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Next stop on our Culinary Trip – Yucatán via Covent Garden

Following the popularity of the first stop on our 2015 Cuilnary Trip around the regions of Mexico, it’s almost time for our Covent Garden menu to move on from Oaxaca to The Yucatán Peninsula and tickets for our 1 night only supper club, to kick start this Yucatecan season, with Roberto Solis and Thomasina Miers are on sale RIGHT HERE now.

On 14th April, we’ll be handing our Covent Garden kitchen over to Roberto Solis, known as being the leader of New Yucatecan cuisine, who will join Tommi in showcasing the incredible range of ingredients and flavours the region benefits from, combining traditional recipes from the Yucatán region with the modern ideas and techniques that have made his restaurant, Nectar, world famous.

Roberto Solis

His menu for the night brings a taste of this New Yucatecan cuisine to Covent Garden with dishes such as Onions in black tempura served with a burnt xcatic mayonnaise and Langoustine and sweet breads salbut with Papadzul sauce, salsa verde. Following which the Covent Garden team will be serving a Berkshire pork chop with plantain ribbons, Yucatecan oregano pipian with cured honey onions and a dessert of Coconut pie, fried rosemary & rosemary ashes. To add to the flavour of the evening, our good friends at Olmeca Altos Tequila will also be on hand to shake a few cocktails and introduce guests to their 100% agave tequila. With only 100 tickets available, they’ll not hang around for long, so grab yours pronto.

To buy your tickets click here to visit our Grub Club page and hit ‘Book Now’ to register.

 

Roberto's new Yucatecan Cuisine, in all it's flavourful glory
Roberto’s new Yucatecan Cuisine, in all it’s flavourful glory

 

The supper club is just one way that you can get a taste of The Yucatán, and those not able to join us on the night can drop in to Covent Garden from the 16th April when we’ll be serving an exclusive Yucatecan Regional Specials menu, inspired by Roberto’s cooking, for 8 weeks only.

Hope to see you down there.

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Freshening up for spring

As the seasons roll on it’ll soon be time for our short shorts to come back out of the wardrobe and we can finally start strutting around the place in just a singlet again. To accompany that vision, we need some suitably light and fresh dishes that’ll neatly carry us over the line into spring and beyond. Time for our newest Street Food Specials.

For taco fans (if this term doesn’t apply, please report immediately to the headmaster’s office), we have a rejigged returning favourite in the form of our slow cooked beef barbacoa tacos, which this time have been super-sized on 2 large, grilled corn tortillas. We marinade beef feather blade in a blend of chipotle and guajillo chillies, then cook it low and slow for hours until the beef falls apart. You’ll find it bundled up atop freshly shredded cabbage slaw with our punchy chile de arbol salsa.

Beef barbacoa tacos street food special

Anyone who’s visited the motherland will know it can be hard to have any meal in Mexico without some form of pickled vegetables rocking up alongside you order. No bad thing at all if you ask us. In homage to this unsung favourite, we’ve created a home-cured pickled vegetable tostada which comes with an underbelly of an unctuously smooth pinto bean puree, with or without free range Devon Rose ham. The Mexican answer to piccalilli.

Picked vegetable tostada Wahaca street food specials

Remember that ordering any of our street food specials means we donate 20p to Edinca to support the education of kids working and living on the streets of Mexico City. Check our blog on what happened when we went to visit them last week.

“Viva Morrissey” a celebration of Mexico’s love for Morrissey and The Smiths

Heaven knows he is Mexican now, their fans say…  The fame of Morrissey on Mexican soil is a phenomenon you may have read about in our Ola magazine recently. While chicano communities in The US organise Moz parties and copy his fashion, a bunch of Mexico’s finest rock musicians and producers have got together to create a live tribute to their idol and they have named it Mexrrissey.

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Mexrrissey comes to town this April at the Barbican as part of La Linea Festival, and then will be touring some UK cities before taking off to New York and LA.

To celebrate the arrival of La Linea Music Festival and Mexrrissey, we are throwing a Launch party at Wahaca Soho’s Azulito bar on Thursday 26th of March with Mexican DJ Paola (EDT Club) and the long running Feeling Gloomy’s very own DJ Carl, who will be spinning Manchester and Mexican indie classics to make this a unique evening.

Viva Morrissey party

Viva Morrissey, 26th of March, 7pm until late.

Azulito Bar, Wahaca Soho. Free entry.

