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Posts By: elcamion

Celebrating Octavio Paz

Today we’re celebrating the life and works of Mexican poet Octavio Paz – thought to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, one of the greatest Hispanic poets of all time, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990.

Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City. He was surrounded by literature and creative/political thinkers from a young age, and in 1933, he published his first collection of poems, Luna silvestre. Several years later, he helped found and edit a literary magazine called Taller. Over his lifetime, he produced more than 30 books and poetry collections, and often switched between prose and poetry. He died on April 19, 1998, in Mexico City, Mexico.

“listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.”
― Octavio Paz

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Tags: , , , | Filed under: Mexico

Valentine’s Day in Mexico

Well, before long it will be Valentine’s Day or, as they call it in Mexico, El Dia del Amor y la Amistad. This translates as ‘the day of love and friendship’.

And they have well and truly embraced this holiday, combining it with their own traditions and values of warmth and love. While Valentine’s Day is still a celebration of romantic love, it also serves as a day of appreciation of love as a whole. This means that as well as giving balloons, gifts and red roses to lovers, cards are also commonly presented to friends and family.

Although St Valentine does not specifically appear in Mexican history, the Mexica people did in fact have two deities that represented love.

Xochipilli was the god of love, games, beauty, dance, flowers, corn and songs. His name meant ‘prince of the flowers’ and he had a twin sister or wife; Xochiquetzal, which means precious flower or ornate bird. She was associated with the fertility of nature. Centeotl, the god of corn was their son.

In honor of this pair of gods, four days of fasting was observed. They sacrificed by inserting maguey thorns into their tongues and made offerings of bread and corn. They also danced to the beat of drums called teponaztli. Sounds far more interesting than just going out for dinner, that’s for sure!

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Filed under: Mexico

£7.50 Lunch Deal!

Soho has got great food everywhere you turn, but for some reason come lunchtime you get overwhelmed by the choice, curl up in a ball and then beeline towards some overpriced chain sandwich shop for a sad, cellophane-wrapped carby parcel, complete with some dog-eared rocket poking out the sides.

 

THIS HAPPENS NO LONGER! WE ARE STOPPING YOU RIGHT THERE!

 

For the same price as that carby parcel with a drink, you can pick up a lunch deal from El Camion. YUMMY. We’ve got a sexy burrito for you, that comes with a side of tortilla chips and salsa. AND a soft drink.

 

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Available Monday to Thursday, 12 noon until 5pm. VIVA LA LUNCHTIME!

 

 

 

Festive Memories!

January can be a weird month for some of us: we all feel poor, we all feel fat and we are all on a month-long hangover from December partying. And some of us, God forbid, are having a SOBER month (Dry January – ick) and the December debauchery is a distant memory.

 

As we use January as a time to ‘take stock’ and think about what the hell we’re going to do with a brand new year, we thought we’d look back at some pics of party season. Ah, there it is. Now we remember!

 

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Now, we hope you feel suitably inspired again to fall off the wagon. See you shortly!

 

 

Christmas in Mexico – some fun facts!

What with Christmas approaching, we look at some fun Christmas facts and traditions relating to Mexico:

In some states in Mexico children expect Santa Claus to come on December 24th. In the south of Mexico children expect presents on January 6th at Epiphany, which is known as ‘el Dia de los Reyes’.

On el Dia de los Reyes the presents are left by the Three Kings (or Magi). If you’ve had a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, you might also get some candy on el Dia de los Reyes!

It’s traditional to eat a special cake called ‘Rosca de Reyes’ (Three Kings Cake) on Epiphany. A figure of Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever has the baby Jesus in their piece of cake is the ‘Godparent’ of Jesus for that year.

Image from artimexbakery.com

Image from artimexbakery.com

Another important day, is Candelaria (also known as Candlemas) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. Lots of Mexicans have a party for Candelaria.

In Mexico, presents might also be brought by ‘El Niñito Dios’ (baby Jesus) & Santo Clós (Santa Claus)

In Mexico people speak Spanish (Español), so Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Poinsettia flowers are known as ‘nochebuena’ (Christmas Eve) flowers in Mexico.

