Picado Mexican is Open...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

As you know, Alan and I decided to take the plunge and give our online shop a brick and mortar home (yes, we are officially bonkers). After two very busy weeks, full of cleaning, painting, pollyfila repairs, tradesmen nightmares and a lot of hard work, last Saturday we finally opened Picado Mexican Pantry in South Richmond Street in Dublin 2.

It's been a hell of a rollacoster ride. I think I have definitely developed an allergy to paint burshes (if I see one more I think I'll scream) and I have learned that a bad plumber can make you cry a lot... for two DIY virgins like Alan and I, to have the shop opened and looking soooo beautiful it's an absolute dream.

None of this would have been possible with without the support, help and encouragement of so many friends and family. Thank you all for the good wishes, the flowers, the cards, the chocolates and the tons of booze! We needed it all! :) There are a few people we must thank specially as, without them, none of this would have been posible.



The super talented and friendly guys from Ovo, our design agency, who went above and beyond their duties to get us open. Stephanie, Jonathan, Philip, Gerry and Anthony not only designed a smashing logo and postcards for us, but helped us with the shop front and a gazillion of other things... their guidance through the branding process was invaluable and for that, we'll be forever gratetful. Amazing people to work with!

There is one more very special gal I need to thank, the uber talented Alex Carberry, aka Hydrangea Girl, who gave our vision the perfect look. Alex not only designed for us, but she also upcycled,  painted, posed for silly pictures, got out of bed at ungodly hours and held my hand while ordering the kitchen; she was instrumental to the design of the shopping experience, unclutter and bright. She was everything you want from a designer and more. Alex you totally rock girl!

Another specail thank you goes to my minions, particularly Daili, Adam, Kevin, Niamh and Liam. These guys cleaned, painted, merchandised and made name tags for us. How cool is that?!

Finally to you, my readers, who encouraged me every day here and on facebook. Thank you, you make it all worthwile! I leave you now with a few snaps of the new shop, if you are in Dublin, pop in and say hi. 

Chicken Mole...

Friday, 27 June 2014

I've written a lot about Mexican Mole before. While in Mexico a few years back, I spent a whole day with my aunt Irma, who makes a mean mole paste from scratch, and learned a lot about it. I've blogged my recipe for Mole Pie, my recipe for turkey enmoladas, also the mole flavoured chicken Enchiladas, and even mole flavour tamales! The one thing I have not blogged about at all is how to eat mole the straight way. This is the way we eat mole at home, with chicken and Mexian red rice

Mole sauce is considered by many Mexico's national dish. A veil of mystery surrounds the origins of the dish, but the widely accepted theory places it in the Colonia kitchens of a convent in the state of Puebla, in Central Mexico. Legend has it that the Archbishop dropped unexpectedly for dinner to the convent and the nuns, having had no notice of the visit, had nothing good to serve him. They prayed to God and suddenly, an Angel came from the sky and gave them Mole. Most likely, spiritual bits aside, the nuns had very little and got inventive. This fragant, complex and smooth concoction was then traditionally served with turkey or pork, but nowadays we eat it a lot more with chicken. 

If you use the commercially available mole paste as I did, you need to enhance it. Mole paste from a jar on its own does not taste good enough, so here's my method to pimp it up a bit. You can of course use the ready made sauce variety, but I genuinly think the paste is much better here as the mole is the star of the plate!

It's Official: we are bonkers!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Ever since we left the Honest2Goodness market in Glasnevin last November, Alan and I have been itching to settle the My Mexican Shop a little. When we started the shop we thought, sure what could be so hard? it's only an online shop!! By God we were so wrong and if we knew then what we know now, we would have certainly thought the whole thing twice! But we're here now, and luckily with very few regrets, which is majorly good! An online shop is just as difficult as a regular shop. Above all when you're running it after your regular full-time job! The pressure is less because you're not fully dependent on the business to give you a salary, but apart from that, you have every bit of pressure added to the fact that you're not doing this full-time, because you've got to go to work too!

So as your business grows, life gets busier and busier, but the amount of time you have for it remains the same. Soon you find your days getting longer and longer, going to bed way past your bed time coz 'you gotta make things work'; you start eating into your weekends (which you were so used to enjoying freely before); quickly after, if all goes well, you find the only free time you have is those few minutes before your head hits the pillow at 2 a.m. every night.

Then you have a whole new set of engagements that are important for the business. Exhausted and drained you start cancelling non-essential social gatherings and soon you acquire a new set of friends coz the old ones, who were used to you having all the time in the world, get pissed off coz you don't see them anymore (there's simply no time and it's hard for them to see that). The new friends tend to be people like you: overworked and overwhealmed with jobs or ventures similar to yours... or a mixture of those and people who are terribly understanding and supportive. 

You might think it's all not worth it, but it is. I know it is... and just when you think you have it all figured it out, life throws you a spanner... and then you have to adjust and reprogramme... and then you plateau for a little while, you feel happy.... and then you start thinking what you'll do next... and that, my friends, is exactly what happened to us!

About a month ago we went to see this place. At the beginning it was all wishful thinking... surely to God we couldn't do it by ourselves, clearly it was a lot to take in, obviously it was unaffordable and crazy.... and then we meet the landlord, and we liked him and he was reasonable and he appears to be very kind... and then we had a few sleepless nights and a lot of calculations... and then the rational thinker in the partnership, that is Alan of course, says 'let's do it' and the dreamer in me says, 'hell yea, why not!' and the next thing you know, we have tied ourselves to a lease for an actual physical shop!!! 

