We like wine dinners, but we LOVE Tequila dinners! So when we found out that Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen was hosting one, we were over the moon. Good food and tequila are like the Houston Texans right now, freakin' awesome! The Cavalino Tequila Dinner, was a two-night event (one held at each location), so we selected the first evening to attend. Upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Ms. Sylvia Casares herself, owner and executive chef, would be our host for the evening and we would be joining her as well. WOW…this was even better than being Media-TRUST! As luck would have it, Swanky Girl got to sit right next to Sylvia and they immediately became BFF's (if only in her head, this was definitely an evening highlight).
The event was set up a little different than most dinners we have taken part in. Instead of the community style table setting, everyone was open to enjoy the evening at their own table; whether that be a table for two or a table for four. This created not only a unique environment, but you got the best of both worlds: privacy and one on one time to ask any questions. Our tequila guide for the evening was Cavalino’s VP, Jesús Antun, and this guy knows his stuff. He worked the room, table by table, explaining and educating us on the tequila's of the evening - a Blanco, Resposado, and their premium Anejo. The combination of tequila and Sylvia's food worked extremely well together and was the main reason they were selected - let's not negate the fact that they have some of the world's best tequila; their Resposado was ranked #2 in the world. Cavalino Tequilas are considered premium and are made with 100% Blue Agave and the company grows their own agave plants. Ms. Casares is a personal fan of Cavalino.
As we arrived and took our seats at the table, we were offered one of two cocktails: One watermelon and one cantaloupe. Both have attributes that result in amazing cocktails, so we went with one of each! After a few table introductions, we were ready to enjoy our meal. For our appetizer course, we started with the Coctel de Camaron (Shrimp Cocktail). As the "fresh is best" rule pertains to all ingredients, it is a requirement when it comes to seafood and the shrimp was just that. The bowl of chilled chunks of shrimp that were blended with a sweet tomato sauce and coupled with slices of creamy avocado was a winner. It made for the perfect snack and we enjoyed the saltine crackers that were provided which were "par for the course". In preparation for the main course, we were presented with three shot glasses and three tequilas were poured for our tequila "flight". All the Cavalino tequilas proved to be very smooth. Surprisingly, not one cringe or ugly face was made as we sipped and enjoyed. The Blanco, which is not aged, was a great start. The Resposado is aged for about 9 months and had very present cinnamon undernotes. The Anejo, a somewhat smoky tequila, is not oxygenated very long and is aged for at least 12 months. It would be a clear choice for scotch and whiskey drinkers..they will love this one!
First, we were served a trio of delicious meats that included a Grilled Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast, a Grilled Pork Tenderloin, and a Mesquite Grilled Beef Fajita. A meat lovers dream was the first thing that came to mind and each item had its own flair. The quail was tender and the saltiness from the tender jacket of bacon allowed this dish to stand out from the crowd. The pork tenderloin was great as well, and the beef fajitas were juicy and full of flavor. For the second entree, we were not surprised when a trio of enchiladas appeared. Called the "Sylvia's Tex-Mex Enchilada Tour", this plate featured enchiladas from north and south of the Texas-Mexico border. The Launa Madre (a crabmeat enchilada with cream seafood sauce), the Refugio (a cheese enchilada with chili gravy), and the Mexico City (a chicken enchilada with mole sauce) were all represented and served alongside black beans and Sylvia’s arroz de molcajete. If you could see the look on Urban Girl's face (who is a die hard Sylvia's enchiladas fan) we would have though she had died and gone to heaven. We ended our meal with the Chocolate Tres Leches for dessert. Okay, we just held up the white flag! You win.
It was such a pleasure to get the opportunity to speak with Sylvia first-hand about each dish and tequila as they came out. Our dinner conversation covered everything from tequila to food science, to food trucks and fresh food. This is one smart lady; she has her pulse on what is going on in the food world. Sylvia has a lot going on including her hands-on cooking classes and we even heard some news regarding an upcoming cooking show on one of Houston's local networks. You go girl! We would have been remiss, if we did not ask her about those knock-out menu items. We learned that she wanted to have an amazing fajita offering so badly (remember she was already the enchilada queen) that she spent 2 years doing research & development to ensure her fajitas were up to the standards of her enchiladas. Well honey - she knocked it out the park, because the fajitas have their own thing going on!
We are looking forward to more tequila dinners and attending one of the Sylvia's cooking classes in the future. Thought...maybe they could combine the cooking class and a tequila tasting?!?! However, can't promise how much cooking and learning would get done :-).
~ Urban Swank