Thursday, 31 March 2011

CULTURE · Meet "La Reata"

"La Reata" or "The Rope" is a sexy and mysterious lady that works along Brozo (the  Creepy Clown), a Mexican host, comedian and political commentator in his news show El Mañanero. If you thought about Krusty the Clown you're spot on.

Anyway, she doesn't talk and no one really knows who she is as she is always wearing a rather cute and ladylike luchador mask. She only acts as Brozo's secretary "assisting" him in VERY skimpy outfits and high heels. The whole thing is quite sexist for sure but it's just really about lightening up the mood while reading the news and discussing current events. She's got a huge fanbase and only last year appeared in the cover and the main spread of Playboy México in a cheeky series of photographs featuring several Mexican icons such as the bell of Dolores, la Diana Cazadora, a reenactment of  Diego Rivera's famous painting "Desnudo con Alcatraces" and just wearing a Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz habit and not much else (well, that and her mask, naturally).

To see all the pictures, click here. Warning NSFW!

Monday, 28 March 2011

FOOD & DRINK REVIEW · All You can Eat Sunday Brunch @ Mestizo, London

"Mestizo is the concept of a group of Mexicans to bring to London a restaurant-bar offering a fine and authentic Mexican cuisine"
Mestizo, London

About every Mexican restaurant out there claims this, but very few deliver. Mestizo does. And it's easy to tell because it's filled with Mexicans! This may come as a surprise to some, but real Mexicans abroad don't go burrito-hunting when they miss their food. They go looking for the authentic food and that's exactly what Mestizo has on offer.

Cuitlacoche Chicken, Tamales, Rice and Totopos Real Mexican Food Buffet · Mestizo, London
From top left to right clockwise: Tamales, pollo en cuitlacoche, totopos, rice and salsa verde.
The Sunday Brunch (from 12:00 to 16:00) offer was indeed pricey at £20 a head, but it's so worth it if you really have a craving for the real deal. Besides, it's all you can eat, so we were more than happy to pig out on chicken in cuitlacoche (corn truffle) sauce, pepper and cheese tamales, Mexican white rice, pozole, quesadillas, totopos, tostadas, black beans and peppers stuffed with cheese, all washed down with horchata water (a very sweet soft drink made of rice, vanilla and cinnamon). Also, there was a choice of two desserts and we went for the "Bienmesabe de coco" a delicious coconut sponge cake drenched in condensed milk and topped with fluffy whipped cream.

Bienmesabe de Coco · Mestizo, London
Horchata water and "bienmesabe" de coco. It literally means "tastes good to me"
The place was packed and apparently it is best to make a reservation. The brunch deal is a buffet, which gets quite busy so you may have to queue to  order your quesadillas, which are filled with whatever you fancy and cooked on the spot. The waitresses were kind of coy and not too engaging at all, but hey, it's self service and it's all you can eat so who cares!

Real Mexican Food Buffet · Mestizo, London
Vegetales al ajillo (garlic seasoned vegetables), pastel de espinacas (spinach bake), pescado (fish)

Mestizo : 103 Hampstead Road, London NW1 3EL T 020 7387 4064

Monday, 21 March 2011

RECIPE · How to make a cheeky chili sauce drenched sandwich, otherwise known as "pambazo"

Pambazos are a very special kind of antojito (snack) because although being Mexican, they don't involve corn at all! They are often compared to sandwiches because they're basically white bread with a filling. But that's just the beginning of the story, because where's the oomph in that?

Well, the bread is first dipped into a rich guajillo salsa and then shallow fried to make it crispy, and that's where the yum factor is! Also, in the filling. It can be chicken in green mole or potato and chorizo.

They are one of the cornerstones of Mexican street food along with esquites, garnachas, gorditas, quesadillas and tostadas, and very popular at public celebrations.

Street Pambazo
Pambazos on a street stall in Toluca during the Independence festivities
Here's what you need to make them at home. It's worth noting that you can't just use any kind of bread, as most rolls are so crispy on the outside that when covered in salsa they become rubbery, so it's best to make your own rolls.

For the Bread Rolls
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp milk powder
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 200 C pre heated oven
  • Bread-maker (optional)
Mix all the ingredients in order. You can knead and knead until you get a smooth dough and then let it rise (covered) in a warm place until it triples its size, but it's a lot easier to use a bread machine and set it for it to make only dough (same deal as if you were preparing pizza dough).

Once it's ready, cover a clean surface in flour and spread the dough. Divide it into 5 chunks and shape them like an ovoid. Place on a tray and bake for 8-10 minutes.

For the Filling and Shallow Frying
Chop the chorizo into small squares and mash the potatos. Mix them up and shallow fry until they begin to look gold and crispy. Set aside.

Preheat 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil in the pan or wok. Pour the contents of the Salsa de Guajillo jar in the bowl. Slice the rolls but not all the way through (both halves should remain attached like some sort of clam). Dip the bread in the guajillo salsa, holding it with the tongs (A). Once it's completely covered, pan fry it until crispy (B). Set aside and stuff the pambazo with the potato filling. You may want to keep them inside a warm oven while you finish with the rest.