Brixton Brewery & Wahaca tasting evening

Did you ever wonder what beers go best with our tacos? Mexico is not only the land of tequila and mezcal but it’s also big on artisan beers. Dark, blonde and ales, vary from region to region and more and more small breweries are opening up across the country.

Last year we teamed up with Brixton Brewery to produce the perfect beer to go with our fresh and vibrant dishes, called Lupulo, a beer exclusive to DF/Mexico and Wahaca Brixton. Take a look at this to find out more:

So since we are very lucky to be almost next door neighbours here in Brixton, we decided to come up with an evening of beer & tacos. Oh yes, cerveza y tacos por favor…

The lucky few will have the opportunity to sample 6 of Brixton Brewery’s finest beers such as Electric IPA and Effra Ale, and have them paired with Wahaca’s most delish nibbles, tacos and churros. While Master Brewer Jez and Wahaca’s very own Anna, talk you through what inspires their beers and Mexican street food respectively.

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When: Tuesday 24th of March at 6pm, Wahaca Brixton, Atlantic Road SW19 8JA

Tickets cost £10 and can be booked by emailing anna@wahaca.co.uk

Getting to the heart of food allergies

Keen readers and allergy sufferers alike will have noticed changes made at the end of last year to how restaurants present information about allergens in their food, and at Wahaca we’ve been working hard, adapting the way we do things to make sure that we’re following those rules and keeping you all up to speed with the latest and greatest when it comes to the top 14 allergens that crop up in restaurant kitchens.

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Here Tommi shares her thoughts on the recent changes to the EU legislation, how Wahaca is making sure we adhere to it, and some of the unseen knock-on effects it has been having for other chefs in the industry.

This week a news article shared some of my thoughts, along with those of other chefs in the industry on the latest changes to the allergen legislation and it is important for me to answer directly some of the legitimate concern raised over comments made in the article, as I fear that my views haven’t been represented fully.
 
Over and above everything, we created Wahaca to be fun and open for everybody to enjoy. Everybody should feel safe and welcome to come in and enjoy freshly prepared food and relax and have a great time in our restaurants – full stop.
 
For that reason we’ve always had a robust and conscientious approach to allergies and intolerances, developed with our customer in mind. As well as consulting with allergy suffering customers, food-science experts and writers, our chefs have put in a great deal of effort into our comprehensive allergen charts.  We have had gluten free menus in our restaurants ever since customers started asking for them, which we’ve regularly reviewed to keep as informative as possible. Initially these menus were two tier, so that those with gluten intolerances could make an informed decision, based on their own personal intolerance, on whether to eat something that contained no wheat, but had been in a fryer with gluten containing foods for example – or whether to opt from a more limited completely gluten-free list. Unfortunately, the new system does not allow for this, which we have found has been putting off some people who have previously been able to eat and enjoy Wahaca’s food with no ill consequences – A shame for them, and part of my concerns that this new approach isn’t perfect for everyone. 
 
Of course Wahaca does adhere to all new legislation and we don’t consider the effort to fully communicate the allergens in our food to be a burden but an important part of the service we give every day and one that we’ll continue to evolve to make sure it’s the best and most helpful it can be.
 
My comments regarding the new legislation came from a place of concern for smaller operations, without the infrastructure that Wahaca has, as well as feedback from our waiters on how these new spreadsheets have limited the informed choices for customers with less serious intolerances, leading to a concern as to whether this is the best way that restaurants can serve their customers. Spreadsheet bureaucracy rather than direct communication with the chef, for example, can seem heavy-handed in cases, and in my opinion not the best way to personally address diners with different levels of allergy. This is not to take away from the seriousness of knowing what is in your food and being able to communicate it, which should always be the base that we start from.

We listen every day to our customers and constantly evolve our menu. As an example, having spoken with blogger @GlutenFree4Kids, whose daughter wasn’t able to eat our corn tortilla chips due to the cross contamination in our fryers, we are introducing a separate range of entirely gluten free corn chips to all sites which are available to order on request. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our allergen menu, then please do get in touch.

I hope this better answers some of the questions raised, and reaffirms Wahaca’s and my commitment into on-going research into best ways to accommodate allergies and provide the best possible hospitality. The staff in all our restaurants are brilliantly well informed and continue to be trained regularly so that they can be on hand to answer any specific questions and guidance on our charts.

