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Posts Categorised: Food

Down Baja California Way…

Come along to El Camion and we promise a little slice of Baja California, right here in Soho. From our authentic Mexican grub (shredded chicken tacos.. mmm) to our vibrant, brightly coloured tablecloths, we like to bring the sunshine. But how much do you know about Baja California? And what kind of things can you expect to see when you’re over there?

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Baja California

‘Baja’ is actually the world’s second longest peninsula, and is the most North Westerly state in Mexico. Officially known as Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, it became a state in 1953. Renowned for its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, lush forests and friendly, relaxed people, it is a great destination spot. This is where famous cities such as Tijuana and Los Cabos are located, and the lapping waves of the Pacific ocean make this the ideal spot to find a beach bar and sip ice cold margaritas. Or embrace a more adventurous side by wandering through the pastel canyons or braving the surf for an adrenalin kick!

The cuisine of Baja California is a blend of traditional Mexican fare – incorporating beans, tortillas and spice – with the fruits of the land. There’s superb fish thanks to the seaside proximity (think fish tacos – delicious), and expert beef preparation because of its arid-inland ranching. These are the kind of authentic vibes we’re channeling in our menu!

So if you do find yourself down Mexico way, what can you expect? Well, here are three things not to be missed:

Espiritu Santo

Located in La Paz, this gorgeous collection of shallow inlets and sugar-pink cliffs is a Unesco World Heritage Site. With activities such as snorkelling or kayaking, or just the chance to absorb the beautiful sites, it is certainly worth a visit. La Paz itself is a bustling collection of lively squares, city streets and stunning beaches.

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Centro Cultural Tijuana

For those culture vultures, then a trip to this arts centre is a must. It’s got just about everything you could want – an art gallery, the Museo de las Californias , a theater, and the globular cinema Domo Imax , which shows predominantly art-house movies. See, Mexico isn’t just about the beaches!

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Parque Nacional Sierra San Pedro Mártir

To experience Baja Californian wildlife at its very best then a visit to this national park can’t be missed. The flora and fauna is home to bobcats, deer and bighorn sheep, but make sure to look UP, since this is one of only six places in the world where the almost-extinct California Condor is being reintroduced into the wild. As well as keeping your eyes open for this stunning bird, you can wander through pine-scented air beneath the impressive conifers. A great and magical escape.

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So there you have it – some of the amazing sights to behold if you ever do head to Baja California. But if you can’t spring for a ticket just yet, don’t worry – a visit to use, with margarita in hand and a quesadilla to munch on, is almost as good…

 

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Meat Free Week at El Camion

Here at El Camion we’re proud of how fresh our food is – we make our dishes in house and it’s one of the many reasons people come from far and wide to sample the delights of our menu. Which is why we’re just as confident about our vegetarian offerings as we are about the meaty munchies we provide. When you use quality ingredients then the taste really shines through.

Since it’s National Meat Free Week then here’s a little insight into some of the hottest herbivore-friendly items on the menu…

Our nachos are huge bowls brimming with crisp tortilla chips, topped with our famous guacamole, pico de gallo and El Camion House salsa, smothered in cheese – and to make it even more indulgent then why not add black beans and jalapeños? They make for the perfect sharer, or bring an appetite and scoff them down by yourself.

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For a nibble, any heat-lover should try our Jaladas – Jalepeno chillies filled with cream cheese that have then been coated in breadcrumbs. Just as good as a chicken wing any day of the week.

Our famous mushroom and spinach quesadilla is a hit whether you’re a carnivore or veggie – filled with fresh veg and oozing with melted Monterey Jack cheese. If you’re trying to convert a meat eater who thinks that vegetarian food isn’t filling enough, then challenge them to a wet Vegetable Burrito. This flour tortilla filled with Black or Pinto beans as well as home-made salsa and cheese with coriander is hearty and kind of healthy. If something a bit lighter takes your fancy, then our classic Ensalada is baby spinach, Cos and Lamb’s lettuce, marinated tomato, sliced fennel and radish and home-made dressing. Is your mouth watering?

