Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tacos + Tequila

So there I was, wandering lost in the hard alcohol section of the adult beverage market, and I find myself in front of the Tequila selection. I stare. I know nothing. I wonder to myself what the heck all of the various terms on the labels mean: reposado, gold, silver, anejo. It's a mystery. I move along. Someday I'll learn, I tell myself. Someday.

Well wouldn't you know it. That someday has come.

Literally, within a day of my market musings, an inviting invite arrived in my email inbox, subject line: Tacos + Tequila. I knew before I even clicked it open that I would accept said invite.

Turns out that the invitation was from Tout Suite Social Club, a fresh take on social networking/lifestyle branding/technology and just plain fun interactivity based here in Napa Valley. I'd been hearing the buzz about Tout Suite for a bit, and had been hoping to check them out in person before I fell sorely behind the times. Finally, Tacos + Tequila gave me a real excuse to go and meet some new people, indulge my inner social networking geek, grub on some good food, and inform myself on all things tequila. Sign me up!

I won't go on and on about Tout Suite, but I will say this: check them out. Become a member. Enjoy all of the content that they are creating for folks just like you. It's a really cool platform to introduce you to todays influential tastemakers. In a nutshell, they host casual, irreverent, funny events at their St. Helena studio (Meet Your Maker, Tasting in the Dark, Tout Socials and others); get a variety of guests to come meet, mingle and nosh; and stream it all online for your viewing pleasure (and archive everything for future viewing in case you can't catch it live). It's like an interactive dinner party with some educational (and, let's admit it - marketing) elements. But I love it, and think even if you're not in the room for the party, the episodes are entertaining enough that you'll want to investigate.

My marketing geekiness aside, I really truly was there for the Tacos + Tequila. A girl's gotta eat, right? The evening did not disappoint.

Tout Suite's in-house chef, Paul Wiggins, dished up huge platters of taco makins, including grilled albacore, repollo picoso (a spicy cabbage slaw with tomato, lime and oregano), an Argentine chimichurri, and a sweet bay scallop ceviche that was my favorite (made with agave nectar, zucchini, jalapeno, avocado, red onion, tomato, cilantro and loads of citrus... delish).

The food was meant to be paired with the Los Osuna 100% blue agave spirits, brought by Jesus Padilla whose family has been making the libation in Mexico since 1876. I learned that this particular brand can't technically be called a Tequila, since like a true Champagne or Port, the name Tequila is reserved for those spirits actually made within a specific region. See? Learned one thing new right there, before I even took a sip.

Jesus walked us through a tasting, teaching us that like wine, Tequila has legs. Also like wine, there are nuances and flavors on the nose and on the palette. And all of those descriptors? They mostly indicate aging and the time that the Tequila has spent in whiskey barrels. The longer the aging, the deeper the color, and I suppose, the more complex the flavors. And those Tequilas marked Gold? Turns out Gold is code word for "filler." No wonder those college margarita-slash-shots-on-a-dare days hurt. Bottom line: spend the money for the good stuff.

Since it was a Tout Social, there were many new people to meet, many new Twitter accounts to follow, many new blogs to explore. In short: my people! I had a great time, learned lots, and hopefully made some new friends. Mission accomplished Tout Suite!

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