2017 Barcelo Gourmet Festival: A Tribute to Mexican Wines and Cuisine
As many of you know, I have the pleasure and honor to represent BuyPlaya as the food, wine & lifestyle blogger. Our “Playa Life” blog covers some of the most important events, festivals, restaurant openings, wine launchings, art exhibits, sports, concerts, and fashion events on the Riviera Maya. Our goal is always to feature not only the best of the Riviera Maya, but to also go "behind the scenes" to give you a deeper portrait of what this region is really all about, with a more "local" feeling.
September is usually a slower month here in the Mexican Caribbean, but surprisingly, September kept us very busy this year with many fabulous events to attend, enjoy and share with our readers!
This September, we were honored to be invited to the third edition of the "Festival Gourmet Barceló", a weeklong wine and gastronomy festival promoting the culinary culture of the Riviera Maya featuring chefs of national and international stature. The festival was the scene of a complete program dedicated to Mexican gastronomy that included wine-paring dinners in addition to other culinary activities throughout the week.
Food is a reflection of the culture, tradition, roots and the history of a nation…of its people. Gastronomy offers a doorway for us to explore parts of the world, normally far beyond our reach. This desire to explore is the motivation for bringing together these great masters of the kitchen, which represent some of the best national and international talent. This year, passion, taste and tradition were the focus the festival. Eleven culinary personalities and artists presented their creations to the delight of local residents and tourists on the grounds of the elegant Barceló Maya Grand Resort.
Mexican wines were also the stars of the Festival. Each dinner was paired with a Mexican winery and each sommelier worked close with the chefs to offer a perfectly paired combination and fusion of flavors.
Casa Madero Sommelier Carolina Martinez
BuyPlaya foodies had the opportunity to experience two of the ten scheduled wine-pairing dinners. Both featured Casa Madero wines (our favorite Mexican producer), to accompany the dishes offered by each Chef.
Chef Ryan Steyn led our first gastronomic tour. His five-course dinner left diners completely in awe of his technique, his talent and his ability to synchronize unusual ingredients and flavors that magically fuse together in his skilled hands. Let’s let the photos tell the story….
Trio of Pacific oysters: Sea urchin and Leche de Tigre/ Bbq chipotle/ Tuna and seaweed, paired with Casa Madero V Rosé
Cauliflower cream with curried langoustine, paired with Casa Madero V Rosé
Harisa spiced porkbelly served with picliz, paired with Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
Slow braised oxtail with wild mushroom risotto foie gras and truffle, paired with Casa Madero Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Camembert gelato with brûlée figs and walnuts, paired wit Casa Madero Cosecha Tardía
Our second dining experience featured two excellent Chefs, both originally from Spain but now residing in Playa del Carmen. Chefs Eva Millán and Albert Balaguer presented a 6-course tasting menu, again paired with the amazing wines of Casa Madero. Although both Chefs come from the same country, we were able to taste and feel Millán's and Balaguer's individual culinary influences that reflect the different regions of Spain from which each one hails.
Chef Eva Millán
Chef Albert Balaguer
"Ajoblanco" with Lobster and apple, paired with Casa Madero Cosecha Tardía
Sautéed artichokes with shrimps and Iberian ham, paired with Casa Madero V Rosé
Sweet wine beef cheeks with citrus couscous, paired with Casa Madero Shiraz, Casa Grande Gran Reserva
Crumbled of almonds and raisins with orange salad and orange blossom foam, paired with Casa Madero Cosecha Tardía
Mille-Feuilles with wild fruits and Catalan cream, paired Casa Madero V Rosé
Our congratulations to all the talented chefs who participated in the fabulous third edition of the Barceló Gourmet Festival, leaders of contemporary cuisine who created special dishes for local, national and international foodies:
• Chef Ryan Steyn, owner of "The Cook Book" in Ensenada, he is a lover of Mexico, its gastronomy and its products.
• Chef Eva Millán, born in Arinaga (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), Spain and now currently working in the Mayakoba hotel complex. As Chef and Creative Chef in the restaurant Koba, she blends gastronomic influences of both Spain and Mexico, creating a cuisine that focuses on local products.
• Chef Albert Balaguer, born in Barcelona, currently operates in Playa del Carmen.
• Chef Jonatan Gómez Luna of Le Chique Restaurant and winner of Iron Chef Toronto in the Hot and Spicy Food Festival of 2012. Today, Le Chique at Azul Sensorati is ranked among the best restaurants in Mexico.
• Chef Pedro Abascal, Chef at the Thompson Hotel in Playa del Carmen and Executive Chef of the first luxury hotel to open in the Riviera Maya, Mandarin Oriental.
• Chef Alejandro Sánchez, Executive Chef of the Candela Romero restaurant at the Hotel St. Regis in Mexico City and owner of a Michelin star restaurant "Alejandro" in Roquetas del Mar, in his native Almería, Spain.
• Chef Xavier Pérez Stone, owner of the restaurant Axiote in Riviera Maya, named best Chef in Mexico 2012 and winner of Iron Chef Canada in 2014. Axiote has managed to position itself as one of the best restaurants not only in Playa del Carmen but in the country, being recognized in the "Mexico Guide Gastronomic" as one of the 120 Best Restaurants in 2016 and 2017.
• Chef Julio Reyes, Executive Chef of the Barceló Maya Palace Hotel, originally from the city of Tabasco and a gastronomic professional for more than 30 years.
• Chef José Manuel Diego Ocampo, Executive Chef of the Barceló Maya Colonial and Barceló Maya Tropical hotel, originally from the state of Guerrero, has worked with passion in the culinary world for more than 10 years, with particular inspiration for decoration especially in ice sculptures and “mukimono” art.
Mexico is the country with the 2nd greatest presence of Barceló hotels in all the world! To recognize this commitment to the Barcelo brand, the event organizers decided to feature a more national component to the festival. In additional to a lineup of renowned international chefs, two wonderful chefs from the great state of Michoacan were invited to participate. Chefs Juana Bravo and Rosalba Morales were able to delight guests of the festival with their signature dishes and to tell their personal stories through their cuisine. These two talented women proudly reflected in their dishes the memories of their lives and the traditions of their villages.
Once again, we were delighted to experience one of the best culinary events in Mexico featuring some of the finest national and international chefs and some of the country’s premier wines. For BuyPlaya foodies, it is always an immense pleasure to see that Mexican culture is honored by international chefs who are inspired by our colorful and flavorful cuisine and can’t help but immerse themselves in the Mexican culture.
Follow our Playa Life blog to find out about the next fabulous event hosted here in our beloved Riviera Maya