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You see, vegetables have always been an important part in the Mexican diet. When Europeans arrived in Mexico 1517, the food source of the indigenous people, including Aztecs and Mayans, consisted mainly of corn, beans, peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

And you know what else is vegetarian? Churros smothered in chocolate. So there’s no excuse not to stay for dessert…

Churros

Churros, how we love thee…

Churros. How we love them – undoubtedly the superior, thinner version of the boring donut. They’re like the slim Latin American cousin that comes to visit one summer and steals all its bakery friends with their awesomeness. How can you not fall in love with this deep-fried golden pastry, covered in diamond-sparkles of sugar or spiced cinnamon, and just begging to be dipped in unctuous hot chocolate??

 

But there is a little more to churros than meets the eye. Sure, we sell them at El Camion as an indulgent dessert, but keep an eye open for our brunch menu soon, since did you know fresh churros are a traditional breakfast food in Latin America? Intended for dipping into melted chocolate or with a hot milky coffee… well, that beats cornflakes any day.

 

But there is still indecision about how the churro came to be, as a couple of different origin stories exist.

 

The first is that we have Nomadic Spanish shepherds to thank. They would spend long days on the inhospitable mountain sides tending their herds, and needed something they could easily fry in their pans. Thus these battered delicacies were created, named perhaps after the Churra sheep of the Iberian Peninsula, the horns of which look like the fried pastry. They would eat them rolled in sugar or pastry.

 

The other option is that Portuguese sailors brought the idea back from China, where they’d discovered a similar food named ‘You Tiao’. They put their Spanish mark on the treat by adding the star-shaped tip for those tell-tale ridges. That star shape ensures that the outside of the churro is perfectly crisp while the inside is fluffy as a pastry cloud.

 

As the for chocolate – it is thought this was added when Hernando Cortez returned to Spain with the secret of Aztec chocolate. Now they’re served in restaurants, by vendors, at fair grounds, as a great start to the day… who can’t resist a churro? We can’t – and neither should you by the end of this. Just in case, here’s a picture of our freshly made churros…

 

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Finger-licking good

 

We’ll see you soon!

Wine at El Camion – We uncork the reds…

If you fancy a drink at lunch but think it’s too early for cocktails and tequila (apparently, there is such a thing), we serve a fabulous selection of great wines by the glass, specifically chosen to pair well with the flavours and spices in Mexican food. In our last blog, we looked at our white and rose wines and gave suggestions of well-matched dishes. Now it’s time to look at the reds. Pass the corkscrew.

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Red wines

Our house red wine is the Tempranillo Pleno, Bodega Brana Vieja, from the Northern Spain region of Navarra. This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, which is the same grape variety used to make Rioja, and it has been aged in old oak barrels for at least six months, which is where it’s spiced oak flavour comes from.

Tastes like: Ruby red in colour, Tempranillo Pleno tastes like dark cherry and vanilla spice. Typical of Tempranillo wines, it is soft and fruity and has a pleasantly sweet finish.

Goes well with: A light and soft wine, it is lovely on its own or with grilled fish or grilled chicken. It would be a great match with a Chicken Tinga Burrito.

Prices: £19/bottle £5/glass

Pleno Tempranillo
The second red on the menu is the Merlot, Santa Puerta, which comes from the Maule Valley in Chile. The area is made up of rich and volcanic soils and produces powerful, spicy and aromatic wines.

Tastes like: At 14%, it is a strong and robust wine, with intense berry fruit flavours. It has been aged in oak for nine months, which gives it a deep, spicy layer of flavour. Warming and rounded, it has a pleasant, silky finish.

Goes well with: The depth of this wine can handle big flavours, plus its high alcohol content will help to break down meaty dishes. Perfectly paired dishes include anything with beef and pork. Why not try it with a Carne Asada Enchilada?

Prices: £23/bottle £6.50/glass

Merlot, Santa Puerta
Our wines are available by the glass or by the bottle – which one you order is up to you! Feel free to ask us to recommend a wine to go with your meal. ¡Buen apetito!

