Cantina Laredo hosts a preview of tomorrow's tequila dinner

Cantina Laredo hosted a dinner and cooking class at the Centennial restaurant, 6851 South Gaylord Street, on November 8, to present new menu offerings and offer a preview of the first Jose Cuervo Tequila Dinner on Thursday, November 11.

General manager Joann Harwell and executive chef Ed Ledford hosted the evening of interactive dining and plenty of luscious, fruity cocktails -- including Cantina Laredo's new Baya Loca margarita, made with Jose Cuervo Platino, Grand Marnier, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, agave nectar and fresh-squeezed lime juice, then topped off with fresh blackberries. It was a fine blend of floral, fruit and a surprisingly mellow shot of Cuervo, which, especially with the gold, usually has a distinctive bite. The juicy, ripe blackberries piled on top of the ice were a garnish with benefits; you could make a little game of trying to catch them with the straw.

Chef Ledford demonstrated how to prepare each shrimp for the Oaxaca camarones con tocino appetizer: stuffing a fat prawn with a strip of Oaxaca cheese and a bit of jalapeno, then mummifying the whole thing with thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon before cooking it. The result was a dense, meaty, salty treat with a built-in dipping handle to scoop up either tomatillo or chipotle-wine sauce -- or both.

The main course was seared Chilean sea bass with jalapeno beurre blanc, Spanish rice and tender-crisp sautéed snap peas with red pepper. The chef and his crew plan to make sautéed sea bass Oscar for tomorrow's dinner, and $49.99 per person seems reasonable -- considering market price on the fish is getting steeper than the interest on a home loan.

It was a lustful finish to a fine meal to have so many naughty dessert options, and Cantina Laredo's signature Mexican apple pie was a sizzling spectacle of tender crust, spiced apples, a healthy scoop of cinnamon ice cream and a cascade of rich brandy-butter sauce. The pie is a staple on the dessert menu, but the new mango tres leches cake made its tantalizing debut this evening. The layers of moist, sweet white cake were punctuated with layers of fluffy mango cream filling, liberally crowned with mango-tequila sauce and sprinkled with fresh blueberries. The sauce was weighty and peaked, like a light meringue, and rich with sour cream and bits of diced mango.

If this preview dinner was any indication of how Cantina Laredo will handle Thursday night's dinner, it should be a saucy, tequila-tastic good time.