Tag Archives: Mexico

Biko – Mexico City, Mexico

 

 

Biko, another of Mexico DF’s restaurant jewels, is full of surprising textures, colors, flavors, scents and emotions. Looking at the two extremely artistic and diverse chefs, one can see where all of this creativity comes from.

Mikel Alonso is originally from Biarritz, part of the French Basque country. He majored in chemical engineering, and then decided to delve into Culinary Artistry at one of the most prestigious schools in Spain – the Luis Irizar in San Sebastian.  Soon after, a job offer brought him to Mexico where he met Bruno Oteiza, a young Basque with an extensive resume, having worked in top restaurants both in Europe and Mexico.  From these two wonderful minds, comes the creation of Biko.

For the last three years Biko has been included in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants and this year (2012) it has been awarded with the #38 position. Biko offers three menus: ‘Creative’,’Traditional’ and a chef’s tasting menu. The orientation is avaunt-grade Basque with a Mexican adaptation.

We were welcomed with a foam of beetroots, quite very gentle flavour and ethereal texture, while retaining the robust earthiness of the beet.  Happily, we chose 5 dishes and desert from the Creative menu- as it seemed the most exciting!  The staff was very knowledgeable and accommodating.  An amiable touch was that when they noticed we were sharing, they plated each dish into half-portions for each of us, so we could better share the presentations individually.

Unfortunately, we were not able to take photos of our meal as we were only able to visit during dinner service.  We think it is a bit rude during that time to bring out the camera and lights, etc in such a formal environment.  So the photos do not match up with what we so scrumptiously enjoyed. Hopefully the words will bring out the flavors that live on in our pallets!

 

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Our Meal:

Espárragos con Aromas de Campo– White asparagus braised in the salamander with a mojo de alcaravea, rosemary and verdolagas bathed in a vinaigrette of green and white asparagus, topped by a sheet of camomile and flowers.

This dish could have been an example in any of the Modernist Cuisine Cookbooks.  Delicate and delightful, truly giving off the smells of a sunny alpine meadow.  A bit of gelatinized chamomile suspend over the bed of asparagus below.  Each bite was light and promising, like the first day of spring.

What we found very impressive over the course of the meal was how each dish was more powerful then the prior. We ordered in no particular sequence, but the kitchen presented each dish in perfect progression.  With the flavors continually growing stronger and the denser.  As an accomplished sommelier will trot out white wines, then roses and finally the reds during a tasting.  Such that the heavy flavors do not overwhelm the palette and hide the finesse of the lighter grapes.

Hamachi y Aguacate– Hamachi marinated in mirin, dark beer and soy sauce with avocado and micro croutons.

We just about ordered this simple yet exquisite dish again for dessert.  The perfectly  supple Yellow Tail was bathed in a sweet and sultry glaze.  The fish was so soft that it reviled the avocado.  Simple idea with mouth-watering results.

Nuestro Frijol Liquido– Liquified beans poured over a dumpling of shrimp with Avocado with a touch of Avocado leaves

The bowl arrived with a perfectly spherical ball of shrimp melded with avocado, surrounded by a sprinkling of herbs. This treasure was then buried under a bean broth poured over the top by the waiter, after we had a chance to take in the composition. Strong in flavor and delicate in texture, this was an outstanding soup breathed the aroma of earthiness from the pureed beans.

Pescado con Costra de Hongos y Refrito Aireado– Robolo (Sea Bass)  grilled with sauce of mushrooms and almonds, with potatoes and fried quintonil and an espuma of fried garlic oil, vinegar and porrusalda.

A very nice fish that would have been much more memorable had it not been for the life-altering dish that came after and wiped it from memory ….

Pescado en Pipián– Robolo (Sea Bass) with a light pumpkin seed mole sauce, subtly flavored with purslane radish

One bite put me into shock.  I was not able to take another bit of food, and could barely move, for approximately 3 minutes.  Stunning in the literal sense of the word.   I believe that this Pescado en Pipián is the perfection of Sous Vide cooking.  The fish was moist and fresh and little puffs of steam came up and it just melted in your mouth.  It was wrapped in a green cake of pumpkin-seed (Pipián) mole. Mole is almost never used for seafood, but in this case you can see how tradition can better for change.  After having the Roboalo with Habenero and Polenta earlier in the day at Dulce Patria, we were very worried that it was not possible to produce a better Robolo..  Happily we were so very wrong!

Dessert:

Frutas con pieles de otras frutas (Fruits with the skin of other fruits)
– Roasted seasonal fruit wrapped in skin of other fruit (yes you read that correctly!) and topped with puree of raspberry and green pepper. Accompanied pulque bread ice cream

Ok, this we ordered just for the name and concept, and conceptually it is amazing.

Trufas Bronceadas – Spheres of molten chocolate dusted with bronze, served beside wine cured strawberries, an oven-dried fried pulque & nut cake, served with butter &  lemon ice cream.

