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The all New Mexican Street Kitchen

Ever since we opened our Mexican Street Kitchen in Canary Wharf last year, we’ve had countless requests to move it around the country and park it up at your events. It seems you like the idea of street food on the streets.

But there was a problem. Moving our van into and out of Canary Wharf wasn’t simple, in fact for most of the year it was stuck in the park, either blocked by an ice rink in the winter or a music stage in the summer. Our van wasn’t realising its potential. It was time for it to hit the road.

Not wanting to disappoint our loyal customers in Canary Wharf, we decided the best thing to do was to open up the Mexican Street Kitchen #2 – This time in a classic foil wrapped Airstream trailer. Our new trailer has the same charcoal Robata grill, giving our steak and chicken an amazing smoky flavour that’s hard to beat. It’s parked up under the trees in Canada Square Park and it’ll be open every weekday lunchtime and in the evenings when it’s sunny. You’ll still be able to choose from a choice of tacos, burritos or salads and there’s a new option to add extra meat or vegetables if you’re feeling super hungry.

We hope you’ll like the new addition to our street food fleet.

Our original Mexican Street Kitchen will be parked up in The Southbank Centre for the month of June and from there we’ll be looking for its next residency, so please let us know where you’d like us to head.

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The Mexican Street Kitchen: Open for business

Wahaca's Mexican Street Kitchen - Taking street food back to the streets

For years now people have been begging us to offer more takeaway (presumably to increase the risk of spilling salsa over their keyboard), but it’s always proved tricky without disrupting the restaurants main service. Now, we’re the first people to realise that this isn’t a great answer. If the people want it, surely there’s a way to give it to them. And if you’re going to give it to them, you might as well have a laugh doing it. So the idea struck us – rather than opening up a dedicated takeaway, with traditional things like walls and a roof, wouldn’t it be nicer to be able to take the tacos to the people – We needed wheels. The taco van dream was born and the search for our truck began.

It was after a chance encounter with Simon Swift, from the totally brilliant Wondering Wine company, that we first laid eyes on what would become the newest member of the Wahaca family. Looking past the rust, gathering moss and dodgy engine, we immediately fell in love with the characterful shape of this classic Citroen HY van – Born in 1958 and later re-bodied to transform it into, amongst other things, a shop selling leather and Citroen memorabilia (not at the same time). She was perfect for our needs.

Look past the rusting exterior and there's a character you've just got to love

It turns out converting an old van into a fully working kitchen fit to serve the finest tacos and burritos in all the land isn’t that straightforward.

You start with a specialist mechanic. This one’s called Alex.

Then you breakdown on the M25, a mere 40 minutes out of the workshop – Bad times. But it was here that we learnt how useful the words “low-loader” really are.

Bad times on the side of the M25

From a side junction of the motorway, it’s into the workshop of AJC trailers, a very impressive set up, where old vans go to get their va-va-voom slapped back into them. These were the guys who fitted our Robata charcoal grill – This behemoth of the meat cooking world is like a barbeque on crack – tiny jets pump air directly into the coals to superheat them, meaning that you have much higher temperatures and a smoky flavour that is worth travelling across town for. Having done some searching around, we think we’re the only van in the country equipped with such a thing, and the flavour is phenomenal.

But this wouldn’t be a true Wahaca if it didn’t have “the looks”, so next it was off to the spay shop. Spray shops are fun. They involve putting your vehicle into a big oven (honestly) and heating it up so you get an even covering of specially developed paint. The results are a van that looks as good as new – Not a French leather salesman in sight.

Once you’ve got a van that looks this good, you have to find a good home for it. We had thousands of requests for various parking spots around the country (which we still have in mind, don’t worry), but we felt it was best to start off in a site that we know, where our nearby restaurant can be on hand to cope with any teething problems and somewhere that housed a lot of burrito-hungry souls. So we headed to Canary Wharf’s Canada Square Park. Ideal you might think, until you find out that the only way into the park is through the lobby of One Canada Square, the tallest building in the country and one which comes with a selection of health and safety paperwork almost as tall. It made for a fun Saturday morning.