For Serving
  • 150 ml  soured cream
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 50 gr grated Parmesan cheese
Simply pour a few spoonfuls of soured cream on top of the pambazo, and sprinkle with lettuce and grated cheese. It should look something like this:

Home Made Pambazo Stuffed with Potato and Chorizo

CULTURE · México's Lincoln

An interesting article that explores the similarities between Lincoln and Juárez:

If we're looking for a true "Lincoln," one who resembled the Emancipator in spirit as well as in his political role, it is instructive to look at the life and career of Benito Juárez. Outwardly, they were a quintessential "odd couple," as dissimilar in appearance and ethnic background as two people can be. Lincoln was tall and angular; Juárez short and stocky. Lincoln was of old American stock; Juárez a full-blooded Indian. 
The similarities were in chronology and background. Lincoln lived between 1809-1865 and Juárez between 1806-1872. Both were born poor, both cared more for political power than riches, and both believed law was the best preparation for a political career. Though neither was conventionally handsome, both compensated for a lack of matinee idol looks by radiating an impressive charisma and commanding presence. Though they never met personally, they formed a lifetime mutual admiration society and helped each other whenever they could. Instances of their interaction will be recorded as this narrative develops.


Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

SHOPPING · Mexican Spice Sweet Chili Tea... wait, what?!

Just came across a tea called Sweet Chili Yogi Tea Mexican Spice.

It's for sale in for 2 quid a box here and according to their blurb:
Sweet Chili combines the treasures of the Orient with the rich culture and traditions of Mexico. This unique and delicious infusion is sure to make your heart sing and your feet dance. Yogi Tea© has always appreciated and honoured the various tea ceremonies of the world. Sweet Chili is inspired by the Mexican tradition of combining chocolate with spices and chili. Traditional Yogi Tea© herbs and spices are blended with a dash of chili to lift the spirits and awaken vitality while Fair Trade cacao shells provide the flavour and aroma of chocolate. Enjoy every sip of this tea as the flavours curl playfully around your mouth and let it warm your inner-being like the friendly Mexican sun. 
Ingredients: Liquorice, cocoa shells, spearmint, fennel, anise, ginger, peppermint, nettle, chili pepper(2%), cinnamon*, cardamom, cloves, black pepper. Box 15 tea bags

PRODUCT REVIEW · A few bits and bobs from Otomí

Comal, Prensa and Botanero from Otomí Bristol

Otomí recently inaugurated their online shop. They got a little bit of everything, from food and kitchenware to gifts, souvenirs and novelty items, all imported from México. These three artifacts, a hand painted clay botanero -which includes a large plate plus 6 ramekins-, a comal (smooth flat griddle for cooking or re heating tortillas) and a tortilla press are really good value for money. 

The comal is specially sturdy. It cooks the tortillas like no regular pan could do, and the press works really well once you get the hang of it. The clay botanero  is really pretty to look at, but above all it's very handy when you have visits and want to offer them a good selection of bites and dips (even more so if you put in it some guacamole, pico de gallo, soured cream, refried beans and totopos, yum).

Order online or go visit their little Mexican grotto in Clifton Arcade if you live in the southwest, it's well worth it!

Monday, 14 March 2011

RECIPE · The Corn Dough Quesadilla Tutorial! Yummy quesadillas stuffed with two different fillings

Because, funny enough, a quesadilla doesn't necessarily imply cheese! They come in different shapes and have different fillings. They can be simply a pre-prepared tortilla folded in two, or you can make them from scratch using corn dough. These are usually way tastier and a lot of fun to cook.

Quesadillas · Flor de Calabaza & Papa con Chorizo (Zucchini Flower and Chorizo with Potato)

Here's what you need:

For the Dough
  • 250 gm Maseca Corn Flour (available here or here)
  • Warm water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30 gr lard (optional)
Grab a bowl and add the Maseca and salt. Add the lard (optional) and start mixing with your hands. Add the warm water very slowly, as you work the mixture into a soft dough. Keep adding the fluid until you get a smooth and moist dough. You'll know when it's ready because it'll stop sticking to your hands. The consistency should be very similar to Play-Doh. If the dough is too mushy, add some more Maseca until you achieve the right consistency. Cover with a damp cloth while you cook the fillings.

For Cooking the Quesadillas and the Fillings 
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • Pinch of dried epazote (available here)
  • 1 can of flor de calabaza -AKA zucchini flower or squash blossoms- (available here)
  • 1 Medium Potato (peeled, boiled and mashed lightly)
  • 100 gr Spanish chorizo
Mix the mashed potatoes with the chorizo and shallow fry until golden. 

Mix the Zucchini Flower with the diced tomatoes, epazote and onion. Shallow fry until it stops looking soggy.

