Mexican Food Made Simple

Last night was the first episode of the new series featuring Thomasina Miers. I was out on Tuesday so caught up with this programme the next day, thanks to the wonders of the interwebs. I enjoyed it, and it made me want to go back to Mexico, but I still maintain that Mexican pork scratchings are horrible. Even if they are the size of my car. They suck all the fun out their scratchings – I much prefer the salty fatty (hairy) ones you get over here. Continue reading

Chilli recipes for you to make and to give to me

Dr Chimpington and I had a burrito last night. One that I’d been looking forward to for ages as I’d heard such good things about Burrito Bros. However, it pains me to report that we were left feeling a bit underwhelmed. One of us will write a review when we’ve got over the disappointment.

In the meantime I thought you might like to see some chilli recipes from the Guardian this week. Cook some and let me know how it goes. Or better still INVITE ME OVER (all in the name of research of course). I’ll bring a bottle!

While I was in there looking at the chilli recipes, I’ve also just spotted some lovely looking recipes in there from the annoyingly perfect soundingThomasina Miers (founder of the awesome Wahaca). Again, invite me over when you decide to cook all of these. Like I always say – it’s not about greed, it’s all about the science*…

* and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!

Burritos and social networking

(this is a work in progress, I’m just tinkering with this and will be updating it into a proper article as I go along. Thank you for indulging me)

While it certainly doesn’t change my opinion of what a burrito tastes like I wondered recently if I am possibly more inclined to revisit a burrito place if they seem like they actively engage with customers via twitter and facebook.

Like I say, if a place is great then I will visit it regardless, but if there is a choice between two equally tasty burritos then I would probably chose the place that talks to its customers. Speaking from personal experience there is nothing like the buzz when your tweet gets a reply or you get a mention on facebook. I’m still all a-quiver from birthday greetings from Wahaca. More usefully (and slightly less shallowly) it’s heartening to see that certain restaurants take all feedback on board – the good, the bad and most importantly the ugly. We’ve all had bad customer service at some point or other in our lives but it’s how somewhere responds to negative feedback that determines whether or not you give them another chance.

I appreciate that many of these places are super busy and also how much effort it it takes to maintain an online presence, and also that not everybody really cares, but it makes such a difference to customers to be acknowledged.

Adobo Twitter Face book
I loved Adobo and their customer service was amongst the best I’ve encountered. They don’t seem to be into Twitter that much though.
Benito’s Hat Twitter Face Book
Loved Benito’s Hat, loved the cocktails and REALLY REALLY love how they interact with customers on Twitter.
Burrito Bros Twitter Face Book
Boring burritos, they seem to post a lot on facebook but they don’t seem to interact with the burrito massive as well as Benito’s Hat and Chilango.
Chilango Twitter Face Book
The place that is to blame for my addiction. They’re fantastic at acknowledging people on Twitter and keeping an eye out on who is blogging about them. Top notch.
Chipotle Twitter
I know I’m being lazy, but as this is an American company it’s not terribly interesting to a Londoner. They probably do have a UK twitter account though, and if they don’t then they should
Daddy Donkey Twitter
Flying Burritos Twitter Face Book
Aweseome food and lovely customer service and a retweet! That’s what we like to see.
Mas Burrito Twitter Face Book
Mas burritos make a lovely burrito (although second time around was less succesful, maybe because it was busier) and absolutely ZERO presence on Twitter. They’ve never ever tweeted. (eta update, they have since tweeted back in June. Twice)
Picante Twitter Face Book
Awesome awesome Picante, I am so lucky to work nearby. They’re great at keeping you updated on facebook and twitter (eg if they’re going to open late) but don’t seem to interact with people online. Which is odd as the owner (I assume) is one of the most consistently enthusiastic and friendly people.
Poncho 8 Twitter Face Book
I quite like the way they tweet about things that are completely unburrito related (like when they got stuck in the lift). Not my favourite burrito by a long shot, but you kinda feel like you’re friends with them.
Tortilla Twitter Face Book
I have to admit that I barely follow them given how meh the food is. I do follow them in the interest of being thorough but I don’t really read what they say with much interest.
Wahaca Twitter Face Book
Brilliant food and brilliant at keeping in touch with customers online – really charming and witty tweets and posts. Oh and especially awesome for wishing me a happy birthday

Burritos: The Making Of(ish)

Once upon a time there were two friends and colleagues, Dr Frost- Rathbone and Dr Marcus Chimpington. Together this crime busting duo fought to bring an end to evil. Well an end to evil burritos at any rate. We’ll leave the actual crime busting to our boys in blue. I mean the police by the way – rather than lovely* Coventry FC or stupid Chelsea FC.

For her birthday, Dr Rathbone received a burrito making kit from her friends
Dan and Pamela . They also gave her a massive bottle of gin, some malteaster bunnies and some frazzles – you can see why she’s friends with them. Anyway, this is her story – The Day She Made Burritos.

Burrito in a box

Inside the box were tortillas, salsa and a sachet of beany stuff to make a chilli with. You supply ground (yes I do mean mince but I’m trying to be poncey and cheffy) beef, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce. As you will find out later YOU WILL NEED TO ADD MORE THAN THIS.

out of the box

I didn’t get lettuce, because I forgot and, frankly you try finding things on Easter Sunday. But I did get avacados and coriander because that’s how I roll.
Dr Chimpington deftly chopped tomatoes and some coriander and also made a stonking guacamole – or rather he decided to take over when I started to make a stonking guacamole [/control freak]. He also chopped some green pepper to add to the beef to give it a bit more ooomph. I had the easy job – I grated the cheese and stirred the beef.

the stuff we did

There’s not much to say about the cooking – you fry up beef, chuck in some sauce and, erm, that’s it. I really would add some onions and peppers and some extra chilli if I were you and fling on some coriander leaves afterwards. The beany sauce is a combination of refried beans with extra kidney beans thrown in for good measure. It was ok, in an artificial kinda way, but it needed more kick.

