Making guacamole, enjoying tequila with CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta

Wed. May 24, 2017 12:00 AM
by Ross Forman

When I heard that representatives of the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa were coming to Chicago for a guacamole-making and tequila-tasting event, I was excited.

More for the guacamole than the tequila, though.

Sure, I like tequila and have had more than a few shots over the years, but tequila just isn't my thing – and I rarely enjoy the truly high-end tequila that was brought to Chicago from Puerto Vallarta for the media get-together. I mostly have a shot or two in between rounds of beer ...where's the lime and salt?

But guacamole, well, that's a staple in my cooking. In fact, I made some guac days before CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa chef, Fred Ruiz, offered his insight to the avocado-based dip that, lore has it, was first created by the Aztecs in Mexico.

"Chefs come up with different ways to play with food. Avocado is one of the foods you definitely can play with to make new, different varieties," Ruiz said.

So, when we started preparing our own guacamole, under Ruiz's watchful-eye, we had a load of options to include, or not. Onions, for instance, are common, but I opted against including any. I like the spice, so I added in a few jalapenos. And Ruiz definitely noticed my pizazz when he sampled my guac. "It was good, good-tasting, spicy good," he said.

"Guacamole is one of those foods that you can add many different items, thus it's not so boring. Basic can be boring," Ruiz said.

So, my guac also included roasted pineapple, tomatoes, nuts and a bit more, all whipped together with salt and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

The key to great guacamole is simple, Ruiz said – the avocado. "It has to be ripe, just right. Soft, but not too soft," he said.

We used large Hass avocados that were soft to the touch, but not mushy. Hass avocados were first grown and sold by Southern California mail carrier and amateur horticulturist Rudolph Hass, who also gave it his name. When ripe, the skin of a Hass avocado becomes a dark purplish-black and yields to gentle pressure.

The Hass avocado accounts for more than 80 percent of avocado crop in the U.S.

But what if all of the avocados at the store are too hard, as if they were baseballs?

No worries, Ruiz said. Simply wrap the avocado in newspapers, put in the dark for two or three days and – vwaala – the avocado will be perfect to use.

Ruiz certainly knows his fair share about guacamole. At the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, there is a Sunset Guacamole. Twice a week at Las Casitas, a restaurant located on the property, there is a guacamole expert, working the molcajete and making some fresh guac for guests.

Ruiz stressed having fun and experimenting with ingredients to include in guac. But skip the white wine, he said.

Ruiz noted that, yes, an avocado pit and even the skin can be cooked and eaten.

The pit is bitter, but can be put in a blender, crushed, roasted, and then used as a dusting on fish and more. "I like it," he said of the pit.

Ruiz worked in Chicago for about eight years, at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, located at 540 N. Michigan Ave., before leaving for a job in Denver and then ultimately to Puerto Vallarta. "I had a great time working here," said Ruiz, who tagged Frontera Grill (445 N. Clark St.) among his favorites locally.

The CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa also shines on the tequila front. After all, the property grows its own blue agave on site in the cactus garden and is one of only a few resorts in the world with its own brand of tequila.

CONTACT INFO: For more about the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, including its Tequila 101 or Tequila 2.0 classes, go to the property's website.

PUERTO VALLARTA PRIDE: For the fifth consecutive year, Puerto Vallarta will feature the largest LGBT Pride event in the region: Vallarta Pride. Associations, companies and the entire LGBT community have joined together again to organize this event, running now through May 28, an 8-day festival that will offer arts and culture events, concerts, entertainment, films, fun, lots of partying and a Pride Parade, which is Wednesday, May 24. For more information, go to: http://gopride.com/Zd8a.