However, no dessert can stand next to the ‘Bronzed Truffles’.  Easily one of the most spectacular of desserts we’ve ever had! Spectacular being also in the form of spectacle – an amazing performance by a dessert!  This was a 4 stage process that was a true culmination to an evening of gastronomy that had built from the first bite.

  1. Fill your mouth with the malto-dextrin and let it melt on your tongue.  (Think powdered sugar).
  2. Place the spherified molten chocolate truffle in your mouth with the wine-marinated strawberry and wait until it explodes, a chocolate bomb going off in your mouth.
  3. Follow this with the dehydrated cake to soak up the chocolate and add the slight woodiness of the nuts.
  4. Taste the completely opposite, yet complimentary pallatte cleansing flavor of the lemon butter iced cream.
  5. We immediately ordered the Trufas Bronceadas a second time.  It is not meant to, nor do you wish to, share!

After a short, but impressive, time in Mexico enjoying the barrage of flavors that assaulted us each time we ventured outside.  It was amazing to see a restaurant really stand out above the rest. Biko is true 3 hour culinary artistry journey that had us traverse a perfect plot triangle.

above – Trufas Bronceadas
BIKO
(52) 55 5282 2064
Presidente Masaryk 407 Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, 1550 Mexico City, DF, Mexico
www.biko.com.mx
OPEN HOURS:
1:30 pm – 11:00pm Monday – Saturday

Be Tulum Hotel – Tulum, Mexico

Be Tulum Hotel

(52) 01 800 231 46 83
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila  Km. 10
Zona Hotelera
77780 Tulum (Quintana Roo), Mexico

www.betulum.com

Tulum itself is a much chiller place then we expected after hearing it’s name for years in travel circles.  It is the essence of hippy-chic with a lovely variety of hotels and restaurants; none of which cross into pretension or put you off.  We stopped into many for a look at the rooms, grounds and menu.

Be Tulum is one of the more boutique of the hotels along the jungle road that is the main drag of Tulum.  An impressive gateway led through to a luxurious garden, full of green palms and hanging candles.  A winding footpath crawled its way towards the ocean, past a series of two story bungalows, each room with a very small private pool.

Here one runs into the only problem with Tulum.  As it is prime vacation territory, the ocean-front lots can be a bit small, and in the case of Be Tulum a bit overbuilt. A few less bungalows and a even just 2 meters more buffer between the path and the rooms would give the privacy one wants for the price-tag.

At the end of the path, lies the main pool, bar and dining area.  Definitely among the the most stylish of all the hotel bars in the area, it was well adorned with design furniture and a fashionable crown of good-looking adults.  The menu looked tasty, if not overwhelmingly Mexican, being mostly sushi and ceviches; but with El Tábano up the street your not far from your gastronomic fix .  The beach as always in Tulum is of wonderfully fine sand and blue water, if a bit narrow and public.

If you are looking for a place that is out of the bikini-catalog, I think Be Tulum could be it.

El Tábano – Tulum, Mexico

El Tábano

(52) 984 134 8725
Carrettera Boca Paila Km 5.
77780 Tulum, Mexicoo

eltabano.teatrobar@yahoo.com

OPEN HOURS:
8:00 am – 10:00pm Daily

El Tábano is first on the list of many a foodie review of Tulum.  So it was with some excitement that we ducked through the driftwood gate, into the open garden littered with tables and easing with well curated music.  The short answer is that El Tábano has by far the best dining in the area and owners Paf and Laura deserve all the kudos they receive.

Our lead was the cold tomatoe and papaya gazpacho.  Spectacularly refreshing, cool and sweet it was an instant winner, reinvigorating the palate on a hot afternoon.  Next the plates started coming quickly, a fresh guacamole salad, an organic bean salad, huitlacoche crepes, chili ancho stuffed with shrimp and nuts – each plate radiating forth with its own perfumed flavor contour, as dishes in Mexico tend to do.

The fresh fish tacos were quite good, but not quite as mind-boggling as those from the Viceroy in Playa del Carmen, which are very very very hard to top.  A highlight was the hot pepper salsa which was made fresh on our request.  The tomatillos and chillies were still warm from the stove top!

The menu changes consistently, and is quite malleable, as it is only chalk on the large blackboards by the entrance; easily alterable.  It is good to arrive early as items are only available until they run out, which they did 3 of the 3 times we were there.  Pricing is quite reasonable and many of the ingredients organic.  El Tábano was also where we were able to purchase the flowery local Yucatan honey (you should do this too!).

In the evenings bug spray and/or long pants and chosed shoes are recommended for dinner.  As you are dining in a garden, there are plenty mosquitoes at night.  Though as we forgot, the waiter was on-hand with a solution!  The staff is relaxed and friendly, happily chatting about each dish.  If you find yourself in Tulum, for everyone’s benefit, please remember that you are in the Caribbean, and probably in need of a vacation.  So please don’t get short if the staff runs at a slightly slower speed then they do at home.

~abv

Avocado, Mint, Cucumber Soup
Fresh Hot Pepper & Tomatillo Salsa
Fish Tacos
Plantain Rolls filled with Cheese
Roasted tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Diced Apples