|Desmond (xtrme left) with PGC members & guests|
I first laid eyes on Desmond Nazareth in Jan 2011 when TN Sundar and I visited Panaji, Goa to attend the Grape Escapade. Desmond invited us for a tasting of Agave spirit which he had created. We did the honours and were won over.
When Desmond was ready to launch his range of agave spirit (the desi equivalent of Tequila)and its variants in Pune, we had a meeting of minds. A PGC meet would be organized and Margaritas in mulitple hues would flow around a Mexican meal.
Choosing a restaurant is a bit of a challenge since most have cooks, not chefs. Getting them to something out of the box is not that easy. It so happened that my neighbourhood Mocha had recently changed avatars. From a hookah place it had become Mocha Cafe Bar - complete with brand new interiors, a full fledged bar and an extensive menu. Mocha ceo Pawan Raina and I brainstormed the idea of a jhakaas menu to go with Desmondji spirits.
On the appointed day, Sunday April 28, Mocha was bursting at the seams. 45 PGC members confirmed their attendance and with guests we were more than 50! Mocha was bursting at its seams.
|Parag and his Margarita!|
Desmond, in person and in spirit, came along with his marketing honcho Robert to guide PGC members thru the fine art of sipping Desmondji 100% agave with the respect accorded to single malts. He discovered that he shared an alma mater - IIT Madras - with PGC members Mahesh and Nirav! From then Margaritas and assorted cocktails flowed like the Rio Grande. There was much talking, backslapping and bon homie.
For the first time in PGC history, we skipped the sit down style and adopted a loung-at-the-bar attitude. Plate of nachos with Aditi's home made salsa did the rounds. This was followed by Gaurav's Tortilla baskets filled with home made Guacamole made by PGC members Rupali, Shanth and Sheel. IFB Agro Marine sponsored fish fingers were great with Candy's garlicky creamy dip. Gaurav's team served up Gorditas - a typical street dish of Mexico made of masa harina shaped into small gakar like rounds and cooked on a griddle with a variety of toppings ranging from chicken keema to sausage slices and mayo.
Chicken breast marinated in 51% Desmondji agave with orange juice and cilantro, cooked in the tandoor and finished with a squeeze of lime. The original calls for grilling on charcoal but since Mocha had only a tandoor we settled for it. I missed the grill marks though.
The other was Chicken Mole rarely found in Indian restaurants. This signature Mexican dish features a chocolate sauce and is eaten with rice! We had to compromise on 3 items - Ibarra the original Mexican chocolate and negro and pasilla chillies which are not available locally. Despite initial misgivings, all plates were wiped clean by the end of the meal. Speaks for the food.
Mexico and Vera Cruz in particular is known for its distinctive seafood dish - Red Snapper in Vera Cruz style sauce which contains tomatoes, red and green peppers and white wine. Gaurav presented the whole fish in the sauce and carved it up for serving. Excellent, was the unanimous opinion.
Mexican desserts are a class apart. We had Churros, Chilli chocolate mousse, pineapple sopapillas (fried pastry) and mango nieve (sorbet) with tequila.