A year ago, I watched Chef’s Table on Netflix featuring Chef Enrique Olivera from Mexico City. In that episode, we witness a love affair between Oaxaca and a humbled genius. It was about a chef’s journey who was taking simple, fresh ingredients of Mexico and turning them into an art form and enhancing those flavors through his modernity. You can imagine how happy I was to find out that Chef Enrique and his partner Chef Daniela Soto-Innez were hosting a dinner featuring Cosme with Lomita Estates Winery in Valle de Guadalupe.
Lomita Estates Winery in Valle de Guadalupe
We were greeted visually with colorful pink paper-mache flags and delicious Sangria with seasonal fruit. Right away the sweet taste of papaya seduced me into wanting more. We were directed down the path of the vineyard where sounds of Banda played. Banda is a four-piece band traditionally played when celebrating and this was a true celebration. It was an honor to have highly esteemed Olivera in Baja.
Our first course was a seafood cocktail served in a small mason jar filled with fresh octopus, shrimp, shrimp consommé, citrus, cucumber, young Mexican avocado, and ketchup. The “Coctelero” vigorously stirred the ketchup, took a taste, and then handed it to us complimented with the traditional saltine cracker. A small bowl of fresh tomatillo salsa and a smoky Chile de Arbol was offered to add additional flavor. The music played loudly, and we danced because our hips could not help sway to the music. The colors of the flags, the sweetness of the Sangria and the sea of Cortez flavors in our Campechana quickly had me possessed.
Immediately we were escorted up the hill to Lomita Estates where rows of wine greeted our arrival. The jasmine of the red wine quickly cleansed our pallets and prepared us for our next encounter. To the right, we felt a cold draft coming from the cement walls of the cellar full of barrels of wine. Again, reminding us of how beautiful this estate is and located right here in Baja. A glowing light guided our steps upstairs where Lomita revealed a mural from a famous artist Jorge Tellaeche.
An array of Tapas of Wagu tostadas, Rellenos (sweet chiles) stuffed with Salpicon an authentic cold meat, mixed with radishes was beautifully displayed greeting our reception. We drank and admired the mural. Bright colors, depicting imagines of Aztec warriors, flowers, birds, and a wonderful array of enticing visual senses. Jazz played in the background, and the guests took pictures, drank, laughed, and enjoyed the moment.
For our next serving, we found ourselves outside under the stars in a beautifully lit lounge with the Talking Heads playing Psycho Killer on a Big movie screen. We were handed a freshly squeezed Margarita on the rocks and asked to wait, socialize, and listen to the music. We were stripped of our senses from the other two rooms and quickly exported to a scene from an 80’s club. I felt like Alice jumping into a rabbit hole and I was ready to ride! What was next?
Our dinner started with a grilled Scallop in Shishito Mole under a jicama dome then followed with a pickled bamboo and uni for the second course. The third course was his infamous soft-shell crab that was crispy, savory, and soft. The fourth course was a grilled octopus in his popular peanut mole and for dessert an avocado sorbet with berries. Our last course was served with shots of espresso and Mezcal. The beats of Cumbia Mafia gathered everyone on the dance floor. Both chefs grabbed a “Mezcalito” and joined in the celebration.
The detail and thought process behind their dishes were on point. Olivera gave us a glimpse into his wizardry that evening and enchanted us all. Both Olivera and Soto-Innez managed to capture all our senses; visually, taste, sound, and touch. Every setting had its own personality and exceeded my expectations. As a chef, I felt vulnerable, and the only time I felt like this was the birth of my son. For a second as I laid in bed, still intoxicated I wondered if I had died and gone to heaven in the presence of Gods.
Dining Experience with Chef Enrique Olivera & Chef Daniela Soto-Innez
Chef Rosie is the Chef Owner of Provecho Grill in Menifee, California and Xicana (coming soon). She is a two-time winner of the SoCal Chef Open and Farmer’s Market Flip, Season One, Episode One. She can also be found writing about food for Menifee Buzz and Valley News.
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