At the recent FOOD & WINE Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, we had the opportunity to meet up with Chef Guillermo González Beristain. Beristain is an award-winning chef and owner of Grupo Pangea, which includes his first restaurant venture, Pangea, as well as La Catalina and Genoma. He also has his own wine brand.
Beristain is originally from Baja, went to culinary school at the CIA, and now bases his culinary empire in Monterrey, which has it's own special cuisine. "It's about rustic and honest food." explains Beristain. And apparently a lot of goat. "Why do we eat goat in Monterrey?" asks Beristain rhetorically. You have to look at the history of Monterrey for the answer. The city was founded by Jewish families fleeing the Inquisistion. "The Jews brought sheep with them, but the terrain was too difficult for sheep, but goats thrived." he explains as he prepares a sous vide goat dish. "It is also the only place in Mexico where you have flour tortillas, which is also due to the Middle Eastern influence, they were trying to replicate flour pitas."
Monterrey is also known for beef, Beristain explains as he prepares what he call a beef ceviche by first slicing onions and mixing them with flour or cayenne pepper and frying them in hot oil and draining on paper towels. He then grills the beef until it is medium rare. While the meat is resting, he dices cucumber, thinly slices cilantro, some green onions — the green parts only, and chops red onions. The final vegetable flourishes are paper thin slices of serrano chile and curls of avocado. After he slices the meat, all the ingredients are mixed and tossed with lemon juice — "I like to squeeze lemon by hand, when you use a squeezer you get all the bitter oils" he explains. Then comes some Worcestershire sauce and local sea salt. "It's taking a classic Mexican seafood dish and translating it to the meat culture of Monterrey."