The assemblage involved laying/chucking stuff on the tortilla. The tortillas were smaller than the ones you get in burrito places and that’s the excuse I am giving for not making a beautiful fat self contained burrito.

Blurry assemblage part II

burrito on plate

So here you go, very blurry. A Blurrito if you will. I would tell you the name of the featured nail varnish but this is a serious scientific article and NOT Cosmo. Oh go on then, it’s Nails Inc in Paris and I got it free with a bottle of diet coke some time last year.

blurrry burrito in hand

burrito in a hand

It was fun, it reminded me of being in my teens/early twenties making tacos or burgers for self assembly by large groups of inebriated friends. It was nice to ‘cook’ (I use the term loosely) with Dr Chimpington because he never lets anybody else into his lab (er, kitchen). But the fantastic thing about places like Picante, Benito’s Hat, Chilango , Adobo and Wahaca ** is the flavours It’s because you can taste so many things going on in each and every bite. The meat is usually slow cooked or char grilled with heaps of infused flavour, the salsa has been blended to perfection and, let’s not forget that the rice (a surprise to me on my first experience) makes a huge difference. Next time I’d just get the wraps and make the rest from scratch. I would certainly not use their bland salsa again – it was too fake and too sweet and too claggy. I made two burritos (in the name of science rather than sheer greed) and the salsa free one was by far superior.

They were fine and we had fun, they were never going to win a burrito oscar, but they certainly weren’t the accepted definition of a burrito. They were Tex-Mex wraps.

*Happy now Matt? Honestly, the things I do for family harmony!

** Disclaimer: There are other Burrito Temples available. They might not be that nice but they are out there.

I, Harriet, take thee Burrito

I’ve not been to Wahaca for AGES and had forgotten how much I love it.

I hooked up with my friend Martin in Soho for a long awaited catch up and was considering dragging him to Bodeans for a meatfest but as we aimlessly wandered up Wardour St I spotted a new (well, new to me at any rate) Wahaca and that was that.

We started with a cocktail each and both chose the plump pork burrito. I wanted to marry this burrito. It was fat and stuffed with flavour. Lightly sealed on the outside and brimming with gorgeous slow cooked pork, this was a burrito made and eaten with love.

Burrito Research Findings

The following, erm, article appeared in another of my blogs on 19th August 2010

Indulge me please for a moment. This is my new thing. It will probably last for about five minutes before I get bored so, in the meantime, just pretend to care.

I’ve always avoided burritos when I’ve been out for Mexican (or even Tex Mex) meals. I had nothing against them but they lack the flamboyance and drama of the fajita and they always looked a safe (i.e. boring) option. And once I had been to Mexico I began to go for any option that included a soft corn tortilla, who needs tasteless wheat when you can have yellowy corn?

But then I began to get burrito envy one evening at Wahaca while watching a friend work her way through a magnificently plump looking pork creation.

I had my first one at lunch time in a fast food place in the rather frigid ambiance of a shopping centre – Chilango’s in Bluewater. I played safe and went for chicken. As I watched them pile on the fillings of refried beans, green rice, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and cheese I wasn’t convinced there would be enough. Then I watched them adeptly rolling the thing up and it transformed into a gloriously voluptuous beast. Bearing in mind that this was my first ever one you will have to forgive my surprise at the addition of rice.

Anyway it was bloody lovely. Fat and full of my favourite flavours. I’ve since been back to the Bluewater branch and have also tried the one on Fleet Street and was equally happy with my new discovery. I’d not been this giddy about a new food since I’d had my first ever macaroon (or to be more accurate macaron).

Then on to newcomer Chipotle on Charing Cross Rd. This was good but averagely so. I need to go back as my experience was slightly spoiled by the rookie burrito roller whose creation lacked the taut finesse of the Chilango ones.

Last night I went to Wahaca. I have been to Wahaca many times and have always chosen many small dishes. Why limit myself to one flavour when I can bombard my taste buds and greedy gut with CHOICE? But I digress, this time our mission was SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH rather than fun. Now things had got serious. This was the first night of the London Burrito Research Institute. You may not have heard of this rather august institution yet, but one day my friend, you will.

I went for a steak one for a change (my previous ones have all been chicken). This was gorgeous, smokey and full of flavour. I greedily opted for cooked cheese and a side order of refried beans. I wish I could say that my eyes are bigger than my stomach but my stomach is, sadly, very big. My only quibble was that this was on a plate. I know that sounds really trivial in the scheme of things, and you’re probably right to roll your eyes at me. But, burrito novice I may be, part of my enjoyment is of holding an entire meal in my hands. A bit like a Cornish Pasty. Kind of.

Ah well, the research has started. I will keep you posted as to our findings. This is currently a London-wide search but we hope to take it nationwide before too long


I wasn’t expecting anybody to actually read my witterings so I might just have uttered a bit of a shocked swear word when this popped up on my Facebook feed on 13th Sept!!/posted.php?id=113801577654