Last week we got an order from El Jardin in Santa Cruz:
They wanted to bring in some local wines to add to their new venture in Santa Cruz. I've had a rant about the wine lists at Mexican restaurants for awhile that I've been meaning to write and this prompted me to do it.
I know when most people think Mexican food it's really Tex-Mex they are thinking of, and El Jardin would fall into that Tex-Mex/Cali-Mex category. What really got me ranting though was the high end places that have started to appear in the wake of the popularity of Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and Topolobambo. We've tried a few in San Jose and of course I'll look at the wine list.
My first reaction is always WTF???? Chile???? Argentina???? Wines from those countries dominate the lists. Chile and Argentina have in common with Mexico the fact they were both once part of the Spanish Empire. So was Guam. Why no wine from Guam on the list?
California was once PART of Mexico. Over 50% of the people who work in the wine industry in California are first or second generation Mexicans! Don't you think California might just have a little more in common with Mexico and Mexican food than a country of Italian and German immigrants 4000 miles away (Argentina)!
Does Chile sound more Spanish, and thus more Mexican? More Spanish than say Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Santa Rita, Los Carneros, or Paso Robles?
In a time where everyone is thinking more about 'get local', what can be more local than Cali-Mex food with California wine?