Getting back into cooking since 2009.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Los Amates!

Here is what happened on Wednesday:

1. KH comments on the previous post asking what we think of Los Amates, a Mexican restaurant in Fitzroy.
2. I say to Matt "we should go there"!
3. He says "Yes! Tonight?"
4. I book us a table. The girl on the phone has a devastatingly cute accent.
5. We go to there.

To start we ordered some Guacamole con totopos. Here is Matt:

I'm among friends here (hello, three readers and a spam bot), so I'll tell you what I really think: avocado is pretty much the worst. Not literally the worst; it is not as bad as soy babycino, vegan meat substitutes or fat free alternatives to mayonnaise. No, avocado is just boring, with its gelatinous texture and bland flavour. The thought of some smug yummy mummy gently smushing an avocado on her linseed rye makes me want to gag. Use butter, people.

Anyway, good guacamole manages to transcend its origins by spiking the avocado with enough salt, lime juice and occasionally other things (a little bit of tomato concasse, in this case). Los Amates serves good guacamole. What more is there to say? 

We then shared the Taquiza Platter which is a selection of three tacos. This was way too much food for two people. We could've fed at least three, maybe four from it if we had also had the Chicken Mole Tamales we were eyeing off. We chose Tacos de Cochinita Pibil (Braised shredded pork Yucatan style, marinated with achiote & spices), Tacos de Lengua (Ox tongue Mexico City style, steamed with herbs & spices) and Taco de Tinga (Chicken cooked in a tomato & chipotle salsa). Again here is Matt to talk about the actual food:

The ox tongue was my choice, and I was a bit disappointed. The slices of tongue were slightly chewy and strangely spiced. Still, not THAT bad. The other two meats were much better. The chicken in particular was outstanding, with its chipotle smoke and heat the highlight of the night. The tacos were served with two salsas, one a verde with tomatillos (bonus points there), the other a mild, sweet tasting red sauce. 

In conclusion, Los Amates was pretty good! It came to about 85 bucks, including 2 beers each and a bag of leftovers that would easily have fed a third person, but instead will give us some lunch or dinner instead. Definitely would go back again and try other dishes!

Los Amates
34 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Queso Blanco for Mamasita Inspired Corn

Mamasita is an awesome mexican restaurant in Melbourne. It is young (it opened the same night I arrived here, four months ago, which makes us soulmates) and it is great. I've never been to Mexico and so I can't say whether this is authentic or not but I also don't give two shits. It's the closest to the great mexican food we ate in the States, and that is good enough for me. If you live in Melbourne, you should go to Mamasita. If you don't live in Melbourne, you should come and visit, and go there, and take me with you. Everything we have eaten there has been excellent, but they have this corn on the menu that is so good, you will want to cancel every other dish ordered and just get repeat corn instead.

("The Corn" is actually Elotes callejeros: "Street Style" chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayonnaise, & lime)

Anyway. The other night we had friends over for tacos and as a starter I attempted to recreate this dish. I made Homesick Texan's chipotle mayonnaise and I also used her recipe for Queso Blanco which is a soft creamy and very mild spanish/mexican cheese:

2L whole milk
1/4 cup lime juice

Bring the milk to an almost boil, add the lime juice and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. From here on, it looks pretty disgusting as the milk curdles and goes lumpy and you have flashbacks of being spewed on by baby cousins.
Pour the contents of the pot into a cheesecloth lined colander in the sink and drain for a few minutes, and sprinkle with salt.
Bundle up the cheesecloth and tie it so the cheese is all in a ball, and hang it somewhere to drain for a few hours. I left it overnight, which was fine as it is winter but obviously you wouldn't want to do it if the temperature was anything near warm.
In the morning I untied the cloth, and inside was a neat little white ball of cheese! It held together pretty well, there was quite a bit stuck in the cloth but I don't know if that is just what happens.. The cheese apparently will keep in the fridge for as long as the milk would have.

For the corn, we simply grilled it in a pan, brushed on some chipotle mayonnaise and grated the queso over. It didn't grate particularly well, as it reached room temperature it got quite soft. Next time I would make sure to grate it straight from the fridge - or even frozen might work. We ended up just sort of crumbling it over the corn, and then sprinkled some smoked paprika over and served with limes.
Not as pretty as Mamasita's but it tasted good, and having leftover chipotle mayonnaise and queso in the fridge is a good bonus!