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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),

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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.

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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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Watch out for our Regional Oaxacan Specials menu, exclusive to Wahaca Covent Garden

Wow. Looks like you guys are big fans of the Oaxaca region and its foodie specialities – Ticket for Tommi and Alejandro Ruiz’s Oaxacan supper club sold out in less than 3 hours. But fear not, there’s still a chance for you to get a taste of the action and try dishes inspired by this very special evening.

Following the amazing demand for tickets, we’ve devised a brand new Regional Oaxacan Specials menu inspired by Alejandro’s cooking and his home region, which will be exclusively available at Wahaca Covent Garden from 11th February for 8 weeks only.

The Regional Oaxacan Specials menu brings a new and exciting level of dishes to our original Covent Garden home, aiming to push our creativity and twist our cooking to give a taste of a more indulgent Mexican cuisine to our Covent Garden customers.

Our development team have been working on Oaxacan dishes like this slow cooked beef short rib in Oaxacan mole. Mmmmm
Our development team have been working on Oaxacan dishes like this slow cooked beef short rib in Oaxacan mole. Mmmmm

Sitting right alongside our well-loved main menu, the Oaxacan specials will be available until April, when they will make way for a new set of specials inspired by Mexico City’s most highly awarded chef, Enrique Olvera, who will be flying over to cook with Tommi in Covent Garden for the second in our Supper Club series as our Culinary trip through Mexico continues.

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Alejandro Ruiz and Tommi Miers’ Supper Club at Wahaca Covent Garden – Tickets now on sale

=====Tickets are now sold out =====

But don’t miss your chance to try our Regional Oaxacan Specials Menu, inspired by Alejandro’s visit, exclusively at Wahaca Covent Garden.

======= For details. click here ========

 

Following the announcement of our 2015 Mexican super-chef supper club series, tickets are now on sale for our first event, on 10th February, when Tommi and world renowned Mexican chef, Alejandro Ruiz will be cooking up a four course feast of Oaxacan delicacies, in our original Covent Garden home. With only 100 seats available on a first come, first served basis, anyone with a real interest in Mexico and Mexican cooking should grab their tickets, pronto.

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

Alejandro’s menu, inspired by his home town and region of Oaxaca will take diners on a 4 course culinary tour of the area, with highlights including Hoja santa taquitos with Oaxacan cheese, Chapulines and fresh salsas; and Suckling pig with guiso tehuano.

Hoja Santa taquitos with Oaxaca Cheese and fresh salsa
Hoja Santa taquitos with Oaxaca Cheese and fresh salsa at Casa Oaxaca

In keeping with the regional menu, we’ll be creating a special Mezcal cocktail for the night and will be on hand to serve up a range of Mezcals paired with the dishes Alejandro is serving. Tickets for this mind-bendingly tasty four course meal are £40 per person, (incl. service), and are available to buy through our supper club partner, Grub Club’s page now. So what are you waiting for? See you down there.

Tommi, Alejandro and a pair of pineapples, back in the day .
Tommi, Alejandro and a pair of pineapples, back in the day .

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Mexico’s top chefs take Wahaca Covent Garden on a culinary road-trip

We’re hugely excited to announce that throughout 2015, we’ll be inviting some of Mexico’s most gifted and inspirational chefs over to London to cook with Tommi in our original Covent Garden home in a series of 1-night-only, blow-your-mind, supper clubs. The yearlong series will take you on a culinary road-trip, of our favourite regions of Mexico, from the mountains to the coast, taking in food from the likes of Enrique Olvera whose restaurant currently features in the top 20 in the world, and lifelong friends who’ve helped and inspired us along the way.

Kicking things off at the beginning of February with an exclusive night of Oaxacan dishes, Tommi will be joining forces with Alejandro Ruiz, head chef of the critically acclaimed Casa Oaxaca, voted the 34th best restaurant in the whole of Latin America and one of our favourite places to eat in the entire world.

Alejandro Ruiz

Alejandro is famed across the globe for his seasonal dishes incorporating local delicacies from Oaxaca State such as crickets, Yerba Santa, Huitlacoche and chillies stuffed with ceviches or slow-braised meats. To have such a world renowned chef from the state that initially inspired us is a dream come true for everyone at Wahaca and will be sure to prove a night not to be missed for any fans of Mexican food.

