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Mexican flowers, so much more than color and beauty

When we talk about flowers, the first thing that comes to mind is decoration, gardening or a romantic gift. However, Mexicans also highlight its flavor and use in gastronomy. We invite you to discover some of their recipes and the perfect Concha y Toro wine pairings.

By Paola Peñafiel / June 01, 2018
Concha y Toro Journalist in Mexico

If you live in Mexico, you will commonly find pumpkin flower quesadillas at any local restaurant. This flower isn’t even considered decorative in other countries but here it’s an exquisite traditional dish.

Although flowers are part of everyone’s daily life, we wanted to explore flowers that are used in Mexican cuisine; therefore, we went to the best place to do so: the Mercado de San Juan. Located in the historic center of the Aztec capital, this market is a true paradise for foodies. Fruits and vegetables from different corners of Mexico and the world; meats, fish, seafood, cheese, sauces and everything imaginable to cook. Right in the center of the market, we found a small floral garden run by Rosa María Guevara, an expert in edible flowers.

At first glance you notice that there are roses, carnations and other flowers well known by all, but as Mrs. Rosa explains: “the difference between everyday flowers that are bought as gifts or decoration, is that the edible ones are totally organic, in other words, they are free of chemicals such as pesticides.”

Some familiar flowers and others not so much; Flowers of all colors and sizes. Those flowers that we never imagined to see on a plate, we finally realize that not only are they edible, but also, they bring color and a special flavor to our favorite dishes and those we have yet to discover.

The taste of flowers and how to prepare them

We chose three flowers and three recipes for a complete menu. For the first plate, we recommend the pumpkin flower. This flower is commonly used in Mexican cuisine either in quesadillas or fillings. We picked quesadillas because it’s a traditional dish that is easy to prepare. Chop the flower and fry it with garlic, onion, salt and pepper. When done, place it inside the corn tortilla. You can add cheese, such as the popular Oaxaca cheese, which is semi-soft and stringy.

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For this entree, Mexican sommelier Sandra Gutiérrez recommends a white wine. “It can be Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay or Trio Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. These wines perfectly accompany the delicate flavor of the pumpkin flower and the elastic structure of Oaxaca cheese. Also, the salinity of the cheese goes very well with the acidity of the wine,” she says.

For main course we chose the Nasturtium flowers. With a bold orange color, these flowers have an intense flavored stem, similar to arugula or horseradish, which makes it ideal for a side salad to red meats such as beef, venison or wild boar. Our chosen dish is grilled Beef Tenderloin with a Nasturtium flowers salad.

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A perfect wine pairing for this dish would be a red of great structure. The expert recommends Trio Cabernet Sauvignon, Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada Carmenere or Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Syrah. “These red wines have an excellent tannic structure for the meat without having as much note of barrel that may overshadow the flavor of the flowers,” says Sandra Gutiérrez.

For dessert what better than red roses. We will use them in a cupcake, for a creamy frosting made with strawberry jam and roses – decorated with rose petals. These cupcakes can be accompanied by different options such as a rosé, a sweet wine or a sparkling. Sandra proposes Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection Brut, Casillero del Diablo Rosé or Concha y Toro Late Harvest. “These wines are fresh and softly tannic, so they go very well with strawberry jam and red roses.” The sommelier adds that “the freshness of a sparkling wine will highlight the flavors of the red fruits and will give balance to the sweetness of the cupcake. And about the Late Harvest wine, it provides a perfect sweetness for this type of cake.”

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