By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It has been called Mexico’s culinary Oscars, and for eight groundbreaking seasons, it has been “The Place” to sample some of Mexico City’s best gastronomic offerings.
And this year’s edition of Sabor es Polanco, held in the open-air venue of the Campo Marte military base next to the National Auditorium, on Saturday, March 12, and Sunday, March 13, did not disappoint.
The two-day culinary festival helped herald in the beginning of the end of the two-year covid-19 pandemic in Mexico City, where sanitary authorities finally gave the green light for low contagion just five days earlier, meaning people could now cautiously fully return to their social and professional activities.
This year, Mexico’s largest and most important food and drink fest featured cross-collaboration between restaurants, wineries, mezcal producers and a string of related genres, with a parade of tastings, seminars and even a kids section with junior cooking classes.
In its 10th year and eighth edition (the covid pandemic and an overlap with the Formula-1 auto race knocked it out twice), what started out in 2012 as a small restaurant promotional event for the capital’s upscale Colonia Polanco grew to a 75-eatery extravaganza, with the participation of the northwestern Mexican state of Durango as its “guest of honor,” offering up a sampling of 17 of its best artisan mezcals (the state is the second-largest producer of mezcal in the country, after Oaxaca, cranking out 600 million liters a year, over 80 percent of which is exported abroad).
Also participating this year were Oaxaca, with its premiere arabica coffee, and Coahuila, with its extraordinary wines.
And for those who wanted to savor “una buena chela” with their food, Grupo Modelo had them covered with a variety of cold beers.
The two-day event also included a number of new participating restaurants.
Whether they were out for a gourmet tuna filet in tangy white wine and soy marinade or a piping hot slice of pizza, the festival catered to the every culinary whim of the more than 3,000 guests.
From the prime rib eyes of Harry’s Steakhouse and the downhome Mexican flavors of Las Hijas de la Tostada to the exotic tastes of Japanese gastronomy from Makoto and the savory Basque delights of Emilio, there was literally something to please every palate.
In addition, chef Aarón Mizrahi, head of meat selections for Mexico’s famed Sonora Grill, offered an exclusive master class on beef cuts, while Casa Madero, the country’s oldest and most esteemed vineyard, presented a sommelier-led wine tasting of some of the bodega’s finest rosés and malbecs.
Throughout the day, there were impromptu performances of jazz, rock and operatic arias, plus an occasional cameo appearance by a food-related cartoon celebrity.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Mexico City Waiters Union, whose members were particularly hard hit by the pandemic.