Back in December, when The New York Times reviewed the fare at the NYC incarnation of Toro, Boston's beloved Barcelona-style tapas restaurant, on the corner of 15th Street and the West Side Highway, writer Pete Wells described "swaying like a drunken sailor" over a plate of gambas al ajillo. That would be griddled garlic shrimp with Cascabel chilis, lemon and 1800 Milenio, the super-premium tequila that is renowned for being consistently smooth. Part "dos" of a four part tasting menu dedicated to 1800 Milenio by Toro's chef, Ken Oringer, the shrimp dish followed Brambly Farms pork pate, with red curry, green tomato mustarda, and 1800 Milenio. These unbelievably good morsels prefaced the third course, chuleta de buey, a 40-day dry aged bone-in ribeye glazed with bone marrow, sea salt and 1800 Milenio. The denouement was dark chocolate & 1800 Milenio cremeux, accompanied by a silky smooth scoop of olive oil ice cream and coffee crumble.
Oringer designed this tasting menu in celebration of the debut of 1800 Tequila's extra-aged, Cognac-finished evolutionary elixir - Milenio. According to Oringer "since the tequila has been aged in French oak Cognac barrels for five years, its body is so full that it turns the simplest dishes into something so much more. The flavoring is so bold that the end result is absolutely exceptional." There was no denying this fact at the recent food pairing at Toro on April 7th, the day 1800 Milenio debuted. Guests filed into two long tables in Toro's 50 seat private dining room, under a cascade of wisteria, still sipping El Naranjo cocktails made with 1800 Silver. Each course was accompanied by straight servings of 1800 Milenio, the smooth, velvety cognac finish a perfect accent to Oringer's savory concoctions. With a nose that is a harmonic combination of lightly toasted oak wood, vanilla, almond, walnut, chocolate, caramel, honey and fruit, such as agave, prune, red fruits, very ripe fig, banana and apples, the entire tasting experience was pretty close to sublime.
Milenio's liquid is an expression of the finest craftsmanship. After a long and delicate aging process, the extra-aged tequila is matured for a short period in French oak Cognac barrels creating a balanced, soft and unique flavor. A perfect expression of the land that nurtures the fine Blue Weber Agave, Mexico, and the hands that craft its final liquid, Milenio is considered the best representation of 1800 Tequila's roots. 1800 Milenio is housed in a pyramidal shape that nods to 1800's iconic bottle, the tall and slender design reflects the tequila's broach of new heights. The glass projects the natural coloring of the tequila, showing off its dark amber coloring and bright copper and gold nuances. The original limited production of 1800 Milenio first appeared in 2000, and has since gone on to achieve a legendary status among connoisseurs of a finer tequila experience. For some, it is hailed as the best tequila they have ever had the pleasure of drinking. 1800 Milenio has returned to shelves this month, in a second edition at select stockists, with a wider release in May.
Co-chef/owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette along with partners Doug Jacob and Will Malnati opened Toro in the iconic former Nabisco factory. Chefs Oringer and Bissonette feature an eclectic menu focusing on both traditional and modern tapas, combining regional Spanish flavors and techniques with local and market fresh ingredients. Designed by New World Design Builders, the team behind ABC Kitchen and Willow Road (Malnati's and Jacob's first restaurant together), the 120 seat dining room channels the spirit of Barcelona's lively tapas bars and feature a mix of both industrial and refined elements. The private dining room, which is accessed from West 16th Street, has the cavernous vibe of an ancient Spanish monastery. The ceilings are high, and with candles set into recessed nooks in the wall, surrounding a huge mounted bull's head, the setting is reminiscent of a royal dining hall in some far flung Westeros kingdom. And with his dark hair and thick beard, chef Oringer looks as if he just stepped out of a Goya painting.