DIY Mexican

Tom Dalton whips up a chocolate mole cocktail at Mamasita. Photo: Justin McManus Tostaditas at Mamasita. Photo: Eddie Jim
Nanjing Night Net

Melbourne’s Mexican wave shows little sign of abating and while it’s become as easy as a schoolyard chant to reel off Melbourne’s popular Mexican eateries – ”Mamasita-Touche Hombre-Fonda-Chingon-cha-cha-cha!” – there’s more to explore than a mere taco smackdown. Mexico’s Day of the Dead is just around the corner (October 31 to November 2), a massive celebration that remembers the dearly departed with colourful graveside parties, so now’s the perfect time to delve deeper into Melbourne’s Mexican scene.1. Mexican breakfast

It’s not unusual to see huevos rancheros on a cafe menu these days but the diner at Acland St Cantina pushes the breakfast envelope to include spiced-up morning versions of tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as a creamy Oaxacan hot chocolate. It’s the best wake-up your taste buds could ask for.

Acland St Cantina, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, 9536 1175, aclandstcantina南京夜网.au2. Tequila flight

Tequila has long been misunderstood by those who have tangled with it and lost, but a tasting flight is a great way to learn more about it. At Mamasita, a basic flight of three small pours will compare tequilas of the same age but differing regions or distilleries, or tequilas from the same distillery but of differing ages. Entry-level flights start at $30. More adventurous flights are $110 for three 50ml pours and take-home skull bottles.

Mamasita, level 1, 11 Collins Street, city, 9650 3821, mamasita南京夜网.au3. Chilli central

With names that sound like off-brand super-heroes – Taipan Venom, Morning Afterburn, Devil’s Delirium – Chilli Obsession stocks the stuff of Scoville-fuelled dreams. There is a massive range of hot sauces (with many available to sample) as well as dried chillies, and chilli plants when they’re in season. USA Foods in Moorabbin also carries plenty of hot sauces, or you can hit Aztec Products for dried numbers.

Chilli Obsession, shop 5, 47-53 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda 9751 0881; USA Foods, 67-73 Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, 8672 9107, usafoods南京夜网.au; Aztec Products, 8a Adina Court, Tullamarine, 9330 1733, aztecmexican南京夜网.au.4. Ditch the queues and go truckin’

Bizarrely, the more Mexican restaurants Melbourne has, the longer the queues seem to get. Ditch the waiting and instead check out the nearest taco truck. Follow them on Twitter or download the free wherethetruckat app to see who’s nearby and how quickly you can be tucking into chargrilled corn on the cob. You might strike Chingon’s bronze beauty of a van, the flame-red Dos Diablos, the classic Taco Truck or, further down the peninsula, Gidget’s Cantina.

app.wherethetruck.at; @ChingonTacoTruc; @tacotruckmelb; @DosDiablosTruck; @GidgetsCantina5. Buy the book

Tim White from Books for Cooks has seen a spike in demand for Mexican cookbooks, noting there are always at least two shelves heaving with culinary guides to the region. If you want to learn more about cooking Mexican, popular authors to explore include Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy and Roberto Santibanez.

Books for Cooks, 233 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 8415 1415, booksforcooks南京夜网.au.6. Cook it yourself

Classes are a great way to gain a deeper knowledge of a cuisine. Trupp Cooking School in South Yarra runs a six-hour class ($208) with an emphasis on dishes you can easily recreate at home. Cheltenham’s Relish Mama runs a three-hour demonstration-based class ($130). For a classroom with a difference, Hazel Jones runs the Junk Food Cooking School, where classes (four hours, $145) are run out of a genuine Chinese junk moored at the Docklands. You’ll learn how to make your own tortillas, mole, corn bread, elotes and kingfish ceviche, then you’ll wine and dine on the spoils.

Trupp Cooking School, shop 1, 53 Barry Street, South Yarra, 9826 9119, truppcookingschool南京夜网; Relish Mama, shop 1, 347 Bay Road, Cheltenham, 9553 4846, relishmama南京夜网.au; Junk Food Cooking School, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, 0403 568 999, junkfoodcookingschool南京夜网.au.7. Get the groceries

Once you get into Mexican cooking, it’s an addictive wonderland to explore. Head to Casa Iberica for an extensive range of Mexican groceries. Oasis Bakery, which is essentially Middle Eastern, stocks some Mexican dry goods while online stores like guacamalle南京夜网.au have a huge range, including cute Mexican sweets. Acland St Cantina’s take-home recipe kits are a fun starting point – you may strike a red mole kit, complete with dried chillies, seeds, nuts, tomatillos, spices and chocolate.

Casa Iberica, 25 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, 9419 4420, casaibericadeli南京夜网.au; Oasis Bakery, shop 9, 993 North Road, Murrumbeena, 9570 1122, oasisbakery南京夜网.au.8. Meet the (tortilla) press

If you’re having friends over for a Mexican feast, why not make your own tortillas from scratch? Pick up a cast iron tortilla press from Aztec Products ($33.80) or Oasis Bakery ($38). If you’re not confident about making your own masa (dough), El Cielo in Port Melbourne sells kilo balls of white corn masa (among many other Mexican goodies) for a mere $3, so you’re good to go.

El Cielo, shop 5, 177 Salmon Street, Port Melbourne, 9646 1457, elcielo南京夜网.au.9. Get them fresh

If you don’t have faith in your own tortilla-making skills, head to the backstreets of Kensington, where a bright flash of cobalt blue signals La Tortilleria, a simple Mexican eatery with a hypnotic, high-tech tortilla bakery and an authentic ”nixtamal” method. They stone-grind their own corn for the tortillas, which you can buy fresh to use at home or freeze for later.

La Tortilleria, 72 Stubbs Street, Kensington, 9376 5577, latortilleria南京夜网.au and El Ceilo (see above).10. Plate it right

Although a messy taco requires little more than a fistful of napkins, a sumptuous mole deserves a bright plate. Market Import, tucked away behind Armadale Station, is a kaleidoscope of colourful crockery, platters, glassware and tin mirrors from Mexico, while Gertrude Street’s Amor y Locura imports handwoven fruit trays and platters.

Market Import, 19 Morey Street, Armadale 9500 0764, marketimport南京夜网.au; Amor y Locura, 77 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9486 0270, amorylocura南京夜网.11. Mexican for vegetarians

It’s not a major challenge to be a vegetarian faced with a Mexican menu, but some places make it even easier. Fitzroy’s Trippy Taco features an all-veg menu, including a tofu asada burrito with goat’s cheese, salsa and lime, and many dishes can easily be switched to vegan and/or gluten-free versions.

Trippy Taco, 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9415 7711, trippytaco南京夜网.au.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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