It's madness, and the cycle starts all over again. So this past Friday evening, we got keys to our little shop in South Richmond Street in Dublin 2. We kept it all underwraps because deep down, we were both frightful it would all fall through, but as it started getting more real, we told the folks in OVO, our digital design agency, so they could help us figure out a few branding issues. We had been working with them already on a facelift for the online shop, so that got parked and work started on the new concept. I can't wait to show you what they have come up with, I'm super pleased!   

Then it was the matter of figuring out how we wanted the shop to look like... and I couldn't think of anybody more suitable to help us in that journey than the super generous and talented Alex Carberry, aka Hydrangea Girl, a blogger and interior designer I've had the priviledge of working with before in a voluntary project. I loved what Alex did for Sophia House Teen Room in Localise, I knew her work ethic and her commitment and I adore her laidback attitude and ballsiness. She also understands the pressures of juggling an office job and your passion, so in our eyes, she was the perfect gal for the job! Boy were we right! Keep an eye on her blog to get a peak at what she's been doing for us! She'll be blogging about it soon!  So this was my week... how was yours?




Wednesday, 11 June 2014

For the last while, I've been thinking a lot about how to move forward with the blog. A lot has been going on in the last six months, but so much more is to come. I'm facing a change of situation at work, a busy summer ahead, some big, big changes in the shop and a very special project that might see me shifting direction a little in the next year. Trying to put a sort of plan or schedule on paper seemed impossible.

After much thought, it occurred to me that I needed to lighten up a bit my writing schedule here. Writing, testing, shooting and publishing a recipe for the blog, takes about a month of my 'free' time. This is difficult to quantify as, little by little, my 'free' time has shrunk considerably. When we left the market, I saw an improvement, but only for a short space of time.

I realised now that since the blog got redesigned, I've been a little obsessed with making it more editorial, with more and more recipes and less and less of me... it all got a little too serious. I sort of forgot what got me here in the first place, which was the sheer pleasure to share recipes, a bit of my life and some silliness in between.

So I'm going to shake up things a little here to allow me to keep cooking, writing and doing all the other things that I love doing! I'm going to be less obsessed with perfection and share with you a bit of the many fun and fab things that fill my days... you might not see a recipe every week now, but bear with me, there are great things coming up too. I will also be posting more photos (as you know, I love my instagram!) and I might share bits of a very exciting new project for the shop that has seen us attending some creative meetings with the amazing guys from OVO, our digital design agency, and the uberly talented Alex Carberry.

So this week was all about the office move in my pay job. The charity I work for, Localise, moved offices yesterday, and getting ready for the move was exhausting!! I've had take away once this week and survived the rest of the week on salads and leftovers from the freezer! The exception was the day before yesterday, when I made some chilaquiles verdes. I was really pleased with the results and I hope the recipe appears here in the next week or so! In the meantime, I leave you here with an instagram shot of it! Till next time...

Mexican Prawn Cocktail...

Friday, 6 June 2014

Growing up I spent some of my childhood years in a smallish town near the Golf of Mexico. My grandparents lived there and, for a while, so did my family. We spent eight years in that town and the one thing I remember the most vividly was the town's busy market.

El Mercado, was a big, squared, red-brick building with a flat roof in the centre of town. It wasn't a pretty structure, but it was red and shiny and was the heart of the town. It was eternally busy with shoppers coming from the surrounding 'ejidos'; an ejido was a rural area of communal land used for agriculture, where families were entrusted plots of land by the government to farm; it also gave them the righ to pass it to their children indefinitely as long as the land was not left idle for more than two years. The 'ejidatarios' or ejido farmers worked the land mostly growing sugar cane for the local sugar refinery and they kept the main town busy.


Photo Sergio HR

My dad went into the family business, tortilla baking, and opened a tortilleria right across the busy market and we were kept busy every day after school helping in it. I used to love going early on Saturday mornings and watch people coming in and out of that market which sold everything you can imagine and more: farming tools, fruits and vegetables, meats, herbs, sweets, spices, crafts, cloths, pinatas, fireworks, toys, ... you name it, they had it. It was like a gigant, old fashion hardware and food store!

Photo from Mexico Desconocido

It also had a section full of eat-in food stalls; simple settings of sponsored old and cold enamel tables & chairs (with the coca-cola or the corona logos), long tiled bars with high stools and in more recent times, plastic tables and chairs (like in the picture), but people were not there for the comfort, they were there for the most amazing foods. I had my very first gordita in that market! There was this stall which sold freshly made juices and smoothies (yes, they've been around a long time!). There was also the woman who made sweet custard pies and the guy who sold puppets right next to the guy who made mango ice-cream by hand in a wood and aluminium bucket.

Photo from Conexion Total

There was one particular food stall that sold nothing but fish and the recipe here, was inspired by the memories I have of my lunchtimes there enjoying a gigant, milkshake type glass of prawn cocktail with freshly made tortilla chips. Man was it good and when I found some lovely prawns in my fridge the other day, the first thing I thought was: prawn cocktail Mercado style. Hope you enjoy it!