Was There Really a Man Named Jose Cuervo?

29 08 2010

The answer is yes! The name is not just what makes your Playa drink delicious. Jose Antonio de Cuervo was the very first producer of tequila over 200 years ago, which makes his company Mexico’s oldest continuously running tequila distiller. His father had obtained the land for the company from the King of Spain in 1758 before Mexico became an independent republic. Jose Cuervo was the first to receive a permit from the King to produce tequila commercially. He received the permit in 1795, which originally was to allow him to manufacture mezcal wine, made from native Mexican blue agave plants. Blue agave grew best in the Mexican state of Jalisco, particularly near the village of Tequila. The plants juices were distilled twice and aged in oak barrels. The brew became known as the “wine” of Tequila.

By the early 1890s Cuervo family members were growing around 2.5 million blue agave plants on about 25,000 acres.

Blue Agave tequila plant

Cuervo’s son, Jose Maria Guadalupe Cuervo took over the company for his father and after his death, his son-in-law Vincente Albino Rojas renamed the Cuervo distillery La Rojeña.  Then down the family line, Jose Cuervo Labastida, Rojas’ son-in-law was the first to call the tequila made at La Rojeña, “Jose Cuervo” around 1905.

Cuervo Gold

Today the Cuervo family is legendary. Cuervo tequila has the highest sales of any tequila brand in the world. It accounts for more than one-third of all tequila produced in Mexico and over 40% of all tequila produced in the United States. This puts Cuervo on the top ten list of spirits sold alongside giants such as Bacardi and Smirnoff.

Cuervo’s biggest competitor is Tequila Sauza, which ranks first in overall sales in Mexico, but second to Cuervo in sales abroad. Tequila Sauza was founded by Cenobio Sauza who actually started out as a Cuervo employee but later left to establish his own distillery in 1873. They have been rivals ever since…


2010 World Cup Highlights

13 07 2010

The World Cup has come to a close with Spain on top of the world, the Netherlands in second, Germany in third and Uruguay’s Diego Forlan as the winner of the Golden Ball.

Soccer fans now find themselves suffering from Post-Traumatic World Cup Disorder (PTWCD) with only instant replays to fuel their addiction. No more early mornings glued to the television, no more betting and bracketing and no more excuses for getting hammered at the pub. ie:Did you see that goal?! Drinks for all!

Luckily Playa Grill has sports on our 10 plasma screens throughout the restaurant to help pacify your PTWCD so come stop by and grab a cold one. Until then, check out the highlights from an epic 27 days of FOOTBALL! This year’s World Cup very well could be the most historic one we have seen yet.

Where Did Happy Hour Come From?

8 07 2010

It’s silly to call it Happy HOUR when you know after a Playa margarita, you will be happy for quite a few. Ever wonder where this term came from?

In the 1920’s “happy hour” was a slang word in the U.S. Navy for when recreational boxing and wrestling took place on board. This was a fun time for sailors to let down and have a few drinks after their long days at sea.

The term also originated during the Prohibition era  which started in 1919, when alcohol was not allowed to be served in restaurants due to the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. The 18th Ammendment stated that U.S. citizens were not allowed manufacture, sell ortransport alcohol. The Volestead Act was named after William Volestead, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He oversaw the prohibition bill and tried to get it passed in Congress. In spite of the law, many people would host happy hours and serve cocktails in their homes or at illegal drinking establishments (speakeasies), before heading off to a restaurant for dinner. The amendment was repealed in 1933, and slowly drinks with high alcohol percentages were allowed to be served. Happy Hours were a well-established tradition by then.

Now Happy Hour is celebrated in restaurants usually between the hours of 4 and 7pm. Playa Grill has Happy Hour every day from 3-6pm. Order a drink during Happy Hour and get an appetizer free! Playa also has a special Late Night Happy Hour Thursdays-Saturdays from 9pm-close. Now that’s plenty of happiness to go around:)

We Love Margaritas!

29 06 2010

Happy Father’s Day!

21 06 2010

Today we celebrate fathers and the important role they play in all of our lives. Ever wonder how Father’s Day started in the U.S? Here’s a quick history lesson:

Sonora Smart Dodd

The idea for Father’s Day came from a woman named, Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington, who was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day in 1908. Dodd’s father, a Civil War vet, had to raise six children on his own, after his wife died in childbirth. Sonoma was so proud of her father and his selfless, loving spirit that she wanted to honor him. She was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in May 1909 and decided all fathers needed to be honored as well as mothers.

