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Posts Categorised: Mexico

It’s Mexican Independence Day!

Hola! Today is Mexican Independence Day! Of course, this means muchos celebrating in the only way we know how – eating, drinking and dancing!

 

We’ve got two amazing food specials on today; the first of which being Crispy Baja Prawn Tostadas. For just £9, we will set alight your tastebuds with big, fat and juicy grilled king prawns served on crispy tortilla shells with black beans and all the fixings.

 

Our second special is Filete de Frio Res for £15.50. Mouthwatering rare beef tenderloin is served chilled with chipotle mayonnaise, a peppery salad and spiced creamed black beans. Man o man!

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And we couldn’t forget about a special Mexican Independence Day drink. We’ll be serving a cocktail which is based on a traditional Independence Day punch, consisting of Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila, cinnamon, apple, guava, pomegranate and lime juices, garnished with edible flowers. Get your hands on a glass of Independence Ponche for just £7.

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Finally – the dancing! The brilliant Cash Cows shall be doing a Mexican Independence themed set, so expect sombreros, guitars, and a helluva good time.

Olé!

IT’S NEARLY MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Next Wednesday – September 16th – signals a very important date in the Mexican calendar. It is, after all, MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Now, there will no doubt be a few people thinking ‘hang on, wasn’t that back in May?’, but as we explained in a previous post, Cinco de Mayo is a very different thing.

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th as, on this date back in 1810, the ‘Cry of Dolores’ (Grito de Dolores) was sounded from the small town of Dolores in Mexico.  This event marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence, where a priest named Hidalgo revolted against the Spanish Colonial Government.  Despite this, Mexico’s independence would not be effectively declared from Spain until September 28, 1821 – a decade later. This would become the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire.

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In foodie terms, the world also recognises this day as National Guacamole Day (well, why not?) So if you’re in Soho, then do pop in for a dose of the green stuff – and we’ll keep you updated on what offers we plan.

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So what’s all this about a Burrito?

Ah, burritos. We love them. You love them. Everyone who has tried an El Camion burrito loves them, because they’re so darned tasty. Whether tender Yucatan Beef, juicy Pork Carnitas, some healthy and fresh Grilled Fish or the ever popular Chicken Tinga, they are one of the most popular items on the menu. There’s even a chance to Make Them Wet… mmm.

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So what is the history of this magnificent parcel of wrapped heaven? Well, El Camion is here to tell you.

We’re fine purveyors of Baja Californian cuisine, which is from the area closer to America. But for those in the more southern part of the country, or any Spanish speakers, the name might bring a bit of confusion. Because, in Spanish, ‘Burro’ means donkey, and ‘Burrito’ means little donkey.

Why? Because the first burritos contained donkey meat… *Jokes!* No, that’s not it at all. But the real reason is shrouded in mystery. The most popular story, which is probably not entirely true, is that Juan Mendez, a man from Chihuahua in Mexico, would cart around his food supplies using a donkey. To keep the morsels warm he would wrap them up in a flour tortilla. So the name apparently comes from the fact the food was delivered and sold with the help of a donkey cart.

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But still, it is unlikely Juan Mendez actually created the burrito. This dish became popular in the early twentieth century around the time of the Mexican Revolution, but the Diccionario de Mexicanismos has an entry for the burrito as early as 1895. it describes the burrito as “A rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called ‘coçito’ in Yucatán and ‘taco’ in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City.”

Another theory is that burritos are named after little asses because the wrapped goodies look a little like donkey’s ears, or bedrolls that would have been carried by donkeys. But one thing is for certain – El Camion makes a mean one, and they are definitely worth a trip to experience!

 

The various types of Mexican food we tried On Tour

Here at El Camion, our menu comprises of mostly cuisine from the Baja California region of Mexico. This Northern part of the country has links to the United States, and comprises of lots of fish, tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as fish and steak.

So it was fun to explore the other gastronomic delights of Mexican food when we went On Tour to Mexico City recently, and see the dishes that don’t make it as frequently across the seas. Here’s a little round-up of what we found:

CACTUS SALAD

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Yep, that’s right – a salad made from cactus. Actually refreshing and completely delicious. It had the texture of green beans but was much more flavoursome, and was marinated with lime juice, coriander, chilli and onion. Cactus is actually incredibly good for you, having many of the same properties and nutrients as Aloe Vera (it’s from the same genus). We also had cactus pears (very tasty), and wonderful cactus juice.

CHILAQUILES

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Chilaquiles is a traditional breakfast dish in Mexico containing, as many meals do, tortilla chips.The tortilla chips are fried until they start to soften, then placed on a plate and topped with pulled chicken and sour cream, and served with refried beans on the side. To ensure the tortillas remain crisp, the salsa is added last – in this example it is red salsa.

