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El Faro Grill is in the Wine Spectator World’s Best Restaurants 2020

Grand Residences has received Wine Spectator magazine’s 2020 Award of Excellence for El Faro Grill for the fourth year running.

The El Faro Grill wine list features 150 wines and according to the magazine listing on Restaurants.WineSpectator.com its particular strengths are Mexican and French wines.

Our congratulations go out to Resort Manager Daniela Trava and Sommelier Javier Moreno.

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Discovering the World of Wine: Meet your Sommelier

Do you have a question about wine or would you like a recommendation for a particular dish? Javier Moreno, the Grand Residences Sommelier is your guide as you explore the world of wine.

Originally from Mexico City, Javier moved to Cancun four years ago and joined Grand Residences as the Sommelier. He explains how he fell in love with the world of wine. “I was studying Tourism for my Baccalaureate and was invited to visit Hacienda San Lorenzo in Parras, Coahuila. This is the home of Casa Madero, Mexico’s oldest vineyard, founded in 1597. Quite simply, I was fascinated with every aspect of wine making, from the cultivation of the vines and their harvest to the production process and the cellars full of huge oak barrels. I knew immediately that I wanted to learn more and I enrolled in a one-year Sommelier diploma course at Centro Culinario Ambrosia in Mexico City. After 10 years working as a Sommelier, there is always something new to learn and I know I will never stop! In fact, I am studying the second level of four as a certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommelier Americas. This international body sets the global standard for excellence in beverage service in the hospitality industry.”

Sommeliers learn about geography, geology, grape varieties, history, the winemaking process, blends, wine tasting and pairing. Each country has its own distinctive grapes, cultivation, production techniques and wine regions. The study of wines lasts a lifetime, it is a passion and an art and one in which Javier is a master.

Each winemaking region or district, even a particular vineyard, has its own terroir, a term that encompasses the climate, humidity, hours of sunshine, wind direction and strength, the land, soil, ecosystems and even the plants that grow around the vineyard and give a wine its distinctive personality and notes. For example, some wines have citrus notes and this may be because there are orange groves near the vineyard, others have a hint of fig, cherry or plum or the scent of rosemary and other herbs.

Javier says, “At Grand Residences we have 150 wines in our cellar and we pride ourselves on the fact that we serve the finest wines, carefully selected to include a balance of well-known vineyards and smaller winemakers. Our commitment to quality has received industry recognition; we have been Wine Spectator award winners four years in a row.

When I look for new wines to add to our wine list I ensure that balance is maintained between the different countries and the wine regions that we showcase, “ Javier explains. “I decide which grape variety I want to include. I look for quality, value for money, talk to suppliers to see which wines they have in stock and then arrange a tasting, paying special attention to pairings with dishes on the menus. It is a complex process.”

Perfect pairings

We asked Javier for some of his recommendations to order or serve with different dishes and this is what he had to say:

Seafood
“Paco & Lola is a Spanish wine from the Rias Baixas region that is the perfect pairing for seafood. Made from Albariño grapes, it is very citrusy and floral.”

Pastas
“I would go for an Italian red for the acidity, a Sangiovese Rosso di Montalcino Castello Banfi.”

Meat
“I recommend a Mexican wine from Bodega de Los Cedros in Coahuila, it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, which gives it lots of body and an intense flavor.”

Poultry
“I have several recommendations here. You could go with a Pinot Noir like Avant-Garde Domaine Carneros, which is light and very fruity or choose a white wine. The J. Lohr Paso Robles Chardonnay aged in oak barrels is a good option; it is drier and has buttery notes.”

Cheeses
“This depends on the type of cheeses you are serving: creamy and mild or mature cheeses with a stronger flavor. Jackson Triggs Ice Wine from Canada is a sweet wine that goes well with cheese or you could opt for a light white wine or a red. Another Mexican wine called Megacero, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from Bodega Encinillas in Chihuahua, is good with mature cheeses and for mild cheeses try the Kendall Jackson Merlot from California.”

Desserts
“The perfect pairing for the chocolate sponge we serve in El Faro Grill is a port called Royal Oporto 10 years, but obviously it depends on the dessert. Crème brûlee goes well with a Gewürztraminer.”

On the subject of new wines that he likes, there’s one Mexican wine that immediately springs to his mind. “Laberinto from San Luis Potosi,” he replies. “It is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo blend and is very reasonably priced. I also like French wines from the Bordeaux region like Château du Val d’Or Grand Cru Classe Saint-Emilion A.O.C., which is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and excellent quality. Another wine I love is a white wine from Austria called Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau area. It has fragrance of stone fruit such as peaches and of citrus fruit and as it evolves it develops honey notes.

 

Mexican wines

Although Mexico has the oldest vineyard in the Americas, winemaking in the country was not constant during the Colonial period or after Independence in the 19th century and there were long periods of inactivity. Javier explains that the last 25 years have seen an awakening in the national wine industry and something of a boom.

The most famous winemaking regions are the Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada in Baja California, Parras, Coahuila and wines are also made in Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and even Michoacan.

