Thursday night was the kickoff event for the 5th annual El Saber Del Sabor (literally, the knowledge of flavor) Festival Gastronómico Oaxaca 2012. Early in the day, the Plaza de la Danza had been tented and turned into a colorful banquet hall.
A couple of the evening’s chefs arrived early and were cooling their heels, waiting to begin doing what they do best. Hmmm… what’s with the bricks on top of the cantera? (Stay tuned!)
By 9:30 PM the tables had filled and cooking was well underway.
Casa Oaxaca chef and event host, Alejandro Ruiz Olmedo circulated, greeted old friends and fans, and was interviewed by a crush of press. Cameras and microphones were omnipresent — good for publicity, bad for navigating the aisles en route to food!
To begin the evening and ready the palate, wines, beers, aguas, and (of course!) mezcals were offered. We sampled a couple of mezcals from El Jolgorio and all I can say is, Wow! (BTW, that’s a good, “Wow!”)
The festival seeks to promote and protect Oaxaca’s traditional cuisine and to inspire innovation. For this evening’s event, we were invited to sample an incredible range of appetizers, side dishes, main courses, and desserts from 23 cooks, representing the 8 regions of Oaxaca.
I think I must have tasted at least 30 dishes — and this was late at night. Needless to say, no breakfast for me the next morning.
And, remember the bricks? My favorite sight of the evening were the little piggies roasting on bamboo skewers over red and white-hot coals. The tag line for the festival is, “tierra, fuego y cocina” (earth, fire, and kitchen). Yes!!!
From the Plaza de la Danza, the festival moves to restaurants throughout the city, where 36 renowned chefs from all over Mexico have come to prepare innovative cuisine that pays homage to Oaxaqueño foodstuffs and traditions.
A big “thank you” to Henry and Rosa (Amate Books) for inviting me to share such a delightful and delicious evening!
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