Cinco de Mayo in Montclair

by Melody Kettle

Michael Duarte and Ariane Duarte

This Thursday is Cinco de Mayo.  But before we dip our first chip, let’s first understand why Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a Corona and Dos Equis imbibing bacchanalia.

There’s  a popular misconception that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day.  In actuality, Cinco de Mayo commemorates of a victory by Mexican troops in La Batalla de Puebla on May 5, 1862.

I had to opportunity to chat with Michael Duarte, co-owner of CulinArine, 33 Walnut Street, Montclair, and husband of Montclair’s very own Top Cheftestant, Ariane Duarte.  Michael was born in Baltimore, but raised in Mexico City.  Here’s what Michael had to say about Cinco de Mayo:

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.  Corona, is one of the major promoters of Cinco de Mayo, and really, it’s is a lot easier to say than16 de Septiembre. But it’s a good excuse for beer and wine lovers to drink and enjoy the day.

 If you’re planning on going out for Cinco de Mayo, CulinAriane and Amati Vino are teaming up to host a wine and beer pairing dinner.

The menu will begin with an appetizer of  Coctel de camaron y mango (Gulf coast shrimp and mango cocktail), followed by a second course of Flauta de pollo en mole poblano (Crispy chicken tacos, mole sauce). The  entrée will be Torta de bistek con ensalada de papa (Grilled skirt steak sandwich, avocado, mayonnaise, tomato lime corn potato salad), and  dessert Tamal de coco (Coconut tamal).

According to Amanti Vino,  there are 10 reservations still available. Call Amanti Vino to reserve at 973-509-9463.   

Click through for a Mole recipe from Michael, and a Sangria recipe and demo from yours truly!

If you’re planning on staying home to cook up some Mexican fare, CulinAriane was kind enough to share their Mole recipe with us:


34  ancho and pasilla chiles, toasted and seeded

4 Tb peppercorn

12 inch cinnamon stick

16  cloves

3 Cups raisin

1 plantain

2 Cups almonds, toasted

2 Cups sesame seeds, toasted

2 onions

1 Tb lard or vegetable oil

 3-4 Cup chicken stock

4 oz semi sweet chocolate

Toast and seed the chiles.  Rehydrate them in hot water.  Pulverize the peppercorn, cinnamon and cloves in a spice grinder.  Puree the chiles, raisin, plantain, onions and both nuts in a food processor.  Add the spices and puree for 30 more seconds.  This can be stored in the refrigerator for one week, or frozen for three months.

To finish the sauce, heat the oil in sauce pot.  Add 1 c of mole base and fry until aroma, about 2 minutes.  Add enough chicken stock slowly, until sauce thickens, incorporating it well before adding more.  You will add about 3-4 cups of stock.  Reduce until sauce consistency or it covers the back of a spoon.  Add the chocolate and stir to melt.  Serve over chicken or rice.

Obviously you’ll need appropriate libation to accompany the mole. Over the years I’ve acquired an aversion to tequila, so you won’t be getting any Margarita recipes from me.  In the alternative, I offer my very own recipe for Purple Pomegranate Sangria. 

Give it a try, here’s how it's done.  The recipe follows!

1 cup simple syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar)*

1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine, Rioja if available, otherwise any cheap jug wine will suffice **

1 bottle Pomegranate Juice (8 0z.)

1 cup orange juice

¾ cup blackberry brandy

¾ cup triple sec


Orange slices, lemon slices, cubed apples, blueberries, grapes.

*In a small pot, combine 1 cup of sugar and one cup of water. Bring to boiling point until sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Combine remaining liquids in a pitcher.  Cover and refrigerate, if possible overnight.  When ready to serve, float fruit in pitcher.  Do not put ice in pitcher, as it will dilute the Sangria.   


**If you prefer your Sangria to be less sweet, add an extra bottle of red wine to the mix or adjust simple syrup to ½ cup.


If you’d like to see how it’s done, watch the video!

So where will you be celebrating and what will be drinking and eating?