<groan> OK, bad joke, but it always makes me giggle – that’s just me and my silly sense of humour! But, it does get me nice and quickly onto the topic of new found love of Mexican Food, and it started out like this….
In 2012, I was in London and a chance meeting with friends saw us head to the new Wahaca Southbank Experiment. Built out of a series of brightly coloured former cargo containers stacked a bit randomly complete with a kitchen, bar, outside deck and amazing views of the Thames I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up until then, all I knew of Mexican food was chili con carne, nacho’s, fajita’s and those nasty starchy taco’s that stand up by themselves. Old El Paso; Tex Mex and lots of gloopy sauces and cheese all served at a million degrees and loaded with skin stripping chillies. Then I ate at Wahaca. The brainchild of the most famous Mexican cook in Britain / only famous Mexican cook in Britain, and a former winner of MasterChef Thomasina Miers, I was overwhelmed by how delicious the food was…is; because everytime I go to London (which is about twice a year) I have to have at least one meal at Wahaca. There are a lot of Wahac’a’s dotted all around London now, but I only go to the Southbank one – it’s like a kind of religion for me now. Last year’s holiday along the length and breadth of California all the way down to San Diego cemented my love of Mexican food and in particular – the TACO! Forget what you think you know about taco’s, instead think of fresh, soft tortilla’s filled with a variety of different meat and veg dishes slow cooked in different mole’s to deliver the most amazing mini mouthfulls you will ever experience. Deep smokey flavours, mellow heat, super fresh veggies and zingy lime and fragrant coriander – yes, my taste buds can’t thank me enough!
My only remorse was that there wasn’t an equivalent in Ireland that I knew of. Let’s face it, if I would travel to London, I would travel to Dublin – Cork would be better. I did visit a newly opened Mexican restaurant in Cork but to be honest, it was a let down compared to what I had experienced in London and California.
And then, by chance I came across an amazing lady called Lily Ramirez-Foran; also known as A Mexican Cook in Ireland and also lately the brand new sparkly owner of Picado Mexican in Dublin (www.picadomexican.com)
I’ve become a bit of a stalker following Lily’s blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, purchasing goodies from her online shop where she imports authentic Mexican ingredients for budding Irish-Mex cooks at home and latterly attending her collaboration with Diva Boutique Cafe and Bakery in Ballinspittle Co Cork for her Mexican Pop Up Taco Bar. There’s that magic word again….T.A.C.O Well, I think I may have been the first person to book in for it and it took place just this Monday gone.
A little word on Diva: Diva is run by the phenomenal cake artiste that is Shannan, an American who has very much made Ballinspittle her home and seems hell bent on world domination one cake at a time. Diva made both our wedding cakes – and people still talk about them to me now! They are amazing cakes, amazing breads and downright tasty cafe serving honest to goodness American classics fused with great local ingredients and produce and just pure class! A 45 min drive from door to door, a trip to Diva is something of a special occassion and worth the effort – I have never been disappointed!!
How it is that a Mexican Cook in Ireland and an American Baker in Ballinspittle came to meet I don’t know, but all I can say is I am so glad they did and had the amazing idea of putting on a Taco Pop Up Shop in (roughly) my neighbourhood!
What did we eat? We ate things that your taste buds wouldn’t have expected, but if my mouth was a street, then the tastebuds would have been dancing all over it! It was good, damn good. Damn DAMN good!
To Start: Mexican – Irish Fusion Salad with Irish strawberries, french Crozier blue cheese, local leaves, toasted pumkin seeds and a lime and coriander dressing. OMG. Yumm. Who knew blue cheese and strawberries would be so freakin’ good!
For Mains: A Taco Selection: Vegetarian made with sweet potato, mushroom and queso blanco; Pork Pibil (my favourite – always!); Chicken mole and a Beef mole taco which was lovely and sweet, served up with Frajoles and a smokey, spicy yellow pepper sauce. I’m dribbling just typing this out – leave me with my memories!!
For Dessert: A Diva twist on the classic Mexican Dulce Leche cake (three milks) to make a cake made with as many different types of milk called Mucho Leche!! There was coconut milk and toasted coconut flakes, buttermilk, condensed milk, dulce leche (caramel) and some other stuff. As light as a feather and gluten free I quite frankly could have eaten the entire tray of cake! Yumm!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Lily. She was having too much fun in the kitchen. Good job she hid, otherwise possibly we would not have let her leave! Turns out she’s going to be at the Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic this year – guess I’ll just stalk her there instead ;) !!!
Lily and Shannan – thanks a million for putting on an amazing night of food. And Lily, especially, the very best of luck with your restaurant and next time I find myself in Dublin I will come and eat all of your delicious food!!
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