Tuesday September 24, 2013 | 06:08 PM

All photos by Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

The owners of Zapoteca Restaurante Y Tequileria in Portland — chef Shannon Bard, her husband Tom Bard and Sergio Ramos — hosted the first of what Shannon Bard says will be a series of "adventure dinners" last night. Co-hosted by Herradura Tequila, the dinner showcased how high-quality tequilas can be paired beautifully with food. Ramos, one of four Mexico-endorsed "tequila sommeliers" in the U.S., created the pairings and Donald Jean of Brown-Forman, which owns Herradura, offered his extensive expertise during the evening.

"The dinners are my way of doing a little bit of something you won't get on a regular menu," explained the chef. The next dinner is planned for October at Mixteca, the restaurant recently opened by the Bards and Ramos in Durham, N.H. In November, the series returns to Zapoteca.

Here's a look at what Meredith Goad and I were lucky enough to enjoy last night. Some of these dishes will be on the specials menu for the next two weeks.

Oysters with tequila-marinated cantaloupe were the first offering

The special cocktail created for the evening: Pina-lope margarita

A dinner guest anticipates good things to come

The first course: Adobo-glazed rabbit empanada, smoky walnut mole, heirloom tomato salsa

Donald Jean of Brown-Forman talks tequila while Sergio Ramos pours the next tasting

The especially luscious second course: Local corn, poblano chile and sweet Maine lobster bisque, chile-dusted corn silk, micro cilantro — paired with Herradura blanco

Roasted ears of corn for the soup

Chef Shannon Bard puts the finishing touches on a dish

The third course: Red chile prawns grilled in banana leaves, pasilla-dusted scallop, poblano risotto, green mole — paired with Herradura reposado

The fifth course: Duo of Lamb: Pepita-crusted rack of lamb with tomatillo-agave glaze and truffled Brussels sprouts; Barbacoa-style roasted lamb shoulder with Oaxacan red mole, masa corn pudding and crispy leeks — paired with Herradura anejo

Zapoteca managing partner Sergio Ramos and bar manager Marc Boisvert

Dessert: Pina Divina: Tequila-glazed pineapple cake, thyme-agave whipped cream, candied pineapple, tequila caramel sauce — paired with Herradura special reserve

A happy chef and sous chef at the end of the evening.

For more photos: visit MaineToday.com

About the Author

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

Meredith can be contacted at 791-6332 or mgoad@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @meredithgoad

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