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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),

Top tunes we are showcasing at Wahaca this month

Ever wondered how we choose the Latin-inspired funky playlist for our restaurants?

We love music at Wahaca and we are always checking out new Mexican talent as well as Latin beats from around the world. That’s why we decided to bring you our Top 5 each month with our brand new playlist for your listening pleasure with some added tracks.

Our top 5 this month includes tracks from Mexican amazonic cumbia sensations Sonido Gallo Negro, Tex-Mex indie rockers Calexico and the brand new electronic Mexican collaboration between IMS & Toy Selectah: Compass, who are set to come to London next month as part of La Linea Festival.

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TOP TIP: if you want to know what tune is playing when you visit your favourite Wahaca, simply tap on your Wahaca app and at the bottom, you will get the very track that is on, right then, better than Shazaming, magic courtesy of Open Ear Music.

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 Do you have songs to suggest? Just use the hashtag #wahacamusic on Twitter.

Democracia real YA! Oaxaca street art collective Lapiztola come to London

A powerful street-art movement has been brewing in the streets of Mexico since 2006, and with the local social and political issues, it has become a way for young people to express their anger and frustrations through art.

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Lapiztola collective in their early years initially took over friend’s walls to create something interesting and colourful, but later on, they realized that they could use those walls to communicate with others.

As part of a series of events for the Global Justice campaign, Lapiztola members Rosario and Roberto, were invited to bring original works to London that give an insight into the reality Mexico’s young people are trying to change.

Catch Democracia Real Ya! at the Rich Mix until Saturday 27th of February or check out their London mural just off Brick Lane.

For more original murals from Oaxaca in London, artists Fabian and Cawamo’s can be seen at Wahaca St. Paul’s.

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Wahaca wins for insect eating innovation at the 2015 SRA Awards

We’re over the moon to pick up The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Innovation award for championing the sustainability of Enotomophagy, or insect eating, at today’s SRA  Awards.

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It’s great news for us and the planet as more of us join the 80% of the world’s population who already consider eating insects as a normal part of their diet and help to reduce the pressure on more traditional meat supplies.

Chapulines SRA Award Sustainability
Tommi and our Chapulines Fundido at Wahaca Southbank

 

If you’re thinking the idea of eating a grasshopper sounds a bit gross, honestly we can’t blame you, generally insects aren’t something that are a normal part of our diets in The UK. But take a moment to ponder why we think of them so differently to prawns, shrimps or lobster which are all arthropods and seriously tasty.

 

If you haven’t tried them already, we’re currently serving a few dishes using the hugely popular Mexican ingredient, chapulines, or grasshoppers, so come down and tuck into our Chapulines Fundido from our Street food specials menu, or our Chorizo and Chapulines Memela exclusively available on our Covent Garden Oaxacan Regional Specials Menu.
Chapulines are particularly popular in the Oaxaca region, from where we took our name, and earlier this month, Tommi and Oaxacan super-chef, Alejandro Ruiz got busy in the kitchen cooking up a chorizo and chapulines memela for the more adventurous of you to try recreating at home. Here’s how…

Please do continue to vote on twitter to let us know what you think of the chapulines, with either #ChapulinYES or #ChapuliNO depending on which way you swing.

The good news is, it’s a big #ChapulinYES from the SRA.

Wahaca Southbank goes piñata crazy

As part of Imagine Children’s Festival  at Southbank this half term, “Piñatas London” is taking over our bar this Wednesday lunchtime (18th of Feb 12-2pm), to run a super-arty hands on FREE workshop for children of all ages.

Little ones will be able to decorate their very own piñata to take home, while adults can enjoy some delicious street food and Southbank Specials.

Piñatas London was founded in 2011, when Phillip Mursell and Iona Ascherson met at university. Phillip had long been involved in his family business Mexicolore, an award winning education resource dedicated to bringing Aztec culture and history to life in schools. They are experts in making traditional and funky, bespoke piñatas working at schools throughout London. This promises to be a very special workshop.

No booking necessary.

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Our Brand New Regional Oaxacan Menu Launches at Wahaca Covent Garden

After the huge excitement of cooking with one of Mexico’s finest and most renowned chefs, Alejandro Ruiz on Tuesday evening, our original Covent Garden restaurant will be offering an exclusive menu, dedicated to his home region, and the state that gave us our name, Oaxaca.

The menu will be available for 8 weeks only from Wednesday evening and has been designed by Tommi and our development team to highlight the finest ingredients from the region, showcasing how lip-smackingly sumptuous eating in Southern Mexico can really get.

Here’s what’s on offer…

Oaxaca Menu

The dishes are available alongside your favourites from the Wahaca menu, so feel free to order 1 or more, to share or be selfish with.

The menu uses traditional salsas, moles and cooking methods that you’ll find across the Oaxaca state including venison fillet with an incredibly rich spiced fruit sauce from the Isthmus de Tehuantepec region and our own home made dark Oaxacan mole alongside the meltingly tender beef short rib.

Roast vegetable pipian

Fans of our recent campaign to get the sustainable practice of entomophagy (that’s insect eating) into British diets can give our Chorizo and Chapulines memela a try, and see if the nuttiness of crumbled grasshoppers gets you voting #ChapulinYES or #ChapuliNO. If you’re able to resist Tommi’s Chocolate brownie with burnt salted Mezcal caramel and clotted cream, you’re stronger willed than we are, and to be completely honest, you’re probably doing something wrong. It’s going to blow your mind.

We’d love to hear what you think about our interpretation of dishes from the Oaxaca state, so please tweet us your thoughts using #CulinaryTrip.

To find out where we’ll be taking you next on our mission around Mexico’s top foodie regions and to hear the latest on our supper club series, keep your eyes peeled on the blog.

Beef Shortrib

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Spoon shaped Soup-erheros to the rescue

Our Mexican Spoon Amnesty is in full swing this January, offering free tacos and forgiveness to anyone who returns one of the 4,000 spoons that have gone missing from our restaurants in the last year. Thanks to everyone who has done the right thing and returned our ladles to their loved ones. We hope you’re enjoying the clear conscience and have had a stern word with yourself. Good on you.

Of course we know there are a whole host of you who are honest to the core and have never been even a little bit tempted to steal our cutlery.  YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME. And over the last 2 weeks we can see you’ve been putting your law-abiding creativity to good work, creating illustrated Soup-erheros as part of our #SpoonCartoon competition. Together they’re creating an army of spoon shaped warriors all ready to join the fight against cutlery crime.

Here’s a line-up of some of our favourite #SpoonCartoons from over the past 2 weeks and click the link to see more incredible entries on twitter.

Check out how awesomely talented our Cutlery Crime fighting customers are
Check out how awesomely talented our Cutlery Crime fighting customers are

And our pick of the spoons for now is this piece of illustrative genius from Lucy, (Aged 3, plus 20).  With Spidey on our sides, surely we can’t lose this fight. Definitely worth a meal for four. We’ll be in touch.

Spidey Spoon

To join in the fun, and be in with a chance to win a meal for 4, drop into Wahaca (Ahhem…. This might be a great opportunity to also bring that spoon of ours back), grab some pencils and get sketching on our #SpoonCartoon postcards. We’ll be picking more favourites and more winners soon.

Together we’ll fight this terrible epidemic. One spoon at a time.