Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine is Back in Texas

A Triumphant Return to Tejas

On this soggy and swampy St. Patrick’s Day, I was graciously invited to spend the afternoon at Sam’s Burger Joint by Mexican Moonshine creator and indie music rock star,  Roger Clyne.  He had arrived in Texas for a busy week of concerts at the famed music, media, film conference and festival, South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.SamsPatio

With additional gigs in San Antonio and New Braunfels, this night he was slated to perform an acoustic set at Sam’s Music Hall with his Arizona Peacemaker compadre, Jim Dalton.  The rest of the band would catch up later as they traveled by bus.

Over a burger and a cerveza (and a few selfies), Roger and I caught up on current events.

[Tweet “Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine Tequila @mexmoonshine is now available in Texas!”]

When We Last Left Our Hero…

Simultaneous selfies.

Simultaneous selfies.

When we last saw Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers in 2013 and sipped and talked tequila on his tour bus, his then Texas spirits distributer had suddenly and unceremoniously dumped Mexican Moonshine tequila, despite its growing sales and Roger’s staunch Texas fan base.

Undaunted, he continued to seek more adequate representation for Mexican Moonshine in what is arguably one of the biggest tequila-consuming states in the Southwest.

This time around, Clyne elected to join forces with a much

Clyne's new guitar.

Clyne’s new guitar.

smaller, boutique distributer.  However, he is keenly aware that such a decision can be a double-edged sword in the spirits business.

As many brands of promise often do, they lean towards employing these specialty distributors in hopes of gaining more attention for their label than they would from large, impersonal corporations who are only interested in mass volume case movements and “what’s on spiff?” items.

Staff trainings on Mexican Moonshine’s finer points is key to seeing bottles moving off of the shelves and into customer’s hands and into local bars and restaurants.  A challenge he is certainly up for since he continues to conduct pre-show tastings of Mexican Moonshine to fans at selected clubs and concert halls.

[Tweet “Look for Roger Clyne’s pre-show tastings of @mexmoonshine at select concert halls”]

Coming Back With a Vengance

RogerJimLuckily, the timing of Mexican Moonshine’s relaunch into the Texas market coincided with the Peacemakers’ assault on Austin during SXSW.

Clyne admitted that he has no delusions of becoming the next Margaritaville or Cabo Wabo, or any of the other celebrity-owned tequilas.  Like his music, Roger’s aspirations for Mexican Moonshine are much more independent.

“I want to be a Southwest brand of tequila,” he confessed.  “I have no dreams of entering large competitive markets where Mexican Moonshine will disappear in a sea of brands.”

Due to the heavy Mexican cultural influence of his rugged

Mexican Moonshine table tents

Mexican Moonshine table tents

Arizona upbringing, Clyne has not ruled out venturing into the world of other agave spirits in the future.

“But,” he adds cautiously with a sly smile, “let’s get some traction back in Texas, first.”

Guess Roger and I will have to talk about those distant opportunities next time over some street tacos and Mexican Moonshine.

[Tweet “Roger Clyne, @azpeacemakers, & @mexmoonshine, independent ’till the end!”]

ClyneCerveza

 ***

Enjoy the following snippet of Roger Clyne and Jim Dalton as they perform Marie during a sound check at Sam’s Burger Joint.

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Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant–It’s In The Blood

2014-08-22 19.57.43Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant’s humble beginning exemplifies the meaning of the Latino American Dream. 

Voted a Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014 by the Wichita Eagle, the family owned chain has been in business for nearly 50 years pioneering its style of Mexican cuisine and feeding generations of families in Wichita, Kansas. 

On a bustling and muggy Friday night in late August 2014, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to meet with the proprietors of Felipe’s, the Lujano family, at the northeast Wichita location of their four venues.  

[Tweet “Review of Felipe’s – 50 Years of Mexican cuisine in Wichita, KS”]

Family Is Everything

Felipe's logo.

 2014-08-22 20.59.43It is the family patriarch, Don Roberto Lujano, who captures all the attention.

Strolling through the clean and brightly decorated restaurant, Don Roberto, brother of the deceased Felipe for whom the restaurants are named, visits every table to shake hands with his regulars.  He responds with a wide grin and a kind word as people of every race, creed and color call him Papa.2014-08-22 20.58.13

In the next two clips, Don Roberto’s son, Miguel Lujano, manager of the northeast restaurant on Woodlawn Blvd., recounts Felipe’s vast history as the first establishment to introduce Mexican cuisine to Wichita in 1967.

Think You’ve Tasted It All?

