Monday, 23 January 2017

Mexico City: Wrestling Night!

When I was in Mexico City recently with a group we had a slight change to our itinerary leaving us with an evening to fill.  The guys in the party really wanted to visit the wrestling but to be fair I wasn't initially charged up with the idea.  However I didn't want to stay behind at the hotel and also didn't want to be seen as a 'party pooper' just because I wasn't initially interested in something.

Well, you never know until you experience something and also if you don't go you can't talk from a point of experience about a topic.

We turned up in a rather dark side street and when we were outside the place, the Coliseo, there was suddenly a lot of people hanging around outside, buying souvenir wrestling masks just like the players would be wearing and other icons of the sport.
While we were waiting in our group a couple of the well known (to the locals) wrestlers turned up, wearing their masks so that no one could identify them.  They were happy to talk to their fans and have their photos taken, especially with the children.
They even stopped for a photo or two with our group members wearing masks they had just bought from a street trader for the occasion.  It was funny seeing these grown up transform back into little boys with wrestling masks on giggling and pretending to be big strong wrestlers!
Once inside the stadium I was surprised how small it was and how close the wrestling ring was! As the start got nearer it started to fill up, what we found unusual was how many families were there with babies and young children, each young boy dreaming of their chance to be in the ring!
Plenty of refreshments on sale and without too long a wait the show was ready to commence.  I kept saying how choreographed each round was, calling it 'Strictly Come Wrestling' but the two guys I was sitting with kept on saying it was not scripted or planned.  I must admit though that when they fell to the floor with a really loud bump it must have hurt!

I was expecting huge crowds and unruly behaviour - the reality was a really intimate arena.  We were sitting about 7 rows from the front easily seeing all of the action as it unfolded.
Round 5 was the big one with the big names competing.  To annoy the boys I kept calling it Act 5!
We had a really good evening for less than £10.00 each with plenty of beer, tension and excitement.  If you find yourself in Mexico City with an evening to spare see if you can get a ticket for Luce Libre!

I was a guest of Mexico City Tourism Board however I was not required to write a positive review.  All photos and opinions are my own.  No photos may be reproduced in any way without my written permission.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Mexico City - 5 Great Places to Eat

Mexico City is a vibrant, cosmopolitan and multi-cultural city.  It is the capital city of The United States of Mexico and is steeped in history dating back to civilisations pre-dating Mayan and Aztec pre-hispanic people.  The cuisine of Mexico City has it's roots in the indiginous foods such as corn (maize), beans, avocados, tomatoes and much more.

I have been to Mexico City twice now and have eaten in some of the best restaurants and had fantastic street food.  I want to tell you about five great restaurants to try when you visit the city. This list stretches from quick food at El Califa to the sedate and precise Zafiro.

1.  Tenampa
Garibaldi Square is full of local Mariachi bands each looking for a celebration or group of families to play their iconic music for.
On the left side of the square is a restaurant called Tenampa where they say it all began! It is reputed to be the home of the Mariachi bands, bands who play sad songs of loss (usually the loss of a woman).  There are songs written on the walls to sing along to if you wish.

It costs Mexican peso $120 (approx £5.00) to have the band come to your table and play for you and your family and friends.

The menu is local and authentic.  I had a flank steak which was really tender, garnished with a piece of cactus leaf, guacamole and green chili peppers.  I had one bit of the peppers and thought my head was going to explode, tears running down my face and my nose blocked with a cold immediately cleared!  I was not brave enough to have another bite!!
The Margaritas are huge, frozen and very, very delicious!  You don't need many of these to get into the Mariachi mood!!
2. Zafiro
Zefiro Restaurante Escuela - Universidad del Claustro de Sir Juana (University Restaurant) is Mexico's finest school of gastronomy, each day serving members of the public meals that were cooked by student chefs and served by students learning everything about the hospitality trade.  The teaching is supervised using the high standards based on Distinctive H and Tesoros de Mexico, both recognitions given by the Secretary of Tourism.
The menu was simple and offered to us in English as well as Spanish. The service was impeccable making each of us feel we were the only diner in the restaurant!

The soup (Shelfish Pozole) made with guarjillo chilli,white hominy, squid, scallop, Amberjack fish and shrimps was without a doubt the best soup I have ever tasted!!
My main course a Pork Meatloaf, juicy pork with salad and lime vinaigrette, sweet potato puree drops, apply, chilacayote slices with arlic oil, radish slices and a tasty dressing made with guajillo chili and cinnamon was absolutely delicious but far too much to finish after that wonderful soup.
For dessert we were served the most beautiful and sublime I have ever been served or tasted.  Blanca Plata - a delicious macadamia mousse,pistacio dacquoise, caramalised apple gelee and toasted coconut rings with a dash of edible silver. It was a white cloud of lightness that arrived at the table under glass to a chorus of ooohhs and aaahhs from all around the table.
3.  Taqueria El Califa
El Califa with it's open and transparent kitchen area is a fun place to eat full of young Mexicans out for an evening of quick, simple but tasty taco restaurant situated on the busy and main Paseo de la Reforma 382 in the Juarez district.

