Recipe Gold at the Tres Agaves Tequila Holiday Cook-off

Last week to celebrate the year – and finish off our company sales meeting – our affable CEO Barry Augus had us all over to his place for a potluck of sorts. Chris Alvarez our VP of Sales had grill duty and was fixing up chicken and steak. Jamie Chilberg, our NorCal rep, was mixing up the Margaritas and “keeping them comin’”. The rest of the team was responsible for everything else. I say it was a potluck “of sorts” because there was one catch: each item had to contain at least one of our own products: Tequila, Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar or Margarita mix. The company sprang for all the ingredients and all the cooking was done in real time. Prizes would be awarded. Let the cook-off begin.

We all carpooled over to Barry’s in the late afternoon and found a kitchen full of ingredients waiting for us. Sensing the potential for “crowded BART rush hour” conditions I strategically dove in early to complete my dish. 20 minutes later, my cooking was done and I could focus on my three favorite pastimes: eating, drinking and carrying on.

It was a great evening – 1 part Thanksgiving feast, 1 part kitchen laboratory, 1 part Tales of the Cocktail. While there was some winging it most everything turned out as planned. And some of the creations were down right yummy and worth sharing. Here’s some of the crowd faves:

Tequila-Marinated Shrimp (via Better Homes & Gardens) by Pamela Smith, Controller

Tequila marinated shrimp ala Pamela
Shrimp dredged in Tequila, garlic and lime. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails intact 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil 

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion 

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Tres Agaves Añejo Tequila
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Preparation:

    Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp; pat dry. Set aside. 

In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook about 3 minutes or until tender. Add shrimp and tequila; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque, stirring occasionally.

    Transfer shrimp mixture to a bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt; toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving. To keep these tongue-tingling shrimp well-chilled during a party, place them in a bowl nestled inside a larger bowl of ice. 


    Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.

    Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare as above. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving. 


    Banana Cream Pie with Sweet Walnut Cream Crust (via Raw Epicurean.net) by Ned Cartmell, Marketing Manager

    OK, this looked a bit weird on the table but it tasted great. I would recommend a little whipped topping to dress it up.

    Also Phylum Husk powder is soluble fiber, which is a good additive if you want to stay regular; otherwise completely unnecessary here. The young Ned opted out of this ingredient.

    Ingredients:

    Sweet Walnut Crust:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2-3 chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • Cream Filling:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 bananas
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon phylum husk powder (optional)
  • Topping:

  • 2-3 bananas, cut in to ½ inch rounds
  • Preparation:

    For Sweet Walnut Crust:
    Place the first three ingredients in the food processor and process into a moist meal. While the processor is running slowly pour in the agave until the mixture turns into a ball. Press sweet crust into a 9-inch pie dish to form pie crust.

    Set aside.

    For Filling:
    Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

    For Topping:
    Cut bananas into ½ rounds.

    Assembly:
    Pour the cream filling into the sweet pie crust. Top with sliced bananas in a circular pattern for a pretty presentation. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

    Avocado Chipotle Dip by Eric Rubin, Founder and Brand Director

    Chipotle dip to the max from Eric
    What can I say? Eric’s a master with a food processor.

    Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream (regular or light)
  • 1/2 cup mayo (regular or light)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced thin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation:

    In a bowl or food processor, mix all ingredients except green onions. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in green onions. Add salt to taste. Chill until flavors meld, about 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips and sliced cucumbers.

    Tequila Citrus Cranberry Relish by Parker Trewin, Director Marketing

    Tequila Cranberry Relish before chillin out

    I did a version of cranberry sauce recipe that my cousin Dana Towle Wigton gave me (thanks schweets!). I had it years ago while visiting her in Maine over Thanksgiving. I loved it and have been making it every year ever since. I mixed it up by substituting nectar for sugar and adding a kick of Tequila. (If you want to get really crazy add a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper. Finishes it off with some heat.)

    Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup blackberry jam
  • ¼ cup Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar
  • 2 ounces Tres Agaves Añejo Tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Preparation:

    Boil water. Reduce heat to at least medium. Add ingredients. Stirring frequently, wait for cranberries to pop and the mixture to thicken. (About 10 minutes.) Remove from heat. Chill to room temperature. Serve.

    Zesty Shrimp and Avocado Salad by Nicole Morris Vegas/Colorado Regional Market Manager

    The makings of a winner!

    And saving the best for last, this audience favorite and winning entry was flown in from Vegas. Fresh and delicious!

    Ingredients:

    Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ear corn, husk and silk removed
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 6 colossal or 12 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce, torn
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups store-bought tortilla strips (recommended: Mission Restaurant Style)
  • Preparation:

    For the salad: Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. In a large bowl add the romaine lettuce, corn, zucchini, and shrimp and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the romaine lettuce, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Coarsely chop the grilled lettuce and add it to a large salad bowl. Grill the corn and zucchini for 2 minutes on all sides until crisp-tender. Remove the kernels from the corn and add to the salad bowl. Chop the zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Grill the shrimp until the meat is opaque and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chopped shrimp, butter lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado to the bowl.

