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Blog

Blog posts that share insights, details and interesting stories about what goes on behind the scenes at Dos Perros. Written by our owner and founding chef, Charlie Deal.

Meet Corzo Silver: Our first tequila of the week

Chrissy Deal

We take a lot of pride in our selection of tequilas and I’d like to take this moment to explain the thought process that goes into how we choose them. I’d also like to introduce you to Corzo Silver, our tequila of the week, and explain why we gave it this distinction.

Corzo Silver, which uses only the heart of the agave, is our Tequila of the Week.

Corzo Silver, which uses only the heart of the agave, is our Tequila of the Week.

First off, I want to take you back to a chocolate seminar given by Janet Elbetri, the now proprietor of Sandwhich in Chapel Hill.  It was over 10 years ago and she (and, well, I) had just recently moved to the area.  She was giving a talk on fine chocolates at what once was 3 Cups in that little courtyard off Franklin St.

Her talk was informative as well as delicious, but the one concept I remember above all things is this:  It is a lazy merchant that simply gathers up every version of, in this case, chocolate and offers them all.  What good is that?  You’ve done nothing but tell your vendors, “I’ll take one of everything,” and then leave it up to your customers to wade their way through the endless choices.

No, you should do your best to offer the ones YOU LIKE.   To edit the selection to the extent that you can confidently say, “I stand behind all of these.”  Since then, I’ve taken that approach to my wine lists, and in the case of Dos Perros, our tequila list.

And it makes sense.  When I go into a steakhouse and ask for a whiskey, if I’m handed a list of each and every version of brown liquor available, I go cross-eyed and just look for the first thing I recognize and order it.  The chance to get turned on to something new is trumped by a panicked attempt to stop the madness.

If, on the other hand, I’m shown a manageable list with a few familiar names as well as a handful I don’t know, I feel a bit more adventurous, not to mention that there’s a decent chance the bartender will know about it.

We like to think our tequila list embodies this.  A broad, but carefully curated selection of some tequila and mescal that we really like.

None more so that Corzo Silver, one of my favorite tequilas.

What makes Corzo tequila unique (and exceptional) is their triple distilled, double aged process that uses only the very heart of the agave. Even the name "Corzo," which is taken from an historic town in Chiapas, hints at the Spanish word for heart, "corazon."  Have you ever noticed that when you slice up a pineapple, the very top and very bottom just aren’t quite as sweet as the middle?  Well the same is apparently true with agave, so Corzo just uses the best part.  Surely they sell off the rest to someone who might make a decent enough tequila out of it, but not as lovely as Corzo.

As a sliver, it doesn’t see any oak, so on some level it lacks the opulence of a reposado or anejo; but what it lacks in that it more than makes up for with vibrancy and true purity of fruit, exploding with pineapple, honey, and ripe pepper fruits.

Corzo has been a mainstay at Dos Perros since day one and is the backbone to one of our most popular premium cocktails, the Skinny Dip, named because it’s a cocktail for the purists -- just muddled limes and a dash of orange liqueur.  A lesser tequila would be exposed for its flaws; a pristine example like Corzo will shine.

Of course, you could also just order a shot, and will be able to do so at a very attractive price this week.  Chase it with our homemade sangrita (which deserves a story unto itself), and you won’t be disappointed.

 

But Caesar Salad is Italian, Isn't it?

Chrissy Deal

I’m about to tell you that we are adding a Caesar salad to our menu here at Dos Perros. That’s right, a Caesar salad to the menu of a Mexican restaurant.

“But I thought Caesar salad was Italian?” you’re probably thinking.

Not exactly.

Photo from the San Diego History Center

Photo from the San Diego History Center

The now-famous Caesar salad was first developed in 1924 by Italian-born Caesar Cardini. Cardini owned the Hotel Caesar, located in, yes, Tijuana, Mexico.  

Saying Caesar salad is Italian is like saying the state of Ohio is the birth of flight.  Try as they might, nobody outside of that state cares that Orville and Wilbur were born there, because we all know the first flights really went down in Kitty Hawk, NC. It even says so on our license plates!

But back to salad. Legend has it, Cardini was low on food, expecting a busy 4th of July weekend and had to come up with something quick to serve the expected crowd.  What he had on-hand was eggs, lettuce, bread, and Parmesan cheese.  Now, I’m not sure why so many flocked south of the border on the 4th, but then again, given the confusion about Cinco de Mayo being Mexican Independence Day (it’s not, by the way), I’ve given up trying to keep up with the stories about Mexico and Independence Day(s).

Caesar Cardini’s original recipe included no anchovies, but got its flavor instead from Worcestershire Sauce.  It was his brother Alex’s Aviator Salad (named because of his history as a fighter pilot in WWI), also originally developed at Hotel Caesar, that used anchovy filets and eventually replaced Caesar’s dressing recipe as the one more widely-accepted.

A hint about one of the changes we plan to make to the classic Caesar: Mexican cotija cheese (like what we use with our elote) instead of Parmesan.

