Webster defines palate as…having to do with the taste of food; the sense of taste; a usually intellectual taste or liking.

For those of you that don’t know me very well, I must admit that I never miss an opportunity to go to a culinary school when I travel.  And my trip to the desert of Arizona is no exception!

Much like the desert has a color pallet, it also has a culinary palate.  The Four Seasons Culinary Academy provides  an opportunity to examine the regions culinary trends and specialty ingredients. And as you might expect,  authentic Mexican food is what most of our palates hope for when traveling in the Southwest.  Mexican food is fragrant, colorful, flavorful and exciting to the palate. Attending these cooking classes lets one experience some of the glamour and thrill of creating one’s own “foodie masterpiece”.

The academy offered me a variety of options that were very appealing to my palate…salsa and guacamole making, ceviche sampling, and chocolate and wine pairings.  A favorite was a morning class on making Huevos  Rancheros.  I love entertaining family and friends at brunch and wanted to learn to make huevos rancheros in a very authentic manner.  The Four Seasons Culinary Academy is guided by Executive Chef Mel Mecinas.  Mel brings a creative and colorful edge to his menu design, thanks to a very impressive culinary resume!  He brings the culinary artistry of Oaxaca, arguably Mexico’s most sophisticated cuisine, to his menu and mergers it artfully with classic techniques and  sensibilities. Mel’s passion and creativity was very evident in his classes.

I loved his motto …     I thought that this motto was very applicable to the practice of interior design and entertaining.

The morning began with a shining stainless and copper kitchen.  As we started rather early, the academy provided a very colorful and lovely presentation of fruit and sweet rolls, along with tiny fruit smoothies and coffee and tea.  The presentation of our early “snack” was a great entertaining idea.

The color palette of the tiles was very colorful and really gave us a sense of the Mexican cuisine instruction that was to follow. Serving appetizers on a variety of colorful tiles would be a fun entertaining idea.

Chef Mel started by explaining that he did not assemble his Huevos Rancheros in the traditional manner.  That was followed by a very thorough explanation of his ingredient list which consisted of one item that I was not familiar with, chorizo, which is a very spicy pork sausage.

After a review of the ingredients, which consisted of chorizo, black bean puree, guajillo paste (guajillo peppers are a chili variety, with thin, deep-red flesh that is often used to make salsas or butters and rubs) ranchero sauce, flour tortillas and manchego or pepper jack cheese, we made the pepper sauce and guacamole . With everything ready, we began to assemble the huevos rancheros.  We began by spreading the black bean on a  flour tortillas…

Added the cheese and chorize…

Topped it with another flour tortillas and browned until golden on both sides…

We then topped with the pepper sauce…

Our next option was to scramble or fry our eggs.  Personally, I felt that scrambled eggs would taste better and make a much more pleasing presentation.  So with the quesadilla assembled, we added our eggs to the top and our next decision was to top with sliced avocado or our yummy guacamole?!?!   No decision here for me…as one of my favorite foods is homemade guacamole, mine  was nicely finished with guacamole and a bit of extra cheese.

Garnished with festive fruit kabobs, this dish makes a stunning addition to any breakfast or brunch table!

By now, I am really south of the border, and decided to find a perfect  Mexican style dinnerware.  How about Artesa’s Windflower.

Or the superb but simple ethnic design of Artesa’s Cuzco.

Paired with one of  of Valpeltro’s beautiful patterns-Falaride , Firenze, or Imperial , your table would look both festive and elegant.

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