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Carlos Fuenmayor Carlos
Fuenmayor

Private
Chef
Caterer
Exceptional
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Food & Service

Latin Fever Sabrosito-Style

I’m really excited and honoured, and humbled, too.

The LCBO has picked me as their Featured Chef for the 2008 Winter Season Cooking Education Program.
This is my second Latin Fever Series for the LCBO, and the first time in seven years that a South American chef has been chosen to be Featured Chef.

It’s also a testament to what I’ve been working on – establishing Sabrosito as the go-to Latino cooking teacher and gourmet-party caterer

At the Kingsway LCBO kitchen

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Talking about my roots and celebrating Latino food and heritage have given me the chance to expand people’s understanding of this cuisine.

It covers great many cultures, is influenced and developed by three continents, 23 countries, and many island nations.

For me, La Cocina de las Americas, or The Cuisine of the Americas, is rich, fresh, humble and beautiful, like many other world cuisines, let’s face it.

But just as people’s perception of Italian food has evolved far beyond spaghetti and pizza over the last 20 years, this is the age when popular awareness of Latino food will go far beyond burritos and guacamole.

More and more, people are going to be working on their guisados and tiraditos. They’re going to be expanding their ideas about cactus and chocolate [more on that soon] and daring to buy and cook boniato [white sweet potato] and chayote [vegetable pear]

I see it when I work on dinner party menus with my clients. I see it in the faces of the people who participate in my cooking classes.

I love what I’m seeing.

For that, I say, Gracias

Specials thanks in particular to the LCBO’s Joanne Leese and Rita Stephens for their recognition of my work and continued support. It’s always a pleasure working with you both. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.

Pick up a fresh copy of the Educational Program Brochure at your local LCBO. Take advantage of their great roster of classes.

Yours in good food and Latin Fever, LCBO-style
Carlos

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I’ve teamed up with my friend Rosa Maria Tortorici, who runs Living Spanish, a unique Spanish school, where she takes her students outside the classroom and to cafés, to the market or into her home to cook them a meal, all in Spanish. This way, she says, real life inspires their language learning and not the conjugations of verbs.

I met Rosa Maria a party that I hosted in 2002, but it wasn’t until this year that we really started talking. The subject? The relationship of language, food and culture.

We were having dinner at Torito one night, and she mentioned that she’s taking culinary courses at George Brown College, and that’s when the conversation got very interesting. Before we knew it, we were on the subject of how we both teach in our prospective fields and that maybe we could do something together. Like a cooking class.

“Let’s do it!” she said.

And this how it’s going down: Living Spanish with Sabrosito

M E N U

Special thanks to Esther Benaim of Great Cooks for opening the doors of her beautiful cooking studio to us, to Anne Theunissen of Pacific Wines and Spirits, who is going to pour the wine and tell us a bit about her matches, and to Stephanie Ortenzi of Pistachio, for helping us get our message out.

From Rosa Maria and I, Muchas Gracias

Yours in good food and new adventures,
Carlos

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The twelve annual Toronto International Latin Film Festival opens tomorrow, but the ball got rolling on last Wednesday night.

Festival director Raül Galvez and his wife Kim hosted a launch bash at the Drake and put on a fine spread: a great selection of Latino canapés and jamon serrano courtesy of Catch Fine Foods. Delicious.
As Kim told the crowd, the festival showcases the cinematic achievements of Latino film, giving film aficionados good reason to see these countries as makers of noteworthy films.

I’m seeing a similar movement among my foodie clients. More and more I’m finding a growing curiosity and a geniune desire to learn more about Latin food.

I wonder if there’s a Latino filmmaker out there cooking up a South American Big Night?

The festival wraps up October 20, so don’t miss out.

Yours in great food and fine films from all over The Americas
Carlos

This is how I learned about Pilar coming to town, which is exciting in itself.

I got a call from Andrew Gardner, my old friend from my days at Xango, who’s now part of the management team at Reds Bistro.

He and Reds Chef Michael Steh, invited me to come and talk to them about Latino cuisine. They wanted to add something authentically South American to their repertoire for when their distinguished guest chef arrives from Chile comes to cook in their kitchen next week.

Kicking off on October 1st, and wrapping up with a gala finale tasting menu dinner on October 6th, Reds is hosting “Flavours of Chile,” a celebration of Chilean food and wine.

