The highlight of my recent trip to Cancun was the cooking class I took at The Culinary Center at the Ritz-Carlton. The new facility (aka my dream kitchen) is decked out with miles of granite, light maple cabinets, Viking appliances from the induction stove top to the toaster, and breath-taking views of the ocean.
I was treated to the Real Mexican class with the charming and super talented Executive Chef Rainer Zinngrebe. Our two hours began (how else?) with excellent margaritas then we moved to the stove top to prepare our churro batter. Next we made red snapper and shrimp ceviche with fresh vegetables like cilantro, jicama, and peppers. The enchiladas were a breeze as the Ranchera sauce was pre-made. We finished off by frying our churros and drizzling them with chocolate ganache.
The Culinary Center also offers classes in grilling on the seaside patio, dinner at the chef's table, and tequila and wine tasting sections.
Last weekend, we recreated the menu for our friends Phoebe and Brent and while we'd give ourselves an A for effort, the results weren't nearly as good as our lunch in Cancun. Let's chalk it up to not having the freshest veggies and seafood. Our ceviche fixings are above and the ranchera sauce (pre-bake) is below. Anyone hungry?
If you want to try out some of Rainer's recipes at your next party, check out the book he authored with Chef Rodrigo Torres Contreras, Small Bites, Big Tastes, which features 80 easy and creative recipes with both Asian and South American influences.