    For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Garnish the salad with tortilla strips and serve. Serves 4.

    Tequila Talk: Yeast

    You throw out the term “yeast” and it’s gonna mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

    More than just making the dough rise, yeast is also key to the fermentation process that results in some mighty fine Tequila. While many people know that yeast is important to the process you may not know how. Yeast is a living organism that consumes sugar and converts it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The remaining liquid is then distilled to form Tequila among other spirits.

    Yeast working it's magic.

    Want to know more about yeast? Check out home distiller.com

    “Frieday” Fact: Agave = Massive Biomass

    Looking for a new fuel source? While most know that the Agave plant is good at lighting a fire in your belly you might not know that soon it also might be lighting up your lamp or starting your car.

    Next stop for the versatile Agave?

    According to researchers the versatile Agave plant is an excellent producer of biomass and potentially bio-fuel. Biomass magazine reports that one hectare can produce 5,000 gallons of distilled ethanol. It’s also “reliable, abundant, cheap, easy to handle.”

    So the Agave plant is not only good for your soul but may be good for the planet as well. Something to think about when your sipping your next shot of Reposado.

    Getting to your Proper Margarita

    Hey

    Today I was gonna write about the awesome home-cooked, holiday supper we had after yesterday’s sales meeting -each course featured a Tres Agaves product. But that will have to wait – check it out next week. Instead I’m reprinting a blog post done by Libation Lab’s Quinn Sweeney on the “proper” margarita.

    Thanks for the words, Quinn!
    ——————

    As much preacher as teacher, Eric Rubin is the agave evangelist from Tres Agaves Tequila who ran our Nirvino cocktail education event last week on making a proper margarita.

    Conspicuously absent were the corn syrup, sugar cane spirits, sour mix and orange liqueur. Rubin promotes a margarita comprised simply of 100% agave tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and agave syrup. His preferred 2:1:1 ratio is a bit sweet for me, but the quality of the simple drink shines through regardless.

    The key to this recipe is the quality of the tequila. You get into trouble as soon as you pick up a bottle of “mixto” tequila, which is never indicated on the bottle with an honest “49% high fructose corn syrup” but simply by omission of “100% agave”. If the label doesn’t say “100% agave”, it isn’t.

    I believe that if you prefer a fruity or exotic margarita, there’s no rule against modification, but remember that quality and simplicity are crucial. Substitute sweet and fruity ingredients for some or all of the agave syrup or lime juice to to maintain balance.

    Rubin however, warns against frozen margaritas: “If you just blend up good ingredients with ice it both dilutes the drink and will also separate almost immediately due to no additives. The reason frozen ones with bad ingredients have such great texture is because they use corn starch or other thickeners to give it that milk shake smoothness.”

    He does allow for salt in moderation, and told me, “… it came about during a bout of Spanish influenza in 1919/20 in Mexico. Almost all doctors told their patients to put lime and salt with almost all of their food. That led to Mexican men preferring their beer this way, which led to the whole shot with salt and lime phenomenon as well as salt on margaritas.”

    So to recap, a proper margarita is the product of care, simplicity and purity as you will find in the recipe below.

    The Tres Agaves Margarita
    o 2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco tequila
    o 1 ounce agave syrup
    o 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass with fresh ice.

    Tequila Talk: the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) Gets Social

    The Consejo Regulador del Tequila, commonly shortened to CRT, is the regulatory body for the Tequila industry and sets the standards for all things Tequila.

    Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

  • The Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), A. C., is an inter professional organization comprising all actors and production staff associated with the Tequila production. The aim of the CRT is to promote the culture and quality of this beverage that has gained an important place among the national identity symbols.
  • And they’re all business. If you needed any proof just get a load of this pic taken of the main board room. It’s like the the UN of Tequila.

    Where it all happens at the CRT.

    It’s easy to get the impression from the submissions above that they are just about facts, figures and regulations. In short, that they are just another formal regulatory body that pushes rules to their audience.

    They’re not. One look at their website and you will instantly know that they want to be more. They want to be part of the ongoing conversation about Tequila. They want to reach out, engage and encourage feedback. In fact, their website site is one of the most “social” sites I’ve ever seen. It’s all right there on the home page. The CRT home page features three main elements: a Facebook feed, a Twitter feed and a YouTube feed- featuring the reigning Miss Universe no less. (Wanna see the Miss Universe video? Click here.) In addition, they have social links at the top of the page to encourage you to spread their news so others can “join the conversation”.

    I personally love that the CRT has a Facebook page. Anyone care to “like”? I just did.

