Friday, January 19, 2007

what's cooking in LOS CABOS (Mexico) at Mi COCINA

We arrived here at the southern tip of Baja California on Thursday afternoon after a long trip from the East Coast with our dear friends Juan & Mel. We immediately proceeded just outside of the quaint town of San Jose del Cabo to our villa in the gorgeous VILLAS del MAR complex. I will tell you MUCH more about the food at our villa, because it is SIMPLY SPECTACULAR, and I really want you all to come here and experience this truly magnificent place (like out of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, as Will says) and I also want you to book it WITH ME! You may remember that exactly one year ago I wrote to many of you about our stay for the day at THE ONE & ONLY PALMILLA Resort next door to our villa here. To remind you, we were off the cruise ship for the day and had the most wonderful stay at the resort. Well, we asked about the gorgeous villas we noted above the resort and found out more and returned to what will undoubtedly end up being the BEST VACATION we have EVER HAD IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! Indeed, while I sit here in our huge villa's dining room, our chef, Nigel (who has even cooked for the British Royal Family is fixing a monstrous multi-course dinner in the kitchen which I can smell every single element of at this very moment (so SNIFF).

OK, more on all that in later postings, to keep you excited and to be sure you don't stop reading the future emails this week.

Last night we dined in the usually romantic, elegant and beautiful MI COCINA in the CASA NATALIA Hotel in the center of San Jose del Cabo. Sadly, the rain had come for a day and a half (it rains here 5 days a year according to everyone) and they had to move the tables inside from the wonderfully lit courtyard with fountains. We started off with some of the specialty cocktails including a "Flor de Mexico" Martini made from Absolut, Flor de Jamaica Juice (concentrate of hibiscus) and lemon juice which had an herbal essence and was quite dark and tasty and a tasty Sandia Watermelon Martini made from watermelons grown locally, vodka and sweet & sour juice. The Margarita was good, but to quote Will, not a touch on those made by our butler Gerardo at the villa the previous day!

The top award of the evening goes to the bread. We felt it bested any bread just about anywhere. The warm tasty focaccia was superb, but the brioche-like popovers were melt-in-your-mouth AMAZING, both served with an excellent Chili-Shallot-Garlic Olive Oil.

The wines (which incidentally have the largest markup of virtually anywhere in the world in ALL of the local places) started with a LUIJI BOSCA SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVA 2005 "Lujan de Cuyo" from Mendoza in Argentina that was bursting with cirtus notes. It was great with the Pan SEARED GIANT SCALLOPS (not so giant), AVOCADO TARTARE, Sweet Potato Chips and Chipotle Salsa. My superb CHILE RELLENO was a huge POBLANO Chile stuffed with CARAMELIZED PORK FILET, Sauteed Vegetables, Pine Nuts and served in a delicious light "Chile Guajillo" Almond sauce made from a local chili. The Black Bean Soup got an okay, but not much more.

We moved on to a GLORIA FERRER 2004 Carneros Chardonnay which was nice, but nothing fabulous, while Mel had a mediocre Cabernet by the glass with his slightly chewy NEW ZEALAND RACK of LAMB with PAPPARDELLE PASTA, Ratatouille and Grilled Asparagus. The SEAFOOD RISOTTO had nice chunks of local lobster, shrimp, bay scallops, crayfish and clams with an AXIOTE-CILANTRO sauce that was more tomato than anything else, and just seemed to overpower the whole dish. The only really good entree was the PAN SEARED HALIBUT with Rice, Vegetable Tempura and Balsamic Reduction.

We returned to excellence with the desserts and chose the LEMON MERINGUE TARTS and CHOCOLATE TARTS which were superb, indeed the former had some of the tartest lemon and tasting meringue ever.

We must applaud the excellent service of our server JULIO CESAR (yes, that's Julius Caesar!) and indeed everyone in the hotel/restaurant and the entire region as they all are truly the warmest, friendliest folks anyone could hope to find on a vacation in the tropics!