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I torched a Diplomaticos No. 2 in the Altamira Lounge at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, enjoying both the cigar and vibes of the Pacific Coast setting.
"We are totally cigar friendly at the resort," said Javier Perez Rubio, St. Regis' food and beverage manager. "Many of the best cigars are available here at the lounge, in the Carolina restaurant bar and at the Punta Mita golf club."
The seductive, luxury beach resort is friendly in many other ways as well. It was particularly so during the inaugural Gourmet Golf Classic, a two-day golf tournament and sensory exploration of modern and traditional Mexican and Latin cuisine that showcased gastronomic creations by St. Regis, Four Seasons and invited guest chefs.
Hosted by St. Regis, Four Seasons, Riviera Nayarit Tourist Board and American Airlines, the celebration of food and golf unfolded at both Punta Mita resorts and on the Jack Nicklaus designed Pacifico and Bahia oceanside layouts. Daily tastings at the St. Regis with world-renowned wine sommeliers and tequila connoisseurs added to the indulgence.
It was a mystical parade of succulent, culinary conceptions by a brilliant lineup of chefs. Their sumptuous array of dishes celebrating traditional regional flavors infused with original flair created continuous eruptions of cascading tastes, exotic aromas and zesty seasonings.
Some of my favorites:
Jorge Gonzalez's pachinko gratinated oysters with a shrimp and leek motoyaki sauce, paired with Casa Madero Chardonnay. Gonzalez, Mexico's top young chef in 2006, studied under Ferran Adria, one of the world's greatest chefs and a visionary behind molecular gastronomy. Chef Jorge crafts his "chino Latina" fusion cuisine at Four Seasons Aramara Restaurant.
Paola Carosella's rib eye beef jus and a porcini mushroom butter sauce over gnocchi (thick soft dumplings) with Catena Alta Malbec. Paola was San Paulo, Brazil's Chef of the Year in 2010 where she cooks at Arturito Restaurant.
Mexican Chef Abraham Salum's braised beef short ribs plate with piloncillo (unrefined sugar) and pasilla chili, sweet potato hash, mache lettuce and cherry tomato salad, with Oporto Limited Edition Monte Xanic. Abraham showcases his fare at Salum Restaurant in Dallas.
Australian Chef Andrew Ormsby of Andrew Ormsby Catering in Dallas served pistachio crusted baby lamb skordalia (crushed garlic sauce) with red beet juice, paired with Villa Montefiori Cabernet-Sauvignon.
Mexico City born Chef Richard Sandoval owns 13 restaurants in Mexico, Dubai and the United States. Sandoval has redefined historic Mexican cuisine to become a leader in the upscale Latin culinary movement. His oven-baked smoked swordfish tostaditas (fish, shredded cheese, lettuce, citrus, roasted peppers, salsa, on small tortillas) was a mouth-watering treat.
Casa Madero Chenin Blanc was paired with Patricia Quintana's tasty sun dried shrimp in an authentic Mexican hot Huichol sauce with salt and lime. The legendary Quintana is based at Mexico City's Izote Restaurant, where she produces culinary delicacies that have garnered her honors as Mexico's top chef and Culinary Ambassador.
Chef prepared samplings and Don Julio tequila were served on many holes during the Punta Mita Cup. Especially enjoyable were long-standing St. Regis traditions (some dating back 100 years to founder Lady Astor), such as champagne sabering and hand-rolled cigars.
At prices ranging from $19 to $84, cigar selections at the St. Regis resort included: Bolivar: Belicoso Fino, Limited Edition 2009 Petit Belicoso; Cohiba: Corona Especiales, Espléndido, Robusto and Siglo I, II, IV; Cuaba Generosos; H. Upmann No. 2; Montecristo: Robusto, No. 1, 2, 4; Partagas: Lusitania and Serie No. 2; Punch Churchill; Robaina Collection; Romeo y Julieta: Churchill, Edmundo; San Cristobal de la Habana; Trinidad Short Robusto T Limited Edition 2010. Additional varieties are sold in the Al Sole Boutique.
All St. Regis restaurants—Tail of the Whale, Sea Breeze, Las Marietas, and the AAA five-diamond Carolina—offer al fresco dining that supports the affable cigar smoking policy. Smoking cigars in paradise has gotten even better.
The St. Regis Punta Mita
Lote H-4, Carretera Federal 200, km 19.5
Punta de Mita, Nayarit, Mexico 63734
Phone: (52) 329-291-5800
Bill Nestor writes about global travel, golf and lifestyle from his home in Vermont.
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