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The largest ever Angel Ornament was made in Mexico. It was made in January 2001 by Sergio Rodriguez in the town of Nuevo León. The angel was 18′ 3″” high and had wing span of 11′ 9″! Perhaps the most amazing thing about the angel was that it was completely made out of old beer bottles, 2946 of them!

 

Facts from WhyChristmas.com

Get the festive feeling with this Christmas Punch!

There’s nothing better than indulging in some great hot Christmas cocktails during December – after all, it’s the time of year when it’s acceptable to be tipsy for most of the day. And in Mexico, one must-drink tipple is Ponche Navideño Mexicano – also known as Mexican Christmas Punch. We’ve sought the expertise of Mely Martinez from Mexico In my Kitchen to get a recipe that is sure to get you into the festive spirit.


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“Christmas time in Mexico is a time to prepare the traditional Ponche Navideño/Christmas Punch. At family gatherings some will have a large pot simmering on top of the stove with the sweet liquid full of fruits, while the cinnamon and citric fruit aromas float in the air. The Ponche Navideño is another essential part of Christmas in Mexico. The recipe calls for some traditional ingredients like cinnamon,  tejocotes (a small yellow fruit that resembles crabapples), piloncillo (raw sugar cane), sugar cane sticks, seasonal fruits include guavas, apples, pears, oranges and dry fruits, too. The punch can be found with different added fruits depending of the region in Mexico. You can find punch with acid fruits like oranges, Mexican sweet lime or pineapple. And as far as spices go, besides cinnamon, some cooks will also add anise star and chamomile. This is the good part about this drink, that you can add the fruits you have available and it will still come out fine.”

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I hope you try this recipe, and your whole house will be filled with the Christmas flavors.

12 servings
INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 quarts of water (1 gallon)
  • 1 large piloncillo cone (12 oz) or brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 lb Tejocotes*
  • 1 1/2 Lb. guavas (about 12 guavas)
  • 1 1/2 cup apples, chopped
  • 1 cup pear, chopped
  • 3/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 sugar cane sticks about 5 inch long, cut into four pieces each.
  • 1 cup of Tamarind pods, peeled (or 1 cup of Hibiscus Flowers)***
  • Rum to taste
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INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place water in a large stockpot.

2. Add the piloncillo (or brown sugar) and cinnamon to cook for about 15 minutes. If you are using fresh Tejocotes, add them with the piloncillo and cinnamon since they take longer to soften.
3. Add the chopped guavas, apples, and prunes along with the rest of the ingredients like the sugar cane sticks, tamarind pods or hibiscus flowers. If you are using the canned version of the tejocotes then add them in this step.
4. Simmer for about 1 hour. Serve hot in mugs, ladling some of the fruit in and adding rum to your liking.

¡Buen provecho!

 

To read more of Mely’s recipes, check out her blog here

Filed under: Christmas, cocktails, general

CHRISTMAS POSADA TRADITIONS IN MEXICO

YES – Christmas is most definitely here. The lights of Soho are twinkling, Brewer Street is soaked with the boozy scent of mulled wine, and we’re far enough from the chaos of Oxford Street to feel slightly smug that we’re not being trampled by gift-hungry shoppers.

However, while the entire of December seems like an excuse for Brits to binge-each mince pies, wear novelty jumpers and pop Prosecco at random opportunities, in Mexico it’s a little more structured.

This is because, over in this part of Latin America, Christmas is celebrated from December 16th to Christmas Eve.

During these nine days, children perform Posada processions. The word Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging, and there are nine different posadas, one for each day, and they celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Mary and Joseph are looking for somewhere to stay.

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On each night, a different house holds the Posada party. Until they reach this house, the children go on a procession throughout the neighbourhood, calling on friends and neighbours and singing to them – the song is basically Mary and Joseph asking for room at the inn. The houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns, while the children hold candles and a board, complete with painted clay figures of Joseph, and Mary riding on a donkey. At each house the procession is told there is no room, until finally they reach the correct house and are welcomed in! What follows is a good old knees up, with singing, food, games, fireworks and a piñata.

