Tequila is a drink that’s synonymous with folks having a great time and sometimes making some how shall we say, “rash” decisions. It’s a drink that’s native to the Guadalajara region of Mexico and it’s made from the blue agave plant.
Patron and tequila go hand in hand, it’s the number one producer of tequila in the world and it’s quality is unquestioned.
This past week I was invited to a tequila tasting at the Copper Canyon Grill where I got to try all sorts of fancy tequilas paired with ridiculously tasty food.
Now when it comes to tequila I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I brought a friend along who was able to confirm that what we were drinking was great. Also let me preface this by saying, hard alcohol and I are not really friends, but what drew me to the event was Copper Canyon Grill. I was invited before for their holiday menu which was a huge success. Their kitchen produces dishes that are out of this world delicious without being prohibitive in the price department. That’s a restaurant that I want to support.
The tasting was set up as a four course meal with different tequilas at each course, in order to ensure that I did not need to be wheeled out in a wheelbarrow I essentially took a sip of each tequila (i.e. I’m a lightweight). The dishes themselves had a decidedly southwestern theme which made sense since tequila is a Mexican drink.
The first course was a little bit of grilled baby corn, with popcorn, cojita cheese, and crema. It was then paired with the Roca Patron Silver. The course was out of this world good, I had never thought of popcorn in a dish for anything but it went really well with the tangy cheese and sweet baby corn. The silver had a smooth flavor that went down very easy (for my friend), he loved it so much he basically took most of mine too.
Along the way we learned about the fascinating process that is tequila production and what is involved in producing each kind of tequila. Once the blue agave plants are harvested, they’re baked in a wood oven for a little over three days so the plant caramelizes. From there it’s crushed with a volcanic stone called a Tahona stone. Some magical chemistry then takes place through the distilling process and voila! You have tequila.
The next course was probably my favorite course of the night, the Ceviche with pink grapefruit, avocado, and seasonal fish. First, I hate ceviche, but I LOVED this one, which means it was really really good. The pink grapefruit had just the right amount of acidity to flavor the fish and the avocado mousse on the bottom which had a touch of cilantro created an unreal taste. The whole dish was so clean and light, and it paired perfectly with our next tequila. We were given a Roca Patron Reposado. The reposado had a sweet vanilla flavor that was well balanced with a nice citrusy note. Look at me I’m a regular tequila connoisseur! Just kidding.
In between courses I was able to ask our tequila masters some fun questions like what the hell happens to all that unused agave? All unusable agave gets turned into mulch, which made me happy for some reason, I don’t know why. I love waste being turned into something usable.
The next dish was a crab cake with radish and chipotle mayo, this was a tiny crab cake bite that was paired with a tasty little sweet cornichon pickle. The whole bite was a little piece of heaven. Copper Canyon’s chefs has an uncanny ability to take even the most standard of dishes and make them something special.
From there we were given a piece of suckling pig with kumquats, pickled vegetables, and a tomatillo salsa. The pig was slow roasted in the house rotisserie for hours and it came out absolutely perfect. The kumquats were candied and provided a delicious tangy punch to the slow roasted pork shoulder. The only complaint I had was that it wasn’t enough! I wanted more so I could stuff my face with all that delicious pork. It was paired with a Roca Patron Anejo which was comparable to a bourbon. It had a smooth sweet flavor with notes of ginger, pepper, and grapefruit.
The final course was a chocolate torte infused with chili peppers and chocolate tequila liqueur. The dish was paired with a chocolate tequila which was thick and chocolatey. The chocolate torte was rich with a sweet hint of chocolate and a nice kick of spice. The liqueur was not my favorite, the consistency is a little too thick but others seemed to enjoy it.
I can’t say enough good things about Copper Canyon Grill, it sits like a suburban oasis out in Gaithersburg. Even though this menu was a special tasting menu specifically designed for the tequilas, to me it was a perfect representation of the skill their kitchen has. I dare you to leave this restaurant without having a satisfying dining experience.
If you’re a tequila drinker, I probably don’t need to tell you this, but Roca Patron should be on your radar.