A glass with lunch at El Camion? Wine not…

Here at El Camion, we are famous for our cocktails, but did you know that we also do wine?? Sometimes (most of the time), a lunch out calls for wine, but unfortunately a bottle of the red or white stuff isn’t always appropriate to order, especially if you’ve got to head back to the office or if you’re being trusted to pick out a birthday present for your partner’s grandmother, or the like. Luckily for you, we serve a great selection of wines by the glass, so you can enjoy a lunchtime tipple, without swinging from the office lights by 3pm.

Santa Puerto

 

White wines

Our white wines pair exceptionally well with Mexican food, as they complement the light spices and flavours of the cuisine, without being too overpowering.

Our house white wine is Viura Pleno, Bodega Brana Vieja, from the Navarra region in Spain. This area has been making wine since the ancient Roman times, so they’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art. This wine is made from 100% viura grapes, which are known for their versatility and are the primary ingredient in white Riojas.

Tastes like: Bright, straw-yellow in colour, it tastes clean and crisp – a bit like green apples or citrus fruits, with floral notes.

Goes well with: As it’s so easy-drinking, this wine goes well with most dishes on the menu, especially chicken, fish or salads, and at just 12%, it’s a great option for lunch. Try it with a Grilled Fish Ensalada or Grilled Chicken nachos.

Prices: £19/bottle, £5/glass

Viura Pleno

 

Our second white wine on the menu is the Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Puerta. This is a Chilean wine from the Central Valley, the largest and most productive wine-making region in South America. Made in a 100% sustainable winery, it is organic, meaning it is good for the environment and not too bad for you, either.

Tastes like: At 13.5%, this wine is full of flavour and is bursting with tropical fruits, like passionfruit, mango and peaches. It also has a herbaceous dimension to it, with a persistent, refreshing finish.

Goes well with: Sauvignon Blanc is one of the only white wines that pairs well with sushi, so any seafood dishes are good, like the Grilled Fish Tacos. The herbal notes also make this wine a good pairing with any dishes made with coriander and fennel, like the burritos and the ensaladas.

Prices: £23/bottle £6.50/glass

Grilled Fish Ensalada

Rosé wines

Our rosé is the Pleno Rosado, Bodega Brana Vieja from Navarra in northern Spain, made from 100% Grenache grapes. Grenache, or Garnacha, as it is known in Spain, is a red wine grape grown extensively in France, Spain, Australia and America. It is one of the most widely distributed grapes in the world, down to its versatility both in the vineyard and the winery.

Tastes like: With an intense strawberries and cream aroma, Pleno Rosado tastes like strawberry and raspberry fruits. Although it is dark in colour, it is light and crisp on the palate and it lifts flavours with its refreshing acidity.

Goes well with: As an ideal accompaniment to ethnic cuisines, fish and poultry, this wine is great with Mexican food. It’s a fantastic match with any of our dishes that are made with black beans – why not try it with a Yucatan Beef Tostada.

Prices: £21/bottle £5.50/glass
In our next blog, we will explore the red wines on our menu. Enjoy your lunch!

El Camion Turns 5!

This month El Camion celebrates its 5th birthday! It’s crazy to think we have been rustling up burritos and shaking margaritas to the hungry and thirsty Soho public for half a decade now. Considered an industry local, a party den or simply the place to chow down on nachos like nobody’s watching, we will be celebrating our 5th birthday in style very soon. There will be tequila.

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In the mean time, here’s a look back at our 5 years on Brewer Street in reviews.

2010 – A Hedonist’s Guide To…

‘This is an after-work joint for local industry insiders (for whom work finishes at midnight) who know to stick with perfectly crafted cocktails, and that the best secret party is hidden in the arse-end of Soho.’

http://www.hg2london.com/bars/bodega/—dicks-at-el-camion—london-uk

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2011 – The Cocktail Lovers

‘This is a lovely, friendly good time bar. Better still everything about enjoying cocktails in London just gets so very much better knowing that Dick Bradsell is around and doing his stuff.’

http://www.thecocktaillovers.com/2011/08/baja-room-el-camion-soho-w1/

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2012 – London On The Inside

‘With decent grub, super cocktails and quirky decor you could easily whittle away your pay packet here and we’ll definitely be giving it a go.’

