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Mexican Morsels: Prawn Sandwiches for Easter

This week we’re going to focus on a great site that we’ve stumbled across called Mexconnect. It’s an online magazine that posts regular content about life in Mexico. We think it has been designed mainly to make us jealous!

The first article is by Daniel Wheeler, one of Mexconnect’s fantastic food columnists. He describes some tasty alternatives to red meat during the Catholic festival of Lent.

Another of their columnists is Karen Hursh Graber. She has written some delectable posts about spring berries (which are probably more autumn berries for us in the UK), but given the cold weather here, we’ll wait for a more suitable time to link to those and instead link to this article she has written on the cuisine of Oaxaca. At the end of her article she links to some great Oaxacan recipes.

The third article that we want to link to is a calendar of Mexican food festivals. If the articles above are tempting you across the Atlantic, this will be a good guide as to what you can expect in terms of culinary fiestas!

Finally this week, we found this article from Rancho Gordo who grow New World products in the USA. In this post they cook a dish from our favourite Mexican chef, Diana Kennedy.

If you see any interesting morsels from Mexico, please let us know!

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Mexican Morsels: Chillies, Taco Trucks and Tamales

We’ve got our RSS reader trained on some amazing Mexican food blogs such as Mexico Cooks, A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate, Mexico Food Drinks and More, The Great Taco Hunt and Rachel Laundan’s blog to name but a handful.

Here are our favourite posts from the last week or so:

1. On Mexico Cooks you can read about the amazing world of fresh and dried chillies that are available in Mexico as well as what to do with them. It’s a great guide. It’s the sort of thing you read and can almost feel your eyeballs and nostrils stinging from the heat. You’ll also find a special guide to Mexican food for lent.

2. A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate writes about her quest to make the perfect tamales. It’s a great guide to making this iconic Mexican dish and makes us wish we were back in Mexico.

3. Meanwhile, over on Trend Spotting site, We Heart Stuff, they’ve written a super piece on a luxury hotel in Veracruz called Maison Couturier. It’s staggeringly stylish and would make an incredible base from which to explore. But you may have to be a Premier League footballer to afford it.

4. Rachel Laudan has written an interesting piece that about the way Mexcians served couscous in the 1800s which reads as if it were written in Morocco.

5. For a more lighthearted read about the taco trucks of West Coast America, look no further than The Great Taco Hunt.

6. And closer to home, check out Kavey Eats’ post about her evening learning to cook Mexican food with Tommi in aid of the Blaggers Banquet.

We hope you like the links, and if you come across any Mexican blogs that you think we might be interested in please let us know.

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Blog Round Up

We’re having a lot of fun this week with the launch of our new restaurant in Canary Wharf, so we thought we’d devote some of this edition of the Weekly Blog Round Up to other launches we’ve seen in the blogosphere.

Could this be the first step in a movement away from carrying your wallet around?? Touch My Apps investigates

Could you see yourself using a Wahapp to order your delicious Wahaca food?

Waitrose are launching another marvel “The Great Sweet Revival”. After finding out exactly which of these classic treats were most popular via a consumer poll, they will be offering Monty Bojangles sweets in stores near you. Admirably Monty Bojangles is evolving these classics to contain no artificial colours or flavourings. See what Ruby Room has to say here.

Other than launches, there’s been some other great stuff going on. Here’s a review by From Chile to Chocolate about a superb evening at The British Museum about Mexican Food, that included one of our favourite people, Diana Kennedy and Tommi.

And while we’re on the subject of The British Museum, here is a video and some photos posted on The British Museum website.

If you see anything that you think we should include in next week’s round up, let us know by emailing us at loswahacos@wahaca.co.uk or by leaving a comment.

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Blog Roundup

1. Like Simon Majumdar, we’ve been following the Taco Truck trend in the US for a while and have been wondering whether to give it a go ourselves. His article for the Guardian is very eye-opening and has got our creative juices flowing. For more information, have a good read of Simon’s article and also check out this post on Springwise. It seems like just the sort of thing London need.