A hint about one of the changes we plan to make to the classic Caesar: Mexican cotija cheese (like what we use with our elote) instead of Parmesan.

Though Caesar himself decried the use of anchovies in the dressing, I, for one, am happy his brother came along to improve it. It’s how I make my caesar dressing at home and how we will serve it at Dos Perros.

We will be making a couple of changes, though. Over the years, the dish has evolved and many Mexican restaurants, perhaps in an attempt to reclaim it, have taken to using fried tortilla strips instead of croutons and cotija cheese instead of parmesan.  I, personally, like it both ways, but figured that we’d also give it that twist at Dos Perros.  

Despite the fact that Caesar dressings are often made table-side to much fanfare, I’m not a fan of making it to order.  I think that’s just for show and leads to inconsistency.  Caesar dressing should be both thick and very strong in order to compete with romaine, which boasts a high water content as well as strong taste of its own. So a dressing that’s too thin or too mild leads to a bland and watery salad.  

 

Want to make Charlie's own Caesar salad recipe at home? Click here for the recipe, courtesy Chapel Hill Magazine.

 

Should you make it at home, you either want to test it by dipping a piece of romaine into it, or it should seem too strong if you’re tasting it by itself.  Essentially, you’re making a very strong garlic, lemon, anchovy aioli.  And please, above all things, do not try to make it “fancy” by using baby romaine or mixed greens.  You need proper, mature, crunchy romaine, as baby lettuce will just drown in the dressing.

Or, better still, just come on in to Dos Perros.  It was on our original menu and we’ve brought it back in honor of our seventh anniversary.  We’ll be launching the new menu, including the Caesar salad, when we reopen in early September after closing for a few days to spruce the place up a bit.

Buon apetito! I mean, buen provecho!

Pliny the Elder v Racer 5

Chrissy Deal

Charlie trying the Pliny at Russian River.

Charlie trying the Pliny at Russian River.

Among the beer intelligentsia, Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Elder has achieved legendary status.  Certainly much of this is because it’s a damned fine beer, but its scarcity also has much to do with it.  It’s an IPA that is on any true hophead’s bucket list — and we can’t get it in NC.

So when I recently traveled to California for the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Forum in Sonoma (it was a work trip and that’s the story I’m sticking to!), I made a special point of seeking it out and even promised to sneak a few bottles back in my luggage for friends who’d never had it before.  I was staying the first few nights with an old friend, Ernest, and made my intentions clear.  He told me he’d be happy to help “but,” he added, “I’ve got to say, I’m more of a Racer 5 guy myself.”

Hold up, so you live in the actual town where Pliny is made, can get as much of it as you want, as often as you want to, but would just as soon as drink Bear Republic Racer 5?  

Hey, you know what they say, to each his own. That evening, before I’d manage to track down any Pliny, he poured me a Racer 5, and I do have to say it was really tasty.  Mind you, I wasn’t in the mood to contemplate a beer at that point, I’d been traveling all day and was simply thirsty.  But it was really, really tasty.

The next day, after hitting a few wineries, we decided to make the pilgrimage to Russian River Brewery, where we were greeted by a line down the block, on a Saturday afternoon.  Russian River is also known for making some amazing sour ales, and I brought some of them home as well, but I was there for Pliny.  The freshest Pliny you’re gonna get.  And it was every bit as delicious as I could have hoped for.  I bought my mixed six pack of their various sours and the three Plinys I was bringing back for my peeps on this coast and that was that.  At least for a day or so.

The very next evening, while at one of the venues for the Pinot Forum, I noticed a stack of cases of Pliny.  In a near Pavlovian way, I remarked to the host, “Ooh, Pliny!”  

“Yeah that’s to drink during Tuesday morning’s seminar, but you know if it were up to me, we’d be drinking Racer 5.  I love IPAs and that one is certainly my favorite.”  

There it was again!  And this guy was a winemaker, a hophead.  Dude knew his way around a drink.

So, just out of curiosity, I started asking the rest of the locals, including the other winemakers at the event.  One even said, “Yeah, we got you guys Pliny, because we know a bunch of you have heard of it and wanted to check it out.  But out here, we all drink Racer 5.”  It was true.  Not a single Sonoma local I asked said they preferred Pliny to Racer 5.  

Now, what I never got a chance to do was sit down and taste the two blind, side-by-side, but that’s something I very much intend to do on, of all days, Thursday, August 4, on National IPA day.  I’ve got a bottle of Pliny and a bottle of Racer 5, and I’m going to taste them blind with a couple friends.  I’m curious to see what we all think.

But here’s the deal, even if I end up liking Pliny better, I can’t get it out here.  Racer 5, on the other hand, is totally available and, having at least tasted it and liked it, plus the overwhelming experience I had asking about it, I just have to bring it in.

So, again, starting Thursday, August 4, I’m proudly serving Bear Republic’s Racer 5 at all three restaurants: Jujube, Juju, and Dos Perros.

Come try it for yourself.