Sonora took her idea to the YMCA. They liked it and agreed to help publicize it. The idea got mixed reviews from the public. Some viewed it as a step towards filling the calendar with “mindless promotions.” Dodd wanted Father’s Day to be on her dad’s birthday, June 5th, but the YMCA didn’t have enough time to prepare. So on June 19, 1910, Dodd and those at the YMCA wore red roses for living fathers and white roses for the ones that had passed away. Dodd traveled by carriage from town to town delivering gifts to fathers who were sick or bed-ridden.

photo respects to http://www.goc.state.md.us

The first bill for Father’s Day was introduced to Congress in 1913. Father’s Day celebrations still continued in Spokane, and in 1916, President Wilson came to speak during their celebration. He wanted to make it official, but Congress feared it would become too commercialized. The holiday came against more opposition in the years after. It wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day, a national holiday. Then in 1972, President Nixon signed the law as a permanent holiday and it finally received the official recognition it deserved.

So hang out or call your dad today and if you really want to treat him, take him to Playa Grill for a delicious Mexican dinner. He will thank you for it, and so will your wallet!

Come Chill at the Grill…

18 06 2010

Meet Fernando, Our Chef!

5 06 2010

While you’re eating your tasty dish at Playa Grill, ever wonder who made it? We took a minute to get to know the man behind the scenes–Executive Chef, Fernando Roman. He has been a chef for restaurants such as the Hotel Del Coronado, Kenny’s Steakhouse, Blue Wave Bar and Grill, Bahia Hotel, Benecimo and Dos Amigos. Now he has brought his creative culinary gifts to Playa Grill and the results are nothing short of delicious!

1) When did you start getting interested in cooking? Who taught you to cook? I started cooking when I was 16 or 17 when I crossed the border. I went to El Charro in La Jolla. I approached the chef and told him I wanted to do more. I started getting passionate about the food. I learned by reading books and asked chefs questions. When we had banquets I was very creative with the presentation. My boss told me if I kept it up, that someday I could be a chef.  I’ve worked in all different kinds of restaurants since then.

2) Why did you decide to work for Playa Grill? At Dos Amigos, the last restaurant I worked at, the product and food was similar. I have been challenged to bring the food level up. I use mole instead of tomato sauce in the enchiladas, I use ceviche on the fish, which is a soy marinade with lemon juice, onions and cilantro. I garnish the martinis with berries and mint and I put sugar and cinnamon on the banana burrito to add more flavor and aroma. At Playa, we have products no one else around has. That’s why I like to play around with different sauces and ingredients.

Making Playa fajitas is serious business

3) What are your favorite ingredients to use? I love to use garlic because the aroma and flavor works well in any dish. I also like using cloves, thyme and cumin.

4) What is your favorite dish at Playa? The carnitas chicken enchiladas with red mole. My brother sells the red mole, which comes from Teloloapan, Guerrero, Mexico. It’s got roasted peppers, chocolate, almonds and sesame seeds and makes the enchiladas delicious!

5) How do you come up with the chef’s daily picks? Every day I go home and think about what I’m going to make the next day. When I get an idea, I order and prepare for it ahead of time. Sometimes I’ll come up with a new dish on the spot and that will be the daily pick of the day. Sometimes I surprise myself. One day, we messed up on cooking the rice, and it turned out too mushy. I didn’t throw it out; I just saved it for the next day. Then I got an idea to make a Mexican sushi roll. I used the mushy rice, put a bean spread over it, topped it with avocado and jalapeno, and wrapped it in a tortilla, sushi-style.

6) What is your routine in the kitchen when preparing for lunch or dinner? I do a morning stock check, talk to the prep guy and see what our priorities are for the day and what ingredients we need. Then at about 3pm, I talk with the line cooks about the chef pick of the day. If it’s a new item, I help the guys with making it. By 6pm, I’m working on the line, and later in the evening, I make the rice for the next day and store the meat. You always have to be prepared. I make sure I always have plenty of guacamole, pico de gallo and salsa fresca on hand.

7) What advice can you give for preparing a healthy Mexican dish? I try not to use a lot of oil. Some restaurants will douse their food in oil. Instead of deep frying, I like to broil and bake as much as possible. I cook a lot of chicken and fish. I will try new things like halibut folded in banana leaves or Mexican eggplant. Much better than an oily chimichanga!