We were reminded of Belmond Hotels’ extraordinary commitment to culinary excellence at a lunch recently at beautiful Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara.
Four very talented chefs combined their magic to create a dazzling presentation of dishes from Belmond properties. They were Sylvain Delpique from “21” in New York; Johan Antonio Juárez Arzola from Belmond Casa De Sierra Nevada, San Miguel De Allende, Mexico; Edgar Chavez from Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico; and Johan Denizot, executive chef at Belmond El Encanto.
We were greeted on the sunny terrace with cool Champagne and no less than eight reception appetizers: from Belmond El Encanto–sushi grade ahi tuna sashimi with vodka pressed cucumber and grated horseradish; savory yellow corn “torched” pie with avocado fluff and bacon crisp. From Belmond Maroma Resport & Spa in the Riviera Maya–guacamole with pomegranate and Chapulines, those crunchy Mexican grasshoppers; halibut ceviche “Zihatanejo” style, with Serrano Chile, lime and cilantro. From New York’s ‘21’–truffled quail eggs and their famous ‘21” sliders made with prime aged beef, arugula aioli, onion marmalade and cheddar cheese. And from Belmond Casa De Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende–pork tenderloins “Xoconostle” with cactus and prickly pear plus a dried chili chicken soup studded with beans and topped with sour cream.
And that was just for starters. What followed was an exceptional symphony that expressed the local bounty and unique tastes that these chefs deftly selected to display their talents.
Chef Chavez was inspired to present an amuse bouche of chilled avocado soup with coconut and cucumber, jicama and granny smith apple. Chef Denizot then offered a first course of local halibut crudo with Santa Barbara sea urchin, Vietnamese flavors and Goleta avocado.
We had our choice of three second courses, an organic kale salad with Burrata cheese, crushed pine nuts, local strawberries and aged Balsamic from Belmond El Encanto; a baked Mayan “Tikinxie” grouper with cherry tomato, habanero pepper, epazote and oregano from Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa; and grilled farm raised French quail
with shaved Brussels sprouts, Meyer lemon gremolata and petite greens from ‘21’.
We were just getting started. A choice of entrees heightened the excitement over the day’s memorable repast: black quinoa risotto with grilled heirloom vegetables, roasted pear, dried olives and fried herbs from Belmond El Encanto; grilled wild white sea bass with Guajillo chilies, avocado, achiote paste, cumin, pineapple and tomato from Belmond Casa De Sierra Nevada; and prime aged New York sirloin with cippolini onion marmalade, herb potato chip and green peppercorn jus from ‘21’.
Incredible. All of it. A rare indulgence in regional cuisines–Mexican roasting, California freshness, delicate flavors infused with innovative spices and ingredients, iconic dishes with a twist, that displayed four dedicated men’s passion for cooking and love of food. A feast for all the senses for even the flowers that graced the tables were works of art.
Local white and red wines, perfectly selected to complement this array of tastes, were expertly served as was this whole affair’s many plates. Belmond El Encanto’s staff moved like a corps de ballet, quietly and gracefully.
The finish did not disappoint at all. This superb day ended with Belmond El Encanto’s Enchanted Floating Island, their signature dessert of vanilla custard, twice baked meringue with a caramel cage.
Bottom line: an enriching and extraordinary culinary celebration from a most celebrated hotel and luxury travel adventure company. We encourage you to travel and stay with Belmond so you can see for yourself how their cuisine and hospitality can touch you very deeply. http://www.belmond.com
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