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Let us help you grow your mo. 2010

There’s no denying it, Mexican’s have the best moustaches in the world, but after months of experimentation on the humble British upper lip, we’re delighted to announce that help is on hand for all those struggling to muster more lip-growth than a 16 year old boy. We can exclusively reveal that burritos make your mo grow.

That’s why, to show our support for those taking part in this year’s charity moustache growing campaign – Movember – we’re offering every fundraiser a free burrito from our Canary Wharf takeaway each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in November 2010.

To claim your free burrito (and yes you can come back every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday if you want) you just need to come in to our takeaway in Wahaca Canary Wharf, showing us your hairy lip and a print out of your mo-space page to prove you’re a genuine mo-brother or mo-sister.

There are 4 burritos to choose from, all of them tasting like individually wrapped bundles of heaven. You can choose from a choice of fillings – British steak, slow cooked pork, free range chicken tinga and seasonal vegetables. These are lovingly combined with green rice, cheese, crunchy cabbage and salsas and then toasted for a few minutes on the grill to give them a great combo of crunch and melt in the mouth yumminess. You might have noticed we’re pretty keen on them.

So if you’re doing your bit and donating your face to Movember this year, then please do come on down to the Canary Wharf and let us give your lip a welcome boost. If you want to find out more about Movember and the great work they do to help raise money for The Prostate Cancer Charity, then check out their website.

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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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Day of the Dead Celebrations

Any recipe that can lure a spirit back from the dead must be worth trying! So we thought we’d look at a few famous ideas from Mexico before we tell you what we’ll be doing next weekend.

Similar to many other countires, pumpkin is very popular in Mexico at this time of the year. Pumpkin slices are slowly simmered with Piloncillo (like Palm Sugar) and other spices to make “Candied Pumpkin”.

A special Bread of The Dead or Pan de Muerto is also cooked. This is a soft bread decorated with bone shapes or sometimes even moulded into the shape of skulls like the ones here from La Familia Brophy.

pan de muerto 2

The most famous delicacy over DOTD is the Sugar Skull. Simply made by moulding sugar, water and meringue powder into skeletal shapes, these skulls are highly decorated and handed out for all to enjoy. We found some great examples captured by Glen on Flickr:

SugarSkulls 2

Of course, no Mexican celebration would be complete without tequila cocktails! Highly prized competitions are held every year to see who can invent the tastiest concoction, often prepared in the craziest of ways. Who knows what our fabulous bar staff will create this year!

Stay tuned to hear what we’ve got planned to celebrate Day of The Dead at Wahaca.

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Tommi's recipe competition results

Tommi wants you

Thank you so so so much for all the recipes that you sent in for my recipe competition in August.  The winning entry was submitted by Steve Gale, a delicious tostada salad using the sweet-sour flavours of the chilli salt mix that Mexicans use on the streets of Mexico to season mouthwatering slices of mango, pineapple and jicama.  His recipe will be published in my new book, ‘Mexican food made simple’ which comes out at the beginning of March next year (yikes).

But there were quite a few other delicous recipes that we felt we had to publish too.  I particularly loved the delicious green sauce on eggs that Gicela Morales entered – this recipe is a sure fire way to beat any hangover and perk up the tiredest of parents, teenagers or kids on a weekend morning.  Try this recipe this weekend and tune in next week for more competition runners-up…

Gicela Morales’ Huevos Borrachos

This is a hot green salsa with eggs for anyone with a hangover. It’s very easy to make and only requires very basic ingredients and a few green chilles.

You can make it as hot or as mild as you wish, but the idea is to make it as hot as you can stand it! Also makes a good brunch.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

FOR THE EGGS

5 free range eggs
1 small onion
2 table spoons of good frying oil
Salt to taste

FOR THE SALSA

3 to 5 green chillies, depending on your tolerance…
1 small clove of garlic
240ml of water

1. Seed the chilles and roast them with the chopped garlic. Remove any burnt skin and put them in a food processor with the water until chopped roughly.

2. Chop the onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Saute the onion and add the eggs; mix until scrambled.

3. Add the green salsa to the egg and mix it gently. Bring it to to boil and add salt to taste.

Serve and eat with fresh bread or roll and a strong mug of coffee. Depending on the extent of your hangover, you may not even feel the heat!

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Tommi cooking at Aldeburgh Food Festival

Tommi cooking with the Orford Primary School

I had a fine time at the Aldeburgh Food Festival the weekend before last.  The sun came out in all its glory (lovely for us punters, not so great for the farmers) and I had the fortune to discover the unfathomably delicious fruit cream ices made by Alder Tree.  These ice creams are so packed full of fruit like gooseberry and elderflower, rhubarb and ginger, and my favourite of all of them, the summer fruits, that they are not technically allowed to call themselves ice cream.  Hence the lovely old fashioned name fruit ices.  They seriously reminded me of my childhood…these ices are just like the ones my granny used to make using home grown fruits, cream, sugar and not much more.  Delicious.

I was at the Aldeburgh Food Festival demo-ing a few simple recipes using the glut of tomatoes that crop up towards the end of every September.  I had a great time making a chilli and tomato jam and fideus, a delectable noodle dish from Veracruz using some local Cromer crab but the real highlight was cooking with the Orford Primary School.  Thanks to the enthusiasm and passion of Louise Holland, Jamie Oliver’s manager, the Orford Primary School have a garden where they are taught about growing vegetables, and then how to cook them.  Mark Hix and I were sous-chefs to four jubilant kids who barely reached my tummy-button but were nonetheless showing a tent packed with people how to make pizza from scratch.  The morning was a total treat and inspiring to see how much children love to cook and eat vegetables when they are involved in the magic of how vegetables are planted and how they grow.  If only there were more projects like this up and down the country, kids would learn to love real food again, obesity levels would plummet and the NHS would heave a sigh of relief – wishful thinking maybe but surely not impossible?

