On Saturday afternoon February 29th, Jimmy Carbone’s Food Karma Projects, a producer of food and craft beverage events, held the first ever Bowl of ‘Zole pozole festival. The event was held at Bibi restaurant at 110 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The event brought together 10 chefs who cooked their versions of Pozole for people to sample and to accompany all that were 50 different Mezcal from 20+ producers.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup (stew), associated with special occasions, festivals and family. Traditionally made with pork and hominy, it comes in three versions, blanco (white), rojo (red), and verde (green). It’s Mexican comfort food, something that grandma would cook for you.
Mezcal is an alcoholic spirit from Mexico made from the agave plant. It is similar to tequila and while technically all tequila are mezcal, not all mezcal are tequila. Tequila must use a single varietal of agave (blue agave) and be made in the state of Jalisco, while Mezcal can be made using up to 28 different varieties of agave and mostly produced around the city of Oaxaca put produced in other States as well. With tequila the agave heads are baked in above ground ovens while in Mezcal the agave is cooked in the traditional method in pits dug into the ground. Cooking in those in-ground pits is what gives the Mezcal its smoky flavor profile. The permitted use of many types of agave and wider geographic production area results in a greater variety of styles of the spirit than in tequila. Many are still made in the traditional method at small production family run operations which means that with the exception of a small handful of labels, many of the brands are not widely distributed and were not familiar to me.
I have to admit that this was the first time I had a comprehensive tasting of Pozole as it’s an under the radar Mexican food choice. They are traditionally made with pork but there were versions made with chicken and seafood as well. I was able to sample the different versions of the stew and it was the perfect food choice to have on a chilly Winter Saturday afternoon.
Some of the Pozole I sampled:
La Esquina chef Gonzalo Rivera: Vuelve a la Vida Pozole, Maine lobster, mussels, clams, organic hominy, fennel, toasted sesame, & chile de arbol oil, smoky hoja santa broth.
Balvanera chef Fernando Navas: Pozole rojo with radishes, avocado and fresh oregano.
Bacado chef Ivy Stark: Pozole rojo with braised short rib.
Hotel Indigo chef Chai Trivedi Kitsch: Rojo, matzo ball Pozole.
Mesa Coyoacan chef Ivan Garcia: Shredded pork, hominy, guajillo, ancho chile broth, radish, oregano.
Toloache chef Julian Medina: Pozole verde, heirloom hominy, green curry, coconut milk broth, thai basi, lemongrass, salsa macha, been sprouts.
While Mezcal can be made from several types of agave, the “workhorse” is the Espadin varietal and many of the spirits on hand were made from that type of agave. I tried to sample as many made from agave other than Espadin.
Some of the Mezcal I sampled:
|Ilegal Mezcal, espadin||Fidencio, tepextate|
|Machetazo, cupreata||Sombra, espadin|
|Banuelos, masparillo, tepemate||El Silencio, joven, black|
|Del Maguey, arroqueno. wild tetextate||Wahaka, tabala, madre cuishe|
|El Buho, tepeztate, jabal, ensamble||Siete Misterios, arroqueno|
|AC, agave de cortez||Mezcal Vago, cuixn, ensamble|