Once both fillings are ready, it's time to 'sculpt' the quesadillas. This can be done entirely by hand and it's like playing with clay really. A)Tear a piece of dough and make it into a golf ball.  B) Then squeeze it between your hands  until you get a thickish circle about the size of a CD. It's OK if it turns out a bit smaller or if it's not perfectly round. C) Place about a spoonful of filling near the edge. Don't put too much or it will leak!  D) Close the quesadilla by pressing the edges gently together with your fingertips or with a fork (it looks a lot like a Cornish pasty actually!)  E)Shallow fry until golden on both sides.

A) B)

C) D)


Makes about 10, sufficient for two people.

For serving
  • 150 ml soured cream
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Green or Guajillo salsa (optional)
Put a spoonful of soured cream on each, cover with  shredded lettuce and sprinke with parmesan cheese. For extra oomph, add Salsa Verde La Costeña (hot) or Salsa Guajillo Sabores Aztecas (nice and mild), both available here.

If you like it cheesy, you can add a little grated mozzarella along with the cooked fillings. It'll melt and mix nicely with the other ingredients while you shallow fry the quesadilla.

Even more quesadilla know-how!

Here's a very enlightening wikiarticle on the different types of quesadillas and the difference between genuine Mexican ones and the Americanised versions.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

SHOPPING · A Mexican Classic Corona Extra Tray on Ebay!

Completely fortuitous find: classic Corona Extra tray featuring the  classic pin-up-esque china poblana.

You can buy right here from Blendboutique UK.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

PRODUCT REVIEW · Viva la Frida, specialists in Mexican oilcloth in the UK

How curious is that. So many tables whether at home or at restaurants and markets in Mexico are covered in colourful manteles de hule and no one gives it a second thought. It might even be regarded as slightly tacky. But not over here, oh no. Kitsch is good, kitsch is trendy, bring on the kitsch!

Viva la Frida offers a variety of patterns and colours from .5 meters to full rolls. To give it a try, we ordered  a few remnants to check them out and they're fantastic. You can choose either warm colours, cool colours or a mix of both.

By the way, the cute Frida stamp in the envelope is just to die for.

Viva La Frida · Mexican Oilcloth for Sale in the UK

Viva La Frida · Mexican Oilcloth for Sale in the UK

Thursday, 3 March 2011

ART · Las Señoritas Fabric by Alexander Henry Made into a Handbag and a Cushion Cover!

The fabric in itself is wonderful but once it's been made into something, it's just awesome! What Goes Around, from Folksy is responsible for these beauties:

Made from 100% cotton. Fully lined with a pocket more than big enough to take your mobile.
The bag is28cm wide X 18cm high (fabric part, not including handles) 
100% cotton, high quality designer fabric with a hollow fibre cushion pad.
The back is 100% cotton in a plain cream colour, with an overlap.
Approx. 43cmX43cm.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

FOOD & DRINK REVIEW · £50 Worth of Authentic Mexican Ingredients from

£50 Worth of Authentic Mexican Ingredients from

So this is what £50 worth of authentic Mexican looks like. Only available online, this little batch of goodness was bought off 

MexGrocer was founded in 2006 and operated by Mestizo Restaurant since 2009. These guys really know their stuff. Not cheap, but delivery is free after fifty pounds, so we took a chance.

Our shopping list, from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Flor de Calabaza (Courgette or Zucchinni  Flowers) - Yes, edible flowers! 
  • La Costeña Salsa Verde (Green Salsa) - The next best thing after Sabores Aztecas Green Salsa
  • Nopalitos (Tender Cactus Leaves) - Guess what, cactuses are also edible and real scrummy. 
  • Maseca (Dried Corn Dough for Handmade Tortillas) - Self explanatory.
  • Corn Husks for Tamales - A tamal is a fatty and fluffy lump made of corn dough, lard, spices and meat that is actually steam cooked inside a corn husk. 
  • Liquid Achiote (Condiment/Marinade for Taco Meat) - Traditional seasoning from Yucatán in south east México.
  • Rajas de Chile Problano (Sliced Poblano Peppers
  • Cuitlacoche (Corn Truffle) - The consumption of corn smut originates from ancient Aztec cuisine and is still considered a delicacy in Mexico, even being preserved and sold for a significantly higher price than corn.
  • Oaxacan Mole Paste
  • Green Mole Paste
  • Pipián Mole Paste
  • Adobo Mole Paste
Think of mole (moe·lay) as some sort of Mexican "curry". It's made of dry chillies, nuts, seeds and spices with very rich flavours and eaten with chicken, pork or beef with a serving of savoury rice on the side. Only thing is, tortillas are served instead of naan bread!
  • Small Plastic Traditional Molcajete (Mortar)
  • Pozole Can (Hominy or maiz kernels for making a traditional soup or stew)

So far we are pleased with the price and a very speedy delivery. 

Recipes and advice on how and what to cook with these ingredients to follow!