Only 100 tickets will be available for Alejandro and Tommi’s supper club and will be put on sale via wahaca.co.uk  in the coming weeks at £40 per person.  If you’d like to pre-register your interest drop an email to ola@wahaca.co.uk (Pop Alejandro Ruiz in the subject line), so you can be first to hear about how to get your seat in Wahaca Covent Garden for this ultimate celebration of Oaxacan cuisine.

Following on from Alejandro’s visit, our Covent Garden kitchens will be continuing the road-trip, welcoming Mexico City’s most acclaimed super chef Enrique Olvera, whose restaurant Pujol is currently voted the 20th best in the world, to cook with Tommi for 1 night only in April. Later in the summer, Roberto Solis will be taking the helm for a night taking inspiration from his restaurant Nectar, and stints working at the Fat Duck and Noma with Rene Redzepi.

For any unable to attend Alejandro and Tommi’s supper club, the following day we will be launching the first in a series of regional specials menus, running exclusively at Wahaca Covent Garden for 8 weeks to give you a taste of what the incredibly diverse Oaxacan region has to offer. Taking Alejandro’s menu and the Oaxaca region as its inspiration, expect to see dishes such as slow braised, mole glazed beef short rib and Chile Relleno. Think of it as an experiment in something a little extra special for our Covent Garden customers, taking us back to where it all began.

Where it all began, back in Wahaca Covent Garden
Where it all began, back in Wahaca Covent Garden

2015 is a particularly special year for us, as it’s been designated The Year of Mexico in the UK and the UK in Mexico by our countries’ respective Governments; a pairing up in celebration of the diversity, talent and cultural heritage of the two nations. As well as our supper club nights, we’ll be collaborating with the Mexican Embassy throughout the year on events that showcase the fun, vibrant culture of Mexico, so watch out for more excitement throughout the year. To hear about everything we’re up to, sign up to our database here.

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The lesser spotted jaguar spotter

This January we’re sending Matt White, of Wahaca Covent Garden infamy, off to Mexico for a 3 week excursion into the wilds of the Yucatan on a mission to help a conservation group in their quest to protect Mexico’s wild jaguars.

In the summer we offered up a Scholarship fund of £2,000 for one of our managers to travel to Mexico on a trip that would expand their understanding of the country and indulge their passion for travel (and adventure). They were all given the chance to pitch their ideas for a trip to discover something new about the country. From all of the entries we had Matt’s plan had the biggest potential to really make a difference and allow him to achieve a lifelong ambition. Harking from South Africa, he’s always been fascinated by this illusive big cat’s African cousin, the leopard, but despite numerous attempts, he has never managed to spot (haha) one. We hope this will be his chance.

He’s going to be heading to Calakmul, home to Mexico’s largest population of jaguars, but even in this area there is an average of only one jaguar per square 25km, so the chances of actually seeing one here in the dense jungle are pretty slim. Calakmul is also home to the chicaleros, which you may remember being featured in an old edition of Ola London – These are the guys who tap the rubber trees for resin which they make into biodegradable chewing gum, all by hand and Matt will meet up with them deep in the rainforest.

The culmination of his trip will be meeting conservationist Mircea Hidalgo on a ranch in Laguna de Terminos in the Yucatan Peninsula, where he’ll be spending four days working with him downloading footage and replacing battery packs in the motion sensor cameras which they use in tracking the jaguars without disturbing their everyday prowling.

If you want to find out a bit more about Mexican jaguars, check out the Northern Jaguar Project, who have helped Matt get in touch with Mircea and organise the trip.

We look forward to hearing how it all goes with Matt’s expedition into the jungle, and be keeping our fingers crossed that he manages to catch a glimpse of the “beast that kills its prey in a single bound”.

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Apparently there’s a wedding on

We’re always hot on the heels of current affairs and it’s become apparent that there’s a bit of a wedding on this Friday.