BLUE CORN TORTILLA QUESADILLAS 

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Quesadillas can be eaten at any time of day (we serve some very popular ones at El Camion!) but these particular varieties were eaten at breakfast. They have a variety of fillings, including mushroom, cactus and pulled pork. What makes them quesadillas is the melted cheese inside – the name comes from the Spanish word ‘Queso’, which means cheese. Blue corn (also known as Hopi maize) is a variety of flint maize grown in Mexico. It contains 20 percent more protein than white corn, and has a sweeter, nuttier taste.

TRI-COLOUR ENCHILADA

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Enchiladas, for anyone who hasn’t chowed down on our El Camion variety, is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered in sauce, usually containing rice and a mix of meat and vegetables. This variety has three colours made from green and red salsa and black beans. The sour cream also adds to the impression of colours from the Mexican flag.

TORTILLA SOUP

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These tortillas crop up everywhere! Well, they are a staple item in Mexican food. It’s very popular to have them cut into strips and added to soup, such as this tomato variety made with chicken stock. Other additions include avocado chunks and fried onions.

 

So there you have it – a little gastronomic tour of our visit to Mexico City! If you fancy experiencing the flavours of Mexican Food yourself then come down and visit some day – and here’s a picture of our fabulous Mixed Botanas to tempt you!

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The colours of Mexico City

Here at El Camion, we’re known for being a bright and cheerful kind of establishment. We serve authentic Baja Californian cuisine, and like to bring the joys of warmer climes to Soho with our eye-popping decor.

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And a recent visit to Mexico proved beyond all doubt that this is one of the most colourful and vibrant places we’ve ever encountered.

Take the houses, casually jostling for space in Mexico City centre, right next to historical Spanish churches…

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They’re beautiful! Canary-yellow and cherry red facades, with azure blue awnings on the windows. Why can’t London be a little more cheerful?!

Then there are the famous pieces of artwork…

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This is just a small portion of the incredible mural painted by Diego Rivera, showing the history of Mexico and its people. Literally the most beautiful, intricate and colourful piece of artwork we’ve ever seen.

There are the traditional boats, also known as trajineras, which are found in Xochimilco…

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The spices in the market…

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And even the breakfasts! If we woke up to such colourful food every day, we’re sure we’d be smiling ALL THE TIME!

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Which is why we aim to bring similar happiness with the plates that we serve…

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So, if you can’t get over to Mexico yourself, just remember – we’re on hand to bring the brightness to London!

 

 

El Camion are going on tour!

Well, the day has come… for a while now we’ve been giving you numerous facts and figures and wonderful information about Mexico, and next week El Camion goes on tour!

We’ll be jetting over to Mexico City to experience some of the most famous sites, places of cultural significance, restaurants and, naturally TEQUILA! So make sure to follow us on Twitter @ElCamion_Soho to keep up to date.

Below are an array of the places we’ll be dropping into, in an effort to get thoroughly immersed in the culture of this wonderful city.

A trip to the world heritage site of Xochimilco – place of Aztec canals and brightly coloured boats called trajineras, where we’ll be eating lunch in a traditional manner.

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A visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum – a bright blue house that was the place she was born, lived for some time, and then died. The celebrated Mexican painter was known for her bold, personal and occasionally troubling artwork that pushed boundaries, as well as for her tempestuous love life.

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A visit to the holy city of Teotihuacan (‘the place where the gods were created’) Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., it is characterized by the vast size of its monuments – in particular, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. It is one of the most powerful cultural centres in Mesoamerica, and is one the archaeological sites with the longest history of exploration in Mexico.

And naturally we’ll also be stopping off at the Tequila and Mezcal museum, which we’ve already written a blog about!

So make sure to follow us for all the action from Mexico City @ElCamion_Soho – see you there!

 

A MUSEUM FOR TEQUILA & MEZCAL?! HELL YES!

Yes, you did read the title correctly. There is indeed an actual museum purely for the celebration of Tequila and Mezcal. And it is, naturally, in Mexico.

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The Museo del Tequila y del Mezcal is located in the Plaza Garibaldi – part of historic downtown Mexico City. The museum is a sign of the renewal of this area – oh yeah, and it’s also a FREAKIN’ GREAT IDEA FOR ALL AGAVE AFICIONADOS!

You see, tequila and mezcal are as intrinsic to the heritage and cultural identity of Mexico as, well, sombreros and mariachi bands. One simply can’t think of Mexico without thinking of awesome agave. After all, they’re the two most traditional drinks.

The museum is spread over two rooms, and there are exhibitions, talks, concerts, presentations of Mexican distillates, gastronomy, lectures and loads of other cultural events. One room is dedicated to tequila and mezcal, while the second celebrates and informs about the history of the Mariachi and Garibaldi Plaza.

