"A what what??" my friends ask. "A Global Ambassador for Tequila" I reply. They're stunned into silence, wondering how on earth they missed this employment opportunity. Forget Marketing or Medical degrees, it seems that our careers guidance counselor missed this crucial job description. For who was about to grace our shores than Tequila Herradura's Global Brand Ambassador, Ruben Aceves. An MBA graduate who just happens to travel the world spreading the love and good knowledge about Tequila. Yes, along with professional shopper and Pierre Herme macaron taste tester, put that under "Dream Job" category.
A great many of us are gathered at the Park Hyatt for this evening's event, firstly for canapes and cocktails at the upstairs rooftop terrace. I'm afraid my two bags, spike heels and jostling crowd prevent me from photographing the canapes but they were indeed delicious. There was a choice of baked polenta with gorgonzola cheese, Wagyu Bresaloa on goat's cheese cruton and crabmeat and fennel tartlet. There is also Aloe Seniorita aloe vera, lime juice and tequila cocktails finished with egg white and the Horseshoe Bramble with Herradura Silver, lemon juice, syrup and chambord liqeur.
At 7.30pm we are moved to the Harbour Kitchen & Bar downstairs, home of, of course one of the most gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour. I have fond memories of staying at the Park Hyatt on our wedding night and waking up to that view so I get a wave of sweet nostalgia. I'm seated with the lovely Em as well as a crowd of interesting diners. Executive Chef Alessandro Pavoni's menu looks fantastic.
Ruben Aceves is introduced and he proceeds to educate us with a brief slideshow about Tequila. Despite misconceptions, Tequila is not made from Cactus but rather the Blue Agave plant. And Ruben was born in the heart of Blue Agave country. It is said that Tequila was first discovered when Aztec Indians first saw a lightning struck Agave plant and the resultant milky liquid and when they fermented and drank it they experienced a euphoric happiness. Established in 1870, Tequila Herradura is handcrafted and made from 100% blue agave and is the only all natural tequila in the world. They also pioneered the Resposado and Añejo varieties (yes luvvies, there are varieties, who knew? I certainly didn't).
Petuna Ocean trout carpaccio, herradura anejo mascarpone, walnut oil, pickled fennel and beetroot chips matched with Herradura Anejo.
But enough of the education, our plates have arrived and everyone is twitching and itching to start. Petuna Ocean Trout is one of my favourite dishes ever and this does not disappoint, the thinly sliced carpaccio is delicately gorgeous and goes well with the mascarpone as well as walnuts which I'd never thought of pairing with ocean trout or salmon. The accompanying glass of Herradura Añejo Tequila is aged for 25 months in white oak barrels.
The risotto, heady with the top of the line Herradura Seleccion Suprema tequila, rosemary and parmesan is interesting and slightly creamy. The rice is a little too al dente for my taste (you can probably see how al dente from the opaque white parts of the rice in the picture above) although perhaps this is deliberate much like the Risotto we had at Altitude which was deliberately not cooked to softness. The Seleccion Suprema however is sublime, rich and deeper coloured with a slight cinnamon and vanilla aroma. It has more viscosity than the previous Tequila and has been aged for four years in their oldest oven at low temperatures. Tequila this good comes at a price, specifically $500 a bottle.
Beef tenderloin, kipfler potato, cavolo nero, pinenuts and Herradura Reposado soaked raisins matched with Herradura Reposado
There is a delicious scent wafting towards me and when I turn I see my main being slid onto the table in front of me. The beef tenderloin is a perfect cut of meat, of pure tenderness without any remotely chewy bits whatsoever. The Kipfler potato is a little floury but the cavolo nero and the Herradura Reposado soaked raisins go wonderfully with the perfectly cooked meat. Herradura's Resposado Tequila (or "rested" tequila) is aged for 11 months in white oak barrels, whereas a reposado tequila need only be aged for a minimum of two months to qualify.
Our dessert, the lemon and Herradura Silver tart has a crisp layer of toffee on top much like a brulee and is lovely and citrusy. The mint gelato, which divides many at the table, I find fantastic, after my first hesitant bite. The Herradura Silver is their white tequila and the only one aged in oak barrels for 45 days and is said to be perfect for cocktails.
And a lesson in anything was never as pleasurable as this!
Harbour Kitchen & Bar
Park Hyatt, Sydney
7 Hickson Road The Rocks, NSW 2000
Tel: +61 (02) 9241 1234