Mexican Ambassadors

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!

This snapshot captures the essence of our "research dinners."

This snapshot captures the essence of our “research dinners.”

Making masa like mama taught him

Making masa like mama taught him

 

The tamales look home-made but that's the point.

The tamales look home-made but that’s the point.

Cocina de Mama at the Lark

Cocina de Mama at the Lark

Guajillo, chipotle and ancho sasas (or hot, hotter and ridiculous)

Guajillo, chipotle and ancho sasas (or hot, hotter and ridiculous)

 

Last time around we made a ceviche tostada and it was killer!

Last time around we made carnitas and a ceviche tostada that was killer!

We made Carlos the cash man so he could talk up the tacos and truly be the Mexican Ambassador.

We made Carlos the cash man so he could talk up the tacos and truly be the Mexican Ambassador.

 

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3 responses to “Mexican Ambassadors

  1. So glad I stumbled upon your website!! I have a deep love for Mexican food (although my knowledge is limited) and have been experimenting with different recipes that I have found online but I’m having difficulties with sourcing Mexican ingredients! Where do u get your supplies from? I also live in Hobart! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Vanessa

    • Hi Vanessa,
      We love finding other Mexican lovers in Hobart. The chiles we use come from Spice World off Liverpool Street. But– full disclosure– we are also having friends and family bring along chiles from the US when they visit. One thing I highly recommend: go to the library and check out Rick Bayless’ cookbook “Mexican Kitchen”. He is an awesome author and restauranteur who I respect (and Carlos agrees is legit!). The recipes will point you in the right direction for good, authentic Mexican food. Enjoy!
      Paige

      • Hi Paige! I feel so incredibly rude… I didn’t realise that you had responded, it went into my spam folder! Thank you for your advice, will definitely check Rick out (I saw him on Top Chef!) I made tamales the other day too, it was fun but alot of work! I used masa harina (it said that it was ok to make tamales with it) and bamboo leaves because I didn’t know where to get corn husks- it altered the taste (as bamboo leaves have a strong taste!) Did you get your corn husks in Tassie? Are there any stores in Tassie which stock Mexican products like corn husks, maseca, pinto beans? 🙂 Sorry for all the questions! x

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