After all that effort, you don’t want to open without a bang: Cue 2 days of free burritos, a mariachi band, a donkey called Larry and a queue that threated to take over the whole of Canada Square Park. Canary Wharf had never had it so good.

And now comes the reality of running a new business – One that’s a little bit different to our other restaurants, one that we want to have as much fun as possible with, and one that we want your help in shaping the future of.

We have a new menu. It’s just a starting point (albeit a very delicious one) and something that we want to work with our customers to develop as we move on. If there’s something that you’d like to see on there, please leave a comment below let us know on facebook or twitter or go along and chat to guys. We want to make the most of our new found flexibility.

At the moment it's a nice neat rectangle - Help us shape it

You can find us in Canary Wharf until the end of the summer when we are off to Gloucestershire for the van’s first festival – Harvest at Alex James’ farm. And then we’d like you to help us decide where we should move on to – The louder you shout, the harder we’ll search for a parking space that we’re allowed to use.

The Mexican Street Kitchen is something we’re so excited about. We owe so much to everyone who has contributed so much to it, none less so than Charlie Carroll – The man with the van plan. If you’re in the area, go down and pat him on the back and chat to him about burritos. He’ll tell you a thing or two about tortillas, the perfect searing temperature of steak and how difficult it is to find a mechanic in Luton who knows how to fix a 53 year old clutch.

Here’s to hitting the road.

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Congratulations to Action Against Hunger!

Towards the end of last year we were delighted to be asked to help out with sponsorship of the Action Against Hunger Twin Peaks Challenge – A double tower run that had people running to the top of 2 of London’s highest buildings to raise money for charity.

Whilst our prize of a meal for 8 was offered in Wahaca Canary Wharf to keep to the tower theme, the winners were glad to hear the restaurant is only on the first floor of 1 Canada Square (and there’s a lift if the legs still haven’t fully recovered).

In total the event raised over £21,000 which will be going towards helping to ease the suffering of those caught up in the crisis in Haiti. You can check out the fun and games that were had on the day in their rather exhausting looking video below.

The FT London Twin Peak Challenge, starring Amy Williams! from Action Against Hunger on Vimeo.

If that looked like your cup of tea and you’re up for a challenge, The London Twin Peak Challenge 2011 will be taking place in June and that people can register their interest now by emailing: c.cavalier@aahuk.org or phoning: 0208 293 6138.

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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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The Action against hunger Twin Peak Challenge

We’re really pleased to have been asked to team up with the guys at Action Against Hunger, helping to promote their Twin Peak Challenge – A double tower run taking place on Sunday 7th November.  The challenge aims to raise money that will work towards ending child hunger around the world. The race involves a climb of 935 feet in total, covering 67 floors, and a mere 1512 steps!

We’re always looking for fun on-line ideas, and so we’ve offered to sponsor their hugely addictive viral game. In keeping with the tower theme, the person with the highest score by the 6th November, wins a meal for 8 people including drinks at Wahaca Canary Wharf – Either as a slightly dubious preparation for the tower run, or perhaps as a celebration afterwards.  Luckily the restaurant is on the 1st floor of Canary Wharf’s famous Canada Square tower, and there’s a lift if the thought of 1 more step just becomes too much.

You can find out more about the great work that Action Against Hunger are doing around the world, including details on how you can enter a team in the Twin Peak Challenge, by visiting their website, and you can find the viral game here, but be warned, it’s highly addictive!

We’d love to know if you’re entering a team in the race, or how you are getting on with the viral game, so post your time and score here (We’ve just managed to get under 45 seconds after playing for most of the day!).

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Murray Mound? Give Me Murray Mescal Bar any day

The sun is out and the summer screen in Canary Wharf has got to be hard to top as the best place to watch the tennis this weekend, especially if you’re in the Wahaca terrace bar sipping one of Sammi’s Margaritas, or sampling some of the great mescals.

The Canary Wharf Sumer Screen, conveniently located just opposite Wahaca in Canada Square Park, will be showing all of the remaining matches at Wimbledon. It’s free for anyone to come along and show the nations favourite Scott a bit of support.

For details on how to find us in Canary Wharf, check out our website, or head to the bottom of the really big pointy building – It’ pretty hard to miss.

