By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
At Mezcal in San Jose it is love and passion behind the food and that comes from the Mom and Chef team, Doña Libo and son, Tavo Gomez.
Located in Downtown San Jose, Mezcal boasts one of the most distinctive dining rooms in San Jose. The brick exterior, metal work and indigenous Mexican motifs, sets the restaurant apart from its neighbors. Although the design is urban upscale, there is nothing watered down about the menu. Mezcal proudly serves authentic Oaxacan regional cuisine utilizing family recipes passed on from previous generations.
Mezcal specializes in homemade moles that include, Estofado, a sweet mole made of mild tomatillos and peanuts, Coloradito, a red mole made of tomatoes and chiles de arbol, and the very popular Mole Negro that is deeply complex with a mixture of chiles, chocolate and spices. For the more adventurous, a Oaxacan menu would not be complete without Chapulines (fried grasshoppers), which are sautéed with garlic, lime and salt served as a delicious appetizer. And YES, I did indulge on my recent visit. Courage through margaritas will have you try anything!!
“Cooking to me is family.”
– Chef Tavo Gomez
Proprietor Adolfo Gomez is an Ambassador of Tequila and Mezcal, the lesser-known sibling of Tequila. On any given evening, join Adolfo at his bar for a Tequila or Mezcal tasting and learn something new about Mexico’s most deeply and culturally-rooted products. Chef Doña Libo takes pleasure in introducing people to the delights of Oaxacan food with its wide range of flavors and spices. She has been cooking Oaxacan food all of her life, learning from her mother and grandmother back home in Oaxaca. Doña Libo had a catering business in Oaxaca before coming to San Jose to help the family open the restaurant. The restaurant’s dishes are derived from her recipes and along with her son, Mezcal Chef Tavo Gomez.
I first dined at Mezcal with music pals Billy, Cheryl & Gavid De Graw (name dropper) just a few weeks ago and we were all instantly hooked by the love served up on every plate, by the splendid service by Martha and the killer margaritas.
“I miss that place. Amazing margaritas,” said Gavin in a tweet to me earlier today.
Mezcal is where, in my humble opinion, you will experience some of the best and most authentic Mexican cuisine in the Bay Area. FACT.
Enjoy dinner at Mezcal at a special “DINE SAN JOSE” price, now through July 3rd.
Chef Tavo took a break from the kitchen to talk about the recipe of his family’s success. I also learned about his love of The Beatles, his passion for his homeland and the experience of cooking with Mom.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Tavo Gomez
1 .Define your cuisine
The perfect word to define the Mezcal cuisine is passionate. The first spoonful in your mouth, the passion is there. You taste the hard work of people in the character and the flavors from Mexico in that spoon.
2. What is always in your fridge?
I want to say beer and Red Bull, because you need fuel to work.
3. If you were not a chef, what might you be?
A musician. A really crappy one, but a musician.
4. If you could pick one song as the soundtrack of your culinary life, what would it be?
That’s a very hard question, but I wanna go for “All My Life” by The Beatles. John Lennon wrote that song and I listen to that song and it’s not happy, it’s not sad, it’s just perfect for what life is.
5. At your last supper what would you eat and who would join you at the table?
For the dish I want to go for Mole Negro, which is a main dish in Oaxaca. It has chocolate and a lot of foreign ingredients and is really hard to make. It’s a dish that we always make for celebrations, like if someone dies, they give you that, if someone gets married, they give you that. For my last supper I would want my mom, my dad, my wife, my kid, and Zane Lamprey from the TV show. He’s my friend, even if he doesn’t know me. We’ll drink together.
LM: Five tasty answers, gracias Chef.
10 Tiger prawns skin off, tail on
4 Garlic cloves
¼ Cup of ground Mexican oregano
1 Tbs. of salt
½ Cup of water
Blend oregano, garlic, salt, and water, and then pour it over prawns for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.
2 Bunches of steam cilantro
3 Cups of mayo
2 Tbs. of salt
½ Cup of oil
3 Garlic cloves
½ Cup of water from the steam cilantro
Blend all ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor, then add the oil to the food processor while still ON slowly.
To make the Puerto Prawns
Heat up a pan with 1 oz. of oil, add 1 tsp. of finely chopped garlic, add prawns, stirring and turning prawns for about 2 minutes per side until they get a pink color. You can add chicken broth if you have it on hand, remove from heat, serve with the dressing over rice or small mixed green salad.
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