Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Golden Birthday with Kurman at Topolobampo

Tuesday was my 25th birthday, and lucky for me, the Kurman gang treated me to lunch at one of my favorite spots—Topolobampo! The best part? We got a special visit from none other than culinary extraordinaire and proprietor Rick Bayless.

Bayless’s recent win on Top Chef Masters meant that Topolobampo and sister restaurant Frontera Grill were packed with eager diners excitedly anticipating Bayless’s famed Mexican cuisine. The beautiful dining room was impressively packed on a Tuesday afternoon.

We each ordered an appetizer, a main course and a dessert, which is not something I usually do. But I really wanted to try as much as I could. Everything on the menu had my mouth watering.

Our appetizers arrived, and Cindy’s Sabana de Jitomates, thin slices of locally grown heirloom tomatoes from Topolobampo’s rooftop garden, was one of the most colorful dishes I’ve ever seen. She said that it tasted even better than it looked, and it looked darn good.

We moved on to our main course, and Stephanie’s Tacos de Pescado, Baja-style fish tacos with mahi mahi prepared two ways with homemade lime mayo, fresh tortillas, pea tendril salad, avocado-tomatillo salsa, pickled vegetables and lime-Corona “air” looked too delicious not to snap a quick photo.

Lee’s main course, Barbacoa de Pato, featured Gunthorp duck two ways: seared breast and slow-braised leg barbacoa, with braised garbanzos, tomatillo-avocado salsa, verdolagas salad, and topped off with pan juices. Yum!

As for my main course, I was completely saciated with my order of Cuatro Cositas Oaxaqueas, the Oaxacan sampler, featuring an empanada with chicken and yellow mole, grilled Oaxacan chorizo, grilled red chile shrimp and cochinita pibil.

Cindy ordered Chilaquiles de Guajillo y Frijo Negro, a vegetarian option, a torta of shiitake-filled chilaquiles, served with black bean sauce, homemade crema, crispy white onion and cilantro. She was concerned that the dish would be too hot, and our excellent server assured her that it was spicy, not too hot. Attentive, she stopped by to make sure that everything was in order and to our liking. It was, and so much more.

I'm glad that we took so many photos of the food. We were all soon members of the "clean plate club."

The food was great; don't get me wrong. But for me, the highlight of the meal was when Rick Bayless himself stopped by our table after we finished our main course to say hello! He even wished me a happy birthday, and after talking Twitter and social networking with us, he graciously posed for several photos.

My friends and family have asked me if he’s just as nice as he appears on television, and everyone at Kurman can wholeheartedly declare, yes! He's the real deal.

It was a birthday I won’t soon forget.
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