If you know independent hotels, you’re already in on the secret: some of the best chefs and bartenders can be found grilling, glazing and mixing at unique hotels everywhere, from the established restaurant scene in Manhattan to delicious upstart foodie locales like Austin.
We’re bringing you our chef’s & bartenders best picks—starting with a perfect pairing for September. Corn is still in the markets, you can have an outdoor party, and a good margarita still seems like a great idea. Read on for Chef Shawn’s Vermont Lobster & Corn Risotto recipe from cooking resort The Essex Resort & Spa, and Pacific Beach local hero/bartender Armondo Garcia’s very very yummy (yes, that is a technical cocktail descriptor) Chili Mango Margarita, from Tower 23. Squeeze the very last drop of summer out of sunny September!
Corn and Lobster Risotto
“I picked up some really nice local corn at the market yesterday and the first corn of the season reminded me of one of my favorite dishes. Risotto is one of my all time favorite things to eat and this recipe is on the top of my list. To get the wonderful flavor of this dish, you cannot skip any steps. I know it takes time but as mom always said ‘good things come to those with patience’.” – Chef Shawn, Culinary Director, The Essex Hotel & Spa
7 cups of clam stock
½ cup of white wine
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups of Arborio rice
1 small onion small chopped
½ medium zucchini small dice
½ red pepper small dice
2 ears of corn grilled taken off the cob
4 tablespoons of grated parmesan
3 tablespoons of queso fresco
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh basil
1 lobster steamed and shucked cut into large chunks
Place cob ears in clam stock and bring to a simmer. In another heavy bottom pan, start the butter, then add the onion, over medium high heat. When the onion becomes translucent, add the rice.
This is one of the most important parts of risotto and that is to coat the rice with butter and then cook for another couple of minutes. Use a wooden spoon and make sure you keep moving the rice. Now add the wine, all at once. continue to stir. Let wine reduce by 75%. Start to add the stock in about five batches. You add stock, stir, then wait for the stock to be absorbed by the rice, stir, again add more stock and repeat to stock is gone.
Taste the rice. It should be al dente. This means it should have a little bit of structure in the very middle, you can add water if it is not done yet. Now you can add the vegetables and lobster. Cook until the vegetable and lobster are warm, add parmesan, thyme, basil save some for garnish on top.
Taste for salt and pepper.
To finish place in bowl and place crumbled queso fresco and thin sliced basil
JRDN’s Chili Mango Margarita
Bartender Armondo Garcia’s been at the helm of JRDN’s boardwalk-front bar for 9 years. He knows people, and he knows margaritas. This recipe is adapted for mixing at home—stop by Tower 23 and try it while watching surfers heading to chase waves at sunset.
2 oz Chili infused Blanco Tequila (infusion recipe below)
2 oz Mango Juice, fresh is best but bottled is fine
2 oz Sour mix
1/8 cup Tajin, Mexican Chili Salt
Rimmed with Tajin—a chili salt from Mexico—and garnished with a lime wedge.
Slice 3-4 Habaneros lengthwise. Add to bottle of tequila. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks, agitating every few weeks. Feel free to change the chiles to jalapeno or chipotle
Add the tequila, sour mix, mango juice and to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake for about 10 seconds until mixture is chilled.
Run the lime wedge around the rim of a glass then gently press the glass into the bowl of Tajin seasoning. Coat the rim with Tajin.
Fill cup with ice and pour margarita
Garnish with a lime
Et voilà. To your health!