For many people just the word tequila summons up memories of nasty tasting shots, drunk in one gulp with a wince and a fast ensuing hangover. But for those in the know, those misconceptions are fast becoming outdated, and if you know what you’re looking for, there’s a world of beautiful tequilas that tantalise the taste buds, either straight up, or mixed in delicious cocktails. Start exploring here…
Top tequila stories
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.
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:
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.
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
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)
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
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’
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
To celebrate Chocolate Week that starts on Monday 12th October we thought we’d share our delicious chocolate sauce recipe for those out there with some serious cravings! Or if you’re feeling adventurous come try our new Chilli chocolate tequila toddy – an intense hot chocolate shot with a dash of tequila which will warm you up on a cold winters day!
Wahaca chocolate sauce recipe
200g dark chocolate
75g milk chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
200ml double cream
A good pinch cinnamon
Mix all over a very low heat and enjoy with churros or over vanilla ice-cream (preferably with a good dash of plata tequila!)…
We love the way whisky pairs with cheese and chocolate can pair with wine… so we’re going to explore the different ways that Mexican food can pair with tequila, beer, wine, music, art and all sorts of other themes. It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you’ve got an idea, let us know.