21 March 2010

Baltimore Foodies: Tequila Tasting at Miguel's

The most recent Baltimore Foodies event we attended was a tequila tasting dinner at Miguel's Cocina y Cantina in the newly renovated Silo Point. I choose not to take notes at these functions so I can focus on enjoying good food with a group of like-minded individuals so, again, the details will be a tad sparse. It took a little navigating after we found parking, but when I spotted Spanish writing from afar I knew we'd found it. I will admit that my dad opened the door into the kitchen thinking it was the front door. Apparently we weren't the only ones for it was a hot topic of conversation throughout the night.

Owner/chef Michael Marx began with Blue Agave which he sold a few years ago and then went on to open RUB BBQ and most recently Miguel's which opened earlier this year. The interior was industrial without feeling cold. The high ceilings were great and made the long and narrow space seem not so cramped.

I liked the huge floor-to-ceiling windows and bold color scheme but I definitely feel that the whole Dia de la Muerta theme is played out. We had a round of drinks and they definitely received bonus points for having Dos Equis Amber on tap. I got a tall one and chatted up my fellow foodies while we waited for our meal to commence. When the time came we were shorn to a nice family-style dining space arranged in the very front of the restaurant.

Our courses were accompanied by a selection of Casa Noble tequilas and a representative was there to speak briefly about each pairing. The tequila was good but nothing earth-shattering. Each pairing was sweeter with the dessert pairing being the sweetest, which was also the smoothest and overall best. As an added bonus we were each given a small complimentary bottle of one of their tequilas, which for me was the reposado.

Our first course was 'Vierna en Mole Verde' which was seared dry-pack scallops with a poblano-jicama salad and a pumpkinseed-based mole.

This dish was a nice start to the meal. The scallops and mole were fine but nothing to rave about. What really got my attention about this plate was the fresh strips of serrano pepper in the salad. Most claimed they were too hot, but they filled my mouth with a pleasant fire that woke up my tastebuds. Alongside this dish we were given a traditional Paloma which was a mixture of the Casa Noble Blanco and Squirt served in a salt-rimmed glass.

While I usually disklike squirt this drink was light and refreshing. It went down easy, a little too easy...

Our second course was 'Pechuga de Pato con Mole Poblano' which is sliced Maple Leaf Farms duck breast served on a bed of spicy arugula and Mole Poblano. The Casa Noble Reposado was paired with this course.

This was the course I was most looking forward to, as I love duck breast, and it was good. I was leery of the arugula, as I feel most chefs use entirely too much of it and, unfortunately, that was the case here. The peppery greens overpowered a lot of the more subtle flavors here, but fortunately the fresh mexican crema and the crunchy pepitas still managaed to shine through. I felt the breast was cooked a tad unevenly, as I experienced bites that were both overcooked and undercooked. Here's a closeup to better illustrate my point:

Our third course, which was, in my opinion, by far the star of the show, was 'Medalliones de Puerco en Chocolate' which featured Ibarra chocolate crusted cutlets of pork loin with roasted corn mash and a unique dried fruit mole. This was paired with the 2-yr. aged Casa Noble Anejo.

Oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about. The flavors of this dish worked harmoniously and I can definitely proclaim that this was the best Mexican dish I have had to date. The flavors of chocolate, succulent pork, the tart sweet dried fruit mole and the sweet smooth tequila were just short of transcendent. My only complaint was that I felt the description was a tad misleading as when I read "roasted corn mash" I was expecting something along the lines of tomalito while this was simply mashed potatoes with corn in it. Nonetheless, this dish was fantastic. Here's a bonus closeup shot proving just how much I loved it:

When the last bite was gone, I almost shed a tear. So good. I have no idea why this dish isn't on his menu... Chef Mike if you're reading this: ADD THIS TO YOUR MENU! Upon further investigation I do see something similar to it on the Blue Agave menu. Interesting...

Our final course was a seemingly simple 'Empanada de Chocolate' a traditional Mexican turnover pastry filled with fresh mango and bitter sweet chocolate and a scoop of mango sorbet. A salad of jicama and roasted almonds accompanied as well a 5-yr. Extra Anejo, our final tasting of Casa Noble.

Hmmm, how do I describe this dish? Well, it was melty smooth tart bitter sweet roasted crunchy chunky flaky crisp chewy goodness. Yeah, that about sums it up. Bitter sweet chocolate mango almond and jicama was a flavor combination that I had most certainly never had before, and it worked marvelously.

When I felt the other diners weren't looking I made every attempt to lick my plate clean. I'm a gluttonous bastard, what did you expect? Combined with the ultra-sweet and smooth 5-yr. Anejo it was a great end to our meal.

My father had one too many and left his debit card at the bar. We called and they put it aside for us to come pick up the next day. We did just that and enjoyed another round of beers at the bar and some fantastic complimentary chips and salsa. We most certainly made a point to come back to dine there in the very near future.

Recently I've recieved a few messages from friends and readers somewhere along the lines of "Yes, that's all well and good, but do you actually recommend the place?" So I will make a conscious effort to give a final verdict at the conclusion of my posts. Do I recommend Miguel's? Well, since I haven't actually had anything off of their menu, I can't really give a resounding YES, but if their offerings are on par with the third and fourth courses of the night, then I would have no qualms wholeheartedly recommending Miguel's. Plus chef Mike is a really nice guy.

Miguel's Cocina y Cantina on Urbanspoon

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theminx said...

This post made me drool! I love molé and it's hard to find a truly good one outside of home-made. I love arugula too, so there's never "too much" for me.

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