Sunday, May 18, 2014

Secrets at the Cancun Wine and Food Festival

It was another beautiful day in Cancun and I took advantage at the start with a room service delivered breakfast on my balcony at Secrets The Vine.

I didn’t have a lot of time to get ready for the first event of the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival, the press conference with Garry Manuel Tattinger, Dave Amar and the star of the festival, Daniel Boulud.

I’ve been to wine and food festivals in Atlantic City, New York, Aspen and South Beach, but this was my first time attending the Cancun-Riviera Maya one.

It is hard to be a food-lover and not be in amour with Boulud, chef and restaurateur extraordinaire. That feeling was even stronger after listing to him talk about his journey around the world learning about and celebrating food before he landed in New York and produced his most famous restaurants.

There was a lot of talk about protecting the environment, GMOs and using locally sourced ingredients, all things that are becoming very popular in Mexico.

After the press conference, we attended a number of seminars taking place at Secrets The Vine. The first was “The Future of Cuisine” with Chef Normand Laprise of Canada. He spoke about “cooking from scraps” and not wasting product, whether it is meat, fruit, vegetables or fish.

Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain then talked about his (successful) quest to bring gastronomy to Monterrey, Mexico and how he worked with the fact that there wasn’t a lot of meat in the area.

“There wasn’t a lot to eat,” he said. “We had to learn to use everything.” This included the figs and lemons that grew freely in the area.

Last, but certainly not least, Daniel Boulud spoke about his history that started as a young teenager in Lyon, France, and went through London, and on to New York.

Boulud also talked about re-inventing dishes, “A chef wants to be known for a dish, but you don’t want it to stick to you too long. You need to re-invent yourself.”

By the time we got out of the seminars, we were all very hungry. I headed to the Market Cafe with Donna Heiderstadt, a longtime friend whom I had gone to college with. Despite the fact that the buffet was about to close we were impressed with the selection of fresh food.

I took a selection, from eggplant to tostadas and gazpacho.

We had a little free time in the afternoon and I was more than ready to hit the pool with a cocktail. It was warm and sunny out and my fellow journalists all had the same idea.

I had forgotten how beautiful the beach was in Cancun and Secrets had the perfect setting for it. After enjoying it for a bit I met up with the group for a tour of the hotel.

I was happily surprised to find a large sports bar at the resort, Half Time. There was also a wine bar (with a huge selection), and coffee bar I hadn’t visited yet with a selection of coffee drinks, pastries, and soft pretzels.

I also hadn’t realized that my Preferred Club suite allowed me access to a pool for just those in that section. It had its own restaurant and bar.

We toured a number of suites, including the Master Suite and Honeymoon Suite, which had a bathtub in the room, unlike the others. Given the high rise stature of this particular Secrets, the majority of the rooms did not have tubs.

Before heading back to the room to change, I was able to see an incredible night view of the strip of Cancun with both bodies of water.

I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed the meal at the Dragon. It took a village (from AMResorts, RBBpr and the kitchen staff of the restaurant) to put together a safe and incredibly delicious meal for me.

It had been years since I had eaten in an Asian restaurant. It had involved too many hospital trips.

It’s very difficult for a cuisine that relies on seafood and fish sauce to make something safe for someone with a severe allergy to eat.

Dragon not only accomplished this, but they did it with THREE dishes I love: Wonton Soup, Chicken Pad Thai and Vegetable Tempura. Everything was cooked for me in a separate part of the kitchen from the fish and it was done to perfection.

Some of the group went to Secrets’ Red Piano Bar for music and dancing after dinner. I didn’t stay long because I knew I had another long day ahead of me. It would be filled with exploring the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival, as well as Secrets The Vine.



2 comments:

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Joaquin said...

Hello friend, thank you very much for coming to our city and it is a father that you really liked what you lived, both to write your post and then if you plan to return or for any of your readers who want to come I invite you to visit Parque Maya, where you have One of the best incognito tours in Cancun:
jungle Tour

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