Ceviche and Scallop with salsa verde
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Andrew and Mike were particularly interested in humitas, a distinctly Chilean dish, made with tender, ground corn, onions, smoked paprika, basil and butter or pork fat, depending on the maker’s taste. The mixture is wrapped in corn husks, tied with string into neat parcels and then steamed. They’re often accompanied by pebre, a raw salsa of sweet peppers, chiles, onions, tomato and cilantro, a fresh counterpoint to the humita’s sweet creamy contents.

Humitas have become known as a Latino staple because they’re also made throughout the Andes, from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador, and all the way down to Argentina, each country doing its own unique version.

I love doing cooking demonstrations, but this was a little different. Something beautiful happened when I tied on my apron in the Reds kitchen.
Since starting my catering business last year, I haven’t been on the line of a restaurant kitchen and had no idea how much I missed it. Cooking that afternoon, I got all juiced up with the adrenalin that comes from being at the stoves. It’s the buzz all cooks get hooked on — the creative joy of making something that tastes great, in the company of others who feel the same way.

It was a blast. Thanks so much for that, guys.

For her visit, Pilar has prepared three different menus of regional dishes, and will cook alongside Mike, who will be putting his own brilliant spin on Latino.

The cherry on top? Chilean wines matched to each course.

No se lo pierdan*
* Spanish for “Don’t miss it.”

For more info call 416-862-7337

For more on the stars of the show:

Pilar Rodriguez
Michael Steh

Yours in good food, working with great chefs,
Carlos
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I don’t know what all the fuss was about .Gourmet devotes their September issue entirely to Latino Food, and according to Editor Ruth Riechl, in her interview with the Reuters News Service, it didn’t sit well with some of her readers.

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She says she got comments like, “This is disgusting. We never eat this kind of food,” and “Isn’t Gourmet a French word?”

Luckily for her, happily for me, others saw it differently: “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” and “This is the best issue you’ve ever done.”

In my eyes, it was cause for celebration. To have Latino cuisine covered in depth and with such appreciation – this is what my work is all about.

As a South American chef, I live to introduce more and more Toronto foodies to this cuisine. It’s great to have Gourmet Magazine bring it to such a huge audience.

Back in July, during my interview with Kevin Sylvester on CBC Radio, he pointed out that just 20 years ago, we finally had real Italian food in Toronto, not just pizza and spaghetti. Latino cuisine has to travel the same road. Only then will the public’s perception of Latino food move beyond tacos, burritos, nachos and empanadas.

Kevin also wanted to know if there was real Latino fare being cooked here in Toronto. Absolutely, and a lot of it is in the suburbs. As with those early Italian restaurants, there are often home cooks at the stove, and you can’t get more authentic than that.

My favourites downtown are Cosina de Doña Luz, Boulevard Café and Milagro.

Congratulations to Gourmet Magazine, and thanks to Maricel Presilla and her work as a chef, scholar, restaurateur, Cuban native and a leading authority on Latin American and Spanish culture and cuisine. In her Question and Answer profile, she talks about European and Latin-American geography and history, which plays an important part. She talks about how pan-Latino culture is evolving in North America. My favourite was her remark about how, when thinking about Latin cuisine, it’s important to look at culture, not country.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Otherwise, how else can I communicate to my clients how the contribution of 21 countries and some island nations can all come together to form this lovely cuisine.

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On display…. Cactus leaves, tomatillos, Poblano, banana, caracol peppers and Serrano chillies

Any chance of a national Canadian magazine taking a similar look at Latino food and culture here?

Your in good Latino food,
Carlos

I have been stewing over this post and then putting aside and then picking it back up for a couple of months now.

Wouldn’t you know it: just as I get ready to post, the Globe does a piece on sherries. And then my friend Tammy tells me yesterday that the Vintages site is featuring Spain and some sherries, so it looks like we’re all on the same page, as it were — looking at ways to pair food and sherry because it’s such a great idea.

This is how it started.

At the Terroir Symposium at Hart House last March, I found myself sitting next to sommelier Tammy Dopson. Before long we were on the subject of Spanish wines, which we both love, when she pipes up, What a shame about sherry. They are so great, but they’re so hard to sell, because people just don’t understand them.

