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Peppered beef tenderloin from Casa-Santo Domingo Antigua, Guatemala
Coffee Meet Meat
Antigua, Guatemala. More specifically, the Casa Santa Domingo–an ornate hotel, museum and archaeological site brilliantly showcasingtreasures from the baroque period of ancestral America. Not sure what “Baroque” means, but it sounded good on their website. Google it if you’re interested; I’m here to talk about the food and its journeyto my mouth.
Considering this is my first entry, allow me to quickly introduce myself. I’m a 25-year-old marketing professional. My favorite foods include anything that breaths air. My cholesterol level is probably on its way to being that of a morbidly obese man, but fortunately my dwindling metabolism is still able to hang onto my relatively trim waistline like a child hugging an inflating hot air balloon. In a few words, I love food, particularly meat of the red variety.
This story begins as a slightly convoluted series of connections that resulted in me participating in a furious bender of endless cycles of caffeine fueled overindulgence of mouthwatering beef. My girlfriend’s grandfather happens to be a psychiatrist, who happens to be in a society that likes to travel to exotic locations to have meetings. By “meetings,” I mean hanging out and discussing professional topics. By “discussing professional topics,” I mean drinking exorbitant amounts of alcohol paired with gut busting quantities of gourmet food. My kind of crowd.
It should be noted that Guatemala has downright killer coffee. The best I’ve ever had in fact. Columbia who? It should also be noted that studies have uncovered that caffeine and the sleep deprivation it causes may increase hunger while reducing feelings of fullness.I know this all too well, as I was better known during my trip as La Máquina, or The Machine–a bottomless disposal of all that is delicious. Needless to say, it was one of my finest hours.
Our group was lucky to have in our hotel a restaurant so good it created an inescapable vortex of exquisitely prepared cuisine. None of us hunters had to venture farther than down the historic hallways to land a most tasty creature. It was close. It was convenient. It was delicious.
It’s required several attempts to craft this blog entry. Each effort has been stymied by a primal urge to eat something that once lived.
But here it is:
The meat in question was a sautéed peppered beef tenderloin steak. The outside of the perfectly portioned cut was encased in a pleasant slight crisp that layered no deeper than a millimeter thick. Juices ran aplenty as I effortlessly pierced the flesh with the edge of my polished steak knife.
Leading the charge of the taste extravaganza that followed was a medley of flavors derived from brown butter and a reduced sauce of Antigua coffee. The rich savor lasted a mere few seconds before being followed by the headlining act, the steak. Perfectly cooked. Succulent. Tender. Euphoric.
This one-two punch delightfully repeated itself as each taste phase mysteriously rejuvenated the taste buds, preparing them to be hit again and again by the cyclic jubilation. The flavors never faded, this being the gift that kept on giving before I quickly realized I was blankly staring at an empty plate.
I have one speed at which I eat. Fast. Something that I often have to explain others is that the speed at which I eat does not correlate to the severity of my hunger, although this often plays in my favor. In fact, it has opened countless doors to gastronomic pleasure. It works like this: I finish my meal with blazing speed. Others observe me sitting idly at the table and curiously feel compelled to share their meals because they think I haven’t had enough to eat. I get a taste of everything at the table and leave elated that I had the opportunity to sample half of the menu.
Back to the food.The surprisingly hardy accouterments of this dish, though not of the carnivorous palette, played notably well with the main attraction. Crispy potato gnocchi and perfectly roasted cherry tomatoes surrounded the beef like little tasty worshippers among the Tikal Temple. Corn and asparagus drenched in the reduced coffee sauce were laid as the groundwork and simply complemented everything.
This dish was such a flavorful work of art that it graced my digestive track not once, but two nights in row as we were sucked into the black hole of deliciousness on several occasions.
Oh, sautéed peppered beef tenderloin, I will dream of the day we meat again.