Very best,
Tommi xx

Wahaca’s hot picks this month

March is here and as spring peeks in slowly but surely, here are our hand-picked top 5 Mexican things to watch out for this month:

1- Vive Latino 2015: The Ibero-American festival of music and culture.

Born in 1998, Vive is now the biggest and most important music festival in Latin America. This year acts include Interpol, Caifanes, Robert Plant and Molotov.

Mexico City’s Foro Sol 13-15th of March.

ViveLatino

2- Exhibition: Carlos Amorales at Turner Contemporary.

Part of the Year of Mexico in the UK special events, Turner Contemporary presents an installation that explores the use and limits of language.

Opens 14th of March, until September 2015. Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent.

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3- Watch England and Mexico’s future football stars go head to head.

Barnet football club will play host to the U20 teams who both remain unbeaten this season in preparation to New Zealand’s U20 World Cup later this year. Your chance to see tomorrow’s stars for just £3.

The Hive, Barnet FC, London. 25th of March.

Mexico-U20-Squad

4- Cancun & Rivera Maya Wine and Food Festival

Gourmet dinners, masterclasses , wine tastings and celebrity chefs from across the world will gather at this annual festival showcasing Mexican cuisine and wine.

Head to the Gourmet Tasting Village in Cancun’s Moon Palace Resort 12-15th of March.

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5- Mexican Morrissey & La Linea Festival launch party at Wahaca Soho’s Azulito Bar.

As a collective of some of Mexico’s most talented producers and musicians prepare for a UK tour with their tribute to Morrissey and The Smiths, we will be hosting a party to celebrate Mexico’s love for Manchester’s finest with Wahaca vs Feeling Gloomy DJ’s playing head to head Latin and Manchester classics.

Thursday 26th of March at 7pm. Wahaca Soho’s Azulito Bar, London. Free entry.

Viva Morrissey party

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We check out the difference you’re making by eating our street food specials

Today our taco tasters took a break from eating their way around Mexico City and paid a visit to Ednica, the charity who we have been supporting at Wahaca for the past 5 years.

Ednica is a UNESCO backed charity that helps to feed and educate kids whose parents work and often live on the streets of Mexico City, and who without the right kind of support, it’s likely would continue living and working on those streets and not realise half of the massive potential that we saw from them today.

Ednica

We met and chatted with kids and their teachers from Ednica’s 3 centres in Ajusco, Xochimilco and Morelos, and after each giving a talk about their region and its local cultures, we tried dishes that they prepared for us, including some seriously zinging carrot tinga tostadas and beautiful caramelised cactus nopales. It was a real inspiration to see the work that the guys at Ednica are doing and to hear the success stories of kids who have gone on to study to university level truly shows the amazing difference they are making.

To do our bit to help them out, we donate 20p from every Street Food Specials dish you order, and that money adds up to help provide salaries for the coordinators and educators who work with these kids’ every day. So please keep ordering those dishes, so we can help these tiny little legends to have the best possible chance to turn their lives from something fairly desperate into something truly great.

Wahaca wins the ‘Best use of technology’ award

The Wahaca QuickPay App, was the favourite at this year’s Retailer’s Retailer Awards, through our long-standing partnership with Flypay, market leaders in innovative and intelligent smartphone technology for the hospitality industry. The award recognises operators which have used technology to enhance its offer and engagement with customers.

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The App, allows our customers to pay their bill through a QR code system or table number, then split the bill, pay and go in under a minute. As well as being able to find their nearest Wahaca, check the latest news, and find out what music is playing at the time of their visit.

Mark Selby, Co-Founder, Wahaca, commented: “We have always wanted to push the boundaries at Wahaca and innovation is key to this, so we couldn’t be happier to be recognised for the ‘Best use of Technology’ award at Retailers’ Retailer. Flypay has and continues to be an intrinsic part of our strategy to ensure we always deliver a very unique experience for our customers. Their technology is by far the most impressive of all the mobile technologies that we have seen, and we’re committed to continuing to innovate with them to further enhance the experience for our customers.”

 

Don’t have the Wahaca app yet? Download it now here and grab your#10freeminutes
  

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Our Mexican Taco Tasting Tour takes in Tequila

Those of you following our Taco Tasting Tour on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook will have seen some of the snaps from our regular research trip to Mexico. These trips offer a chance for us to check out what’s hot in the motherland and keep us stocked up with fresh ideas to bring back home for you to try out first hand in our next menus, so whilst it might seem like we’re having the most incredible time ever, we’re doing it for you.

