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Wednesday, November 30

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Deals Wed Aug 03 2011

Bites with Booze @ Mercadito

photo(2).jpgUnderneath the busy, boldly colored main dining room of Mercadito sits a cozy Mexican sauna-esque private room, with raw wood and tequila bottles lining its perimeter. Tall booths surround a high center bar from which come the quirky, delicious workings of Head Bartender Paul Sauter and Chef Patricio Sandoval.

Every fourth Monday night from now to December, Mercadito is opening up their private room for a series of Spirit Dinners. Four course sharing menus are developed by infusing the "spirit of the evening" into each dish, then pairing it with a cocktail using the same spirit.

At Monday night's Tres Generaciones Tequila dinner, we worked our way from blanco (unaged) to reposado (aged 2-12 months in bourbon barrels) to anejo (aged 18 months). With each course arrived a taster of the tequila itself, a dish infused with said tequila and a cocktail made with, you guessed it, tequila. Maybe because Three G's is actually ridiculously good tequila and maybe because Chef Patricio knows his Mexican style cuisine inside and out, none of the food, nor the entire evening really, felt unnecessarily "boozy." After a slight misstep in some overly saturated jicama that appeared in our first course of mango guacamole, the rest of the meal went off without a burn. Not one cocktail, not one dish screamed BOOZE! (Which, when you consider the shot of choice for your uber-boozy friends, tequila usually makes a good standing.) Tres Generaciones isn't the kind of tequila that leaves your throat burning. Instead, a knowledgeable Tres G's rep (Armando Zapata to be exact) chartered us through the unknown waters of burn-free tequila. Bartender Paul poured variations of Mercadito standards: Three G's blanco with averna, grapefruit, ginger beer and cayenne and the reposado with muddled fresh pineapple, chile guajillo and pico piquin. These were served alongside Chef Patricio's tequila-braised pork carnitas tacos and an incredibly inventive preparation of red snapper. The fish was served whole, backbone removed, leaving two filets, both still attached at the head and tail, then was was fried and plated it like an eye of a needle, with a sumptuous mound of tequila-coconut rice and plantain salsa at its center. Check the whole menu including drinks here: spirited_201107_menu-1.pdf.

Get yourself boozed up, not boozed out at one of their upcoming dinners:

August 29: Grand Marnier
September 19: Belvedere Vodka
October 17: Fortaleza Tequila
November 21: Hennessy Cognac
December 19: El Tesoro Tequila

Tickets are $55 each. For reservations call: 312.329.9555.

*Mercadito is still running their Tacos for Strength program that we told you about back in March. This month's taco was created by Chef Ryan Poli: marinated grilled shrimp, watermelon & tomato salad with pickled red onion.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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