Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chef Xavier Perez Stone Showcases Harmonious Melange of Mooliciousness for Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort

Palate Cleansing Cocktail
When I was invited to a dinner by Chef Xavier Perez Stone of Cocina de Autor restaurant at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, hosted at Rostizado, I was expecting a tasting menu full of what we in North America generally associate with Mexican food - tacos, moles, poblanos, yucca, plantains, tamales, etc etc. Instead we were presented with a series of dishes utilizing modern techniques and Mexican ingredients. Chef Xavier Perez Stone is quite accomplished, having won Canada's Iron Chef competition in 2014. Grand Velas has a series of high class resorts in Mexico and is touring around Canada in an effort to encourage more Canadians to visit.

Foie Afrutado
We began with foie afrutado - foie gras, wrapped in lettuce, topped with cotton candy and flowers, and although it seemed really strange, once you pushed all the cotton candy down into the cup and stirred it around, it melted into the foie gras. This resulted in a beautifully balanced creamy, rich, salty, yet slightly sweet, cool mouthfuls of foie gras. This was followed by a very light and refreshing La Langosta Negra - lobster salad with black corn, truffle puree, cucumber, tomatillo, avocado and passion fruit puree. All the components on the dish worked harmoniously, and although you could smell the passion fruit quite strongly, the lobster was not overwhelmed by any of the other components, allowing it to be the star of the dish.

La Langosta Negra
Next up was El Mar en Verde Moncromático - sea bass with poblano sauce and two bobbles that we were instructed to eat once we were halfway though eating the sea bass, and once we were done eating the sea bass. The sea bass was cooked perfectly, delicate tasting and light. There was a very mild heat from the poblano sauce, but the green bobbles gave the dish a real spicy kick of heat at the back of my throat.

El Mar en Verde Moncromatico

My favourite dish of the night was La Frutabilidad del Venado - venison, red berries, beets, hazelnut powder and hibiscus sauce. The venison was incredibly soft, tender, and melt in your mouth good, and not at all gamey tasting. Meanwhile the hazelnut powder gave the dish a bit of a contrasting texture.

La Frutabilidad del Venado
Next came dessert, starting with Sopa de Coco y pan de leche - coconut soup and pineapple ice. I have to admit, I am not a fan of coconut, in fact, I generally avoid it when possible. However, this dish was good I had to resist the urge to lick the bowl. The contrast between the sweet coconut milk, acidic pineapple and crispy coconut ice cream made me amazed at this delicate balance between the different textures and tastes achieved in a single dish.

Sopa de Coco y pan de leche
Lastly Choco parece playa No es - chocolate ice cream, olive oil truffle and banana mole. Once again, I’m not a fan of banana but I practically licked my plate clean with the not overly sweet banana, balanced with a lightly flavoured chocolate ice cream and crispy freeze dried banana chunks.

Choco parece playa No es
I also tip my hat to Dani, Chris, Edgar and the rest of the Rostizado staff for seamless, attentive, and knowledgeable service. Given the number of courses and wine pairings, it was a lot items to coordinate the timing of, and a lot of information to learn in a short period of time. A particular thank you for ensuring that my male human was not left feeling uncomfortable since he's allergic to alcohol. Often when we go to these events, he is constantly offered wine as the message isn't passed on to all the servers that he has an allergy to alcohol. Although he's used to it by now, it's no fun constantly having to tell people "no thank you" when asked if you'd like wine because they simply can't be bothered to share with others that you can't have an item. Often times he has to reiterate it's actually an allergy as servers ask "Are you sure?", thinking he's simply declining because he doesn't want that particular wine. Last night, the servers all knew he had an allergy and other than a virgin palate cleansing cocktail to start off the evening, his seat was designated an alcohol free zone, and no wines were mistakenly delivered to him, avoiding any of the usual uncomfortableness associated with these types of events.

Dani, Chef Edgar, Chef Xavier Perez Stone, Chris
Overall the entire tasting menu was well balanced, perfectly proportioned, with every dish flavourful and well executed. Although I have never been to Mexico, if I were to visit, I would most definitely choose to go to Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort as I know I would have moolicious food during my stay! If you’re ever heading to Playa del Carmen, make sure you seek out Chef Xavier Perez Stone at Cocina de Autor restaurant at Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort. He's an extremely talented chef, with a deft hand in the kitchen, the ability to balance a melange of ingredients and flavours flawlessly, and his food is just a delight to experience!

Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62
Playa del Carmen
Municipio de Solidaridad, Riviera Maya
Quintana Roo C.P. 77710 Mexico
Twitter: @GVRivieraMaya

(Note: There was no financial compensation from Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort, Chef Xavier Perez Stone or Rostizado for this blog post, although they provided a free meal. Any review provided by me will completely reflect my thoughts and opinions – good or bad, and will not be swayed by having a free meal provided.)

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