Corn Tequila and Crickets

One of the core principles that I try to live my life by is ‘any excuse for a party’. So the Wahaca Day of the Dead Festival, with its promise of face paint, tequila, and music sounded very much like a winner from the off. Cue booked train tickets and a phone call to the little bro to see if I can use his floor.

The immediate question of ‘where do I eat first?’ upon arriving in London was not required in this instance, as we had already booked tickets to the lunchtime service at Thomasina Miers and Enrique Olvera’s Supper Club. For those that don’t know – and I didn’t – Enrique Olvera is the top chef in Mexico, his Mexico City based restaurant Pujol consistently being voted among the best in the world. Good credentials then.

We headed over to Tobacco Dock, took our seats, sipped down a dangerously moreish, agave heavy margarita, and were presently served with an ambiguous squash, which had been hollowed out to house our starter of smoked baby corn swamped in Chicatana ant and coffee mayo. My first experience of eating insects was a happy one, the ants’ satisfying crunch punctuating the deeply savoury tang of the smoked corn. Alcohol, corn and bugs very much set the tone for the rest of the day.

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The menu contained an innovative marriage of Mexican and European cuisine, as beef tartare and burrata were given zingy, chile salsa adrenaline shots. The flavours were simultaneously foreign and recognisable, as if the food was getting in on the fancy dress vibes. The green mole, didn’t quite hit the heights of its peers. Although the veg was cooked perfectly, the mole itself was nondescript, lacking the stimulating sharpness and definition of what had preceded it. Plus, they totally forgot my spear of asparagus.

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The dessert, on the other hand, was glorious. If I took one thing away from the festival, it’s that corn has far more versatility as an ingredient than I had previously credited it with. From the different colours and varieties, to the countless uses for corn flour, corn is central to Mexican cuisine. The corn husk meringue, with salted vanilla and corn cream was a triumphant celebration of this versatility. It looked and tasted fit.

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Alas, deliciously educative though the supper club was, filling it was not. After an hour of roaming the stalls and displays it was time to eat again. By this time, the crowds had gathered and any attempt to obtain a tasty Wahaca or DF Mexico morsel was scuppered by a human barrier. Naturally, we decided we should nip out and have dinner at Pitt Cue.

Grabbing a packet of roasted crickets for the road (for some reason that stall didn’t have as large a queue), we made our way over to Soho. An absolute favourite of mine, Pitt Cue fully deserves its own article. In fact, the smoked lamb rump special very nearly prompted its own epic poem. Absolutely everything that came out of the BBQ dudes’ kitchen was flawless, and the Camp America cocktails have taken an immediate spot at the top of the ‘try at home’ list. I implore you to wait as long as it takes to get a table next time you find yourself in the capital.

Arriving back at Tobacco Dock, fully satisfied and more than a little smug, we resumed the merriment with the aid of lucha libre wrestling, awful dancing, tequila, and the occasional cricket.

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