Toronto’s El Caballito has been serving Mexican favourites like tacos and huevos rancheros for brunch this past year. However, for our third U-Feast experience, Top Chef Mexico contestant Chef Elia Herrera decided to treat our guests to an exclusive, traditional, home-style version of everyone’s favourite Sunday meal – brunch!
When Torontonians think of brunch, they often associate it with heavy dishes intended to soak up last night’s alcoholic beverages: pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausages, chicken and waffles… In contrast, Mexican brunch is a light meal. While over here we like to hit up the trendiest café, Mexicans enjoy la merienda (as the Mexicans call brunch) at home, surrounded by family and friends. The dishes are often simple, but full of flavour and made with traditional and local ingredients. The meal is supposed to be consumed slowly, while everyone savours the food and relaxes in each other’s company.
Since the sun doesn’t seem to be abandoning us anytime soon, the event was held at the restaurant’s artsy back patio. As a fun surprise, Chef Elia began the meal on a sweet note. First, came a chocolate banana muffin, served with a thick, almost fondue-like rich, hot chocolate. It was followed by a summery colourful watermelon and melon salad, topped with creamy yogurt. And every brunch must have pancakes and eggs; chef’s creation featured corn pancakes with bacon and a syrup made of piloncillo, unrefined cane sugar, very typical in Latin America. Eggs were accompanied by classic refried beans, and toasted totopos (very similar to tortillas). The pièce de resistance was certainly the last dish, enfrijoladas, corn tortillas in black bean sauce, served with creamy, cotija cheese, chicken, and avocados. Our bellies and palates were happily satisfied.
Of course, no brunch is complete without some cocktails. In Mexico, Caesars/Bloody Marys are the drink of choice with the meal. Obviously though, El Calballito’s version is made with everyone’s beloved tequila. For this event, U-Feast partnered up with Toronto based, Canadian brand, Tequila Tromba. The company was founded six year ago when Eric Brass, its creator, fell in love with 100% agave tequila down in Guadalajara, Mexico. Seeing a gap in the North American market for medium-priced, high quality tequilas, he set up shop in Jalisco, Mexico and now not only sells his delicious tequila in Canada, but also in the USA and Australia. Tromba is sweet, with vibrant flavours of pineapple, caramel, and refreshing mint. It is smooth and clean, as all tequilas should be.
El Caballito sells over a hundred bottles of Tromba a week. Inspired by its fresh taste and crisp texture, for the event, head-bartender Brandon Banko incorporated it into two cocktails. The tequila was mixed into his Mexican twist on a classic Canadian Caesar as well as his “Cool as a Cucumber” drink, made with St. Germain, lime, cucumber syrup, and tonic. To top off the drinks, Brandon used Toronto-based company Salty Paloma’s hand-made and hand-grinded special margarita rimming salts “Maria” (Caesar) and “Dynamite” (Cool as a Cucumber). The event was perfect for a day at the patio in this extended summer.
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