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Wine Training at Bibendum (Guest post)

Estapor Venir Tasting

We went to Bibendum Wine to enjoy one of the many perks of our job – wine training! Dan from Bibendum has written a post about the day, including a video where our very own Pedro and Robin describe a fantastic addition to our list:

It’s probably not your average common or garden wine. “Oh yeah, I’ll have your Cabernet/Zin/Barbera/Petite Sirah blend from Baja California please” is not a phrase you’re likely to hear down the local pub. But that is the point of it – this wine is so unique! Estapor Venir is a voluptuous, sinful and downright sexy wine that burst all over your tastebuds like spicy, fruity depth charge. But it’s not something that many diners will have heard about before they sit down so education is key.

Last week Bibendum was very excited to welcome Wahaca staff into our office for a day of wine training. Amanda and Liz took the guys through all the wines on the list, with one eye on the menu and possible food matches. The Estapor Venir has just gone onto the Wahaca wine list and is rich and packed with red and black fruit and hints of chocolate. I think it would work well with a hearty, meaty dish like Pork Pibil or Mole. It has good fruit sweetness which means that it can stand up to chilli and spicier dishes. But don’t listen to me! Why don’t you listen to what the Wahaca guys thought?

Not only is it a great wine that celebrates Mexican produce, but it also has a great story. Produced using sustainable viticulture in the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California, Winemaker Hugo d’Acosta favours Zinfandel and Grenache which are particularly well adapted to the climate and need little intervention. With minimum use of chemicals and only natural fertilisers the vines are encouraged to form long roots and in some vineyards no irrigation is needed at all.

Estapor Venir

At the “Escuelita” winery, where Estapor is produced, Hugo has set up a non-profit winemaking school. His aim is to promote small-scale winemaking in the area by educating local people about winemaking traditions and teaching them winemaking skills, thereby providing a means of supporting themselves. Built on the site of a former olive oil production plant Hugo and Alejandro have tried to set an example by their own recycling. They have made extensive use of old bed and boxsprings, barrels, wine bottles, vineyard poles, irrigation hoses and plastic bottles by turning these into an art form. Old PET bottles are heated and pressed into layers to use as insulation in the walls and ceilings of new buildings. In time there are plans to make use of solar energy.

Bottle Wall

Hugo

And if you’d like to hear what one of the wine trade’s most respected tasters had to say about it, here’s a quick interview with Steven Spurrier (of Decanter Magazine) at our Winestock Festival last year.

Thanks Dan, we’re looking forward to the next training already and look out for Estapor Venir on the menu.

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We love a good challenge!

We were watching Jamie’s fantastic new show on Channel 4 last night where he travelled around the Mexican “barrio’s” of southern California. He was talking about our favourite subject – Mexican food!

jamie's american road trip
Some of the recipes he explored looked fantastic, especially the mexican salads, the mole and the cactus…

But he did make one little mistake, he said you couldn’t get anything like it in the UK….!

Those of you that have been to Wahaca will know our Mexican salads full of radishes, hibiscus flowers, ancho chillies, mint and pumpkin seeds, and our delicious Chicken mole enchilada, not to mention the Cactus Tostadsas!

Jamie we’d love to invite you down to try all these and hope you will see that proper Mexican food is alive and well in the UK

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Recipe Testing for Winter Menu

Tommi and Gavin
Our new menu is set to go live towards the beginning of October so we were testing some new dishes in the White City kitchen the other day. There were a few things we were playing with.

Vegetable Taco

For our seasonal vegetable taco we were debating whether to go back to the savoy cabbage/ mushroom mix that we’ve had before. Or trying it with seasonal greens (spring greens at the moment). Firstly we made a rich chilli sauce with ancho chilli’s, which have a slightly sweeter flavour than the pasilla chilli’s we have used previously. Then we cooked off our veg on the flat top and mixed it with the chilli sauce.

Veg on the Flat Top

It has quite a meaty taste to it, thanks to the mushrooms and the rich ancho sauce.

Chilli Squash Winter Burrito

Chilli Squash

We used fresh butternut squash which we dice, mix with a little cumin and our home made mojo de ajo (a potent garlic concoction) and roast it in the oven. Really delicious in a vegetarian burrito.

Black Bean Tostada

Black Bean Tostada 1

The black bean tostada omes from our intense love of our frijoles and black beans. It’s such a simple snack, but so delicious. In our first attempt, we took a tostada (fried pure corn tortilla) topped it with some frijoles, shredded lettuce, salsa fresca, crema, and Lancashire cheese.

It was a very tasty combo, but perhaps not the most attractive looking tostada. Especially since I was a little over generous with the frijoles and it started oozing over the sides.

Black Bean Tostada 2

The second more attractive attempt created by Tommi and Gavin, utilised our whole black beans, and corn, which gave it some welcome texture and a meatier, more robust consistency.

Our next step is testing different MSC approved seasonal fish for the menu – something we are really passionate about and keen to get right. If you’ve got a point of view on what we’re up to let us know by leaving a comment.