That’s when the light bulb went on. Wouldn’t it be great to do a meal matching food to sherries? she says. a natural thing to done. And that’s exactly what we did.

We set the date for mid April, wrote the menu, sent out invites, and Tammy went shopping for sherries. It is actually quite hard to find good sherries in Toronto. She scoured the far reaches, but at the end, there it was — the city’s best collection of sherries, in my refrigerator, thanks to brilliant sleuthing by Tammy, and here is how it all went down.

Tasting and paring notes by Tammy Dopson of Wine Seller Services.

Canapés

  • Japanese soba noodles, greens & miso dressing
  • Ginger shrimp dumplings
  • Annatto roasted pork tenderloin & corn salsa

Our first was the El Maestro Sierra Fino (with a whopping 16% alcohol) and the Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada. The nutty, aromatic fino worked with all the delicate flavours of the canapes. However, the salty Manzanilla brought more to the table by amplifying the taste of each ingredient. Both matched well for different reasons, but the overall impression was that the Manzanilla accentuated the positive in all of these canapés.

The main meal

King mushroom, petit pois, asparagus & manzanilla* oil dressing

(To avoid confusion, manzanilla in this case refers to fresh organic chamomile from my in-laws  garden. I infused the leaves and buds for five weeks in extra virgin olive to pair it up with this dish.)

We chose Bailen Dry Oloroso from Osbourne because the tasting notes cite mushroom and almond, and we weren’tt disappointed. Going to this oloroso from the lighter sherries we paired to the canapes seemed to make every bite much more fulfilling. This very solid, good value wine harmonized all elements of this course. We also went back to see how the Manzanilla would do with this course . As much as the flavours were a bang-on match, the overall mouth feel didn’t have the same impact as the oloroso.

Duck confit w/sweet potato & caramelized onions

Anticipating sweet notes, we moved onto another oloroso, which boasted its own caramelized accents but had extreme dryness in the finish. The Asuncion Oloroso by Alvear (weighing in at 19% alcohol) was a slam-dunk in how it meshed with the sweet potatoes and onions. The duck was brought into the fold as the sherry wrapped it in layer of tropical nut flavours and citrus notes.

Calamari and chorizo w/ fennel, sweet peppers & lemon

With the move toward some spice, we decided to temper the mild flame with some less dry sherry styles. We cracked open the very rare 20-year-old Dos Cortados Palo, and Nutty Solera Oloroso, a perennial favourite. Eyes were smiling around the table as we discovered the duel nature of the Palo Cortado. It starts out like a fino and morphs into an oloroso, giving us the best of both worlds, catering to all palates. The fleeting caramel notes, intense dry finish and balanced acidity made this course more delightful than it already was. The Nutty Solera also did very well. The nose was intriguing, and the spice and fruit notes welded themselves to the proteins in this plate. This is the best value on the market for sherry.

Lobster raviolo & cilantro-lime emulsion

This course called on the two wines form the previous course. The Solera’s nuttiness emphasized the shellfish flavours beautifully, but Andrew [as in Andrew Gardener, General Manager of Reds, a guest and fellow wine-lover] and I had a retro moment, flipping back to the Sierra Fino for this dish, since fino is hailed as a classic match with lobster. We were glad we did, because the fino took the mild lobster flavour and made it sublime, despite feeling lighter on our already besotted palates.

Spanish queso fresco, membrillo, pistachio

We started with the medium dry Del Principe Amontillado Muy Viejo. The cheese and the crisp nature of the amontillado were a great match here, so that neither food nor wine overwhelmed the other. The wine chocolate and almond notes played out well enough, but not fabulously with this dish. We decided to revisit this wine with dessert. The Palo Cortado was tried again, with continuing raves about how well it went with everything. Then we decided to revisit the drier Oloroso Gran Barquero —not technically considered a sherry because it is not from Jerez region. The tasting notes on this wine mentioned pistachios, and the smoky, full-bodied wine did not disappoint and offered proof of how easy sherry’s food-compatibility was. It is big on nuts, but the tactile cohesion of the dish and the oily yet crisp wine were a fine marriage.

