Gourmet festival offers sampling of region's flavor

PUERTO VALLARTA -- Fans of Mexican cooking may want to time their vacations to coincide with the Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival, scheduled for Nov. 7 to 17.

In its eighth season, this year's event will focus on "authentic" Mexican cooking and interpretations of classic Mexican dishes prepared by 20 chefs from around the world, who will collaborate with 20 of Puerto Vallarta's top chefs.

The festival will kick off at the Terra Noble Spa & Healing Center, a day spa famous for being constructed entirely from recycled materials. The event will feature food and wine tastings.

Mexican tequila takes center stage Nov. 8 during the inaugural Tequila Madness at Casa Del Tequila, featuring tastings of Mexico's liquor and margaritas.

Returning after a successful debut last year is VinExpo, a wine-lover's feast featuring more than 80 imported wines paired with cheeses and other hors d'oeuvres.

The event is set for Nov. 9 at the Velas Vallarta Grand Suite Resort; VinExpo participants will receive a wine glass as a gift.

A "gourmet beach brunch" on Nov. 10 will feature live music, dancing and food at La Palapa, one of Puerto Vallarta's top seaside restaurants and people-watching spots, located on Playa Los Muertos beach.

The next three days will be dedicated to cooking courses at the Premiere Hotel & Spa, including lessons on dessert- and chocolate-making.

During this period, chefs will participate in cooking demonstrations and share recipes with attendees, who will be invited to sample the dishes.

All cooking demonstrations will be accompanied by wine and tequila tastings. Among the wines that will be served are those by Louis Felipe Edwards (Chile), Raymond Winery (Napa, Calif.), Monte Xanic (Mexico), Navarro Correas (Argentina) and Louis Latour (France).

On Nov. 14, the Chef Symposium seminar will be conducted by the president of France's Academie Culinaire, chef Gerard Dupont, in association with the University of Guadalajara's Puerto Vallarta campus at the Fiesta Americana.

The Chefs' Grand Gala Dinner will be held Nov. 15, featuring an evening of gourmet food, wine, music and dancing.

The participating chefs have not yet been announced. A number of hotels are expected to offer packages in conjunction with the festival; visit the Web site for details.

Agents interested in securing tickets for clients should contact Juan Carlos Balderas at (011) 52-322 222-3228 or e-mail [email protected].

Ticket prices range from $13 for the welcome reception to $400 for the Gala Dinner.

For general information about Puerto Vallarta, call (888) 384-6822 or visit Puerto Vallarta Tourism Council's Web site at www.visitpuertovallarta.com.

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