Christmas Eve is known as ‘Noche Buena’. At the very final Posada, shepherds and a manger are put on to the board. When the last Posada house has finally been reached, a baby Jesus is put into the manger. Families have a main Christmas meal and then go to Midnight Mass – this is known as ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster). Afterwards there are loads of fireworks to see in Christmas Day celebrations!

 

 

 

Green Enchilada Sauce?!

That’s right – GREEN enchilada sauce. We’ve started doing it. Why? Well, if you’ve ever been to Mexico City, enchiladas with green sauce is probably what you’ll be munching on.

Enchiladas with green sauce is the traditional way to serve enchiladas and originates from the time of the Aztecs, way before the Spanish conquest. Today’s recipes for green enchilada sauce probably originate from the Mexican region of Xochimilco.

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What makes it green? Well, the primary ingredient is tomatillo – a bright green tomato-ey looking thing, but much smaller and presented in a leafy husk. They are no good raw, but cooked they are fresh-tasting, herbaceous, aromatic, with a hint of lime. Other green ingredients include green peppers, jalapeños and coriander.

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What does it taste like? The result is a mild, fresh taste that lifts any heavy and spicy meat dishes. Thats why it goes so well with enchiladas – especially ones with a pork filling.

We recently tried it on our Thanksgiving turkey enchiladas and it tasted HAMAZING.

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Stuff We’ve Got Goin’ On

We can almost hear the sleigh bells ringing! The temperature has dropped, the nights are at their darkest – tis most definitely the season for all things food, for all things drink and for all things PARTY.

What’s been going on with us? Well, we’ve just been celebrating Thanksgiving in honour of our old muckers from across the pond and our chef created a special dish of Turkey Enchiladas: strips of marinated turkey wrapped in our thin tortillas, slathered in traditional green enchilada sauce and served with puréed black beans – yum! It might just have to last longer than Thanksgiving did…

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Watch out for more special dishes as Christmas approaches. Chef is feeling creative AND festive so expect some mouthwatering offerings starring turkey, cranberries, rich spices and warming treats.

And it’s not just the kitchen getting into the spirit of things! The bar team are currently working on a Christmas cocktail to make merry with. They’re a talented and competitive bunch so no doubt there will be an in-house cocktail competition to see who’s creation is the most palatable come Yuletide. Got some ideas? Send them our way!

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We’ve also got some awesome new tequilas and mezcals in, including Tequila Cabeza and San Cosme mezcal, so if you’re looking for a tipple to warm you from the inside, just ask our team what they recommend!

 

Membership at the Pink Chihuahua!

We all know what the hottest ticket in town is – everyone wants to get their greasy mitts on one. But we don’t give them to just anyone, and that’s why anyone who’s anyone really wants one and sometimes can’t get one… We’re talking about a Pink Chihuahua Membership card, obvs!

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Our legendary little basement bar on Brewer Street, The Pink Chihuahua, has seen many, many things. It’s seen the King of Cocktails, Dick Bradsell, shake up his crazy concoctions and create new ones for the cocktail history books, it’s seen the bartenders of Soho convene after hours and lose track of time one too many times and it’s seen many a birthday group dance on tables to The Cash Cows until the dawn. It’s a special little place.

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Here’s the rub. We’ve got to keep it special. We can’t let any Tom, Dick or Harriet in – not until we get to know them, of course. The Pink Chihuahua also only has a capacity of 50 people, so there’s that too. So, we ask that if you’d like to become a member of The Pink Chihuahua (we’d LOVE you to become a member) please fill in the application form online and we’ll invite you in to say hey, how’s it going? We’ll then issue you with a membership card, which you may use to sign in one other person. If it’s more than that, they’ll have to become members too! If you’ve got a special occasion coming up and would like to book a table for a group of you, please email us at info@elcamion.co.uk.

You can apply to become a member here.

Remember, it is an application only.

We hope you can join us for Pink Chihuahua fun soon!

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