Thursday, 28 January 2010

Cantina Laredo coming to London



Like a Mexican wave, news of yet another restaurant catering to the London Mexiphile this week. St Martin's Courtyard, a new development tucked round the back of Covent Garden, will be home to Cantina Laredo, a Stateside chain of 'authentic' Mexican restaurants. Opening Summer 2010, this could provide some stiff competition to Wahaca, although judging by the website, the look and feel of the restaurant is very different. For more details, check out the St Martin's Court website.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tortilla: some very tasty tacos


In the search for London's best burrito, I found myself in the queue of the Islington branch of Tortilla yesterday lunchtime and I think I've found a winner....at least the best so far.
The menu is pretty standard for this type of place (burritos, salad and tacos with a choice of 3 fillings) and the prices around a fiver. However, there are two sizes of burrito on offer (great for those of us with a more lady-like appetite) and they do pile the meat into whatever you're having. I was also pleased to be given the option of either corn or flour tortillas for my tacos.
The downside? It's very much a grab and go operation with three communal benches for those wanting to eat in so if you want to linger over your lunch, you're better off at Chilango up the street. Even so, the food at Tortilla was very good and more to the point, better value for money.
For further details and other locations, visit the website at http://www.tortilla.co.uk/. There's also a short interview with the company's founder here.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Mexican film festival at the Barbican

I can't claim to know much about Mexican films but the Barbican is hosting a short festival later this month in celebration of the country's industry.

From civil war and revolution in the Silent era, through the Golden Age of the 30s and 40s to the Nuevo Cine Mexicano, establishing global big-hitters Alfonso Arau (Like Water for Chocolate), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros) Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light), Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone) to name a few, Mexican cinema continues to go from strength to strength. 

With debut works, new features and acclaimed shorts, the programme will highlight the producers of Mexico’s international hits and festival favourites. 


Mira Mexico runs from 21st to 29th January. For full details and a schedule of the films showing, see here.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Mexican Wine? Plus a guide to pairing wine and Mexican food


Photo credit: Omar Omar
Mexico is not known as a wine drinking nation; spicy food can be difficult to pair with wine and the grape is largely overshadowed by tequila and beer. I was therefore surprised to discover that wine production in the country dates back to the Spanish conquest and Cortes. However, it is only in recent years that Mexico has begun to produce high quality wines on an international level.

In celebration of this ever-growing industry, Wahaca recently hosted a Mexican wine evening in partnership with Bibendum. Read all about the evening here.

Today, Mexico's largest wine areas lie 70 miles south of the US border, in three regions:  San Antonio de las Minas, the San Vicente Valley and the Santo Tomas Valley. Others, boutique wineries can be found Zacatecas, Sonora and Coahuila.

The following types of wine are most commonly produced:
Red - Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Zinfandel Grenache and Mission
White - Chenin Blanc, Palomino, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Saint Emilion and Malaga

If you're looking for wine to serve with a Mexican meal, look for something with a good body that will stand up to the heat and flavour of the food. Sweeter grape varieties such as Reisling and Gewürztraminer go very well with spicy food. Here are some other suggestions:

Seafood and fish - a crisp white pairs well with a tangy fish dish made with coriander and garlic. Looks for a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Soave.

Enchiladas and other dishes with a strong sauce - an heavier, oak-based red wine works well with cheese dishes. Try a Pinot Noir, Italian Barbera and Dolcetto. If the dish has a lot of chilli heat, such as chipotle, try a  Cabernet Sauvignon or a classic Australian Shiraz.

There are no hard and fast rules and the more you try, you'll soon discover what works best. Frankly, there's no better excuse to experiment.

Friday, 8 January 2010

My Mexican Biscochos


Photo credit: Digitputz
These are my take on Mexican biscuits; probably not that authentic but they're delicious, with a chewy cake-like consistency. They're quick to make; you can whip up a small batch in 1/2 hour and best of all, they're fat free. Perfect for guilt-free post-Christmas consumption.

Mis biscochitos (makes 6)
1 large egg, separated
80g granulated sugar
50g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the yolk with the sugar until pale. Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and gently combine. Add the milk and vanilla essence - you want a thick, batter-like mixture.

Whisk the egg white in a clean bowl until forming stiff peaks. Fold this into the mixture being careful not to overmix. Divide the mixture into a well-greased 6 cup muffin tin.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes - the tops should be a light golden brown. Remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with coffee.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Tamale Museum, Los Angeles


Mayan Honey Ants, traditionally given to children as candy, (photo credit: Museum Tamal)
I'm always on the look out for quirky independent museums, particularly those to do with food. One place which recently caught my eye was the Tamal Museum which is dedicated to charting the history of Latin America through its food. Sadly, it's located in Los Angeles, but surely a must-see for anyone who's into the food of the American Southwest and Mexico. In addition to the museum, there's also a restaurant and exhibition kitchen. The founder, chef John Rivera Sedlar, is currently looking for a permanent space to house the museum. For more information, visit http://museumtamal.org/.

Wahaca's plans for 2010

Wahaca's been in the news a fair bit, especially with the company's third opening at Canary Wharf and as Mexican food gathers increasing momentum, I can only see them going from strength to strength in 2010. According to a recent Reuters interview, there are plans to add a new special dish each month, with the most popular becoming a permanent fixture on the menu. From hearing Tommi speak, I know how important it is to her to get produce from local suppliers and it looks as if this is only going to increase over the next year. All in all, it's definitely an exciting time for the restaurant and I wouldn't be surprised to see the chain going nationwide. To read the full article, click here.