And you know what else? We’re betting this place has the BEST gift shop in the world.

 

Chicken distilled Mezcal? Hell yes!

When scanning our Mezcal menu, your eyes might drift to the bottom and alight upon our Del Maguey Pechuga de Minero. Then you might do a double take. After all, this is our most premium Mezcal, priced at £18 per 25ml (trust us fans, it’s worth it).

But then they might do a triple take. Why? Because, on reading the description, you will see that, not only is it legendary, but the word ‘Pechuga’ means chicken breast. This is because of the chicken breast that is suspended inside the still in a basket of fruit during the third distillation.

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Well, we thought this warranted a bit of El Camion fact-finding on your part. Apparently the tradition is centuries old, with Del Maguey’s variety dating back at least 75 years. Their mezcal is an infusion of wild mountain apples and plums, plantains, pineapples, almonds, and uncooked white rice, as well as that famous chicken breast. The meat is said to balance the fruit which, at one point, might have masked the taste of bland mezcals in times gone by. Now it’s a delicacy, and crafted from closely guarded family recipes.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the spirit tastes of poultry. It simply adds a complexity to the flavour, with some tasters using the words umami and unctuous. Some say they can detect hints, almost like a stock or broth, but mainly it’s the fruit components, or the smokiness. The chicken breast is suspended by its ribcage so that the steam cooks through within minutes. Common belief holds that the chicken’s fat and proteins help soften the blow of the smoky mezcal.

So, as long as you’re not a veggie and want to experience an incredible mezcal, we’re the place to come. You need to try at least once!

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Protecting our agave

Can a bunch of bartenders save artisanal mezcal and tequila? We bet you they can!

It’s no secret that here at El Camion we love tequila and we love mezcal – two awesome spirits made from the wonders of agave. But, if the agave is not protected, what does this mean for the industry and the livelihood of the noble agave farmer?

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This informative article from PUNCH talks about TIP (Tequila Interchange Project) and how this group is influencing government policy in Mexico regarding agave production.

TIP’s story began in 2010. Five bartenders, who were originally on a trip to find out more about tequila, learned of the changing nature of the agave spirits and together, with a mezcal producer, embarked on a mission to preserve the sustainable, traditional and quality practices in the tequila industry.

Mexicans have been farming agave for hundreds and hundreds of years, and it wasn’t until the 20th century that international demand started to soar, due to a global desire for cocktails. Multinational spirits companies started buying up farms, turning them into high production facilities. The agave rush had begun – but with it came over-planting, early harvesting, diseases within the crops and lots of wastage.

Because of demand, the future does mean innovative industrial production, which, of course, risks wiping out artisanal practices that have been passed down through families for generations.

TIP have campaigned to protect small distilleries and have already stopped policies going through that would have been a threat to the traditional culture of mezcal production. Now, a thriving non-profit organisation, they comprise of bartenders, consultants, educators, researchers, consumers and tequila enthusiasts and are seen as a leading advocacy group for agave distilled spirits.

Keep updated about TIP here on their website.

@ThinkTequila

So how did YOU celebrate Cinco De Mayo?

Well, this time last week we were holding our heads and groaning slightly, ready to indulge in our of our Mexican Hangover cures. Yep, it was the morning after Cinco De Mayo – a time when all of El Camion and The Pink Chihuahua get their party sombreros on.

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There was a great atmosphere in the bar for Cinco De Mayo, with people dropping in for margaritas, nachos, and general good cheer. So how did other places celebrate the victory over France at the Battle of Puebla? We take a little look…

FOOD:

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San Francisco loves a good bit of food – and so whether to celebrate the rich cultural history of Mexico, or simply another good reason to get tiddled on Margaritas on a week night, then the Bay Area threw a good party. These homemade tacos and corn chips represent some of the tastiest cuisine of the area, and there were several authentic menus, street fairs, and chances to immerse oneself in the Mexican culture.

FIREWORKS:

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It wouldn’t be a good party without a firework or two (Mexico has a whole festival dedicated to gunpowder, don’t you know!). Fireworks lit up the sky from California to the Southern tip of Mexico, marking the victory of the battle over a hundred years ago.

FIESTAS:

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From street fairs, floats, dancing and stalls celebrating traditional Mexican customs and costumes, the streets of Mexico City were a riot of colour and excitement!

And some good old patriotism..

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This image shows two caballeros in traditional riding outfits proudly lead the Cinco de Mayo parade displaying the flag of Mexico.

 

But remember – Cinco De Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day! This occurs on Wednesday, September 16th. Just enough time for us to start planning another big bash…