Wednesday 22nd January - On a cold January evening, I made my way over to Mestizo for a blogger event run by Square Meal and Nuffnang. I had previously eyed up the Mexican tequila & mezcal paradise en route to Shaker & Co next door, so it was great to finally make it inside.
I popped on my name tag (Matt - Speak Easy Find Hard apparently!) and started to put a face to some blogs including The Cutlery Chronicles (Leyla), Gingle Lists Everything (Jamina) and Wanderlust & Bake (Abby). It quickly became clear that I was in a room full of foodies, so I was the happiest in the room when it was revealed that it was going to be a boozy evening of tequila and mezcal tasting, rather than a tour of Mestizo's authentic Mexican cuisine. We all started with a Negroni-esque cocktail made with Tequila Tapatio, Cocchi Rosa and Grapefruit Bitters - delicious.
After a quick meet and greet, we found our seats so that Tom Bartram from Speciality Brands could chat to us about all things agave (which is apparently related to asparagus?) whilst we sipped on some Tapatio Blanco (a very affordable tequila which would convert haters). We went through the "all tequilas are mezcals" chat. Most "Mezcal" is made in Oaxaca (that's Wahaca to you), whilst "Tequila" is a mezcal made with blue agave in regions around the city of Tequila and in Los Altos in the state of Jalisco.
We moved quickly through to the pricey Don Fulano Imperial (paired with some tasty Molotes and Pellizcadas) before switching to Ilegal Mezcal Joven Blanco served in a specially imported fruit shell that I am desperate to get a few of for home sipping. Finally, we tried Illegal Mezcal Anejo paired with Flautas de Pollo and Sopes. It really is time to get a bottle of Tequila and Mezcal for your bar shelf at home. Tapatio Blanco and Ilegal are a good place to start. I also recommend the superb peppery Tequila Ocho Anejo that I have sitting at home. If you aren't sure what to go with, then go to Mestizo and get tasting!
We did have one last dish to soak up all the booze - a mini cheese empanada with quazamole and tiras de tortilla. We only touched on the fantastic food menu, I will need to return to give a full account of it sometime though I would imagine the evening would still end up going down a similarly boozy route!
It was revealed just before we left that the tasty powder that we were dipping cucumbers into was made with ground up larvae. These little critters are often put into bottles of mezcal. Apparently they were originally in there to prove that the product was safe to drink - if they have decomposed, pass the bottle to someone else!
|Selection of dishes from Mestizo|
Thanks to Square Meal, Nuffnang, Speciality Brands and Mestizo for a fun evening. The back bar has to be seen to be believed and is an absolute must visit for any agave fans out there, but the food deserves equal billing too.
Tuesday January 28th - Sticking to the blogger event theme for this post, I was delighted to be invited by Sauce Communications to a cookery demonstration at Augustine Kitchen by head chef Franck Raymond. Located 5 minutes from my flat (hooray!) near Battersea Bridge, Augustine Kitchen is a lovely little French restaurant named after Franck's grandmother.
Another load of foodies (including familiar faces of Leyla from Mestizo the week before, Giulia from Mondomulia and the prolific Wilkes) squeezed in to the bar area, cameras at the ready, to watch Franck prepare a load of seasonal salads.
Franck started by making a simple mayonnaise (sans whisk) and a vinaigrette before speedily preparing Nicoise, Lentil, Ceviche, Lobster and Thai salads before our eyes. Franck always aims to use mostly raw ingredients in his salads to keep it all fresh and quick. He made it all look very easy and sent round the recipes afterwards so that we could try at home. Get in touch if you would like to see them.
Thankfully, we got to sit down and eat them afterwards as mouths were clearly watering. The Ceviche salad with scallops and 3 types of melon disappeared first, quickly followed by the delicious Lobster salad (with tangy grapefruit). I'll definitely try and recreate them at home.
After our round of fresh healthy salads, we were presented with a load of wonderfully cheesy tartiflette dishes - simple but perfect food for a cold winter. Augustine Kitchen are currently running Tartiflette Tuesdays - £14.95 for Tartiflette and a glass of wine. I'll be the one in the corner with three empty dishes and cheese on my face.
|Tartiflette Tuesdays at Augustine Kitchen|
Thanks to Sauce Communications and Augustine Kitchen for the wonderful food. It was great to meet more fun foodies, photographers and friends including Yummy Choo Eats (supperclubs from Selina), Charlotte Hu (photography) and Chris from Triptease - there's a wedding dream team in there somewhere. Some of us continued the evening in the excellent Westbridge Draft House over the road - look out for their ale that they sell at £2.75 every day until it runs out. They have also just opened their 6th site on Seething Lane near Tower Hill.