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Tequila sunset: Pairing dinner at Vintage 423 features flavors of Mexico

Several exclusive dishes created by Vintage 423 executive chef Rafael Zamora will be featured in a tequila pairing dinner on June 29. (Courtesy of Rafael Zamora)

Creating a menu for an exquisite tequila pairing dinner took Vintage 423 executive chef Rafael Zamora back to his youth.

“It’s like when you go back to your roots, when I was (younger) drinking with my dad and grandpa tasting the tequila blanco, the salsa blanca,” Zamora said. “And my dad said, ‘This is to keep you warm.’ And it was a wintertime at that time. Now I saw an article on social media saying the items you’re cooking right now, it takes you back to when you were a child, so when I did that tequila (menu), I was doing the same things – cooking, tasting – and all of my memories went back and I said ‘wow.’ So it was like when I was a niño taking those pieces of tomato from the farm, those chiles and tasting the tequila, that’s in my head. So when I did the pairing with this, it was like, wow, my childhood.”

Many Vintage 423 patrons had been asking for a pairing featuring Mexican tequilas and cuisine.

“People were asking, the customers were asking for Mexican items, and tequila from Mexico, and they actually wanted to do it and I said ‘yes,’ ” Zamora said. “I wanted to do something that represents Mexico and New Mexico.”

The reception features an amuse-bouche of yellowfin tuna from Hawaii, which is marinated in fresh mint leaf and served chilled. It will be paired with Chamucos Reposado. The first course is a salad made of local ingredients, including watermelon from Edgewood, queso fresco from Belen and wild honey from Farmington. It will be topped with a tequila mignonette made with Hatch red chile and fresh figs from California. It will be served with Don Julio Blanco. The intermezzo is a palate cleanser featuring Mexican mango and guava, which is frozen and turned into shaved ice. It will be served in a shot glass and topped with a dusting of chile powder.

The star of the main course is the rib-eye paired with DeLeón Reposado.

“It is a little cut of the eye on the rib-eye, and it’s really fatty, flavorful and rich, Zamora said. “It’s like a butter – it melts in your mouth. I’m going to serve that with a fried Polish egg, scallops from the East Coast, and green chiles from Hatch.”

Guest chef Brianna Dennis will help with the dessert course, which will be complemented by Patrón XO Cafe, which will be used in a tequila zabaione. The dessert is a basil-mint gelato served with tequila caramel popcorn, rose petals and basil bubble sugar.

“It’s going to be mucho bueno,” Zamora said.