I’m mostly from Canada but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in Canada. In the U.S. though, it’s apparently a major marketing tool, the endless mimosas promised by restaurants for the pleasure of attending their Sunday brunch.
I like Sunday brunch. I like mimosas. I like the San Miguel restaurant Zumo. So, when Don Day’s Wife told me that Zumo was offering a three-course brunch with bottomless mimosas for 450 pesos, I had only one short Spanish word to say: “Vamos”.
The mimosa. There is no other drink that seems more appropriate, more civil, more refreshing, more of an excuse for consuming alcohol when the sun is still at its height, than the mimosa. The recipe is quite simple: 50% orange juice, 50% sparkling wine, united together in a tall, thin glass called the flute.
No one is quite sure where the mimosa originated. In Spain, particularly in Catalonia and Valencia, they’ve been mixing orange juice with Cava, their local sparkling wine, for centuries.
Before the mimosa, there was the Buck’s Fizz, invented in 1921 at the Buck’s Club in London, but with a two to one ratio of wine to orange juice. Four years later, the mimosa, with its 50/50 ratio was supposedly originated at the Ritz hotel in Paris by a man called Frank Meier but I wasted well over an hour tonight searching for any documentation in the archives of the French press without a hit for mimosa except for a tree known by botanists as acacia dealbata. I refuse to believe that a Frenchman would name a drink after an Australian tree no matter how pretty the flowers are.
Zumo is located a very convenient three and a bit blocks from the jardin, the heart and soul of San Miguel. It is perched on the roof of a boutique hotel called Villa Limon with a 240 degree view of the town where my heart lives. The first thing the server asked when we were seated was if we would like to start with a drink. He suggested a mimosa.
No matter when or where it was born, the mimosa has gone through a lot of changes and, unlike the lovers of the martini, for example, there are no mimosa purists, to my knowledge, demanding that all imitations be flushed in the nearest white ceramics.
“Tenemos naranja, manzana, maracuyá y frutos rojos”, said the server.
“I’ll have the red berries”, said Don Day’s Wife.
“I’ll have the passion fruit”, said Don Day.
Now the most important part of a mimosa is not the wine. Forget that Esquire magazine tells you that a mimosa calls for Moët & Chandon Champagne. The cheapest sparkler, as long as it’s brut, in Zumo’s case Sperone Spumante, is fine.
The only important ingredient in the mimosa is the juice. The juice in traditional mimosas does not come from waxed cardboard containers with the word concentrate on them. The juice in traditional mimosas comes from balls of citric pleasure with an orange rind on them.
At Zumo, the orange juice is fresh squeezed as were the raspberries and blackberries in Don Day’s Wife’s mimosa and the passion fruit in mine.
It was our first time at Zumo since Marcela Lopez Sanchez became executive chef. She has put together a much more concise menu than the restaurant’s previous brunch offering. Though we were disappointed to not see the word “Benedict” on the brunch menu, there were still enough of the classics plus a few unexpected dishes to put together a nice three course meal.
To start, I went for the grilled vegetable salad. If you like red beets, you’ll love this big bowl; if you’re not crazy about beets, best to pass.
Don Day’s Wife started with the Mahi Mahi Ceviche. Round one went to her. The fish had a salty, sea air freshness. The marinade had flavors of pineapple and lime without being vinegary. It perfectly matched the mimosas.
For our second course, Don Day’s Wife stayed with the mahi mahi, this time in the classic Baja style. The batter was light; the fish wasn’t overcooked; and the habanero mayo was a superb dip.
I went for the breakfast staple, the omelette. As celebrated chef Jacques Pépin once said to me (and the million others who were watching his TV show), “If I wanted to test a chef’s technique I would probably ask him to do an omelette.” Excusing Chef Pepin’s masculine reference (he said it in the seventies when female chefs were compared to hen’s teeth), I thought what a good way to test the talents of Chef Marcela.
Zumo allows you a choice of up to six from about 15 different ingredients for their omelette. As there really can be too much of a good thing when it comes to food, I chose just three, chorizo, spinach and goat cheese.
There are two kinds of omelettes. There is the light and fluffy where the ingredients are put in to the wet omelette just before it is flipped (without the use of a spatula, of course). Then there is the more French style where the omelette is cooked to the consistency of a crepe and then rolled around the ingredients. Chef Marcela chose the second. Let’s just say that if we turned back the clock 40 years, she might be Jacques Pepin’s sous chef.
There are three desserts on the Zumo brunch menu. All sounded ho-hum but none of them had us ordering another mimosa to suitably wash them down. We decided to ask if the desserts on Zumo’s evening menu might be available at an extra cost. They were and I ordered, perhaps my favorite of all desserts, a creme brulée, and Don Day’s Wife a chocolate tamale. Both the cream and the crust were excellent on my choice and a photo is worth a thousand of you know what when it comes to Don Day’s Wife’s extravagance.
Despite how good they were, Don Day’s Wife and I only had two mimosas each over the two hours we pleasantly spent at Zumo. I wondered how many mimosas the average bruncher has. I wondered how a restaurant can make a profit on brunch charging 450 pesos for chef-driven food and bottomless mimosas.
I asked Zumo owner, Stewart Haverlack how do you make money doing three courses and endless mimosas for that price.
“You don’t”, said Stewart, “but, hopefully, the people who come for brunch will like the restaurant, like the food, and come back for dinner.”
Don Day’s Wife and I will be back.
Zumo is located in Villa Limon, Quebrada 93, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Brunch with bottomless mimosas is served on Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.