I’ve ingested just about every single style of Mexican food.  From glitzy chain restaurants with signature tropical fruit-based tequila drinks, to hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop diners that serve handmade tortillas and guacamole, I truthfully thought I had tasted it all.

2014-08-22 20.20.01

[Tweet “Mike Morales sits down for a meal and a chat at Felipe’s Restaurant”]

Not the usual “gringofied” spicy Mexican food that is served in the corporate-owned eateries, Felipe’s relies heavily on a medley of traditional herbs, spices, and heirloom family recipes.  Still, they are not without its own unique cuisine challenges as Miguel Lujano explains…

Mild vs. Hot 

2014-08-22 21.12.04With the influx of more Mexican and Mexican Americans into Wichita establishing diners of their own, Felipe’s continues to find ways to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

Noting that their customer base is trending toward more spicy hot ingredients, the Lujano family has taken advantage of this turnabout by adding some picante to their signature dishes.  Don Roberto Lujano and his wife, Maria Teresa, still cook in the kitchen with most dishes made from scratch.

And in a state whose liquor is controlled (state run), the task of obtaining more authentic tequilas for Felipe’s emblematic cocktails can be even more challenging, especially when competing restaurants plagiarize them for their own menus.  The secret, Miguel Lujano insists, is educating their customers.

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Felipe's Special Edition selection.

Felipe’s Special Edition selection.

Miguel admitted that it also helps to be friendly with representatives from Glazer’s and Standard Beverage Corporation, liquor distributors who share his passion for tequila.  Through his relationships, Felipe’s has been able to acquire such sought after tequilas as Suerte, Siete Leguas, Demetrio, George Clooney’s Casamigos, and participate in Maestro Dobel’s Special Edition program.

[Tweet “Distributors & Restaurants working to bring the consumer the tequila they want “]2014-08-22 22.53.24

[Tweet “Felipe’s Restaurants: Possibly the best tequila selection in Kansas?”]

 

Craving Felipe’s

Here, Miguel Lujano explains how Felipe’s is so artful at getting their customers to crave their cooking and cocktails.

Three Keys To Success

Miguel Lujano shares his father’s three keys to a successful Mexican restaurant.

[Tweet “Felipe’s Restaurant 3 Keys to Success”]

In The Blood

In a city that has seen its Hispanic population boom from a scattering few in 1967 to close to 60,000 strong in 2014, Felipe’s has actively enticed the unpredictable tastes of its community over the decades.  But, what keeps the Lujano family passionately pushing the limits of their traditional fare?

Simply put–

It’s in their blood.

***

Enjoy this Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita…

[Tweet “Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita”]

Felipe's signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

 

2014-08-22 22.26.35

and Miguel’s signature Margarita.

[Tweet “Felipe’s: Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014”]

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Tequila Pairing Challenge with Tequila Don Fulano

…At The Patio in San Diego

By Ryan Kelley

 patioTequila pairing dinners are always an adventure. Like fine wine, tequila has a way of inspiring and challenging chefs to marry just the right food to match the myriad and often complex flavors inherent in well-made, artisanal tequila. So when my friend Tequilier Mario Marquez invited me to join him and renowned chef Andrew Spurgin to judge a tequila pairing competition between both locations of The Patio in San Diego, I was all in.don_fulano_bottles2

Chefs at each of the restaurant’s two locations were given the challenge to prepare a five-course dinner with the five different expressions of Don Fulano tequila.

[Tweet ” Like fine wine, tequila has a way of inspiring chefs to marry just the right food to match the flavors in well-made tequila.”]

Day 1: The Patio on Lamont

Day1_Restaurant

 

In a large yet cozy room at The Patio’s Pacific Beach location on Lamont Street, General Manager Chris Simmons welcomed tasters and the judging panel and then introduced Chef de Cuisine Andre Fuentes.

As the first course was delivered, Don Fulano Brand Ambassador Sergio Mendoza told guests about Don Fulano—distilled at La Tequileña in the Tequila valley in small batches from 100% estate-grown agave from the highlands of Jalisco.

Day1_Course1Most notable about Chef Fuentes’ menu was that it strayed from the typical Mexican flavors normally paired with tequila.

The first course was a fried green tomato with herb-whipped goat cheese, watermelon and cucumber salad and watercress paired with Don Fulano Suave. The fried green tomato had a tendency to overwhelm the delicate and complex flavors of a blanco, but the watermelon and cucumber brought out the herbal and earthier flavors.

[Tweet “Don Fulano—distilled at La Tequileña in small batches from 100% estate-grown highland agave.”]

