By now you’ve all seen (and hopefully tasted) the impact of Sydney’s mini Mexican revolution. Alongside an ever-growing number of great taquerias like Guzman y Gomez, Mad Mex and Tomatillo, we now also have a number of Mexican restaurants featuring excellent, authentic Mexican cuisine. After dining at the recently opened Media Luna, I feel like Mexican cuisine is finally coming of age here. What’s even better is seeing it cooked by Mexicans and served by Mexicans, offering us all a chance to journey into the culture and history of this diverse (and delicious) part of the world!
Mexican cuisine shows influences from Aztec, Spanish and French cooking. The shared border with the United States has produced a fusion cuisine called Tex Mex; this sort of hybrid Mexican cuisine has had a stranglehold on Sydney for some time. Now of course there’s a lot to like about hard shell tacos, cheese and sour cream, but if you’re yearning to see the tastier, healthier and more authentic side of Mexican cuisine, it’s the right time to get amongst it!
In Mexicali Rose (RRP $ 29.95) Lori Horton takes you to Mexico via Melbourne. Her father owns Melbourne restaurant Mexicali Rose which specialises in both authentic cuisine and Nuevo cocina dishes. Within this bright, colourful hard cover book you will find a variety of easy-to-follow recipes that show you how to incorporate Mexican ingredients like jalapeños, epazote, nopales (pickled cactus), cornmeal and chipotle peppers in adobe sauce into your home cooking. Lori has written this book in Australia, which means that there are plenty of explanations about exotic ingredients (read on, I’ll tell you where to find them).
You’ll find recipes for everything from Guacamole to Cream of Jalapeño Soup; there’s even Beef Tamales wrapped in corn husks, or a Ceviche of Spicy Scallops and Fish. If you’re planning your own fiesta, you’ll find a selection of beverages including hand-shaken Margaritas and Red Wine Sangria. End with Churros or my favourite crème caramel substitute, the Flan De Queso.
If it’s Mexican and available in Australia, you’ll probably find it here, thanks to Marycarmen Aguilera who was “homesick for the authentic food & flavours of Mexico.” Freshly made corn tortilla from white and yellow corn flour; 25 different types of chillis; 100 different chilli sauces and salsa; cactus and tomatillos (green tomatoes) are only some of the treasures you’ll find! Plus if you’re looking for a traditional piñata…
Unit 15, 16 Loyalty Road, North Rocks (02) 9630 4610 www.fireworksfoods.com.au
This Rozelle spice haven offers up many of the hard to find chillis like Ancho (dried Poblanos) and New Mexico Chillis; plus ingredients like Mexican Chocolate for when you start making Mole. If you’re a beginner, their Mexican Spice Kit (RRP $30) is a great way to start experimenting with milder Mexican flavours, and comes with a booklet of suggested recipes.
745 Darling Street, Rozelle (02) 9555 6035 www.herbies.com.au
Impressive, heart-felt, authentic Mexican cuisine including Tamal Oaxaqueño fine ground corn dough cooked in a banana leaf; rich, fragrant Mole Poblano and the enchanting Cochinita Pibil, a pre-Hispanic pork dish cooked with Valencia oranges in the Mayan style and eaten in pliant corn tortillas with a Habanero and pineapple salsa. I’m hanging for another of their perfectly balanced Lime Margaritas…
309 Clovelly Road, Clovelly (02) 9665 8942 www.medialuna.com.au
Agave Restaurante Mexicano
One of the few Mexican restaurants in Sydney that deliberately steers away from Tex-Mex, priding itself on offering regional dishes that reflect many of Mexico’s cultural influences. Their popular Mixiotes De Borrego lamb recipe cooked in rich tomato and ancho chile sauce, has its origin disputed by Hidalgo, Queretaro and Guanajuato.
2/410 Crown Street, Surry Hills (02) 9326 9072
Flying Fajita Sistas
Offers up both traditional and Tex-Mex cuisine. Line up with a party of four on Taco Tuesdays, and enjoy both tacos and tequila shots for $3 apiece. Sides of guacamole, salsa and sour cream are included; and if you like heat, you’re free to explore their Wall of Pain for a killer hot sauce!
65 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe (02) 9552 6522 www.flyingfajitasisters.com.au
Guzman y Gomez
This growing chain of taquerias does a great job with inexpensive, quick and authentic Mexican street-style food. Plus they make a Smokin’ Hot Margarita with chilli infused Tequila – need I say more? Located in Kings Cross, Newtown, Bondi Junction, Australia Square and the MLC Centre. www.gyg.com.au