    A lot of companies, both B2C and B2B, could learn a few things from the CRT. It’s about using all their online channels to stimulate conversations. Case in point, via this post, it’s working.

    As an aside, I would love to see the DPT or the DMV adopt the same format that the CRT has. Imagine the fun of joining in on one of those conversations? Think of the live pot hole tweets and cam shots of road repairs and delays. Seriously, the DPT and DMV could use some real time feedback from their customers. (I’m just saying…)

    “Frieday” Fact: Number of Words in the English Language

    Today I digress.

    Yesterday in the office we were bantering around the word “bourgeois”. I had to admit I really didn’t know the precise definition. There was some shock and awe expressed. I retorted, “Do you know how many words there are in the English language? It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why we have dictionaries. Feel free to use them.”

    Look up the word I did. (I’m aware the above word is actually French. Sarcasm intended.)

  • bour·geois1 [boor-zhwah, boor-zhwah; Fr. boor-zhwa] Show IPA noun, plural -geois, adjective
    –noun 1. a member of the middle class. 2. a person whose political, economic, and social opinions are believed to be determined mainly by concern for property values and conventional respectability. 3. a shopkeeper or merchant.
  • I also didn’t really know how many words there are in the English language. (I didn’t really know a lot yesterday.) Turns out I’m in good company. Nobody seems to know but it is indeed a lot. Get a load of this nugget from Wikipedia:

    The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (OED2) includes over 600,000 definitions, following a rather inclusive policy: It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang (Supplement to the OED, 1933).[79] The editors of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (475,000 main headwords) in their preface, estimate the number to be much higher. It is estimated that about 25,000 words are added to the language each year.[80]

    So to distill it down: at least 1/2 million words, growing at a rate of 25K a year. It is indeed a lot to keep track of. And I’m even disregarding such terms as “frienemy” and other fluffed up terms that have been recently added. FYI, while the English language has no governing body that keeps official track of official words other languages like Spanish and French have such bodies.

    Comparatively there’s about 1/2 as many words in the Spanish language which could mean a couple of things: the governing body is more rigorous or restrictive and/or English speakers are more verboise. My guess is it’s probably both.

    Tequila Talk: Appellation of Origin

    Think Champagne and you are likely to think of bubbly wine produced from some place in France – just like non-bubbly Burgundy or Bordeaux wines. The same goes Kobe beef. And Tequila spirits. They are all products officially designated by their specific origin. Think of Appellation of Origin as a trademark to protect and validate the designated product as authentic. There are also marketing advantages.

    Case in point: Would you rather have Champagne or sparkling wine? Let’s face it “sparkling wine” doesn’t carry the same loftiness of Champagne. And because sparkling wine doesn’t come from the Champagne, with the region’s unique characteristics, it’s not (to use a popular 70’s phrase) “the real thing”. Officially, it’s a different thing that also has bubbles.

    CRT Building in Guadalajara, Mexico.

    Wikipedia defines Appellation of Origin this way: A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.

    Want more info as it pertains to Tequila? You can get the history of appellation of origin at Tequileros.

    Winning Cocktails at the Fillmore Holiday Cocktail Crawl

    In the past few posts I’ve documented how I purchased, prepped and served all the Tequila cocktails that were featured at last night’s Fillmore Holiday Cocktail Crawl.

    After my hosting duties were completed, I got to hang out with the 400 plus folks who attended and compare my creations with the experts. As a reminder here’s the drink list.

  • The Redevelopment
  • Fillmo’better
  • Jalisco Blossom
  • Joplin’s Juice
  • The Zapata
  • I sampled everything but The Zapata, which was “out” by the time I got there. So I’m trusting the law of supply and demand and that it must have been pretty tasty. All the drinks were high on the yum scale. In my own biased opinion my versions stacked up well against the Fillmo’better, the Jalisco Blossom and Joplin’s Juice. This is not to say I prepared better drinks than these Bartenders – only to say that they weren’t signifcantly worse.

    Sean McNeal’s 99 proof banana “frothing” on “Fillmo” was clearly on the money and on my lips. Mine was a little heavier in the glass – but still not bad. I preferred my version served up neat in a Martini glass. As you can see, though, I had no problem getting to the bottom of the glass. And apparently neither did anyone else as it was chosen the audience favorite. Congrats Sean!

    Finishing the Fillmo'better.

    The Redevelopment was clearly better and deLISH. It WAS the muddling of the Jalapeno. It made all the difference. It was spicier, better balanced. It was all at once sweet and sour with a pepper finish that made it come alive.

    I was too focused on enjoyed this and not focused enough on getting a shot. Wish I had a picture to share but, alas, I do not. I did snap this clinking of glasses though. A perfect way to finish off a great evening.

    One final toast.

    Bay Area folks: If you want to know which pubs are featuring these drinks, click here or pop me a comment. Happy to provide!