Imagine luxuriating in a pool set at the perfect temperature as the sun shines brightly in the cloudless blue sky. The ocean sits just a few feet away, and the only noticeable sounds are from waves cascading on the shore and birds singing joyfully in the surrounding palm trees. Welcome to the St. Regis Punta Mita, in the exclusive beach community of Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific coastline of Mexico, an hour’s drive northwest from Puerta Vallarta.
For the fifth time, the St. Regis and neighboring Four Seasons played host to the Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic. About 500 guests attended this three-day event, which not only brings together guest chefs, winemakers, and tequila masters to prepare culinary delights, but also raises money to support underprivileged children. While golfers played two signature Jack Nicklaus courses on the spectacular, landscaped grounds, gourmands partook of a remarkable variety of fantastic food, cocktails, and culinary demonstrations.
As the sun set over the white sand beach, music welcomed guests to Thursday night’s open-air kickoff event. Tasting tables featured enough savories to easily compose an exciting meal. There were tacos of octopus with a puree of cauliflower and radish, and another of tongue in a mole sauce with a purée of plantains. Three ceviches of raw fish and seafood spiced and bathed in lime juice highlighted the area’s abundant supply. One was shrimp, another seared amberjack with coconut sauce, and a third scallops that came in a lively emulsion of vanilla, ginger, and spicy habanero pepper. Plump scallops were also chorizo-wrapped and grilled atop a cranberry mole and mint corn purée. Filet of beef with mashed lentils and tamarind mole pleased meat eaters, as did pork belly Oaxaca stew with pickled carrots. Fat local oysters tempura with habanero and green sauce were a hit, as was the briny raw variety smartly accented with crunchy chicken cracklings. And one could very happily make a full dinner out of Nayarit culinary queen Betty Vasquez’s luscious fish ceviche with curry and mint on a crispy tostada, followed by perfect, smoky BBQ lamb chops with cucumber yogurt and salsa-esque criolla sauce from globetrotting chef Richard Sandoval. All could be washed down with a variety of adult beverages, of which the smooth tequila from Maestro Tequilero worked well, as did various Mexican beers. Sweets eaters nibbled on a tempting array of desserts as the moon appeared over the ocean.
Friday’s agenda began with golf competitions and a clinic led by acclaimed former professional golfer Lorena Ochoa, who hails from Mexico. It should be pointed out that Ms. Ochoa showed up despite enduring a personal tragedy the day before. She gave an excellent tutorial and raised money for her charitable foundation.