The Amazing Avocado + Fonda and Chef Roberto Santibañez

I’ve been so back logged lately with posts that I have been awful and forgot to post about one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. It was absolutely one of the best Mexican meals I have ever had! It was weeks ago now, but the taste of those black beans and tomatillo salsa still pop up in my dreams.

I was extremely lucky to be invited out to share an in an avocado and Cinco De Mayo theme dinner put on by The Amazing Avocado, and prepared by renowned Mexican chef Roberto Santibañez at his restaurant Fonda in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

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Attending dinner with me were a few bloggers as well as a number of registered dietitians. I started off the evening with Fonda’s signature hibiscus margarita, the Rosalita

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It was a such a beautiful drink I did not want to ruin it.

The menu for the evening was incredible. It was literally an 8 course avocado based feast.

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I loved the addition of pineapple and cucumber into the Chef Santibanez’s signature guac. Some of the freshest tasting guacamole I’ve had.

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I was really surprised by how much I really liked the sandwich, or corona braised Short Ribs Torta. I had a small bite because it was beef based. But it really was incredible and one of the best bites of the night. This is why I am thankful that I do not completely restrict my diet.

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Vegetarian Enchiladas – always yummy. I asked for the tomatillo salsa from the chicken enchiladas on the side.

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One of the best dishes of the night was the simplest ( and worst picture on my part).

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Yes, that blur is just simple black beans. I was shocked to learn that what made them taste so good was the addition of avocado leaves.

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I honestly did not even know avocado leaves existed. A bunch of us were so enamored with the beans and the thought of the leaves that Chef Santibanez brought them to us. He instructed us to crack the leaves in order to release the fragrance. He explained they have a subtle licorice flavor and toasting the leaves brings out the flavor. Chef Santibanez cooks his black beans by crumbling up the leaves in the pot. Genius – it transformed the beans just enough to bring basic beans to the next level. I will never cook black beans without avocado leaves again! At least I hope…I have to figure out where to get avocado leaves first.

The final dish was another show stopper – Avocado Cheesecake!! I will post the recipe posted below. And the Chef makes his with a cookie butter crust and agar agar instead of gelatin.

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To. DIE. For. It was a like a not as sweet key lime pie almost. After all the food – I told myself I was not going to eat all of the dessert.

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As you expected, that did not happen.

In between all eating I did learn some great things about the avocado’s themselves:

  • Store at room temperature until they are ripe, then use them up or put them into the fridge
  • Ripe avocados are heavy for their size and are green-black in color. They should no be mushy, but just slightly pliable.
  • Avocados ripen on trees, and have to be hand picked. They are actually not allowed to come into the US if they touched the ground.
  • If you want the avocado to ripen faster store it on top of the fridge, or in a fruit basket.

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Here are some of the recipes as well:

Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole:

Serves

6-10

1 (10- to 12-ounce) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (½ inch)
½ cup finely diced red onion
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, minced, including seeds, or more to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste

¾ teaspoon fine salt, or 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 large or 4 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
½ pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced (½ inch)
½ cup chopped cilantro, divided

Instructions

-Stir together the cucumber, onion, chiles, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl. Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a cross-hatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the bowl and gently stir together (do not mash).
-Stir in half the cilantro and the pineapple last so the fresh acidity is distinct from the avocado. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice, and salt. Transfer the guacamole to a wide dish and sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top. Because of the acid in the pineapple, this salsa will not discolor as quickly as other guacamoles.
-Store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface. Let it come to room temperature before you serve it.

Recipe courtesy of
Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez

 

Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust:

Serves

10 people

3/4 cup shelled walnuts
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 lemon
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 fully ripened Avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened and cut in pieces

Instructions

Heat oven to 350°F. In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, anise seeds and salt; pulse just until combined. Add 2 tablespoons water; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes. With vegetable peeler, remove strips of lemon zest (yellow portion only). In saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and lemon zest; bring to boil. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute; strain and discard lemon zest. In food processor, combine avocados and cream cheese. Pour hot milk mixture into processor; process until very smooth. Pour into baked crust; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. Remove side of pan; cut cheesecake into 10 slices. Serve with raspberry sauce, if desired.

Cheesecake is best when served the same day; any leftover cheesecake should be securely covered with clear plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Per Servings: 242 calories; 8 g protein; 13 g fat; 26 g carbohydrates


This was a truly an amazing avocado meal and I will be sure to be back to Fonda in the near future. Chef Santibenaz was so nice, and his enthusiasm to share the knowledge of his passion with us really showed.

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We left with some avocados to play with and a copy of his award winning cook book Truly Mexican.

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I’ve had some time to flip through the cookbook and there are really great cooking tips and basic instructions that I would have never known. I can’t wait to cook from it.

I would like to thank The Amazing Avocado, Chef Roberto, the staff at Fonda, and the ladies at Ketchum PR for having me for dinner that evening.

 

Good Mexican is surprisingly hard to find in NYC. What/Where is the best Mexican you have had or even made??


Disclaimer – I was not compensated by either The Amazing Avocado or Fonda besides the meal. The views and opinions I express here are my own.

 

Comments

  1. WOW I love avocado, so everything here looks incredible to me. So fresh and green! Very cool themed event. I might have to check this place out

    and pinning those tips – useful, thanks!!

    • Fonda was so good. And I swear I developed a crush on Chef Roberto. Let me know if you want to go!! We nee to chat and catch up.

  2. you had me at avocado and then i saw the cheesecake. Um, dang! looks awesome.

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