Holiday Gifts: Toro Toro and Richard Sandoval’s New Latin Flavors

Toro Toro DC

How do you holiday shop and have lunch at the same time?

Stop for a lively lunch at Richard Sandoval‘s Toro Toro in Washington DC (or Miami or Dubai) and pick up a copy of New Latin Flavors: Hot Dishes, Cool Drinks (Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2014) after you finish to give as a gift (or keep for yourself).

After putting aside holiday shopping bags, Super Chef toured the very popular buffet on a recent blustery weekday. There was a tremendous amount of choice – much that was light and healthy so as not to weigh down shoppers (or the office crowd) in the afternoon. Prepared salads, cheeses, ceviche, and shrimp cocktail, followed by a daily special of roast leg of lamb larded with garlic and a half dozen other hot dishes. But with all those bags, it was easier to sit down and order from the menu. Start with a ceviche of small cubes of Ahi tuna, cucumber, avocado, and sweet potato was laced with a light, citrusy dressing. Super Chef tucked into a substantial braised short rib torta piled with black bean purée, caramelized onions, chimichurri, manchego and a slather of chipotle mayonnaise.

La Bomba from Toro Toro DCThe dessert was a wake-up-and-pay-attention masterpiece delivered by Chef de Cuisine Felipe Milanes. First he brought a clear plastic sheet to cover the table. He held La Bomba in his hand. It’s a chocolate shell filled with scoops of caramel and dulce de leche ice cream, strawberry and passion fruit sorbet, crumbled chocolate caramel cookies, and edible flowers – an over-the-top indulgent dessert. Then he dropped it on the plastic and shattered the chocolate shell so that the whole thing tumbles onto the table. He poured a white chocolate sauce and then a caramel sauce for good measure and then dig in! It’s enough of a sugar rush to head out into the cold and face more shopping – and yet, it is not cloyingly sweet. The passion fruit sorbet is intense, and there are fresh raspberries and strawberries strewn throughout that play with the flavor of the strawberry sorbet. Have kids with you – this is to share with a car load of them.

New Latin Flavors by Richard SandovalAs for the gift, New Latin Flavors focuses on food ready for entertaining – whether you are planning a cocktail party or a dinner party. It starts with a guide to ingredients and equipment – helpful if you are not used to Richard’s ability to pair Asian and Latin ingredients in the same recipe – Tortillas, Togarashi, Wasabi, and Yuzu are all on the same page. If you are throwing a cocktail party, then check out the first two chapters on Tapas, Appetizers & Snacks and Salads Big & Small. Get out your fryer and make Crispy Shrimp with Aji Amarillo Sauce (p. 31) and Venezuelan Egg Rolls with Rocoto Sweet & Sour Sauce (pp. 36-7) with a filling of more shrimp and pork sausage. You could also try the Ham Croquettes (pp. 40-1) with a panko crust and an Emmenthaler and smoked ham filling – but, be warned that they are tricky to make according to Chef Filippe – though well worth the effort. You might also want to slip in a plate of Brisket Nachos with Chipotle Cheese Sauce (p. 33) and use the extra beef in any number of dishes like Beef & Guacamole Arepas (p. 125) or Beef & Potato Flautas (p. 126) or Grilled Tostada with Beef Salpicon (p. 131).

Your cocktail party will be all the better with some of the cocktails Richard includes in the second half of the book. Try the Ponche (p. 196) a warm punch made of tequila, brandy or light rum base with cinnamon, hibiscus, and tamarind flavors. For a non-alcoholic drink, Super Chef recommends Horchata (p. 215), the almond and rice flavored milk that Richard suggests makes a great cocktail with a shot of rum. It’s the Mexican version of sahlep (the Middle Eastern hot milky drink) and perfect for an evening treat after a long day of holiday shopping.

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