The main draw to this restaurant is their kebab like meat on a large skewer cooked rather like our traditional kebabs however tasting completely different.
You order how many tacos you want and they are served quickly with plenty of lime slices (I do love the abundance of limes served in most restaurants in the city.
Sauces are put in front of you and when you run out they will bring more.
The guacamole was without a doubt the best I have ever had, chunky and creamy and truly delicious!
El Califa is fun and vibrant and a must-try if you want up to the minute and contemporary food.

4. La Casa de Tono
Another fun place to pop in for a quick meal that is freshly cooked, up to the minute and makes a great place to meet friends for some tacos before going on together to a nearby club or favourite venue.  There are over twenty venues across the city.

The menu is under glass on the table as part of the tablecloth and the waiters(waitresses) are there to serve you more or less immediately.  All around me was buzzing and full of atmosphere - we were quite late in the evening and there was no sign of a slow down.

I chose the Pozole - a filling and very delicious soup I have fallen in love with! You can pick which meat you want or have a vegetarian version.
On the menu are also the everyday Mexican food choices like Tostadas, quesadillas, soups and tacos - all able to be customised to your favourites.
The kitchen is open and transparent as well as being a hub of activity.
5. Restaurante Terraza y Jardin Nopalito 1949
It was time to head to the Mexico City airport however we stopped for one last meal.  Nopalito1949 is a lovely restaurant perfect for family a get together and Sunday lunch.  As the traffic was a bit heavy we arrived a bit late for our reservation, having to wait about 15 minutes which gave us a chance to have a good look around.

The inside of the restaurant was bright, welcoming and very busy. There was a Mariachi band playing from table to table to add to the atmosphere. In our honour they came to our table and played 'Guantanamera' for us.
The inside of the restaurant is open, bright and airy with trees and fountains.
I love how as soon as we sit down in any restaurant in Mexico City lovely little bowls of colour appear on the table, usually accompanied by tortilla or taco chips. Each bowl contains an explosion of tastes, some quite spicy and other less so but all equally outstanding.
My starter was a mini casserole of breaded shrimp in a bittersweet sauce.
My main course, Mestizo Pasta & Shrimps - Big shrimps and pasta bathed in a tamarind and mini shrimp sauce was pasta with a difference, the tamarind and mini shrimp sauce giving a latino edge to the meal.
Although I chose shrimp for both of my courses the menu was varied and contemporary. I just love shrimp and as I was about to take a flight I didn't want to eat anything particularly heavy however there was plenty on the menu to tempt me another time.

One for the road or should I say one for the sky as we made our way to the airport ready for our long flight home!
As we flew out into the night with the lights of Mexico City beneath us I started thinking about the next time I could visit this fantastic city

I was a guest of Mexico City Tourism Board. I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own. No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station Review and Giveaway

I hate it when we get an Indian take-away, put half of it on the plates and when we go back for the rest of it, it is cold.  The Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station is just perfect for this situation.
There are four little pots with lids that sit on top of the warming plate keeping your food warm until you are ready for it.
Although it is called a curry station it is really useful for other foods such as serving stews or soups when you are entertaining.  Four pots of soup with a bowl of bread sitting on the table looks really professional!

BBQ night you can have pots of macaroni cheese ready for when the burgers or sausages are ready!

I found this little frying pan recently and not really knowing what I would use it for I bought it because it was so cute.  I was really please to see it fits on the warming plate perfectly and would keep your onion bhagi warm!
The little pots and lids are dishwasher proof. There is a temperature dial with variable temperature control.  A selection https://gleam.io/5T7gH/win-a-gourmet-indian-curry-server-3 recipes are included.

I really like this little set of pots and warming plate and really think it will be useful.  If you would like to have a chance of getting one of your own follow the GLEAM instructions below.
I was given a set of Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station for review and to offer one for a giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review.  All photos are my own and must not be reproduced without my written permission .

Win a Gourmet Indian Curry Server #3

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Post Holiday Nibbles - Brie, Parma Ham and Croissant Dough Bites

For the Christmas holidays I stocked the fridge with loads of goodies I thought would go down well with all the holiday company.  Even though we all ate and drank loads there is naturally some food left over.  I thought I would use some of it up for an afternoon treat for Mr R!

I have used this croissant dough many times as it is so versatile. I try to have one in the fridge for just these occasions. (it comes rolled up in a round container found in the chilled pastry section of most supermarkets)
The dough container has six triangular pieces of dough perforated to make it easier to cut through.
You can just blend the perforations together of the two triangles then cut into three pieces. (this will give you 12 canapes).  Place a small piece of brie at the top of each strip and roll into a parcel.
Wrap a piece of Parma Ham around each parcel and place on a baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180oC for about 10 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden and the Parma Ham crispy.
Serve with a bowl of chutney (the sweetness of the chutney works really well with the saltiness of the ham).
These are great with a glass of chilled dry white wine or a little glass of sherry! Cheers!!

