Michelin-starred Cocina Mexicana


Chorizo Tacos

BRYOND tacos, burritos, chimichangas, the authentic Mexican cuisine is as complex as other ancient cuisines such as Chinese and Japanese.

Its techniques and skills were developed over a thousand years. Mexican cuisine actually began 9000 years ago when agricultural communities like the Maya, domesticated the maize (corn). In addition to its staples, corn and chili, avocados, cocoa, vanilla, traditional vegetables as well as ingredients not generally used in other cuisines such as huazontle (similar to broccoli), nopalitos (cactus leaves), huitlacoche (corn fungus) to name a few.

I have always been curious about Mexican cuisine. So when my daughter Patricia decided to celebrate her son Silvian’s 16th birthday in the much-talked about Michelin-starred restaurant Casa Enrique, which serves the best Mexican cuisine in New York City, my excitement to know more about the intricacies of this complex cuisine was aroused.

Casa Enrique, located in a redeveloped industrial area of Long Island City along the East River in Queens, was given a Michelin star for three consecutive years, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Simply put, the prestigious Michelin Star must use top quality ingredients, must have distinct flavors and prepared to a consistently high standard.

Executive Chef Cosme Aguilar and his brother Luis who hail from Chiapas, in Southernmost Mexico, opened Casa Enrique in 2012. Just like closely knit Mexican families; their mother and sisters traditional Chiapas dishes inspired their love for cooking.

Carne Asada

Chef Cosme is educated in the classic French cuisine and worked with various chefs to hone his skills.

They both wanted to serve the traditional Mexican dishes but with the refined French touch.

I always trust the menu choices of Patricia and her husband George. A chilled bottle of Casa Bernasal Rosé from Valencia Spain was poured into our wine glasses, light colored, fruity with refreshing tangerine, grapefruit and berry scents.

For appetizer, chunky Guacamole served in stone pestle served with homemade Totopos (baked tortillas) teased our palates with its piquant lime-cilantro flavors in mashed avocados. The Aztecs developed guacamole. From Antojitos or Cravings, we were wondering what Rajas con Crema was, which turned out to be mild-flavored green Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and sliced, and sautéed in onions and simmered in cream. Rajas mean strips or slices.

De Pollo con Mole de Piaxtla

George also added Ceviche de Pescado and Cocktail Camarones. From the Taqueria, Silvian had Chorizo Tacos. Pa Rematar or Entrees were all interestingly complex to me. George and Sabrina had the De Pollo con Mole de Piaxtla or Chicken Breast rolled in corn tortilla with Mole Sauce, black beans, crema fresca, queso fresco and avocado.

Mole sauce is the generic name for number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine referred to as national dish of Mexico.

Every region has its version. Piaxtla is a town in Southern Mexico. Silvian, as usual, had his red meat dish–Carne Asada or skirt steak marinated in tequila, roasted poblanos and beans. Patricia enjoyed the Chamorro de al Huaxamole–lamb shank braised in chili pulla (or puya with fruity flavors), huajes (long flat green pod with garlicky, woody flavors), epazote (aromatic herb with pungent flavor) with rice and beans.

My choice was simple, a dish I easily understood –Pescado con Elote or pan seared sea bass on a bed of corn esquite, epazote and chili de arbol (bird’s beak chili). Tres Leches Sponge Cake with a candle for Silvian to make a wish and blow was exquisite–made with three kinds of milk and goat milk caramel.

Chef Aguilar has truly elevated the Southern Mexican Cuisine to Michelin standards!

TAGS: dish, food, island, long, love, Mexican, Mexico, new, skills
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