Scene & Heard: Mexican Munchies
Paper Edition | Page: 24
Food is one of the proudest claims to fame of Mexico Although it is still uncommon in Jakarta, where many people are more familiar with the nation’s export of telenovela in the 1990s, the North American land’s cuisine dates back thousands of years and has influences from Mayan, Aztec and Spanish communities.
In November 2010, in recognition of its rich traditions, UNESCO designated the cuisine as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.
For a spicy taste of Mexico right here in Jakarta, take a bite from the Mexican Food Festival at Hotel Gran Melia until Sept. 23. The hotel flew in Chef Cesar Alejandro Canche Cauich of Melia Cabo Real to serve genuine Mexican dishes at its newly refurbished Café Gran Via.
The 36-year-old chef, who cooked for delegates at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos last June, said genuine Mexican cuisine’s big difference with Tex-Mex dishes like fajitas or burritos is its heady complexity of spices.
“To cook Mexican cuisine, you need to use fresh ingredients and spices such as garlic, onion, coriander, poblano, habanero and serrano,” he said.
For the two-week food festival, the chef has prepared four menus, to be served on an alternating schedule. Among his favorite dishes are fish fillet Veracruz- style, shrimp with tequila and Mexican style beef strips.
“Most Mexican dishes are either grilled or pan fried, which uses a little amount of cooking oil. The simplest Mexican dish is Ceviche Acapulco style, in which we marinate fish with garlic, onion, coriander, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil until the meat of the fish is cooked by the lemon juice, and then it’s ready to eat,” he explained.
The buffet is Rp 228,000++ per person, inclusive of other international buffet items and free flow of iced tea or lemon tea. For the Sunday brunch and Friday seafood night it is priced at Rp 298,000++ per person, inclusive of free flow non-alcoholic drinks; however, with free flow non-alcoholic drinks and selected beers and wines it is Rp 398,000++ per person.
There will also be a cooking demonstration on Mexican cuisine on Sept. 15 at the restaurant. The session from 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. is priced at Rp 450,000 net per person, inclusive of full lunch at Café Gran Via (excluding alcoholic drinks). + Tifa Asrianti