“In Mexico there is no wine appellation or denomination of origin as there is in France and Spain, this enables wine makers to innovate, experimenting with blends of grapes and the time periods that the wines are stored in oak barrels. They are not bound by strict rules on the varieties of grapes that can be used in each wine as they are in Europe but it also means that there is no authenticity. You can distinguish wines from regions such as Bordeaux or Rioja but not so in Mexico, except perhaps for the Ensenada wine region where the mineral notes come through due to the proximity to the sea.

“Nevertheless, Mexican wines are now making a name for themselves. Don Leo, a wine from Coahuila recently won a global award as the best Cabernet Sauvignon for its 2013 vintage. Some small independent vineyards are producing small amounts of very good wines and are winning prizes. Three of my recommendations are Apogeo Cava Maciel, a Nebbiolo from Ensenada; the Bodega de Los Cedros rosé, which is a blend of Malbec and Shiraz grapes, and the Legat Viña de Frannes Sauvignon Blanc from the Valle de Guadalupe.”

Old World wines versus New World wines

Javier explains that wines from France, Spain and Italy have more earthy notes, with hints of leather, wood, smoke, spices and minerals such as graphite. In contrast, New World wines are fruitier, with a stronger taste of alcohol and more fragrance. The flavors and scent of fruit such as cherries and plums in red wines, are concentrated almost like jam, and citrus fruit notes in the case of white wines really come through.

And when it comes to grapes grown by different wine producing nations or regions, Javier gives us a quick tour:

France
“The three most famous wine regions in France are Bordeaux where the wines are made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes; Burgundy, which is characterized by white wines made with the Chardonnay grape and reds made with Pinot Noir; and the sparkling wines of Champagne made with Pinot Noir, Pinot Menieur and Chardonnay grapes.

Italy
“The country produces incredible wines with Nebbiolo (Barolo DOCG) and Sangiovese (Chianti DOCG) grapes.

Spain
“The emblematic Tempranillo grape is grown widely in the Ribera del Duero (D.O) and Rioja (D.O.Ca) regions and the country’s Cava sparkling wines are famous.

Chile
“The Carmenere grape predominates in the wine producing valleys of Chile.

Argentina
“The country produces excellent Malbec grapes in Mendoza, its famous wine region.

United States
“The highlights are Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons and Sonoma Pinot Noirs.

Mexico
“In Baja California, Ensenada wine country, centered around the Valle de Guadalupe, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo red grapes and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc white grapes are grown. In central Mexico, vineyards in Queretaro specialize in Freixenet sparkling wines.

Australia
“The Shiraz grape suits the Australian climate and soils perfectly, for example in Barossa Valley.

New Zealand
“I recommend the crisp fresh flavors of Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough and the central Otago region produces great Pinot Noir wines.

South Africa
“The Stellenbosch wine region produces good red wines made with Pinotage grapes.”

Javier sometimes organizes wine and tequila tastings at Grand Residences and is always ready to answer guests’ questions about a particular wine or winemaking in general. He recommends Pinot Noir as a good starter for someone who has never tried wine before.

“When I recommend wine pairings I begin by asking what the diner has ordered for dinner. The idea is that they enjoy a new experience, a wine that is easy on the palate, enjoyable, and with flavors and notes that they have not experienced before.” Javier explains, “If they are ordering seafood I recommend a white or sparkling wine and red wines to accompany meat dishes.

“My message to our owners, members and guests is to try wines made in Mexico and support this growing industry. Wine is much more than a drink made with fermented grape juice; it is about lifestyle and culture too. I hope that during their stay at our beautiful resort they will take time out to discover our wine list, including our exclusive selection of Mexican wines.” And because we are in September and celebrating all things Mexican, we asked Javier for some wine pairings for two classic dishes at Flor de Canela:

Chiles en Nogada
“Serve with a white wine or rosé. Casa Grande Chardonnay complements the creamy sauce and a rosé brings out the flavor of the pomegranate garnish.”

Mole
“Amado IV de Viñas de Garza is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Zinfandel from the Valle de Guadalupe with spicy notes of chocolate and caramel that enrich the complex flavors of mole.”

To toast Mexico, you’ll need a glass of tequila and Javier recommends Clase Azul Reposado.

Ask your Concierge for information about arranging a Wine or Tequila tasting with Javier.

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Chiles en Nogada, a Delicious Mexican Masterpiece

Celebrate Mexican Independence at Grand Residences this month by trying a signature dish always served during the festivities, Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce). We will be cooking them up at Flor de Canela, along with many other tempting Mexican dishes.

The time-honored recipe for Chiles en Nogada features poblano chilies with a sweet-savory filling topped with a creamy walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and parsley, the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green.

A patriotic culinary creation

A sophisticated dish that is a celebration of Mexican bounty, there is a fascinating story behind Chiles en Nogada. History tells that in 1821, General Agustín de Iturbide visited the city of Puebla after signing the Treaty of Córdoba, the agreement that gave Mexico its Independence from Spain. He decided to celebrate his saint’s day in the city: August 28, the day of St Augustine, and the city’s elders held a banquet in his honor. The nuns of Santa Monica Convent were so caught up in the patriotic fervor of his visit that they decided to create a special dish to commemorate his visit and the birth of a nation, using the colors of the new flag: red, white and green.

