“It’s meant to be more of a Mexican fondue-style experience. Not one to be rushed through. One to sit back, relax, and enjoy quality time with others,” said Charlie, owner of Tierra Viva, about the tequila and tapa pairings now being offered at his popular Sayulita restaurant. As I soon found out, Chef Victor and Bar Manager Martin are ingenious when it comes to pairing desirable, high quality tequilas from the region of Tequila, Jalisco with fresh, mouthwatering tapas.
From Tierra Viva’s garden-filled terrace, the sunshades provide a reprieve from the sun, and the beach can be seen from a short distance, offering an ideal backdrop. At 6pm in the evening, I could feel a refreshing ocean breeze as I waited for the first of four pairings.
First Pairing: (Note: For each pairing a brief introduction of both the tequila and tapas is provided).
The chosen tequila was Cava de Oro Plata Silver: A very smooth, slightly sweet tequila with a touch of spicy herb flavor. (Silver/Blanco tequilas are bottled right after the distillation process.) Martin explained that due to the characteristics of the tequila, it pairs nicely with something fresh, yet slightly salty. The tapas, a take on veggie sushi rolls (no rice), consisted of cucumber, cilantro, celery, and cream cheese wrapped in a thinly sliced carrot. Dipped in a soy-based sauce with lime, chili Serrano, and scallions, it was delicious and refreshing. A bite of tapas, a sip of Cava de Oro Plata Silver, and the freshness of the vegetables really stood out.
Moving up to Reposado tequila, Certified Organic, is aged six months in oak barrels. (Reposados are barrel-aged between 2 months and a year). With the initial sip, I noticed the taste was a bit stronger than the Blanco, but it finished nicely with a smooth caramelly, vanilla flavor. The end result: goose bumps! Paired with a flour tostada topped with guacamole, shrimp, goat cheese, which added a nice contemporary twist, and topped with fresh tarragon, the overall tasting experience between tequila and tapas was one of perfection.
On to Anejo tequila, Chamucos, which means Devil in Spanish, was chosen, and is barrel aged for approximately one year. (Anejos are aged between one and three years). The flavor, more aggressive than the two previous tequilas (but still smooth!), has a black pepper, cinnamony, earthy flavor. Served with a savory combination of asparagus, bacon, fennel, and tomato on a toothpick, and dipped in a tarragon mayonnaise-based dip, I was thoroughly impressed with the combination of flavors that mingled with the taste of tequila.
Perhaps my first time trying Extra Anejo tequila, Arette, which is named after a horse that won one bronze and two gold Olympic medals in jumping, was chosen as the final tequila. (Extra Anejos must be aged in barrels a minimum of three years). Arette Extra Anejo is made in very small batches and is aged for five years. In fact, the bottle at Tierra Viva is bottle 162 of only 170 bottles! Served with a corn tortilla with a bite of brownie topped with mango salsa and nuts and ice cream on the side, this pairing made my mouth water, leaving me wanting more. The bold taste of the tequila, with a buttery caramel flavor, was the smoothest of all the tequilas I tried, and the tangy, sweet, and salty flavors of the dessert tapas couldn’t have paired better together with the tequila.
Try it for Yourself!
The selection of tequilas and tapas are never the same, so it’s easy to enjoy this experience time and time again without becoming disenchanted. If you’d like to experience tequila and tapa pairings for yourself, contact Tierra Viva in Sayulita. Note: A 24-hour advance evening reservation is required, and the minimum group size is 2. Accommodations for vegetarians, vegans, allergies, and gluten intolerances can me made.
Written By: Stacey Elkins
Photos By: Camilla Fuchs Photography