Magical sunset dinner at Silvestre
Photo : View from outdoor dining area at Silvestre. My iPhone can’t capture bright and dark so you can not see the vineyards obscured in shadow in this shot. Much more beautiful in real life!
Erin and I were blessed with a magical sunset dinner at Silvestre completely due to the kindness of Chef Benito and Solange Molina & their staff. We had arrived at 7pm and hesitantly asked if they were still abierto. No they close at 6pm… but Solange invited us to have a few quick bites if we were hungry. Very thankful, we sat down to what I expected to be a quickly assembled plate with a small bite of each of the dishes that had been served earlier. Instead, much to our surprise, they served us a freshly prepared, four-course meal and stayed at the outdoor restaurant until 8pm. This meant that not only did Erin and I get to enjoy a great meal, we also had the pleasure of watching the mountain side over the vineyards turn pink as the sun set. Other little pleasures were watching Benito play with his dog, take pictures of the mountains changing colors, and call quail.
The walkway from car to table transports you to a wondrous setting that will enhance the flavor of the food. Silvestre reminds me of a scene from my childhood imagination while reading The Lord of the Rings. I felt like I was entering an elven forest kingdom as I parked my car in the small dirt parking lot in a turn off of Route 3 at Kilometer #73. There’s a little trail through shady trees past large boulders that opens up to what I first mistook as a beautiful picnic area with some people manning the grills. There was a lone couple finishing their meal. I took this as a good sign that we were not too late!
Like you’d expect of a magical woodland, elven kingdom; appearances shifted once I was in the realm. The picnicker grills transformed into a fully equipped, yet completely out of doors, kitchen. The lone couple revealed themselves to be the elven King and Queen as they were none other than Chef Benito and his wife Solange. Thanks to their generosity, we were not too late and were able to enjoy the feast captured below.
First Course : Bonita Ceviche
Tender tuna ceviche mixed with a few tomatoes of the same color as the tuna flesh. A refreshing first course! Topped with cotija queso.
Second Course : Pata de res (aka trotters, aka beef hooves)
I enjoyed my second course without knowing what I was eating. I assumed it was tripe or cow’s stomach due to the gelatinous consistency. It was only after we finished our meal that I learned we were served pata de res. I could never bring myself to order “trotters” when I was in Barcelona and I’m happy I ate it unknowingly at Silvestre. The acid in the dish made for an intriguing flavor with a different texture.
Third Course : Grilled Calamari stuffed with cheese
Solange said that the grilled calamari had been stuffed with fish roe, but I think that was what had been on the menu earlier and that the kitchen substituted cheese in our serving. Either way the squid was delicious.
I feel a little awkward referring to Chef Benito and his wife Solange with such familiarity as I don’t know them. However, I think it’s their hospitality and friendliness in speaking with us that night while we were the only patrons that compels me to refer to them in this way. I expect they welcome all of their guests into this sacred place with the same spirit. Nevertheless they truly made Erin and my evening with their and their staff’s generosity.