Dining Out On Mexico - A Foody’s Paradise

with Suzanne Christie

l-r: our hosts Richard Zarkin, Chef Betty Vázquez & Rodrigo Esponda, Regional Director for North America, Mexico Tourism Board 

Our appetizer - Curry, Mint Halibut Ceviche

Mexico Tourism Board’s Susana Moreno enjoying the Poblano Pepper Cream Soup 

I chose duck for the main course! (sorry I ate my dessert to quickly to snap a pic of it)

Mexico isn’t just wafting warm smoke and flattering mirrors at us when they brag about their culinary prowess these days. Their bragging rights have been won fair and square with many visitors realizing that Mexico’s regional cuisine is the #1 reason to visit. The experts are on board consistently rating some of Mexico’s chefs and restaurants at the top of the charts. One example -  Mexico has 3 restaurants among the latest World’s 50 Best Restaurants. (Canada has none).

But after all, they are building on 100’s of years of gastronomic development. The commitment to creative concoctions sourced from Mexico’s abundant local produce, enhanced with traditional practices has earned accolades on the international stage and many awards.

I was lucky enough to be among a number of trade partners at a recent luncheon where Chef Betty Vázquez, Culinary Ambassador for Riviera Nayarit created and oversaw the preparation of a special luncheon at Yorkville’s Blu Restaurant.

In cooperation with that establishment’s Mexican owner, Betty took over the kitchen and we were treated to an appetizer of Curry, Mint Halibut Ceviche; Poblano Pepper Cream Soup with roasted pumpkin seeds; either Duck Breast or  Pan Seared Halibut with Mexican Chiles & Fruits Mole, Parsnip Puree & Asparagus. Dessert was the most delicious Mexican lemon Gelatina, Chocolate Chile Soil with Orange Sauce. It was as incredible as it sounds.

As Chef Betty says, “the Flavours of Riviera Nayarit will conquer your heart through your mouth.” She knows what she’s talking about.

Betty herself is not only an accomplished chef, she is the perfect ambassador for the best of what Mexico has to offer. Her pride in her country’s traditions and heritage emulate Mexico’s promotional tag line... Live It To Believe It.

And, after chatting with Betty, you really want to. She explained that It is every Mexican adult’s obligation to teach children to respect and appreciate what they have and to continue to pass that appreciation along to younger children as they themselves grow up.

We were glad to celebrate Mexico’s near miss by the vicious Hurricane Patricia with Riviera Nayarit’s P.R. Manager Richard Zarkin. He told us that he decided to ride out the massive storm in Mexican fashion. He tossed back a couple of tequilas and went to bed... sleeping soundly through the night.

Richard also told us that the Canadian market is holding its own against much larger markets. For example, our 19% market share compares quite favourably with the U.S.’s 24%. Pretty impressive statistic... and perhaps even a bit more surprising is that we are no longer just known for being the cheap and cheerful market. The very high end Punta Mita has become a magnet for affluent Canadians.

A few other important factoids Richard let us in on:

  • In keeping with the growing luxury trend, Rosewood & Fairmont will soon announce new luxury developments in Riviera Nayarit.
  • The 1 st 5 minute of the new Bond flick Spectre was filmed in Mexico City.
  • Tourism is the #1 industry for women and young university educated professionals in Mexico.


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