Vanilla-roasted pears, pressed yogurt & Mexican honey

The medium-dry amontillado impressed but not nearly as well as the Royal Cream Sherry from Real Tesoro. I think we all have memories of our grannies hoarding the sweet stuff in their pantries. But that became history as the sweet wine cut through the dairy creaminess and matched the pear and honey flavours with chocolate and caramel.

I brought chocolate covered pretzels for some fun, and we had them with the cream sherry and a rare but exquisite Oloroso Dulce Matusalem Muy Viejo from Gonzalez Byass, which was not cheap, hard to find and only to be shared with those who get’s it. And I think we forgot all our troubles at that moment, extolling the virtues of this sweet nectar and how it finished our night on a high. This sexy 30-year- old dulce has been described as Christmas in a bottle. Looks like it came a little early this year.

Thanks Tammy, for having such a great idea, helping me to make it happen, running around town for these gems and taking us on a tasting tour.

::

And this, of course begs the question: Who’s pouring great sherries in Toronto?

Top of my list is Casa Barcelona, with over 40 to try. Cava is easily a strong second. Torito is strong in third place and a personal favourite. Owner Veronica Laudes is working on adding even more sherries to her list. Also look to Embrujo Flamenco on the Danforth, covering the east end of town.

The master list of that evening’s sherries, with notes:

El Maestro Sierra Fino from El Maestro
Penetrating grass, olive brine and almost floral

Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada from Bodegas Hidalgo
Rich, exotic, aged, fresh-baked apples, apricots

Bailen Dry Oloroso from Osbourne Y Cia
Almond, dried stone fruits, spicy, mushroom, almond, sea salt, white pepper, long finish

Asuncion Oloroso from Alvear
Dry, medium body, caramel, nut and marmalade nose

Dos Cortados 20 Year Old Rare Old Dry Palo Cortado from Bodegas Williams & Humbert
Simultaneously full bodied and very dry, intense nuttiness, creamy caramel character

Nutty Solera Oloroso from Gonzalez Byass & Co.
Raisin nose, marmalade, toasted nuts, cinnamon, well rounded and medium dry

Del Principe Amontillado Muy Viejo
Medium sweet, chocolate, cherry, fig, almond

Gran Barquero Oloroso from Perez Barquero
Dry, smoky caramel, pistachio, almonds

Royal Cream Sherry from Marqus del Real Tesoro
Chocolate, caramel, nutty tones, medium sweet

Oloroso Dulce Matusalem Muy Viejo from Gonzalez Byass
Fruit cake, molasses, marmalade, pecan, pine needles

Three more sherries to praise …

Lustau, Solera Reserva
Rare amontillado, dry, rich, subtle, remarkable character

Aranda Cream, Sherry de Jerez
Very rich, fruity, with the flavour of an old oloroso

Suret de Picar, Toro Atravesado
Very dark, strong smell and full bouquet

Yours in good food and great sherries,

Carlos

Dishing it up at DISH

I’ve been following pastry chef Charmaine Baan’s career for years.

The first time I heard about her was through Andrew Gardner, when he was at Splendido, back in the day. Her name would crop up in the food press from time to time, and I finally met her in person at Terroir in March.

She was attending with fellow Dish-er Elena Embrioni, whom i originally met when she was still at Southern Accent. Elena introduced us, and we had a quick chat. Then I got the fateful call from her, with the happy news that she was inviting me to do a class.

The focus was barbecue and beef, and comparing cuts of meat, with different marinades

It was a great success, and they’re going to have me back, which makes me very happy.

Here’s the menu:

*

Salmon en papillote on the grill w/ fennel & red onion

*

Heirloom tomatoes, baby arugula, cider vinegar & basil oil

*

Mixed grill of beef tenderloin, rib eye and flank steak
w/ their own unique marinades*, sweet potatoes, watercress salad

[*I gave the tenderloin a Mediterranean treatment, with rosemary, garlic, sea salt and bay leaf; for the rib eye, I went “Mama-style,” which is celery, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme and dry white wine, named in this case for Lidia Bastianich; and for the flank, I went Asian, lemongrass, chiles, fresh orange, garlic, coriander seed, sesame oil and soy]

*

Charmaine’s chocolate truffles
Exotic fruit platter w/ dragon fruit, papaya, lichee, pineapple, mango

*

Stay tuned for more upcoming cooking classes and dates.

Yours in good food at the grill
Carlos

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"