Holy Molé...(sorry, couldn't help myself)
As an ode to the annual Molé Festival in Mexico City, Santa Monica’s La Sandia is hosting its First Annual Molé Festival until November 19th. What exactly is molé, you might ask? Molé, of Aztec origin meaning “to blend together,” is the national dish of Mexico. A nuanced sauce comprised of as many as twenty various spices, herbs and other authentic ingredients, molé ranges in vibrant color, heat and complexity depending on the variety.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Molé Festival’s press dinner last week. Here’s a little glimpse of our spectacular feast:
The diverse menu was created by Chef Richard Sandoval, highly successful restaurateur and owner of La Sandia, and Ana Luisa Almazan, culinary ambassador from Mexico.
photo: Megan Wieczorek
With an authentic Mexican flair, La Sandia was the perfect venue to host such a vibrant and cultural event.
This Molé Almendrado was a smooth and mild molé—a perfect complement to grilled shrimp, green olives, capers and chile guero salsa. Paired with Victoria Beer. (Another course was paired with “The Crusher” Rosé by Don and Sons. Efferevescent pairings are phenomenal with molé, as they help release the flavors!)
These chicken enchiladas with shaved yellow onions were the canvas for the iconic Molé Rojo, the most well-known molé. The Molé Rojo was packed with flavor and heat, the spices taking center stage on the palette. Paired with Canyon Road Pinot Noir.
Our only green molé, this Molé Pipian was fresh and zesty, accompanied by pork tenderloin medallions and refried beans. Paired with Rioja Vega Reserva Tempranillo.
Because what five-star dinner is complete without dessert? This dessert platter featured banana empanadas, churros (stuffed with Bavarian cream I might add!) and brownies. Paired with Abuelita Hot Chocolate and Scorpion Mezcal-infused whipped cream.
Yes, needless to say, our dinner was to die for. I will surely be back to try a few of the other Molé Festival offerings, especially their killer cocktails. I tried the Habanero Blood Orange Margarita, made with Tequila Reposado, citrus, blood orange-habanero puree and a molé negro rim. Not for the faint of heart, this cocktail was smoky and bold, while the spicy-citrus combo was refreshing and unique. Molé mixology at its finest.
So for a culturally rich experience, bustle into La Sandia before Nov. 19th to try some spectacular authentic Mexican fare—your tastebuds will thank you.
(La Sandia is located on the 3rd floor Dining Deck at Santa Monica Place.)