WHAT STARTED AS A SPECIAL WORKSHOP ONCE A YEAR IN SEPTEMBER to inspire the pros with new concepts in Yucatecan cuisinehas become so popular that we now offer it all year long, for a minimum of two people.
The workshops were designed to be all about fresh takes on Yucatecan food: how to prepare it and where to eat it! The class of 2010 enjoyed excursions as well as culinary instruction with Chef David Sterling, a day with Guest Chef Roberto Solis of the ultra-hip restaurant Néctar, as well as meals at some of Mérida’s top restaurants every night of their stay.
On the first day, students experienced Chef David’s sans pareil history and overview of Yucatecan history and Maya culinary heritage, followed by his famous market tour. Dishes prepared that day were Squash Seed “Paté” on Herbed Polenta Tostadas; Sopa de Lima with Ceviche Quenelles; Roulade of Chicken Breast and Paté de Campagne in Charred Chile Sauce; Braised Chaya with Ibes and Oven-Roasted Organic Grape Tomatoes; and for dessert, Mexican Chocolate Soufflé with Papantla Vanilla Crème Anglaise. Chef David presented each dish with a story of its history and ingredients.
On the second day, students toured the D’Aristi factory at the charming Hacienda Vista Alegre to see how the local honey-anise liqueur Xtabentún is produced, and sampled some exquisite aged Caribbean rums and tropical fruit liqueurs also artisanally produced at D’Aristi. Back at Los Dos, the menu for the day was Coconut Shrimp with Tamarind Glazed Bacon and Sweet-Sour Pineapple Chutney; Parfait of Guacamole and Gazpacho with Lime Cream; Achiote-Grilled Organic Quail with Sautéed Local Mushrooms, Longaniza and Jamaica Reduction; Jícama, Watermelon and Organic Greens “Xek” in Pineapple Vinaigrette; and a decadent dessert of Brioche “Caballeros Pobres” with Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream.
On the last day of the workshop, students visited Ki’Xocolatl, owned by Belgian chocolatier Mathieu Brees, who is producing his own chocolate start to finish – from growing the cacao, through fermentation and roasting, to the final grinding and preparation as fine Belgian chocolates.
Overseeing culinary instruction at Los Dos was Chef Roberto Solis, who not unexpectedly surprised and delighted all present with his clever, tongue-in-cheek creations. He proudly showed off his new portable Japanese grill, acquired during a recent summer inspirational stint in Tokyo. Roberto’s tools and processes are always inventive and up-to-the-minute while remaining incredibly simple. His pork dish was composed of just three ingredients: delectable thick-cut pork chops, a marinade of mezcal and our traditional Yucatecan recado negro (charred chile paste). The first step was to French the bones of the chops, then pan sear them over high heat.
Next, Roberto thickly coated the chops in a granular black powder, which he explained was the recado negro that he had dehydrated and pulverized.
The chops were then finished outdoors on Roberto's new Japanese grill.
For color contrast he had puréed chaya (a local vegetable rather like Swiss chard), then produced it as a non-sweet ice cream using an instant-freeze machine. This screamingly bright green purée was stirred into the skillet with a bit of minced onion, followed by cooked minced bacon and a swirl of crème fraîche.
A bizarre stalk of leafless watercress sprinkled with a mixture of powdered chiles and ground chapulines (Oaxacan grasshoppers) provided a delightful texture and sort of ikebana finish to the plate. When plates returned from the dining room, nothing remained but a clean, dry bone.
The Master Class at Los Dos is an all-inclusive package featuring airport transfers and all ground transportation, four nights’ accommodation, two culinary-themed excursions, continental breakfast each morning of your stay, 10 hours culinary instruction, three meals at Los Dos, and three evening meals at local restaurants.