 

Day1_Course2It was a solid start, but then the evening took an unexpected twist.

At most tequila pairing dinners, courses will be paired with a vertical flight of tequila. That is, the first course is paired with blanco, the second with reposado, third with añejo, etc. Instead, Chef Fuentes served his second course, a chilled honeydew soup with pistachio gremolata, snow crab and lemon vinaigrette with Don Fulano añejo, which is a floral yet sweet and intense tequila aged for three years in French oak.

Pairing the sweet soup brought out the sweetness of the añejo—fine for a dessert course but a little odd this early in the evening. Interestingly, when I went back to sipping the blanco with this course, I found it to be a much better marriage.

Day1_Course3The highlight of the evening was the third course: fried soft shell crab cooked to perfection with a grilled corn puree, smoked pork belly and cantaloupe relish paired with Don Fulano resposado.

The hearty dish stood up to the well-balanced reposado, which offers a fruity, delicately herbal flavor up front and ends with richer flavors of caramel and maple. The freshness and fruitiness of the relish and corn puree brought out the sweet agave and herbal flavors, while the heartier fried crab opened the palate to the richness from the barrel.

Day1_Course4This was a true winner, and was the highest-scored plate by all three judges.

The fourth course, agave-glazed smoked duck breast paired with Don Fulano 5-year Imperial was unfortunately overpowered by the complex flavors of the extra añejo, but the evening ended on a high note with a watermelon-basil sorbet that brought out the fresh flavor of the sweet, intense Don Fulano Fuerte, a 100-proof blanco.

 

Day 2: The Patio on Goldfinch

Day2_Course1The second evening featured Executive Chef John Medall’s five course menu at The Patio on Goldfinch in the Mission Hills area of San Diego. Medall’s menu offered more traditional Mexican flavors, but was still creative and full of unexpected accents.

The first surprise came with the first course, a simple yet elegant watermelon and jicama salad dressed with agave honey, cilantro, cotija and pine nuts. Fellow judge, Chef Andrew Spurgin, hit it right on the mark when he described the dish as “honest.”

[Tweet “Watermelon & jicama salad dressed with agave honey, cilantro, cotija & pine nuts – Honest.”]

The fresh, flavorful salad complimented notes of grapefruit in the blanco and opened up the herbal aspect of the tequila without an overpowering sweetness.

Day2_Course2This was the first highlight of the evening. It even gave me chills!

The second course, a cantaloupe and mango gazpacho, was tasty but its richness and sweetness overpowered Don Fulano reposado.

The second highlight of the evening, and my favorite dish and pairing across both nights was tequila-braised pork carnitas wrapped in a house made tortilla and topped with salsa verde, served with Mexican rice and spicy pinto beans and paired with Don Fulano añejo.

Day2_Course3It was a robust dish worthy of the bold flavors in the añejo. The flavors of the dish heightened the agave-heavy entry of the añejo and accentuated the wonderful wood notes in the tequila’s finish.

Also notable was that the dish showcased Medall’s philosophy of using even “unusable portions” of his ingredients: watermelon rind leftover from the first course was smashed into the tortilla dough to give it a beautiful color and a mild, sweet flavor that added to the complexity of the dish and tequila pairing.

Day2_Course4The third course proved hard to follow, and the fourth course, a Puerto Nuevo-style lobster, came out a bit overcooked—likely due to difficulty choreographing and timing such an ambitious plate for so many guests. It’s pairing with Don Fulano Imperial was rather “ho-hum,” but I found that pairing the Imperial with the course’s side of roasted corn was a surprisingly good marriage of food and tequila, and this helped salvage the course and bump up the score a bit.

The pairing challenge came to a close with a tasty melon granita made from watermelon, cantaloupe and casaba complemented by the 100-proof aromatic and intense Don Fulano Fuerte. It was a solid way to end the night and the 2-day challenge.

And The Winner Is…

When the scores were tallied, the judging panel selected Chef Medall’s menu from The Patio on Goldfinch as the winner.

***

montalvo

 

The Patio on Goldfinch plans to hold another five-course tequila pairing dinner on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 5:30p.m. with Tequila Montalvo. For reservations and details, click here or contact the restaurant, located on 4020 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA 92103, at (619) 501-5090.

[Tweet “Make Reservations Now! 5-Course @MontalvoTequila dinner at The Patio on Goldfinch Aug 26 @ 5:30p.m.”]

 

Day1_GroupShot

Writer Ryan Kelley and friends enjoying all five of Don Fulano Tequila’s offerings.

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