We thought we would look at some of the two obvious uses for Mexico’s best known alcoholic beverage and its sister product, agave.
To produce agave nectar from the Agave tequiliana plant, juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piña. Agave cactus cover the rolling hillsides to Tequila, Mexico, the birthplace of the drink that bears its name, in the state of Jalisco. In the heart of the plant are the sugars that were been used by native peoples to make a fermented drink. “After the Spanish arrived, they took this fermented beverage and distilled it, producing the tequila known today. The popularity of the drink and the history behind it has made town and the area surrounding it a World Heritage Site ” (WIKI). As you drive through Tequila, you’ll see what barely pass as store fronts or puestos, replete with the same gallon milk containers in which we buy milk, filled with tequila, strung and hanging casually like some many over-sized Christmas ornaments. As you pass the toll plaze that signals your departure from the state of Jalisco, street vendors approach and offer you these same gallons at anywhere from 2000-3000 pesos (so somewhere in the neighborhood of $25). More often than not, what you are getting is from one of the premium distilleries, so don’t hesitate to buy (you’ll be able to taste before you purchase).
- Neveria Abel’s Agave Cream Ice Cream, churned in a barrel, the old-fashioned way, in small batches, creating flavors that are as rich as they are unique.
The brand’s signature flavor is Agave Cream, which is an original 1950 recipe product made using an award-winning 100% Blue Agave Los Osuna, a dessert permeated with just the right touch of tequila so that it becomes almost a frozen cocktail in a spoon.
(Other Abel flavors include: Mexican Hot Chocolate, flavored with the hint of canela (cinnamon) that is key to this traditionally hot beverage, now translated into an ice cream (see The Secrets and pleasures of Mexican cooking: Abuelita Chocolate for more on Mexican chocolate, including recipes), Caramelized Sweet Corn and Sweet Mango made with agave honey.Neveria Abel flavors can be found at Draeger’s Markets in South San Francisco (with additional locations in San Mateo, Los Altos, Menlo Park and Danville) and available through Whole Foods in San Francisco, and Abel deserts are proudly served by Tres Señoritas Gourmet Catering.
- Sneak preview from my forthcoming book, Celebraciones Mexicanas: History, Traditions and Recipes (co-authored with Adriana Alamzan Lahl), now available to pre-order on Amazon: Flaky Pie Crust with Tequila
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
6 oz (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ cup cold vegetable shortening (Manteca vegetal Inca), cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup ice-cold tequila
¼ cup ice-cold water
PROCESS 1½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor and combine with two or three pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until you get a uniform dough (15 seconds or until it resembles cottage cheese and flour is all incorporated). Add remaining cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly mixed and separated in large chunks. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle tequila and water over mixture. With your hands, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a round disk (4 inches). Cover each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. Or freeze until you use it