The Power of Words: New on View at Crystal Bridges
March 17, 2017
April at Crystal Bridges includes: Art Symposium, Multicultural Celebrations, Distinguished Speakers and Farewell to Border Cantos
March 20, 2017
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WOW Celebrates Diversity and Sustainability through Guacamole, Tequila, & Bees

Suddenly the crowd of two hundred jubilant guests rose to their feet, cheering and clapping for the smiling, humbled line of chefs and cooks who crowded onto the stage.  This was not a recent episode of Top Chef or Iron Chef, but rather the most recent Wednesday Over Water (WOW) featuring the Border Cantos exhibition, with special guests Emily Rodriguez, senior educator at Crystal Bridges, and Jason Willems, principal broker for Diamond Beverage Group.  After an evening of discussions regarding diversity, Latin cuisine, and Don Ramon tequila, the museum kitchen staff, led by Chef Melody Lane, was introduced to the audience as a talented, holistic, and diverse team hailing from Asia, South America, and North America.

 

The Border Cantos exhibition inspired the culinary team to create an introductory dish that combined food cultures from both Vietnam and Mexico, a traditional Guacamole embellished with fresh cucumber and fermented fish sauce…the result: a stylized, delicious stratification of flavor that drew the raucous crowd to a near fever pitch.

 

 

After insights from Rodriguez regarding steps taken by the exhibition’s advisory committee and the museum’s education department to ensure cultural sensitivity, the Great Hall was served large cast iron skillets teeming with a variety of Lima, Navy, and Cherokee beans brightened with sofrito, then topped with roasted poblano peppers stuffed with smoked gouda cheese and red quinoa (recipe below).

 

Willems, a connoisseur of wine and tequila, then transitioned the discussion to an informative and educational conversation on the history of tequila; specifically offering an overview of the Don Ramon line from Mexico. He outlined the process of cultivating agave, then distilling it to the three varieties of tequila—silver, reposado, and añejo—that are available today.

 

Guests were then served a drink named The Calexico, using Don Ramon reposado tequila, lime, tamarind, and honey that was harvested from a hive originating on the Crystal Bridges property.  The hive was in jeopardy when its host tree died and had to be removed, but hive, tree-trunk, and bees were transported to a farm in nearby Gravette, Arkansas, where today the hive is healthy, thriving, and producing delicious, amber-colored Ozark honey.

 

A glimpse into a hive of wild honeybees in an old tree in Crystal Bridges’ north forest.

 

Calexico

Ingredients:

1  1/2  ounces Don Ramon reposado tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce ginger honey
1/2 ounce tamarind concentrate
1 ounce fresh lime juice
sparkling water
 ice
fresh lime wheel

 

Technique:

Combine the Don Ramon Reposado tequila, Cointreau, ginger honey, tamarind concentrate, and lime juice. Mix vigorously, pour over ice, top with sparkling water, and garnish with fresh lime wheel.

 

Guacamole + Cucumber Relish

Serves 6

Cucumber Relish Ingredients:

1 small seedless cucumber, julienned
1/2 red jalapeño or hot pepper, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

 

Guacamole Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados, diced
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 red jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup chopped cashews

 

Technique

  1. For the relish, combine the cucumber, hot pepper, vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce in a small bowl. Stir to combine and allow to co-exist peacefully while constructing the guacamole. Just before serving, drain excess liquid through a small colander.
  2. For the guacamole, carefully stir together the avocado, fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and hot pepper. Taste, then alter ingredients accordingly.
  3. To serve, place the guacamole in a wide bowl. Top with the cucumber relish and sprinkle chopped cashews over relish and guacamole.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, lavosh, or rice crackers.

 

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