By Andy J. Gordon
Herradura tequila and Jimmy Shaw’s Loteria Grill joined forces for a series of tastings that paired food selections with the premium tequila. Herradura is one of the oldest makers of fine tequilas and Loteria Grill is well respected in Los Angeles for their authentic Mexican cuisine. What set the series in motion was Shaw’s fondness for the Herradura brand and his custom designed signature private reserve double barrel reposado that was bottled recently and introduced at the tasting series.
Shaw spent some time at the Herradura distillery in Jalisco, Mexico where he selected the specific barrels to be used for his private label reposado. Herradura produced 240 of the special bottles and presented Shaw with the finished product along with a souvenir barrel commemorating the special creation. Shaw and Herradura set up the tasting series which ran over two nights in November at three of the Loteria Grill locations. Ruben Aceves, the Global Ambassador from the House of Herradura Tequila acted as host, teacher and storyteller for the special event. Aceves has been with Herradura for 13 years and knows pretty much everything about tequila. He talked about the history of Herradura, the tasting characteristics of each expression and answered questions from the diners in attendance.
Each guest started the evening with Loteria Grill’s signature margarita made with the Herradura silver. The cocktail is a simple, yet delicious blend of the tasty tequila with agave nectar, lime and orange juices. Tables were set with three large shot glasses filled with the Silver, Reposado and Anejo tequilas resting on Herradura place mats. As restaurant staff brought out custom designed finger food, Ruben Aceves talked about the characteristics of the tequilas. The Silver has a strong agave flavor, light citrus notes and a mild bite at the finish. The Reposado, which has been aged for eleven months in oak barrels, is smooth with hints of vanilla, butterscotch and spices. The two year old Anejo is definitely the one that is ideal for sipping. It has subtle flavor notes leaning toward toasted oak, caramel, orange and just a hint of cooked agave.
The food pairings worked very well with the tequilas. Shaw’s tasty morsels included a flavor bomb containing watermelon, heirloom tomato, feta cheese and a hibiscus reduction that pulled together all of the ingredients. Another bite sized morsel was an intensely spicy, but delicious Sea of Cortez Scallop flavored with cucumber, red onion, lime, olive oil and chile piquin (about 20 times hotter than jalepeno). Miniature tacos and tostadas were bursting with flavor. The tequila infused skirt steak tacos with onions and cilantro had a nice char that really paired well with the Reposado tequila. The filet mignon tostadas with tomatillo salsa, jack cheese, onions and cilantro were a brilliant blend of balanced flavors.
Both Shaw and Aceves made it a point that there would be no traditional dessert served at the event. Instead they introduced the special private label reposado as a treat deserving of dessert status. Servers poured the singular creation into small snifters. As guests tasted the private reserve double barrel reposado the room filled with oohs and ahhs. It is a truly special blend that Shaw came up with – extremely smooth and tasty with notes of vanilla, caramel, slight smoke and oakiness.
Herradura makes excellent tequilas that enhance any cocktail and can also be enjoyed straight. The quality tequilas paired expertly with delicious Mexican delicacies at Loteria Grill made the event quite memorable. Jimmy Shaw’s custom designed signature private reserve double barrel reposado was a special treat that can be enjoyed by anyone. Just go into one of the Loteria Grill locations and ask for it. You will not be disappointed.
All photos copyright Andy J. Gordon 2013©