Carlos and I never set out to make a business from our little pop-up Cocina de Mama venture. When Matt joined us one evening for tacos, the idea really sprang from Matt’s enthusiasm for our Mexican food and our desire to share good, real Mexican food with more of Hobart.
Our last pop-up was at the Lark a couple of weeks ago and it was probably our best one yet. We weren’t super slammed like we had been before but we were better prepared and thus we actually had fun. That said, it’s a lot of work. More than you can begin to imagine. Tortillas are easy: masa and water on a press and you’re good to go. Toast some chiles, blend and serve… Not even close. I’m sure the three of us each spent a good eight hours prepping plus the time shopping for ingredients and working the pop-up. So why do it? Because the best part about all of this is the dinners we have together before we say “go.” It’s when we get together with friends and cook food casually in the kitchen, chatting and dissecting the flavors, deciding what chile combination gets the hottest, smokiest salsa, practicing our tortilla press, and more than anything, teaching our Tasmanian friends about true, authentic Mexican food.
Last night we had one of those tasting sessions. With the help of Matt, Tim, Kelly and Jaquie, Carlos and I made tamales. It was the first time our friends had ever eaten tamales and we put them right to work with the corn husks and maseca. I made a Puebla style mole the day before (ancho, guallijo, almonds, pepitas, chocolate and about fifteen other ingredients that I’ll keep secret) and dare say I blew the minds of our Aussie guests as to how chocolate and chiles can marry so well together. Carlos whipped up some Abuelita hot chocolate for dessert and we reminisced about trips to Mexico drinking hot chocolate and eating fresh churros.
We named our pop-up “Cocina de Mama” as an homage to the time spent in our mothers’ (and fathers’) kitchen cooking and eating Mexican food. That’s where Carlos and I have both developed a passion for cooking and food. Though Asia and the South Pacific may be the obvious geographical choice for a few weeks of post-Oz travel, our tastebuds are calling us in a different direction. Our time in Tasmania has made us both feel like we need to get back to Mexico on a culinary and cultural research trip soon. Before heading back to the States for good we’re going to spend a few weeks visiting Oaxaca, Puebla, DF and Guadalajara!