You’ll find no pandering to the newly arrived autumnal weather here at Caoba. We’re still drinking cocktails like it’s a balmy 25 degrees outside. Well I say cocktails but really I mean Mexican beer with the juice of a lime squeezed into it for a sharp, refreshing, Mexican alternative to lager and lime.
Take one Mexican blue-rimmed, high-ball glass and dampen the rim with water then dip into a saucer of salt flakes (table salt will work just as well), as if you were preparing a Margarita. Allow to dry. Squeeze into the glass the juice of one lime*, two if the lime is small. Top up with beer from a chilled bottle of Sol or Corona, stir gently and drink. Responsibly of course.
*Insider tip: Before cutting the lime in half, roll it around on the work surface to release more of the juice and/or pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds.
After… stirred with a paper maché swizzle stick
The 2006 film Nacho Libre has made Mexican wrestling familiar to teenage boys of all ages and, behind Jack Black’s anarchy, gave us a taste of the phenomenon of lucha libre, the luchadores (the wrestlers) and the masks they wear.
Each of Caoba’s reproduction masks has a professional wrestling personality behind it (pun intended).
The silver mask of El Santo
The masks are a key feature of the Wrestler’s personality and never removed during a bout. Some luchadores remain masked in public at all times; one of the greatest, El Santo was buried wearing his famous silver mask, having removed it only briefly during a TV appearance just before his death in 1984.
El Santo is a true legend of the Mexican wrestling world. A champion in the ring and a movie superhero appearing in over 50 films; he became a Mexican folk hero and icon, immortalised in film and song. His wrestling legacy continues in his son El Hijo del Santo, who became a professional wrestler in 1982.
Mascara de lucha libre
© Steven Collier
No, we haven’t resorted to spying on neighbouring Comely Bank; mole is a Mexican style sauce. We often enjoy cooking with the different Mexican ingredients we sell at Caoba; making dishes with little claim to Mexican authenticity but lashings of flavour and otherwise locally-sourced ingredients. Our Mole paste has just a hint of dark chocolate and also works well with chicken and turkey. Here is one we prepared earlier…
Beef Mole with rice
Beef in Mole Sauce
For this beef dish we bought everything locally in Stockbridge, going to George Bower for the stewing steak, chorizo and a lovely beef gravy (we diluted half a tub to replace the stock).
The recipe makes a mellow, not too spicy stew. If you like your chilli fiery add some dried chilli flakes at the onion-frying stage.
25g cooking chorizo, diced
1.5 lbs stewing or braising steak, cut into 2” cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
500ml good beef stock
1 tin kidney beans, drained
2 tsp dry chilli mix
2 dtsp mole paste
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh coriander, finely chopped
Sour cream or yoghurt
Basmati rice or corn tortillas
Fry the chorizo until the fat begins to run. Add the beef in batches to brown. Set the meat aside and add the chopped onions and garlic to the pan. You may need to add a dash of groundnut oil to the pan. Fry the onions until they are soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato paste and cook gently for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the mole paste, dry chilli mix and oregano and bring to a simmer. Return the meat and any juices to the pan.
Cover and cook over a low heat (or in a medium to low oven) for one hour. Add the drained kidney beans and return the stew to a gentle simmer for another hour or two, until the beef is tender. Add more stock if required.
Stir in some chopped fresh coriander just before serving with plain rice or warm corn tortillas.
Have side bowls of sour cream or yoghurt and some Nachos chillies to hand for so diners can adjust the heat factor to taste.