[Olvera and his team at Gastronomika 2011 [Photo: Adalberto R. Lanz]]
New York's newest resident ambassador for Mexican food Enrique Olvera is preparing to open Cosme in the Flatiron soon. In the meantime, he's taking himself (and Jeff Gordinier) on a dining tour of some of the city's best and most beloved restaurants, meticulously studying what makes them work. And so, gleaned from the Times profile of the acclaimed Mexican chef, here are 13 crucial things to know about Cosme and about Olvera before his restaurant opens.
· The menu for Cosme still hasn't been released, but there will be a mushroom and potato barbacoa, and a Mexican rendition of Manhattan clam chowder with cactus and mezcal.
· Olvera recently had an epiphany about guacamole: the avocados should go anywhere near a fridge. "It's like butter — at the right temperature, it tastes fantastic. Here, they give you avocado ice cream. Avocado is fat, right? It needs to be mouth temperature."
· There will be margaritas, but don't expect them to be available in crazy flavors: "I mean, if it's a classic, it's a classic for a reason."
· Despite Olvera's up-market take on Mexican cuisine at his Mexico City restaurant Pujol, he plans for Cosme to be a neighborhood spot. "I would like to cater to the locals — that would be my dream….The neighborhood is what will keep us alive, once the hype is gone."
· Most items will be priced under $20.
· Street food, specifically really good burritos, aren't out of the question. "Why not? I don't think there's bad recipes. There's bad execution."
· Olvera takes authenticity with a grain of salt. He plans to use chiles, beans, and several different strains of corn from Mexico, but the rest will be sourced locally, even if that means using unconventional ingredients. "If we find great white asparagus from the Hudson Valley, I'm going to use it. I don't care if it's Mexican or not."
· The tortillas will be epic. He's made room for a Celorio, "the Lamborghini of tortilla machines," and hopes to open a tortilla shop in Brooklyn, where, along with bulk tortillas, he'll sell one dish: tortillas with avocado and salt for "obviously under a dollar."
· The front bar at Cosme, designed by Alonso de Garay, will have seating for 70, while the back room has 60.
· Olvera's "reconnaissance missions" lately have taken him to Frankies Spuntino, Estela, Gramercy Tavern, The NoMad, Acme, Del Posto and Maialino, where he's a regular.
· A meal at Le Bernardin when he was young changed his life. "I still remember the menu....When I tasted it, I went, 'I want to do food at this level.' It brought out emotion in me. It touched me. You know when you have those meals where you say, 'I can die now'? It was that."
· Olvera plans to have a 2,000 mile commute, splitting his time between New York and his family's home in Mexico city.
· The chef doles out bear hugs and is "prone to breaking into a goofy conspiratorial grin," according to Gordinier.
· All Coverage of Cosme [~ENY~]