All photos and opinions are my own. No photos may be used or reproduced without my written permission.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Restaurant - Inn Review - Knife & Cleaver, Bedfordshire

In days gone by travelers making their way north would take one of the main roads out of London such as the A6 going from London to Northampton and beyond via Bedford.  It would take many hours to complete the sometime treacherous journey requiring many coaches to stop for fresh provisions for their horses and food and drink for their passengers.

The coaches would stop at pubs and inns very similar to The Knife & Cleaver in Houghton Conquest to revive weary passengers. This is a village pub in the heart of a small village, a warm and welcoming pub frequented by locals, families, people travelling further away and even the family pooch enjoy the hospitality!
I was invited to spend the night at the Knife & Cleaver, have a meal and check out how dog friendly it is. Our dog Jonty does love a night away from home with all the comforts.  It is such a relief when we can take him with us for a short break that we all have a much better time away from home.

The Knife & Cleaver have nine rooms built outside near the garden, all recently renovated, clean and comfortable.  The bed was really comfortable making getting up for breakfast a really big decision to make!!
Jonty loved the plush blanket on the bed and was very happy to stay there however we brought his travel cage for him to sleep in which he happily does.
The pub and restaurant were all decked out for the Christmas holidays.  We were given the choice to sit and dine in the restaurant without the dog or sit in the bar area and he could come with us.  We chose the bar area and Jonty just nestled himself near our feet whilst we ate a sumptuous meal.  After a Friday at work it was a really pleasant atmosphere to relax with a few drinks.  Many of the local customers came over to say hello to the dog and have a chat.

Mr R had one of the starter specials of the day which was mussels in a cider and chorizo sauce. Seemed like a weird combination but he said it really worked, using his wedge of home made bread to mop up all the sauce.
I an never resist scallops really enjoying these two baked in the shell on a shallot puree with cauliflower and clementine. A very unusual combination but really refreshing.
For the main course Mr R chose a Venison Bourguinon with a Bubble & Squeak and Celeriac Puree.  I am not a game fan but he really likes it.  There is also a Game Pie (for 2 to share) on the menu, all locally sourced.
I like to have something that I can use as a bench mark when trying a new restaurant so I ordered the 8oz Dry-aged Ribeye Steak served with chips, charred lettuce and mushroom with a stilton butter. Although I usually like my steaks cooked medium rare I have been advised that a ribeye steak should be cooked medium because of the higher fat content which is how I now have mine. The one I had at The Knife & Cleaver was perfectly cooked and completely complemented by the stilton butter.
We were both full but forced ourselves (for the sake of the reader of course) to have a pudding! I couldn't resist the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream which certainly did not disappoint.  The sauce was sticky and sweet but not overly so fully working with the creamy vanilla ice cream.  I could eat this every day!
Mr R had his pudding from the special's board - Orange & Chocolate Spotted Dick with Custard.  A really warming way to end a lovely meal on a cold and wet evening.
We were staying on a Friday evening.  Sundays, however are special with a family roast and all the traditional accompaniments.  If you are just wanting to pop in for a drink and a snack on a Sunday you can treat yourself to roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy seated in the bar area!

Outside there is plenty of space for al fresco dining when the weather if a bit more accommodating and a chance to enjoy the fresh air with plenty of seating as well as a garden area with children's play equipment. All of the nine bedrooms ( two twin, four double and three superior doubles with king size beds and en suite bathrooms) are just outside along the side of the property, a quick walk to the entry to the pub.
Inside the pub has loads of seating, much of which is in secluded corners or window areas.
We were able to sit in this bar area with the dog and also the following morning we had our breakfast in this part of the pub.
Little nooks and crannies everywhere offering secluded spaces to chat.
The Specials Board serves both the restaurant and the bar eating areas. The board and the menu has a lot of seasonal game along with locally produced meat and sausages.
The restaurant has two main seating areas
served by a fully equipped bar area which is also a space to sit on the high chairs at the bar
An extensive wine list will not disappoint and just may tempt you back again and again!
The following morning, after a really great night's sleep on a very comfortable mattress we made our way into the pub for breakfast.
The breakfast menu offers a selection ranging from Belgium Waffles, Eggs Benedict, Eggs Forrestier (poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and grilled mushrooms) and Eggs Royale (poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and oak smoked salmon).  Also available was the Full Monty cooked English which we both had.
We packed up the car and drove away having had a lovely meal, good sleep and full breakfast.  Will we return - you bet we will!!

You can make a dinner reservation by phoning 01234 930789 or email them at theknifeandcleaver@epicpubs.com

I was a guest of The Knife & Cleaver and treated to dinner, bed & breakfast.  I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  Photos may not be reproduced without my written permission.