“Welcome to Mexico” at Selfridges Corner Restaurant
I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico-the food culture is amazingly varied and vibrant and let’s face it-the weather is a lot warmer than the UK. But dear reader if like me a trip to Tijuana isn’t on the cards this year, then as part of the ‘Year of Mexico’ in the UK celebrations, Selfridges are hosting a series of taste tantalising demos, samplings in the Foodhall as well as guest chef takeovers. In April and May, some of Mexico’s top chefs are flying over to cook their own bespoke menus for diners at the elegant Selfridges Corner Restaurant and Fiona and I were invited along to the opening event.
Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero from the restaurant La Querencia is widely regarded as the pioneer of Baja Mediterranean cuisine and he was our chef for the evening. Baja is the long finger that snakes down Mexico’s west coast and it is where 90% of Mexican wines are produced. Now the only time I had drunk anything Mexican derived from the grape was in 1980 when warm non-vintage Mexican fizz was served at a do. Believe me it wasn’t in any way great…so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Baja cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean, oriental and Mexican styles but before we ate I sank a fantastic margarita (or two) which was strong and sour and probably the best I have ever had.
Our first course was called Shot Cabo-it was like a delicious seafood Bloody Mary, a blend of octopus, shrimp, oriental sauce, cucumber, avocado and vodka-with a kick like a mad Mexican mule.
Our first wine was a Sauvignon Blanc from Baja called Estacion Por Venir. It had spicy, citrus notes, and was robust enough to stand up to the food; our first dish was called Madagascar Tuna Tostada; a delicious, deconstructed tostada with seared tuna, avocado sauce, peppers, onions and coriander.
Our next wine was called ‘Am Back’ (the label had pictures of a girl’s tattooed back…) and is made from the Italian grape varietal Barbera. It had strong tannins and minerality with sweeter notes of cherries and red berries. Marinated Duck Breast Taco with a corn tortilla was tender and spicy whilst the veggie version (Mushroom, Hibiscus and Goat’s Cheese Taco) was sweet, savoury and hot.
Lamb Sope (a stew) came with roasted tomatoes, kale, avocado and nine chilli-a dish of tasty shredded lamb with the fat cooked into the meat. Beans and feta cheese were like a sophisticated take on a chilli.With our mains we were drinking a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot , Cabernet Sauvignon , Grenache and Cinsault-a wine called 5th from one of Mexico’s top wine makers. This was a great wine, mineral yet full of dark fruit and chocolate spice.
Bunuelo with brown sugar was served with a beautiful rosemary and anise ice-cream and onion-like caramelised hibiscus flower-all washed down with a sparkling red Dolcetto Chardonnay made from Chenin Blanc with strawberry notes and that characteristically mineral taste of Baja.
The world of Mexican fine dining is a new one to me and chefs like Miguel Angel Guerrero are clearly playing with the tradition in interesting new ways. The food combined subtlety with the assertiveness of flavour and texture that we associate with Mexican cuisine and the delicious minerality of the wines was an unexpected pleasure.
A select group of these chefs, representing Mexico’s vibrant restaurant scene, are coming to Selfridges for a series of gastronomic events at the store’s Corner Restaurant between the 14th April and 12th May. Benito Molina, Daniel Ovadia, Miguel Angel Guererro, Javier Plascencia and Manolo Banos are all making guest appearances. Diners to Selfridges will get the chance to sample contemporary dishes such as lobster with mole verde, Madagascar tuna tostada and a rice pudding and nitro churro in the stylish surroundings of the Corner Restaurant. A limited number of tickets priced at £80 per person for a tasting menu with paired wines and spirits are now available: Selfridges.com/Mexico.