First Taste

La Hacienda Returns to Fairmont Scottsdale

There is no shortage of gastronomic luxuries at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Chef Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak has been mentioned numerous times in Chow Bella and the weekly cafe column. New Times has covered DJ nights and other events at the Stone Rose Lounge as well. Yet last night we entered the Fairmont grounds to welcome back an old favorite in the form La Hacienda, revamped and re-imagined to meet the "modern Mexican" taste of Chef Richard Sandoval.

Yet many of the dishes and faces that made La Hacienda what it was before it closed in 2008 are still present. Chef de Cuisine Forest Hamrick cooked for La Hacienda previously and has returned to her kitchen. At Wednesday's Media Dinner, Sandoval and Hamrick's culinary expertise resulted in at least a few dishes we'd relish the chance at tasting again.

The meal started with Guacamole comprising avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and a little lime juice, prepared tableside. Next came Queso Fundido mixing oaxaca, chihuahua and monterrey cheese into a gooey mass that still had bite to it and topped with chorizo and mushrooms.

Between courses we indulged in a few margaritas including "The Cadillac" made with Cruz Silver tequila and Gran Marnier. There was also a Serrano pepper margarita for the adventurous drinkers. Either matched well with dishes such as the ceviche tasting which came in two flavors: shrimp with avocado and chile habanero and mahi mahi with a rich sauce flavored by tomatoes and serrano peppers.

Next up was a "Tamal de Huitalcoche" which may have been our favorite taste of the night. This tamale was elevated to absolute deliciousness thanks to the huitalcoche mixed into the masa, goat cheese and truffles used to create it.

"Huachinago a la Veracruzana" was deliciously mediterranean thanks to the crispy yet refreshing red snapper and a sauce built with tomatos, olives and capers.

The best thing we put in our mouths last night was easily the "Costilla de Res." This braised, beef short rib sat atop a "crema fresca potato puree" wearing a drizzle of "chili habanero guava glaze." The waiter picked up a clean plate.

The evening ended with a flaming coffee drink. Yes, a bit of theatrics and a little fire are impressive, but the drink itself was equally good with its chocolate richness and alcoholic fortitude.

Welcome back, La Hacienda. Throw on another Costilla de Res on for us.

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Jonathan McNamara