The sun and smiles of Latin America are expected to shine through the cuisine presented at the “Passport Around the World” fundraiser set for May 16 at Quail Ridge Senior Living in Grass Valley.
Diego’s restaurant and Jim E’s Catering/Club 141, both in Grass Valley, are among six local eateries working with Quail Ridge to put on this unique benefit for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Proceeds will be used to buy an oncology simulator for the hospital’s Cancer Center (see box for details).
Like other chefs inspired by foreign cuisines, June Henriquez has adapted the flavors she most loved while living in Chile to the lifestyle, taste sensibilities and available ingredients in her home state.
“Chile is so much like California, with its coastal plains and mountains,” said Henriquez, who snowboarded in the Andes. “Diego’s is the best of both worlds. I’m taking the amazing parts that I feel about Chile and giving them a California twist – that’s my intent.”
An example is Henriquez’ ever-popular sandwichitos – or little sandwiches, Chilean style. During “Passport,” you will find them made with her pan amasado – or small rolls of hand-kneaded bread – stacked with slices of steak. Henriquez tops them with ensalada chilena, a salad of tomato and onion flavored with salt and lime juice.
The sandwichitos are served with chimichurri – a marinade Henriquez makes with cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin, vinegar and a little olive oil. (Chimichurri originated in Argentina but has become popular across South America, where variations flourish.) You can buy her chimichurri at the restaurant at 217 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley.
Jim E’s Catering/Club 141: Mexico
Long-time area restaurateur Jim Eckardt has dedicated himself to bringing the taste of Mexico to Grass Valley. At “Passport,” he plans to introduce a Mexican street staple: tacos al pastor, or shepherd-style tacos.
These popular soft tacos are made with pork steeped in a spicy adobo paste and grilled on a vertical spit set with chunks of pineapple on top and bottom.
“The juices run all through the meat, and when they slice the meat into the tortilla, they flip a little piece of the pineapple onto it,” Eckardt recalled. He was inspired by the fare in Puerto Vallarta, where he scours the restaurants for fresh ideas.
A variation he’ll include for “Passport” is making the tacos with fish.
In keeping with tradition, Eckardt will serve the tacos with a hot salsa based on habanero peppers, a medium-hot tomato-based salsa, and an avocado salsa made with tomatillos. Also on the side will be bowls of minced cilantro and white onion.
Eckardt offers similar dishes through his catering business and at his comfy tapas bar at 141 E. Main St., downtown.
Grass Valley resident and freelance writer Trina Kleist may be reached at email@example.com or 530-575-6132.