Born and raised in Panama, Anamaris Cousins is an amazing chef who since she was 5 years old learned to love and live for cooking. Her cuisine is greatly influenced by Central and South America (centered around Spain and Portugal), and she shares, with an immense amount of passion, the dishes and flavor profiles that are characteristic of the regions.
A little over a year ago, Anamaris invited Urban Swank to experience Secreto, which at the time was a new private dinner series held in her home. Not for lack of trying, we just recently had the chance to experience a wonderful 3-course brunch that would celebrate Spain Day right here in Houston. Myself (along with my mother who would be joining me for this fantastic meal) and 8 other guests would sit at a beautiful communal table and enjoy each other’s company as well as dine on morning eats, coffee, and sangria.
The brunch began with a fun “get to know your neighbor” game in which each guest shared a story on their lives and if you heard something that linked into your world (ie. a city, job, experience), then the torch would be passed to you. This was a great way to break the ice as we sipped on Columbian coffee.
The traditional pairing of Fartons (Valencian glazed sweetbread) and a glass of Horchata de Almendra, known as the drink of the gods, were a nice start to our Spanish brunch. The lightly drizzled and slightly dense bar-shaped bread was almost cake-like in texture. I found myself wanting a side of the sweet sugar glaze to aid in additional dipping.
After Anamaris gave us the 411 on the simple but amazing tomato-brushed Pa amb tomàquet (Catalan toast), we were served the main course of the afternoon, Huevos a la Flamenca. This egg dish from Andalucia consisted of eggs baked with tomatoes and a generous portion of peas, chorizo, and peppers. Too pretty to really eat, I took no time in placing my spoon strategically in just the perfect place to break open my egg while taking bites of my Catalan toast (and of course, I dipped the bread too).
The brunch ended with Crema Catalana, Spanish custard topped with caramelized sugar that if not for tasting the difference, I would have assumed it was its French counterpart Creme Brulee. But don’t be fooled, the rich and creamy dessert has a bit thinner crust and is typically flavored with cinnamon.
What a treat it was to finally get a chance to meet the talented Anamaris Cousins. Her kindness and love for her craft is just the start, and when you add in the food, the experience is a must. Luckily, you may have a chance this year on December 10th when chef is planning her next meal. Stay tuned and get the latest from her Facebook page.