There is in London at the moment a Frida Kahlo, exhibition. Willowy blond took her three young Mexicans ( only Sam is truly a Mexican to see it the other day, and reported back that it was worthwhile seeing. Just south of Mexico City is the real, Frida Kahlo exhibition, her house, La Casa Azul in Coyoacán where she lived a tempestuous marriage with Diego Rivera firstly and then a relationship with Leon Trotsky, who moved around the corner from her house and where he was assassinated.
Our first introduction to Mexican food was by the way of Texas, which to be fair, has its own version of Mexican food, which bears no resemblance to Mexican food of Mexico whatsoever! It seems to make no difference whatsoever, if it is Texas, Arizona, Colorado or Florida, Mexican food USA style is what is commonly called TexMex.
It consists usually, of crunchy tortillas, fried with Salsa, so many that you can no longer do justification to your meal, and then the meal itself is beef, chicken of Shrimp Fajitas, Tacos or Burritos served with Guacamole, Salsa, Refried Beans and Rice, maybe with some jalapeno peppers on the side, but slopped on a plate and everyone ( except me that is) leaves the restaurant with a congealed mass in a styrofoam box.
Therefore it was a revelation to go to Mexico and find out all about real Mexican food. And what a revelation it turned out to be. Each morning we would go out for brunch, a choice of eggs with spicy sauces, or soups. freshly made tortillas, made just then by the hole in the wall gang of tortilla makers, And such a choice, and no it was never the Full English !! Many of the “Best restaurants” in the world are to be found in Mexico city. amongst them Pujol, Quitonil, Biko, Bellini and Dulce Patria, and that is not forgetting some of our favourites, Maximo Bistro and Contramar. Oh how we miss them all. But help is at hand because Martha Ortiz, the chef owner of Dulcia Patria has opened a London Branch in the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane ( 1 Hamilton Place, to be precise). Saturday night saw us trooping off to Ella Canta, The imported Mexicans, ( the adult variety), the sylph like Brunette and us.
We started off with cocktails, something we never normally have, but himself and Nickinlaw, both like Tequila or Mezcal, himself getting into the groove by having a shot of tequila at home beforehand.
Then for dinner, three of us chose the Pulpo Con salsa de chiles ahumados y pétalos de cebolla tatemade ( octopus smoked chile sauce and burnt onion), whilst the other 2 chose the Glorioza sopa Azteca, Aztec soup with cheese, avocado and pastilla chile. Both were excellent and would try either of them again.
For our main course four of chose the Carnitas de cerdo el estilo Michoacan con salsa de chile de arbol ( traditional Michoacan Style pork with Arbol Chile Salsa, whilst teh odd one out ( he who always waits to see what everyone ese is having, to be different, and for once that is not Himself), chose the Barbacoa de cordero con salsa de chile morita y garbanzos salterines ( Lamb Shank barbaccoa style with morita chile and jumping chick peas.
The Pork was wonderful, even the brunette who said she was out of her comfort zone eating “fatty” pork thought it was very good. Nickinlaw, loved the lamb Shank, but thought that the chick peas added nothing to the dish.
And finally to dessert. Not a lot of choice as we were having the menu. Four of them chose the churros with caramel and chocolate. whilst I chose the Coconut and vanilla custard. My impressions were that the churros were underwhelming, as all had eaten them at El Moro, in Mexico city, where they have been cooking and serving them, 24 hours a day for the last 85 years! However I enjoyed my flan very much. To round it all off, more tequila and a christmas looking cocktail. also featuring tequila.
So our overall thoughts, ? The food was delicious and value for money by taking the menu was a good option. The BIG downside was that although the restaurant was not full by any means, it was unbelievably noisy. There seems to be an unwritten thought out there, which is let us make as much noise ( in this case piped music) as possible and then everyone will think that is a fun place. It did not need to do that, gentle background would have been good, gentle background mexican would have been better, but loud to the point of drowning all conversation. we asked several times to have the music turned down, and although it was a bit, just not enough and we were told that was to create a certain atmosphere. Umm too much non atmosphere springs to mind. Would we hurry back, maybe not, despite the great food, ruined bu the noise level. Too bad, though.