Yesterday, thanks to our great friends at Olmeca Altos, we were given an exclusive tour of their distillery just outside Arandas, in the highlands of Jalisco.

After checking out the tequila distillation process, taking us from agave plant to 100% agave tequila, via the integral tahona stone, and the seriously funky bottling line (Who doesn’t love a bottling line?), we were given the chance to tour the agave fields in style, on all terrain quad bikes.

The only way to travel through the agave fields
The only way to travel through the agave fields

The tour took us past some of Jalisco’s most breath taking scenery, through villages where the agave harvesters, or jimadores live and into the fields themselves to give us a chance to get hands-on with the realities of the agave harvest.

Your dedicated Wahaca field team
Your dedicated Wahaca field team

This backbreakingly tough work is done entirely by hand after the agave plants have swollen to the perfect ripeness during 8 years of Mexican sunshine, by a group of guys armed only with a coa – a long handled metal blade that’s sharper than your average Gillette could even dream of. Having removed the agave’s seemingly impenetrable spikes, its heart, or piña, is revealed, a huge and staggeringly dense mass of natural sugars destined to be made into the tequila that we know and love.

A jimador showing us how it should be done
A jimador showing us how it should be done

The whole day was a fascinating insight into what has to be the most painstaking and lengthy production process used for the manufacture of any spirit. So next time you’re sipping on a classic margarita, remember that it might just be thanks to the meticulous work of the team up in Arandas and the incredible care which they put into their work that makes it taste just a little bit like the Mexican sunshine. So cheers to them.

A much needed tequila after a hard day's work
A much needed tequila after a hard day’s work

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Highlights from our Oaxacan supper club with Alejandro Ruiz

A few weeks ago, we took our Covent Garden restaurant on the first step of a pretty cool trip around our favourite regions of Mexico. Throughout 2015 we’re throwing the doors of our original kitchen open to some of Mexico’s best known, highly-awarded, creative and influential chefs by hosting a series of 1-night-only supper clubs to introduce you to a whole new set of dishes and flavours that hide in amongst the corners of the Mexican Motherland.

First up, was one of Wahaca’s oldest and best friends and the guy who we think of as the godfather of cooking in the state that gave us our name, Alejandro Ruiz from the state of Oaxaca. 200 of you were lucky enough to grab tickets that sold out in under 3 hours, and had the chance to taste probably the finest Oaxacan dishes that London has ever seen. Here’s how it went…

 

The menu was created by Alejandro using dishes from his incredibly well respected Casa Oaxaca restaurant and his newly opened Mexico City restaurant Guzina Oaxaca, which 2 weeks earlier had been described by Time Magazine as one of the 11 best new restaurants in the world. No small feat for Tommi and our amazing crew of chefs to help him recreate on the night.

Hoja Santa taquitos with Frijoles and Queso Oaxaca
Hoja Santa taquitos with Frijoles and Queso Oaxaca

Dishes showed off the amazing diversity and sparklingly beautiful flavours of the region, and ranged from Hoja Santa leaves stuffed with Oaxacan cheese and chapulines (grasshoppers), to pan seared Welsh sea bass with a herb and cactus mole verde, and confit suckling pig with a spiced fruity Tehuano sauce from the Isthmus de Tehuantepec region.

Alejandro Ruiz Thomasina Miers Covent Garden Supper Club Oaxaca
Confit suckling pig with a spiced fruity Tehuano sauce

It’s safe to say, socks were blown clean off.

If Oaxacan cuisine sounds like it’s for you, then you can still grab a taste of the action. Head into our Covent Garden restaurant before 12th April, where we’re serving a Regional Specials Menu inspired by Alejandro’s cooking. Check it out here.

The next stop on Our Culinary Trip is The Yucatan Peninsula, and we’re hugely excited to have one of Mexico’s most well-known chefs, Roberto Solis coming over to cook with Tommi on the 14th April 2015. Roberto is known as the leader of the “New Yucatecan Cuisine” having worked in some of the world’s leading kitchen’s including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and at Noma with René Redzepi and he promises to bring the true taste of his home region to Covent Garden with his own personal flair in a night not to be missed. Tickets will be on sale soon right here on our blog, but if you’d like to pre-register your interest in grabbing a much sought after ticket to the event on the 14th, drop an email to ola@wahaca.co.uk (Pop Roberto Solis in the subject line),