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What Is a Diamante Tequila?

Let’s talk tequila. Even casual drinkers of the agave-based spirit should be aware of its basic categories: blanco — or silver — is unaged white liquor, straight from the still; reposado rests in the barrel between two months and one year before bottling; and añejo meets oak for one to three years. While these classifications have been recognized for decades, the recent explosion in craft tequila has led to some slight modifications. It wasn’t until 2006, for example, that Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council officially qualified “extra añejo” as a certified distinction for anything aging more than three years. And what do we make of the diamante category?

In 2008, Maestro Dobel introduced its Diamante onto the market. It was the first aged tequila with a clear appearance — most have a familiar caramel hue. Today, there are several brands offering a so-called diamond-level tequila, and they’d all like to see the category officially recognized. But let’s examine the original diamante to better understand what makes it unique.

Blending reposado, añejo, and extra añejo into a single spirit, Dobel’s flagship tequila utilizes a special filtration process to remove the color. The flavor and aroma is left fully intact, however, as Diamante hints at a complexity rarely detected in its un-aged counterparts. This is the nuanced interplay between oak and agave, wood and soil. It ought to be discernible, as a portion of that liquid has spent up to five years in the barrel — a rare claim for a bottle priced at $45 per 750 milliliters.

I found it to be a superior sipping spirit, enjoyed neat — though that hasn’t stopped several high-end bar programs across the city from exploring its mixing potential. At Nobu, for example, the staff has combined the spirit with pear liqueur and cactus purée in a prickly-pear margarita. There’s a solid backbone to the cocktail that a blanco would fail to deliver.

Beyond the aesthetics, the makers of Dobel, including the eleventh-generation owner of Jose Cuervo, will have you believe their proprietary filtration imparts a certain crispness as the color is removed. It’s difficult to disprove, as you’re unable to sample Diamante prior to that process. But to me, the spirit’s true significance stems from the artful blend of different aged tequilas, arriving to the bottle in sensible harmony.

Dobel does offer a standard blanco, which packs more of a peppery spice and would be better equipped for a paloma or a margarita. The brand’s standard reposado and añejo products are also easily distinguishable thanks to more pronounced caramel notes in the finish.

But Diamante truly occupies its own space. Whether or not it’ll succeed in establishing its own official category remains to be seen. What is clear, aside from the spirit itself, is that Diamante is expanding the boundaries of the world’s fastest-growing spirit.

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Make Angelo Sosa’s Corn Dumpling Stew

Even though it’s not as seasonally cold as expected, it’s still cold enough for spooning up bowls of warm liquid. Whether it’s one of Robert Sietsema’s ramen picks, takeout egg drop soup, or Luzzo’s Zuppe Bollito, Fork in the Road has pretty much solidified that January equals Soup Month. So, why not add another bowl to your list.

Chef Angelo Sosa first showed us his hand with Asian flavors at Xie Xie — this is the pre-Top Chef days — before solidifying his mastery at Midtown restaurant Social Eatz. Now, he’s showing us he has other cards in his deck. With the opening of Hell’s Kitchen’s Anejo, the toque’s first public foray into Mexican cuisine (668 Tenth Avenue at 47th Street, 212-920-4770).

In honor of his opening, Chef Sosa has shared his Corn Dumpling Stew recipe. The tomato-based sauce is spiked with chorizo. The masa-like balls make this hearty enough for a winter night’s meal.

Sauce
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup Mexican chorizo

Corn dumplings
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup corn
½ cup pork lard
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk

First, cook the sauce. In ¼ cup oil sweat the onion, chorizo, and garlic until soft. Then add remaining ingredients and cook at low simmer for 45 minutes. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients and form into small (golf-ball-sized) dumplings. Dumplings can be steamed for 5 minutes or boiled (at a soft boil) for 2 minutes.
Place cooked dumplings in tomato sauce and simmer for 1 minute.