2. Following the theme of mobile-gourmet vans, we’ve been loving what Petra from Chocstar is up to. Particularly her recent trip to Victory Primary school. It’s the sort of thing we’re trying to do more of. Petra, can you park outside our restaurant in Covent Garden? Maybe we could do churros and chocolate collaboration?

3. We’ve also been a bit bowled over by the Rancho Gordo blog. His method of cooking trout inside corn husks is as inspiring as it is inspired and the piece about Diane Kenedy has stuck a chord with us, especially given the fact we are hosting a special dinner with her soon. If you like reading about Mexican cooking pop Rancho Gordo in your RSS reader.

4, Mel and Kelsie from Travels with my Fork have created a fantastic video of them making Pozole:

Mexican Pozole from kelsie mortimer on Vimeo.

We’re looking forward to seeing how their hibiscus sorbet turns out as well.

More next week.

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Qype Autumn Menu Tasting

We invited Qype’s top reviewers to sample our new menu that we’ve put together for the cold months and this is what they thought, in bite sized chunks:

SMOKED HERRING TOSTADAS by Alex Sheppard

Herring Tostada

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

The smoked herring tostada is something that I’d probably never have tried – I wouldn’t have thought fish and tacos would work well together. But I’m glad I did as it will be the main (but certainly not only) reason why I’ll be coming back to Wahaca. Not only is the fish MSC-certified and sourced from Hastings, they were delicious. The smokeyflavour stayed in the mouth long after they’d been eaten, but it wasn’t too overpowering. For me, they were the highlight of the evening.

PORK PIBIL TACOS by Almost Witty (Andrew Wong)

Pork Pibil Tacos

The pork pibils – from memory I think that was Johnny Depp’s dish of choice in Once Upon A Time In Mexico – and definitely the best. They dripped off the tongue as they should.

MUSHROOM AND HUITLACOCHE QUESADILLAS by Kate Matlock

Quesadilla with Huitlacoche and Mushrooms

The quesadillas…oh good golly… the crazy mushroom quesadilla that was creamy and gooey and unpronounceable. It’s a fungus (called huitlacoche) that grows on corn. Seriously. Can I just say it’s the best damn fungus I’ve ever tried because I will be back for more.

BLACK BEAN SOUP by Qyper ‘ShakinSwedens’

Black Bean Soup

The black bean soup which was so full of surprises it almost deserves a review of it’s own. The bowl was filled with goodies like avocado and roasted chillies and then the black bean soup poured over by the waiter. Each mouthful was different with a burst of fresh coriander in one or the piquant chilli in another.

MOLE ENCHILADA
by Jenny from The Red Mangetout

Mole Enchilada

Photo by @tikichris for Qype on Flickr

The mole enchiladas initially looked like more black bean soup, except this time it was topped with crema and rice. Digging in, it became apparent that underneath the sauce lay an enchilada stuffed with tender chicken and vegetables. The mole sauce was rich and spicy, with a good hint of chocolate. This was one of the stand out dishes for me, and a good introduction to Mexican flavours, without being too scary for the British palate. My only regret was that by this point I was getting too full to manage more than a mouthful!

FISH A LA VERACRUZANA
by Su-Lin from Tamarind and Thyme

 Fish a la Veracruzana

Photo by @Kelsiemortimer on Flickr

The Fish a la Veracruzana was a large piece of pollack with tomatoes, olives and capers, all baked in a foil parcel. The perfectly cooked fish broke off easily into large moist flakes at the touch of a fork and its lightness was complemented perfectly by the freshness from the tomatoes. However, as well as rice, this was accompanied by a salad whose toppings I found a little too punchy and acidic for the delicate fish.

SEASONAL VEGETABLE BURRITO
by Simon Doggett

Mixed Vegetable Burrito

Photo by Su-Lin on Flickr

The burrito caused a bit of a stir round the room with one particular controversial ingredient. The cabbage. Now, it’s a veggie burrito. Of course we expected veggies. But cabbage? Turns out this has been a bit of a talking point over the years between owners, chefs and us lot – it’s prevalent in a certain area of Mexico, but we really weren’t sure. Then again, those of them on the other side of the table were excited about something a bit different. I guess we’re waiting to see if it actually makes a reappearance! Before the tasting I was pretty clueless about ‘proper’ Mexican street food, and nine times out of ten would have plumped for the burrito option. But now, ya know, having been presented with the excitement beyond burritos, I’m not so sure about that.

