The Faces in that (Mexican?) Frame

I should probably confess that in the age of dynamic design programs and versions of those programs like Photoshop and Illustrator CS5 – I do a quick scope to make sure no one in the office is looking – then open up MS Paint, which is not all that different than rocking a word processor at your desk.


Forget functionality, look at that color! No bueno!

So what kind of visual wonders do I construct in this truly masterful program (where you’re not able to edit much of anything without starting the whole project again!)?

Well heck, I thought, why not introduce the Tres Agaves team/bloggers in a festive frame with a Brady Bunch patchwork of faces (Jamie’s face is not that big in comparison to the others really; I’m learning to resize). But seriously, look at the detail in that frame! All those suns! So sunny! Not sure it’s Mexican really as I found it on iStockphoto but it could very well be Mexican? I typed in ‘Jalisco, authentic, frame’ in the search field.

You’re probably asking who are all these lovely smiling people in that totally Mexican frame? What do they do at Tres Agaves? What can I expect from their blogs? Head to the kitchen and mix yourself a Margarita (with Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix). Take a sip or two and read on…

I wrote these intros below so they are not members of the team team espousing grandiose thoughts about themselves…

Mia Harlock (me), Marketing Manager. I’ll be writing about things I see in the press, food and beverage-related tid-bits, and on occasion, events/festivals and random streams of consciousness blah that result from ADD and too much caffeine.
Steve Halili, Marketing Assistant. Steve is our social media dude so he’s the best resource for all things digital, which basically means all things these days, doesn’t it? Let’s narrow that field and say Steve will be waxing poetic about ‘community’.
Ned Cartmell, Marketing Project Manager. He’ll be blogging about Tequila mostly, maybe with a sports score thrown in now and again.
Chris Galante, Arizona & Colorado Market Manager. Out-and-about, in the field, bars and restaurants. It doesn’t matter what Chris says really: 97% of the time it’s funny.
Jamie Chilberg, NorCal Market Manager Jamie is that friend that’s so cool that she knows everything cool going on in your city, and I’m like “Where do you find about about all this?” but I think it’s just in her blood.
Eric Rubin, Brand Director. He’s our knowledge man: 100% agave Tequila, Jalisco, the culture and traditions of Mexico, spirits and the bar & restaurant industry. He’s also our op ed man, so expect some pretty passionate thoughts on things.

We’ll have 4-6 blogs (combined, not each) a month for all you readers moving forward, so make sure to watch this space…

No go finish off that Margarita!

Uno + Dos + TRES = Perfecto!

Tres Agaves In SF Chronicle!

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong

Tres Agaves’ co-founder, Eric Rubin, was recently quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle this past Friday, June 25th. The article, Boom Time For Booze, written by Stacey Finz, examines the liquor industry’s resiliency during the US’s economic downturn and how Tequila is still steadily showing economic growth. Check out the link below for the full news report.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/24/BUPH1K1B7A.DTL

Eric Rubin’s Journal: Tequila Interchange Project

Should foreign ownership of Tequila brands be allowed? Some argue no, but Eric Rubin disagrees with this view. In his most recent blog, Eric shares his thoughts on his trip to Mexico with the Tequila Interchange Project…

Ok, so I recently took part in the 2nd trip of the Tequila Interchange Project.

For those of you not familiar with the Project, I’ll let their mission statement do the talking:

“We’re a network of professionals engaged in promoting the education of the culture of Tequila in their local communities and abroad. We strive to create a highway of knowledge between teachers, workers, and connoisseurs of the culture of tequila, from the agave fields in Mexico to the cocktail bars across the USA. We are a network of connections and partnerships. We are both professor and pupil. We are the bridge of communication towards the future of tradition for tequila culture.”

I was fortunate to be selected and had a blast with my fellow team members. I admit that the radical leftist views of Latin American professors took me a little surprise, proposing no foreign ownership of Tequila brands! – but their knowledge, passion, and connection to the region were all very impressive.

The education and conversational aspect of the trip is what I found the most interesting, but I did feel that some of the goals expressed – while rooted in good intentions – could be problematic if not impossible to implement, and may be unfair to the large producers; not to mention small producers that are just starting to forge their own path…

The Inspiration Behind Tres Agaves

What do you need to come up with a simply great name like Tres Agaves? A trip to the Los Altos region in Jalisco for an amazing outdoor fiesta certainly helps. And if you’re lucky you’ll get some inspiration from the view. Tres Agaves Founder Eric Rubin explains…

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.

    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.

    Tres Tequila Traveler

    Some people have all the luck. Take Eric Rubin for instance. He spends his days and nights talking about food and Tequila and doing gigs like this one in Vegas:

    Pancakes. Tequila. Agave Nectar? Sounds like breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert, Eric. Although I think I’m gonna have to be sold on the “buttered” agave nectar. I do love it in a cocktail, for lime aid and I am seriously gonna try out the “fun” Arnold Palmer.

    Seriously, Eric earned his stripes in the restaurant business, having founded Tres Agaves restaurants among others, and is one of the foremost experts in Tequila in country. The guy is a wealth of knowledge- from history to tasting notes and flavor profiles – Eric’s the man and as you can see from the above he’s not shy in front of the camera. So he’s a natural ambassador for both Tres Agaves and 100% Agave Tequila in general.

    And right now he’s doing just that: leading a couple dozen folks on a Tequila tour in and around the town of the same name. Mixing in Tequila facts, shots, tours of the local sites and I’m sure one helluva Day of the Dead party. When you go on a tour with Eric you can count on two things: knowledge and Tequila will be shared and Eric will be doing a lot of the pouring – both literally and figuratively. If you want to learn more about Tequila, the business or spirits/food in general, Eric’s a great resource. You can connect with Eric on Twitter by clicking here. Who knows? He might just invite you to join him on his next great Tequila adventure.

    Eric Rubin Leading a Tour at a Distillation Facility