http://londontheinside.com/2012/07/23/review-el-camion/

 

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2013 – Londonist

‘If you’re up for a dance, Mexican vibes and a damn good time, head to The Pink Chihuahua (‘Dick’s Bar’), quite possibly the friendliest bar in Soho, with warm welcomes and staff with a talent for remembering names and favourite drinks.’

http://londonist.com/2013/10/where-to-get-a-drink-after-midnight-in-london.php

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2014 – I’m A Londoner

‘El Camion has something else up its sleeves; a Mexican restaurant menu that has kept loyal fans flocking straight back over the years to Brewer Street. It seems to have survived, almost solely, off a word-of-mouth trade on the competitive streets of gastro Soho. The long and short of it is: those who like it, love it.’

http://imalondoner.com/el-camion-mexicano-soho/

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2015 – Difford’s Guide

‘In the basement, below Sage Conran’s excellent Mexican restaurant you’ll find the Pink Chihuahua, a basement bar which is often presided over by bartending legend, Dick Bradsell.’

http://www.diffordsguide.com/pubs-and-bars/370/london/the-pink-chihuahua-at-el-camion

Difford's Guide review

The Health Benefits of Avocado

Continuing our theme of how Mexican food is actually one of the best types of food you can put past your lips BAR NONE (kind of), we move away from looking at chillies and on to that Superfood that is the Avocado Pear.

Do you know when Sainsburys first introduced the avocado in 1962, it had to come with instructions – people just didn’t know how to approach this exotic and mystical elliptical green object. And back then they were also not aware that, beneath the rough, scaly skin, not only was there a smooth and buttery green taste-sensation but also a fruit that was packed full of nutrients.

In fact, it’s claimed by some that you can live off of avocado alone – there are that many vitamins and healthy fats crammed in there.

avocado-recipes

 

In fact, it’s claimed by some that you can live off of avocado alone – there are that many vitamins and healthy fats crammed in there.

So, in homage to this most super of foods, here are the top 5 health benefits of avocados:

1.) Avocados are high-fibre foods that provide nearly 20 essential nutrients. Vitamins include A, C, D, E, K and B.

2) Avocados are sodium and cholesterol free – in fact, numerous studies have shown that eating avocado can improve heart disease risk factors

3) They have more potassium than bananas – and a high potassium intake is linked to lowering blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure

4) Studies have shown that an extract from avocado can significantly reduce symptoms of arthritis.

5) Avocados are high in antioxidants, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These nutrients are very important for eye health and lower the risk of cataracts.

 

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So why not come in and make the most of this Superman of the fresh fruit aisle by chowing down on some of our guacamole? Not only is it lip-smackingly tasty but, because we only use fresh produce, it’s wickedly good for you too. Because of the perishability of avocados, most store-bought guac is bulked out with chemicals and preservatives, whereas we only use nature’s bounty. Yet another reason to come chow-down at El Camion and feel good about yourself.

El Camion’s Top Cocktails

Not only do we make the best Mexican fare in town, but we’re a dab hand at mixing cocktails too, with some of London’s most talented bartenders at the shaker. When you’re out for dinner, enjoy scanning your eye over our cocktail menu, where we use premium spirits with inventive ingredients to bring something fresh and innovative to the palate.

Take a peek at some of the most popular cocktails here at El Camion.

Tommy’s Margarita

One of BarChick’s faves, we mix Altos tequila with agave syrup, bringing a sweet agave kick to your classic margarita. Shaken with fresh lime juice and served on the rocks, this is a zesty taste of the Mexican party spirit.

Margarita

 

Pink Chihuahua

So good we named our members bar after it. Or did we name it after our members bar? What came first – the chicken or the egg? Altos tequila shaken with lime juice and almond syrup is delicious enough, creating a fruity, tart concoction. The addition of fresh pomegranate juice mellows the flavour and gives it its beautiful rose hue and, with a topping of shaken egg white, the texture is smooth, silky and completely moreish.