To spice things up a bit, we’re giving you the chance to win a free drink at the Canary Wharf bar on Sunday during the final – all you have to do is correctly guess the final score in the last set of today’s Murray Vs Nadal semi final, and leave it as a comment below. So if Murray’s going to win 6-0 (wishful thinking) then just post “6 – 0 Murray” below. Entries have to be in before the beginning of the final set in today’s match. For full terms and conditions email loswahacos@wahaca.co.uk.

The Bloody Maria

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The Bloody Maria

The second May bank holiday is coming up and maybe, just maybe, we’ll have nice weather! Either way, we’ll definitely be enjoying great food and great drinks, which brings us on to our second Wahaca cocktail, The Bloody Maria (not to be confused with her poor cousin, The Bloody Mary).

In the UK, The Bloody Mary is a very popular cocktail, usually enjoyed over brunch (or as hair of the dog!). The history of this great drink is much disputed, with more than one famous cocktail legend claiming the recipe as his own. But did any of them ever consider that the Bloody Maria may have been the real original?

Let’s look at the facts.
1) The main ingredient is the tomato – and tomatoes originate from Mexico. It was the Spanish explorer Cortes who brought the tomato to Europe from the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan which is now Mexico City back in the 16th Century.
2) Mexico produces the tastiest food and drink in the world. You just have to come to Wahaca to know that.

So there we have it.

The main difference is that The Bloody Maria uses Tequila as its primary spirit (as opposed to Vodka in The Bloody Mary). The Tequila gives the drink a greater depth of flavour. A well made Bloody Maria has the distinctive taste of the agave plant breaking through the fresh tomato juice. Another difference is that The Bloody Maria is generally made with a “Sangrita” mix, rather than the Bloody Mary’s tomato, tobasco and worcestershire sauce mix. The Sangrita mix is arguably fresher and definitely provides an interesting new dimension to the drink for those who haven’t tasted it before.

Here’s how we make ours:

1 part 100% agave tequila
2 parts freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 part freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 part fresh lime juice
Fresh minced green chilli to taste

Shake all of the ingredients together and strain into a highball glass, then add a slice of lime that has been dunked in chilli powder for garnish.

Come to our new upstairs bar in Canary Wharf to try our version, then impress your friends with your new found cocktail expertise!

If you make a Bloody Maria, please let us know how you get on and send us your pictures so that we can upload them to our flickr group!

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Tamarind Margarita

One of our favourites, the Tamarind Margarita is a great tangy cocktail using one of Mexico’s most loved fruit used in drinks, sweets and desserts.

The fun thing about cocktails is that you can experiment with different ingredients and different quantities so that you tailor them to your own tastes. We make our cocktails the way we do because that’s how we like them and we hope you do to! Don’t be afraid to play around.

To make our Tamarind Margarita, add the following to a cocktail shaker:
– 35ml 100% agave tequila
– 12.5ml triple sec
– 20ml sugar syrup
– 12.5ml fresh lime juice
– 20ml tamarind puree

We always use 100% agave tequila and we recommend you do too. Just like food, cocktails made from good quality ingredients = good output. Tequila has to be made from at least 51% agave, so 100% just means that it’s all of the good stuff.

Add ice to the shaker and attach the lid so that it stays on during your Tom-Cruise-in-Cocktail impression, then mixxxx it up. We don’t suggest you start throwing your shaker around immediately, the aim is to shake vigorously until the contents of the shaker are combined, not wreak havoc in your kitchen.

Dip the rim of your glass in fresh lime juice and then into salt to create a salt rim. Now pour the content of the shaker into your glass through a strainer to catch the ice.

Now all you need to do is enjoy this authentic taste of Mexico and send us your pictures and comments to let us know how you got on.

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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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Tequilas for sipping

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.

We’ve got a whole range of plata, reposado and añejo tequilas and all of them are 100% agave, meaning that they don’t contain any sugars that aren’t taken from the blue agave plant, making them great quality and giving them a beautiful flavour. You can come and try them in any of our bars including our newest opening overlooking Canada Square in Canary Wharf, but as you’ll see in the video below, we’d recommend that these shots are best sipped!

If you have a favourite tequila cocktail, we’d love to hear about it, just leave a comment on this post below.