Now in Mexico, we don’t have such strict rules about guest lists, we say the more the merrier – It’s a fiesta after all. So we’ve decided that everyone who hasn’t had an invitation to the shindig at Buckingham Palace can come and celebrate round at ours. The margaritas will be flowing and there will be street food a-plenty – It’s not a street party without some street food now is it?

But it’s the special bond of marriage that we’re really celebrating, so exclusively on Friday we’re also offering free food and a round of margaritas to anyone who comes in with their loved one wearing their wedding dress or wedding suit! You heard it, free food and drinks on us – You just have to come wearing what you got hitched in.

To avoid any confusion with people who’ve just got a bit glammed up and are looking for a freebie, we are insisting that you bring along a photo of you and your loved one on your big day, to prove to our managers that it is actually your wedding attire.

As a special note to Wills and Kate – We’ll also happily pick up your bill for your lunch or dinner on Friday. Let’s face it, our Covent Garden restaurant is only at the other end of The Mall and it’s the perfect way to avoid all of those scary relatives. Come on down. We’re open til 11pm.

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Can you help us find our Mayor?

Those of you who are in the know about foursquare, will probably understand what we mean with this post. For those of you who aren’t, please don’t think we’re desperately trying to hunt down Borris and invite him for a taco (although if you’re out there Borris, we’d love to talk to you about introducing Mexican style VW’s to our taxi ranks).

Foursquare is a great site that helps you to find new ways to explore your city by checking in on-line when you visit restaurants and bars, and linking up with friends to discover their favourite places to go out. It’s also a great way to pick up tips that only people in the know would be able to tell you – Apparently our “Frijoles are off the chain” according to James M (thanks,we agree), and One Tamarind Margarita isn’t enough for Fergus M!

Now, we’re pretty new to this site, and are hoping for your help in tracking down the Mayor of each of our restaurants (These are the guys who have checked in the most times, and basically love us so much they can’t stop coming back). We know who they are, but can’t seem to contact them.

Can you help? Do you know these Wahaca super fans? If you do, we’d love you to send us a tweet @wahaca, or post a comment below and tell us, so we can get their details from you.

Do you know these men?

Nick H
Richard S (Although this may not be a true likeness)
David G

So… Nick H (Mayor of Wahaca Covent Garden), Richard S (Mayor off Wahaca Canary Wharf) and David G (Mayor of Wahaca Westfield) Come on down! We’d like to invite you to a very special dinner tasting our new summer menu.

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Blog Round Up

We’re getting really excited about Dia De Los Muertos which is now less than 2 weeks away, and we’ve got lots of exciting plans for you, so keep your eyes on the blog to find out more. In the mean time, we loved Ruth Alegria’s blog post, that shows some highlights from what Mexico City will be offering up, plus it gives you enough info become an overnight aficionado and impress the pantalones off all of your pals.

Now, concentrate everyone, another really great Mexican ingredient to learn about – The amazing Huitlacoche – Believe it or not, it’s a type of corn which has a fungus growing on it, that gives a really distinct flavour and an amazingly intense black colour. If anyone has any other recipes with Huitlacoche, we’d love to hear from you, who knows you could get featured on our menu?

There are amazing things happening just around the corner from Wahaca Covent Garden every Thursday, in fact we’ve been down to check out the real food market stall before. We thought that Naihm from Eat Like a Girl really captured the amount of effort that goes into making it happen, and we’re very grateful indeed. (We also thought the black bean and chilli looked amazing so watch out for us queuing up for a bowl next time!).

Like most food obsessed Londoners, we’ve been following the buzz around Pierre Koffman’s pop up restaurant on the roof of Selfridges, and Chris from Cheese and Biscuits was lucky enough to be able to try it out, have a look at the review here. If Pierre’s looking for his next free lance job, then he’s very welcome to help us out with our next burrito, Pibil Trotter anyone?

Our mouths were also watering reading about Helen from Food Stories’ trip to Brindisa to learn all about the differences between the Jamons on offer down at Borough Market – The lucky swine. We’re always keen to hear about how London restaurants are giving you lot a chance to get involved behind the scenes,and we’re busy thinking about how we can do something similar at Wahaca, so watch this space.