They prepared Poblano chilies with a filling of ground pork and beef mixed with raisins, citron, peach and apple, spices, garlic and onion. A creamy white sauce made from ground walnuts, almonds and sherry was poured over the chilies. Pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro and parsley completed the color sequence.

To this day, the inhabitants of Puebla pride themselves on this patriotic dish and every August chefs compete in a contest to prepare the best Chiles en Nogada.

Recipes for Chiles en Nogada vary from family to family, some cooks put pears and apple in the stuffing or use citron peel, pineapple, prunes or banana. Some swear by nutmeg, pine nuts and add a dash of rum, while others scorn the use of cream or cheese in the sauce, relying on nuts to create the creamy consistency. The staples, however, are pomegranates and walnuts and these are only in season during late August and September, coinciding with Independence month. And whatever the interpretation, the results are always delicious.

Here’s our chef’s recipe for this classic dish if you would like to make it yourself.

Chiles en Nogada

Ingredients
For the stuffing

  • 100g lard
  • 350g onion
  • 4g fresh garlic
  • 300g ground beef
  • 300g ground pork
  • 4g salt
  • 2g freshly ground black pepper
  • 600g tomato
  • 1g ground cinnamon
  • 1g ground nutmeg
  • 1g ground cumin
  • 1g ground cloves
  • 1 pear
  • 1 peach
  • 1 plantain
  • 30g shelled almonds
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 8 Poblano chilies
  • 30g raisins

For the Nogada sauce

  • 50g goat cheese
  • 60g walnuts
  • 10g sugar
  • 500ml sour cream
  • 750ml milk
  • 100g sherry
  • 2g salt

Garnish
The seeds from a pomegranate
1g chopped parsley

Method
Sauté the poblano chilis to soften them, clean them and remove the seeds
Dice the onion, tomato (deseeded), pear, peach and plantain and finely chop the garlic, almonds and parsley.
Extract the pomegranate seeds and set aside.

For the stuffing
Heat the lard and fry the onion, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute; add the ground beef and pork with salt and pepper, cook for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and cook for 5 minutes more. Fill the chilies and set aside.

For the Nogada sauce
Blend the softened goat cheese, walnuts, sugar, cream, milk, sherry and salt.

Place the stuffed chili on a plate, add the sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

Enjoy!

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Viva Mexico!

If you are staying with us this September, we hope that you’ll join us to raise your glass in a toast to this beautiful country and its people as they celebrate Independence month. Viva Mexico!

Dine on tasty traditional dishes such as chiles en nogada and mole or order a plate of tacos, sopes and other tasty appetizers with guacamole and salsa. Sip premium tequila, a margarita or try some of the country’s finest wines. And be sure to listen to Mexican melodies!

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Cocktail Time

There’s nothing better for a Mexican Independence toast this September than this Blackberry Mezcalita from the Grand Residences bartender. Wherever you are, salud, cheers! We hope to see you very soon.

Blackberry Mezcalita

  • 2oz mezcal
  • 1oz Triple Sec
  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1/2oz natural sweet syrup
  • Blackberries
  • Splash of orange juice
  • Macerate the blackberries in a cocktail shaker, add the other ingredients and serve on the rocks with plenty of ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!

 

 

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Beach Reads

Here are some of the books we are reading right now if you are looking for something for the beach. Some are recent releases but there are some old favorites too. Why not write to us and let us know what’s on your bookshelf or Kindle right now?

A Suitable Boy

Vikram Seth
The story of university student Lata and her mother Mrs. Rupa Mehra who has made it her mission to find her daughter a “suitable boy” to marry. Needless to say, Lata does not agree with her mother’s views and falls for someone entirely different. This story of four families and a host of other characters is a rich tapestry of Indian life in the years following Independence from British rule and Partition.

A Suitable Boy was recently broadcast as a BBC mini series directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) and adapted by Andrew Davis who also produced award-winning series such as War and Peace and Pride and Prejudice).

Actress

Anne Enright
From the Booker prize-winning Irish author, the story of Katherine O’Dell, a legendary actress as told by her daughter Norah. Early triumphs in Hollywood and success on the stage in London and Dublin, life was all a performance for Katherine. Norah watched from the wings as her beloved mother acted on and off stage, endured heartbreak and entertained the literati and socialites of the day. She watched her go into decline, endure the disappointments of being passed over for roles and become mired in scandal after a bizarre crime. After Katherine’s death, she discovers the secrets that her mother kept hidden from her adoring public.

If you run out of books remember that you have a neighborhood bookstore right on the main square in Puerto Morelos. Alma Libre stocks new and secondhand books.

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Keep in Touch with Grand Residences

Check the Grand Residences and Royal Resorts facebook pages this month for videos and posts of Mexican Independence dance, music and other traditional festivities.

Watch your friends from the Activities team and Kids Club give keep fit, dance and craft classes via Facebook Live. If you miss them don’t worry, you can watch the videos later.

Check the Grand Residences Facebook page for pictures from paradise, resort updates, cocktails, recipes, activity ideas, sightseeing recommendations and much more