Pink chihuahua

Espresso Martini

The world-famous Espresso Martini was invented by none other than our cocktail aficionado, Dick. Wyborowa Vodka with fresh espresso, Tia Maria, Kahlua, and a dash of sugar is the answer to your prayers when you’re feeling a little less than party. Served straight up in a martini glass, it tastes like strong coffee with notes of chocolate and the texture is smooth and frothy.

Espresso martini

 

Also give these two a try:

Chilli-pina-rita

Another one of Dick’s creations, the Chilli-pina-rita is as exotic as it sounds. Altos Blanco Tequila is given a tropical hit with fresh pineapple spears, pineapple syrup and lime juice. Fresh red chillies bring a fiery dimension to it, awaking those tastebuds and delivering a helpful swift boot to your metabolism. Fresh, vibrant and spicy, it’s a great pre-dinner choice.

El Diablo

A favourite with those who like their cocktails how they like their dancing: fresh and fruity. Altos tequila mixed with lime juice and ginger ale, then topped with crème de cassis. Served long over ice, it is the taste of summer, whatever season we’re in.

Sangrita, You Say?!

As a house policy we don’t serve tequila with salt and lime. Instead we serve a homemade red sangrita, made with fresh pomegranate juice and hot sauces. All our tequilas are made from 100% agave and are some of the finest tequilas coming out of Mexico – we don’t want to sully them with salt!

 

Sangrita

 

Don’t confuse sangrita with sangria, though. Sangrita, meaning ‘little blood’, is a customary companion to a shot of straight tequila and is traditionally made from leftover juices (like orange and lime), pomegranate, fine pepper powder and spices. Its peppery, citrus taste compliments the tequila, also peppery and citrusy in taste, and highlights the tequila’s crisp acidity.

 

Tequila and sangrita

 

Traditionally, sangrita and tequila are poured into separate shot glasses and sipped alternatively, so that the sangrita cleanses the palate between each sip. We won’t judge you, however, if you decide to chase your shot of tequila with the sangrita. It’s more fun that way. It’s also used in a drink known as ‘The Mexican Flag’, where three separate double shot glasses are filled with lime juice, tequila and sangrita.

 

Mexican flag

 

Make your own sangrita!

A basic traditional recipe:

1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 to 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. real pomegranate-based grenadine
1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder or 3 dashes hot sauce
1-2 slices jalapeño

OR… just pour the juices left over from a fruit salad into a cup, along with some hot sauce, chilli powder, pepper and pomegranate juice, mix it altogether and there you have it – a traditional slap-dash sangrita, the way it was meant to be. Now onto choosing the tequila…

Spice up your life – and lose pounds!

Well, it’s January. Bleak, cold, decoration-less January. For many of you this may mean the Health Kick – joining the gym, cutting back on the pork scratchings, and generally drinking most of your meals rather than eating them, courtesy of that new juicer you bought in the sales.

 

But wait! There’s hope on the horizon for all of you staring glumly at your dinner of lettuce leaves and hot lemon water. Because there’s one super food that should not be ignored, and it’s where we excel.

Hot red chili or chilli pepper

That’s right – chillies! Adding these heat-missiles to your food can help burn fat and give your weight loss a boost. Not only that, but they curb appetite, meaning if you munch something spicy there’s a chance you won’t eat as much. So, coming into El Camion and having a dollop of some of our spicy sauce on the side might help you fit into those skinny jeans.

 

Here’s the science bit. Capsaicin is the chemical that gives chillies their pungency, and it also stimulates a natural process of converting food into heat. This process is known as ‘diet-induced thermogenesis’, and helps burn up calories rather than have them hanging around on unwelcome bits like, say, the hips.

 

And how about starting the day with a Bloody Maria? Not only is tomato juice one of your five a day and low calorie, but having spice in the morning can help you opt for a lighter lunch. Good thing we’re starting a Sunday brunch menu soon – the perfect excuse to add a bit of heat early on!

 

So there we go. All of our food is freshly made, and we use quality ingredients, so whether you’re adding chilli sauce to a grilled chicken taco or having extra chilli slices in your grilled fish ensalada, then up the heat and burn some calories. You’ll have ditched the December paunch in no time!

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