By Andy J. Gordon
Life is rough. Attend a special event where great premium tequila is paired with delicious, gourmet Mexican food in the private room of a classy restaurant in West Hollywood. Someone has got to do it and yes, I took the hit and volunteered. Partida Tequila, makers of fine, tasty elixirs produced from the Weber Blue Agave plant partnered with Rosa Mexicano restaurant to host a special pairing dinner for some lucky guests. The entire evening was elegant, educational, tasty and highly satisfying.
Partida is a relatively new player in the premium Tequila market, having started in 2004. Their blanco, reposado and añejo expressions each go through a rigorous process that produce extremely good tequilas that can be enjoyed neat, in cocktails and paired with foods. The special evening included samples of each Partida expression and a few cocktails conceived by the Partida mixologist. We also received an enlightening explanation of the production process and a lesson on how to properly taste tequila from Sofia Partida who co-founded the company. To accompany the fine tequilas, Rosa Mexicano’s executive chef Sam Christopher designed and served a custom menu.
We started with freshly made guacamole served with warm corn tortillas and crispy chips. The first cocktail was a Spicy Pineapple Smash made with the blanco Partida, fresh lime juice, honey syrup, muddled chunks of pineapple and jalapeño. The blanco Partida is produced in stainless steel barrels and is a clear, clean liquid with strong agave flavor. The mixed drink was very spicy but the sweetness from the honey and pineapple offset the heat. It went great with the creamy guacamole and salty chips.
The next course was an Ahi tuna Ceviche that was more like sashimi with a side salad. The tuna was finely sliced and marinated with lime juice, lime zest and diced serrano chilies. The salad was micro greens and watercress splashed with jalapeño vinaigrette. The second cocktail was called St. Rosemary. It was made with the reposado Partida, St. Germain, apple juice, lime juice and a rosemary sprig. The reposado is aged in Jack Daniels oak barrels for six months before bottling. This results in a slightly yellow color, subtle smokiness and smoothly sweet finish. The cocktail was a nice blend of flavors that complemented the fresh tuna and heat from the chilies.
The main courses were a choice between grilled boneless beef short ribs and pan seared sea bass. The short ribs were incredibly tender and flavorful. They were topped with a variety of slow cooked Mexican peppers and the dish was bathed in a tomatillo and chipotle sauce. The fish was flaky and nicely seasoned. It was topped with roasted beet chimichurri, sat on pumpkin seed Pipian and had a side of chorizo potato salad. Family style rice and black beans were also served with the entrees. The last cocktail was called Black Opal. It was made with the Partida añejo, Guinness beer, tawny port, agave nectar and a dash of Angostura Bitters. This was, unfortunately, an unsatisfying mixture. The añejo alone, which is aged in Jack Daniels barrels for eighteen months, is worthy of sipping neat. The additional time in the barrels, as compared with the reposado, gives the tequila a golden hue and a pleasant, smooth finish.
Dessert seemed gratuitous after the generous meal, but Chef Christopher would not let us leave before trying his sinfully sweet churros with a trio of dipping sauces. The light, crunchy and sweet fried dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar was insane. What really made it over the top were the caramel, raspberry and chocolate dipping sauces. Having been to more than a few tequila and food pairings, I have discovered that añejos go great with chocolate and sweets. The Partida añejo reinforced that belief – the smooth aged elixir has a hint of honey and chocolate flavoring so when partnered with the dipped churros, it was heaven on earth.
It was a great way to end a fine tequila tasting and food pairing dinner. Partida makes an excellent family of tequilas and Rosa Mexicano proved to be a worthy restaurant selection for exploring the quality liquors in a pairing with fine food.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon and Partida tequila.