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Mixing it up at Mestizo

8 Oct

Oh how I’d been looking forward to visiting Mestizo on Hampstead Road, Euston. So many Mexican restaurants in London. And so few serve REAL Mexican food, and yes, that is said as one who has been to that gorgeous country and tasted its fine cuisine. 

What really led me here was my quest to find real mole in London. No, not guacamole, mole, a delicious sauce made with up to 80 ingredients including chocolate and chilli, and particularly scrummy when served with chicken! Many a time I’ve scoured an uninspiring menu in a London Mexican restaurant, asked whether they serve mole and been met with a gormless expression- “Do we serve whaat?” It seems most Mexican restaurants serve Tex Mex- nachos, tortillas, enchiladas, tacos, you’ve got the picture. I was disappointed on a recent trip to Wahaca where the food still fell into that category, but Mestizo serves up all that stuff and then the real thing too. Continue reading

A Taste of Spain on London’s Regent Street

7 Jun

Central London shoppers were in for a special treat on Sunday, when A Taste of Spain converted Regent Street into a festival of Spanish culture, just for one day. Some 500,000 visitors checked out the food stalls, music stage and other displays that stretched the length of Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, closed off to traffic.

Jump right in! Paella Valenciana- yum!

The colourful fiesta included giant paellas from Valencia, dancing horses from Menorca and drummers from the Tamborrada de San Sebastián, who performed for the first time away from their basque home town. A foody’s delight, the festival also featured numerous stalls with culinary delights from Andalucia and Navarra.

Dancing horses from Menorca

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Soho’s Barrio Central celebrates first birthday

21 May

Every Friday and Saturday night’s a big night at Barrio Central, but last weekend surpassed the normal festivities when clubbers came out in droves to celebrate the Soho restaurant-club’s first birthday under a canopy of piñatas, balloons and multi-coloured fairy lights.

Read on for more photos from the night

Focused on the barrio/ neighbourhood theme, Barrio Central describe themselves as a place “where like minded individuals gather to sip cocktails, shoot tequila, eat pinchos and booty shake to ghetto beats”. Although they’re located slap bang in the middle of Soho, on Poland Street, Barrio Central aims to shrug off the “pretentiousness” you might find in other hangouts nearby. The club’s little brother, Barrio North,  has opened in Angel and delivers more of the Latino beats, cheap drinks, good food and friendly atmosphere. Continue reading

Loewe comes to London

17 Apr

Last month Spanish luxury leather brand Loewe opened a new boutique on Mount Street, Mayfair, its first independent shop in London. Previously only available to London shoppers at Selfridges and Harrods, Loewe has found its new home in a gorgeous nineteenth century building complete with cornicing  and pillared entrance; it is almost as attractive as the colourful treats inside.

As pretty outside as it is within: Loewes new Mount Street shop

Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof at the launch

The launch party attracted some big fashion names as well as mainstream celebs; Bianca Jagger, Marie Helvin, Jade Parfitt, Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof were all in attendance. Guests nibbled classic Spanish tapas including chorizo and manchego, washed down by Moet & Chandon champagne and elderflower presses. Sadly, HispanicLondon was not invited, but this doesn’t stop us from lauding this iconic Spanish brand and celebrating its bold arrival in the capital… Continue reading

A taste of Brazil in Camden Town: Spiritual Caipirinha

31 Mar

Tucked away on a side street in the bustling, strutting heart of Camden Town, Spiritual Caipirinha is a gem of a restaurant- bar, known to few. The tiny venue is intimate and trendy, squeezing in a few tables in front of a bar that boasts a bottle collection and cocktail list worthy of the Brazilian cocktail the place is named after. Our fifteen-seater table for the occasion filled most of the restaurant and proved quite an obstacle once the bar got busy, with chatty Latinos and trendy North Londoners squeezing round us to get through. Continue reading

Learning to love the burrito at Chilango

10 Feb

Chilango on Islington's Upper Street

There’s something I have to admit. I’m a burrito virgin. Or at least I was, before I stepped past the brightly coloured, glassy exterior of Chilango’s Angel branch for my first taste. It’s something about the bulking ooziness of the burrito which has always made me opt for its quesadilla counterpart instead. But no more, dear burrito loving friends. I have now been officially initiated into the Chilango club.

While placing my order, faced with a rather intimidating list of options (how much can you fit in a burrito?), I had an awful thought that this might end up like a visit to Subway. Do you want this sauce? Um, yeah ok. What bread do you want? Um, any. But luckily, it was nothing like it. Here’s some guidance for those who don’t yet know the ropes:

First: choose your carbs/ pulses. There’s rice, black beans or pinto beans. No refried beans at this establishment, James May will be glad to know.

Second: choose your filling. Chicken, beef or veg?

Third: any peppers, cheese, salsa etc?

Fourth: which sauce would you like; mild, medium or hot? And this is the tricky bit. Not shy of a bit of spice I went for the medium and my nose was running ten minutes in, so be warned.

Fifth: if you want guacamole, that’s an extra pound. That may seem steep, but after briefly interrogating the lively deputy manager, Alan, I was reassured that if you want the best avocado, imported from Mexico don’t-you-know, then the extra pound is well worth it. Continue reading

A prostitute, a lizard and a jamón serrano: A typical taste of Almodóvar

19 Dec

No-one can consider themself a fan of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar without seeing one of his most famous films, ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto! or ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ Released in 1984, Almodóvar’s fourth film was his most successful to date, catapulting him onto the international film scene. It can be considered a classic while displaying all the themes and characteristics that still define Almodóvar’s work today in Volver in 2006 and Abrazos rotos in 2009.

Almodóvar described the film as a homage to Italian neorealism, which depicts the poverty and depression of the working class in post-Second World War Italy. In this case Almodóvar depicts the economic struggles of a dysfunctional family in the outskirts of Madrid after Franco’s dictatorship.

But the film is most characterised by Almodóvar’s famous love of colour and the absurd which gained currency during Spain’s transition to democracy and the cultural movement of the movida madrileña. In the 1980s Almodóvar documented Spain’s newfound freedom of expression, experimentation with recreational drugs and use of popular slang in his surreal films. His work has been compared to that of Andy Warhol and the surrealist Spanish film maker Luis Buñuel, who was a member of the daring Generación ‘27 along with Federico García Lorca. Continue reading