WINTER BUERZA SALAD by Jess

Salad

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

So perhaps I wouldn’t have normally ordered a dish like this at Wahaca. Firstly, it’s a salad, and secondly, it’s chocka with what might appear menu-wise to be too many ingredients, ending up as one confused salad amongst loads of hearty Mexicana goodness. But oh, what a revelation to have been fed this little beauty! It’s bursting with surprises – from the delicately deep fried anchochilli pieces giving the crunch to the fresh orange and pickled hibiscus over the feta and butternut squash, right down to the spelt hiding underneath it all.

BAJA CALIFORNIA TACOS by Mel fromTravels with My Fork

The absolute hit of the evening was next: a classic Baja-California Fish Taco – crispy fried fish with just the right kick of chipotle mayonaise served in a soft taco. I could have eaten a whole tray of these alone and am now contemplating throwing a fish taco party in the near future. High marks for this one.

CHURROS Y CHOCOLATE
by Gail

Churros and Chocolate

When we reached the meal’s finale, a platter of golden churros arrived on the table – infuriatingly out of reach, initially. Once the people at the other end of the table realised that our conversation had died and we were all staring at them with intent – ok, at the churros – they surrendered them to us. Almost without a fight. Beautifully light cinnamon-dusted horseshoes of crisp batter, with a dribbly dark chocolate sauce – they were never going to last long. They’re better than any others I’ve tried, probably because they were obviously fresh and quickly fried. The perfect sharing dish for the end of the evening – as long as you get in fast, they won’t last long.

TEQUILA by Epicurienne

Tequila

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

Under Mark’s guidance, we tasted three tequilas from the Wahaca stable: a Blanco (white), served cold, a Reposado (rested) served at room temperature and an Añejo (aged), also served at room temperature, with a lovely, caramelly tang. As many will confide, I, too, have had the occasional clash with tequila, but the selection we enjoyed last night was an utterly different sensory experience to student union layback sessions in a vintage dentist’s chair. This was refined, smooth, flavoursome liquid, to be sipped and savoured, not consumed in one swallow. This was tequila for grown ups and it was better than good.

And… the last word from Qype Guru Tikichris who helped to set this all up

By inviting us twenty or so lucky Qypers along last Thursday for a sample of their new “cold months” menu at their stylish Westfield location, the good folks behind sensational Mexican street food restaurant Wahaca succeeded not only in delighting our appreciative taste buds and filling our bellies with more than ample amounts of their flavourful Latin dishes but in raising the bar for future Qype events as well. Really, I can’t even remember the last time I saw so much food laid out in front of me. That so much of it was incredibly delicious left me a bit dumbfounded (or was that the cumulative effect of all that lovely, free flowing Tequila Corralejo?)

Thank you Qype for making the evening so much fun, for providing so much valuable feedback and for all your kind words. And thanks for your great reviews which you can read in more depth here:

Tamarind and Thyme
Ravenous Libby
Epicurienne
Travels with My Fork
Qype Blog

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Gastro Geek at Covent Garden Real Food Market

Gastro Geek

Another Thursday, another trip to the Covent Garden food markets for some treats! Unfortunately I’ve been down with a stomach bug, so as delightful as the crab and saffron tart looked… I thought I’d better pass.

Crab and Saffron Quiche

All was not lost however, I managed to scoff a vast assortment of pastries – including the spinach pastries below, and these amazing swirls of pastryon a stick studded with spiced lamb and peas (I believe it was inspired by Keema naan). Anyway, it was all delicious, and I managed to finish it all off, in the short walk from Covent Garden market back to the restaurant. Check out her blog at Gastro Geek.

Puffs

You can read more about Gastro Geek’s stall on the Channel 4 website here.

For more information on food bloggers teaming up to host stalls at Covent Garden Market have a look at the UK Food Bloggers Association community site. Roll on next week!

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Chilli Growing Roundup

Few things delight us more than seeing our chilli seed books put to good use – there can never be too many chillies in this world if you ask us. We’ve heard stories about people growing our chillies in their offices, kitchens and greenhouses as well as some strange people even pollinating them to the theme tune of Barry White.

