lardo, serrano, garlic: Broken Spanish chef/owner Ray Garcia is another of my favorite chefs in L.A. The Braised Tongue he served at FIG at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica was the epitome of lengua for me! The dish he served in this tasting is also available at his other new restaurant, the more casual B.S. Taqueria. With tender, whole clams, lardo in small chunks and in foam form, and fried elephant garlic chips, it was as amazing as it sounds!
Tamal by Guillermo González Beristáin, goat cheese, braised baby goat: A pioneer of modern Mexican cuisine, chef Beristáin’s restaurant, Pangea, in Monterrey, Mexico, is one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The corn that made up the goat cheese-stuffed tamal was more finely ground, and the tamal itself more dense than I’m used to but was excellent. The braised baby goat actually tasted like goat, slightly grassy and gamy, which I liked very much. I find that nowadays lamb often tastes so “clean” it’s near indistinguishable from beef. What’s the point? I want my lamb to taste like lamb, and goat to taste like goat!
Benito Molina & Solange Muris’s Gato de Codorniz, quail, octopus ink, kimchi, mushrooms, guajillo: Chefs Molina and Muris’s restaurant, Manzanilla, in Ensenada, Mexico, is one of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. The chefs’ dish this night had the most playful presentation, with a tic-tac-toe board painted using octopus ink. Most impressive was that the diminutive breasts of quail were cooked perfectly, with crisp skin, and moist, pink interior! I had fun trying to get every last bit of meat off the tiny quail wings.
Ray Garcia’s Mixiote, rabbit, cactus, bacon, chipotle: I think there was some last minute menu changes, I’m not quite sure, but chef Garcia was the only one to have two dishes on the menu we were served–hey, it’s his place! The Mixiote was probably my favorite dish, perhaps ironically, as it seemed the most traditional in my very amateur opinion.
I’m not sure that each serving had a whole rabbit in it, but it definitely had parts of a whole rabbit, including the liver and heart. The entire dish was just full of deep, rich flavors. I’m a sucker for nopales, so with the offal, this dish made me extra happy! I heard after the meal that some people had complained about the liver. Should have given it to me!
Luis Ayala’s Sorbet, poblano, port, vanilla: Broken Spanish’s pastry chef made this entremés. Note it lists poblano chiles as an ingredient, and it is not kidding. The sorbet has quite a kick, but somehow instead of lingering, the spiciness disappeared quickly, like the burst of heat from horseradish. Definitely cleansed my palate!
Diego Hernandez-Baquedano’s Radish and Chlorophyll, caramel mousse, pistachio praline, balsamic gel, epazote: Chef Hernandez-Baquedano’s restaurant, Corazon de Tierra, in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, is another of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, and he will be opening a restaurant here in L.A. The chlorophyll, a bright, verdant, liquid, was spooned onto the mousse at the table. An incredibly light dessert, I really enjoyed it! Not sure where the radish comes in, though…
Mystery Chocolate Dessert: This was an unlisted, unannounced dessert. I’m assuming it’s made by Broken Spanish pastry chef Luis Ayala, but I don’t know for sure. It was delicious and an easy order for any chocolate lover. I kinda wished it came out before the tasting menu dessert, as that one left my mouth feeling clean and green and this one dirtied it up again, so to speak. But I can’t complain about extra dessert!
As mentioned, the event was completely sold out. It’s incredibly encouraging that so many people were willing to see what modern Mexican cuisine has to offer. Most people in America have a skewed idea of what Mexican food is, and even in L.A., where we can get some of the most authentic Mexican food outside Mexico, many still wouldn’t consider that Mexico has innovative chefs creating such dishes as above. Can’t wait to see what these chefs will be making for Tacolandia!
I just want to say thanks to Joy Limanon of Peridot for the invite! Thanks to all the chefs who participated! Thanks to Broken Spanish chef/owner Ray Garcia, partner Jacob Shure, and their staff for the great service! This was the first ever meal served to customers at Broken Spanish, and I heard they were still putting the place together right up to when the guest started arriving. They did a great job!
Will definitely be back when they officially open!
1050 S Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015