I am definitely not the clothes horse in the family. My husband's wardrobe occupies a much more substantial portion of our closet than mine. My coffee table magazines lean mostly towards the food realm, with a smattering of home décor thrown in for good measure. So when the opportunity arose to attend a runway show at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City this past weekend, I was intrigued. I have heard of Couture Fashion Week of course, and have seen the clips on television in the past, but here was a chance to see a show up close and personal. Luis Machicao, a talented and creative clothing designer from Peru, who also happens to be a close friend of my brother-in-law, offered our family front row seats to his Fall 2012 Couture Collection.
Our event was a trio of designers with three completely different styles. They were all spectacular but Luis' runway show took my breath away. The collection appeared to be inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, emphasizing bright primary colors trimmed with geometric patterns. The models wore their hair fashioned into headdresses intertwined with feathers and their faces shimmered with glitter. They moved down the runway one by one, some in rhythm to the festive Latin music. The show finished as an ensemble, a human kaleidoscope of color. After congratulating Luis and taking (and posing for!) photographs, I started thinking about food again, my more familiar territory.
We decided to stay with the theme of the fashion show and went for Mexican food at a festive restaurant on the Upper East Side called Maz Mezcal. The name comes from a distilled alcoholic beverage that is particularly popular in Oaxaca, Mexico where it is said: “Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien tambien” (for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.) The drink is produced by roasting the heart of the maguey plant, a form of agave native to Mexico. This roasting lends an intense, smoky flavor to mezcal and you'll often find a worm in the bottle besides! We decided to go with tequila instead and had margaritas.
I settled on a chicken dish with roots dating back to the pre-Columbian Aztec culture: Mole Poblano. This traditional Mexican Indian recipe has a sauce with seven distinct chile varieties, dark bittersweet chocolate, and crunchy roasted sesame seeds. The combination was velvety rich and spicy. If you would like to make a mole sauce at home you can try David Lebowitz' Chocolate Mole Recipe and serve it over baked chicken or crispy cooked carnitas. The perfect chocolate to use for this, or any mole recipe, is Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate from Sicily. When the Bonajuto family emigrated from Spain to Italy in the 1600's, they brought with them their meticulous passion for fine chocolate and became the first chocolate producer in Sicily. They use the same ancient techniques that the Spaniards learned from the Aztecs, such as cleaning the cacao by hand and keeping it at a low temperature so that the sugar does not melt, thus preserving its unique texture, deeply intense chocolate flavor and the highest level of antioxidants.
Rafael, my husband opted for Kurt's Bamboleo, a thinly pounded skirt steak, rolled around a mixture of cheese, peppers, and chorizo. Chorizo, a Spanish sausage made with pork, pork fat, salt and dried smoked chili peppers, adds a burst of flavor to almost any dish. It can be sweet or spicy, fresh sausage or cured, but the spicy smoke-cured version is my favorite. On Saturday, February 25th I'll be sampling both the Dolceria Bonahuto chocolates and Spanish chorizo in the Cheese Department at Sickles Market. Come and try the combination: it is a surprising and delicious pairing, just like the mole. It will turn any meal into a festivity!