So here’s a roundup of what we found this week whilst chatting on twitter and searching the internet, with a bit of helpful guidance thrown in as well.

@pgl has very kindly put together a demonstration of how to pot on your chillies that Alan Titchmarsh would be proud of.

Chilli Potting 1

Chilli Potting 2

Chilli Potting 3

Meanwhile, @issystweet and @nakedcreativity seem to be well on track. Their chilli seeds are sprouting up next to a strawberry plant. Spicy strawberry sorbet anyone?

Chilli and Strawberry Plants

We’ve also heard some cries for help from the likes of @bibendumwine whose chilli plant looks a picture of good health, but isn’t yielding any chillies.

Bibendumwine Chilli

If you are having the same problem, we’ve found that pollinating the flowers, gently, with a small paint brush, or if you’re feeling tactile, with the end of your finger works well. But be careful as the flowers sometimes fall off if you’re clumsy. A few days later the flowers will start to wilt and little chillies will emerge. For more detailed advice have a look at this site, watch this video, or go the West Dean Chilli Festival this weekend.

If anyone else is growing our chillies we’d love to hear from you and see how you are getting on. If you’ve got any gardening questions just ask and we’ll do our best to help. And if any of you have harvested a crop then please let us know how you are using them. You could even enter Tommi’s Mexican recipe contest

Follow us on twitter: @wahaca

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Eat for a Fiver

Five Pound Note Courtesy of Paul Hudson via Flickr Creative Commons

Image from Paul Hudson via Flickr Creative Commons

The Guardian caused a bit of a stir by publishing a range of dishes from some well known cooks that could apparently all be made for £5. But readers complained that many of them would cost well over a fiver once you’d accounted for all the extras such as olive oil and salt. Zappa2007 wrote:

“Dinner for under a fiver? We don’t think so. We visited Sainsbury’s online and costed up the ingredients for these recipes. To buy all of the items would cost £22.16 (and thats without salt or olive oil!) though it does include a generous portion of cheese. As yet Sainsbury’s does not sell items by the teaspoon or the sprinkle. Even if we then worked out the pro rata cost per sprinkle and teaspoon we could only get the cost down to £5.39.

We are all in favour of cooking on a budget in these straightened times but slap my thighs and call me nancy if we could knock up Delia’s food as cheaply as she can. Are we missing something?”

Thanks to the comments of Zappa2007 and many others, the Guardian opened up the £5 recipe challenge to its readers and the published the best recipes from the likes of:

Into the Pot – Crostini followed by tomato rigatonefor £3.64
Eat the Right Stuff – Spinach, lemon and peppered mackerel pilaf followed by berry ice cream for £4.63
Football and a Baby – Cabbage bhajis followed by chanamasala for just under a fiver
Dinner Diary – Courgette soup followed by crab spaghetti for £4.98

We love the fact that the Guardian is embracing the online food world so wholeheartedly and wish we’d picked up on this sooner so we could have entered a few of our Mexican street food dishes. In fact, that’s a great idea. We’ll write a post that explains how to make Mexican food at home for a fiver. Watch this space.

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Blog Roundup

We’ve seen some great stuff on our friends blogs this week. Here are favourite posts from this week:

1. This article on PSFK about the emergence of underground restaurants is really interesting too. We went last week and loved it. I wonder if Tommi would be interested in cooking at MsMarmitelover’s underground restaurant. Just don’t tell the police.

2. We wish we’d been able to make it to the Tayyabs food and drink blogger get together which Dinner Diaries wrote up brilliantly. It looked like a lot of fun. Maybe we could organise something similar at one of new openings…

3. We saw this on Food Stories site and as a result wish that Mexico was somehow allowed to enter the Eurovision song contest because that would mean we could cook a Mexican meal to participate. The Eating Eurovision idea is fantastic and we are keen to get involved.

4. We were very jealous when we read Hollow Legs’s account of the sake and sushi pairing she got involved in. Sounds a lot of fun. But dare we say it not as much fun as a tequila and taco pairing. Anyone keen?