In Preparation for Alma’s February Opening, Tristan Simon Treats Friends & Family to a Not-At-All-Dry Run

Chihuahua cheese with chorizo, peppers, and onions, served with housemade corn tortillas.

Last Thursday, Chef Michael Brown gave us a behind-the scenes peek into Alma, Tristan Simon’s new venture on Henderson Ave. On Saturday, in anticipation of Alma’s early-Feb. opening date, Tristan invited a couple hundred of his closest friends and investors to taste samplings of what’s to come from Chef Michael Brown’s kitchen. Every table enjoyed a random, yet different, assortment of menu items, so my sampling was very different than my neighbors. The commonality: mojitos and a spicy cocktail aptly named el diablo.

Jump for more photos and menu items…

Our waiter started us with a creamy and wonderfully sea-salty Miochan avocado guacamole quickly followed by a skillet of melted Chihuahua cheese with chorizo, oregano,  onions, and peppers alongside housemade corn tortillas.

Alma's downstairs dining room (left) and slow-roasted cochinita (right).

A Mexican boulliabaisse arrived on the table adjoining ours, but we were blessed with two other entrees: Brown’s cochinita—a pork shank smoked with banana leaf and garnished with black beans and accompanied by petite greens topped with pickled red onions, and tacos carbon de pollo—chicken breast marinated with tomatillo sauce over onions and poblano peppers, served with cowboy beans (pintos with bacon and cilantro), more tortillas, and a salad of watercress, arugula, and julienned radish.

Housemade tortillas (left) are just one aspect of the lively, open kitchen.

The superstar of the night (closely contested by the queso appetizer), was the tres leches with black cherries, raspberries and rum, topped with housemade crema and candied pistachios. Said a friend (and prominent chef’s wife who shall remain anonymous here), “I don’t know who’s abuela they’ve got hidden back there in the kitchen, but nobody else could make a tres leches that good.”

Minimalist table settings and a staggeringly good tres leches with cherries, raspberries, crema, and candied pistachios.

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