One of the many things 2020 has changed for us, is the way we celebrate special occasions.
How can you possibly celebrate a birthday, graduation or even wedding without a big party filled with loved ones?
Well, I would argue that celebrations in 2020 have even deeper meaning, have gotten more creative and out of the box.
My husband did just that for my birthday and brought an authentic Mexican dining experience into our Harlem, New York City home with Cocina Consuelo. New York City’s newest pop up Mexican Restaurant restaurant.
The Sunday evening of my birthday weekend, I was shocked to see these two smiling faces walk right into the front door of my home with champagne in hand wishing me a Happy Birthday!! I thought to myself, oh my goodness these must been some family members or friends and I can’t believe I don’t recognize them. Because surely I must know these people who just walked into my home unannounced.
But then my hubby walked in through the door behind them and said, this is your birthday present, these two are going to be taking over our kitchen to cook a special meal for your birthday.
What I didn’t know then was that over the next few hours I would experience the magic and warmth that could only come from a couple with a beautiful love story and a restaurant concept born out of that love.
Kari and Lalo met while working in the same restaurant, but like many of us, (including me) Covid left them without jobs. But they took that as a sign to create a pop up restaurant concept where they could share their love of each other and the authentic Mexican food that Lalo (1/2 of Cocina Consuela) grew up on.
You’re not going to find any nachos or burritos on their menu. I’m talking about authentic Mexican recipes inspired by Lalo’s abuela.
Cocina Consuelo typical hosts intimate dinners in their Harlem home. But they are mobile and also available for private dinners in your home like what I experienced.
Since we have a young son it was important that if we were going to have strangers in our home that they took all the precautions necessary to stay safe. So they wore masks the entire time and when masks could not be worn they practiced social distancing – except for the quick group picture we took at the end of the night.
Because of that, we felt safe the entire time.
Kari and I chatted while she cooked. She told me about how she went to Mexico on vacation and called Lalo while there to find out where his grandmother lived and actually took it upon herself to go visit her, before they were even an official couple. It was fascinating to get the insights behind the restaurant from the chef herself.
The 4 course meal Kari created especially for my birthday is not your average meal that you would find at a typical Mexican restaurant.
This sumptuous, expertly crafted dishes were made with love.
I was also exposed to things I have never tried before like the anchovy appetizer and the beef bone marrow. Both were mouth wateringly delicious, so much so that we were scraping the plates to sop up every last bit. It’s a good thing we were in our home because all etiquette rules went out the window. You just can’t fully enjoy a meal if you cant dive in with your fingers, lol.
The last course was a delicious tres leches cake that had a crunchy coconut topping that reminded me of Frosted Flakes. But trust me even if you’ve had tres leches before, you have not tasted one as heavenly as this one.
It was the perfect dish to end the meal.
But, the surprises didn’t end with tres leches. While Kari and I chatted some more while she graciously and carefully cleaned the kitchen, all of a sudden I heard the beautiful strum of a guitar and I look over and Lalo who disappeared sometime during the meal reappear guitar in hand, playing the most romantic melody.
Then for the surprise encore, Lalo was accompanied by a saxophone player. The duo played together as if they had been playing for many years and sounded so dreamy. I was in awe.
My hubby and I love live music. Every year you can find us at a concert but this in-home live music experience was better than anything Ticketmaster is selling.
I hope you enjoy the clips and pictures from my special birthday evening because it is hard to capture into words the truly beautiful experience I had with Cocina Consuelo. It was more than just the incredible food. It was heightened by the love and care that shown by Kari and Lalo.
If you are looking for a different kind of dining experience, treat yourself or your loved one to Cocina Consuelo. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience.