Being a blogger certainly has it perks and the #ZomatoMeetup events are certainly one of them.
The idea is that our favourite food app gathers a group of like-minded individuals together for a new dining experience. Thus providing us with a chance to meet new people and network with those who have similar interests.
Zomato have been arranging these meet-ups for sometime in Dubai, but for those of us in Abu Dhabi – this is an entirely new concept. So we were more than happy to attend the most recent event, held at Mexican restaurant Americas, in the Park Inn by Radison on Yas Island.
Having never visited the venue before, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. A warm interior with a nice bar area, leading out onto a marvellous pool deck with views over the Yas Links golf course. Like most things in Abu Dhabi, this is a hidden gem and it is not until you visit a place like this, that you even realise it exists.
The evening was a special one (not only because of the Zomato event) but because the chef going to ‘live-cook’ for us, plus we would be dining in the presence of the Mexican ambassador Francisco Alonso.
Amerigos head chef Jorge Rodriguez informed us not to expect fajitas, enchiladas and chilli – basically all of the stereotypical foods that you would associate with Mexican cuisine. Instead we were to experience authentic Mexican dishes from the state of Yucatán – and we could’t have been happier. Jorge started with a demonstration of how to cook Panucho Yucateco, a dish consisting of fried corn tortilla, black bean puree, pulled chicken pibil, cheese, salsa and pickled onion. The dish resembles an Italian ravioli and tasted fantastic as the onion really complemented the warmth and mild heat of the salsa.
Next up was the soup-ish Pozole, a dish from Guerrero which combines hominy corn broth, pulled chicken, shredded lettuce, radish and cheese. Surprisingly this dish used many of the same ingredients as the Panucho Yucateco, yet delivered completely different flavours and textures in the form of a hearty and homley broth. The beverages on offer throughout the evening were margaritas and horchata – a refreshingly delicious rice based drink made with milk, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla.
As the evening progressed, we were treated to more and more outstanding dishes, taking us on a tour through Mexico without a nacho or burrito in sight! Our personal favourite was Chiles En Nogada because of the way it surprised us. What appeared at first sight as stuffed peppers (which would normally come with an eye-roll from us) was in fact the best dish of the night. Hailing from Puebla, the peppers are stuffed with mince beef, dry fruits, walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. Providing a nutty and sweet flavour which is unlike anything we had tasted before.
The food kept on coming… With Pescado Veracruzana (from VeraCruz) bringing together peppers, capers, onions, olives and seabass into a tomato broth. Followed by Mole Negro (from Oaxaca) consisting of pan-fried chicken with Mexican rice, fried plantain and mole negro sauce. What could’ve been another standard chicken and rice dish was really elevated by the Mexican rice and seasoning of the meat – Nando’s this was not!
We were fully unaware that Jorge and his team were saving the best until last. The churros that they brought to the table were – hands down – the best we have ever had and made a welcome change from some of the truly awful churros that we have experienced during our time here in the UAE! It would appear that this relatively simple dish, when transported to the emirates, always seems to fail. Thankfully the authenticity of Jorge’s cooking has proved to us that to get ‘real’ Mexican food you need to go straight to the source. It was most interesting to see the intricacies of the dishes created during the course of the evening and to sample some truly authentic delicacies.
The chef offered us hot chocolate and despite declining at first (we were so full), Jorge insisted we sample it anyway. The hot chocolate was served as an espresso sized portion and was quite frankly the best we have tried. Simplicity was the key here, with a rich blend of dark chocolate and Mexican spices that made for a great end to the evening.
Other than the delicious food, the company really made for a great night. A mixture of foodies and bloggers were on hand and it was a great chance for us to mingle and compare stories ,with people of have similar interests. It was also a good opportunity to finally meet the people behind some of the blogs that we have been following: Native Nowhere, Bandwagon Chic, Adventurous Me, Gluten Free, UAE Mucher and The Style Choreo (amongst others). But the biggest shout out must got to Zomato’s very own Rayyan Umrani for organising such a wonderful event! Here’s to the next one!
One things for sure. A trip to Amerigos has got us well and truly enticed for their Friday brunch. With free-flowing margaritas and tequila, plus pool access – you can count us in!
Location: Park Inn, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Street, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook
Hours: 12pm – 2am
Phone: 02 418 2575
We were invited to dine at Amerigos. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.