Last week I received an email from Wild Card PR, inviting me to a ‘Bloggers’ Challenge’. Three things immediately made me say ‘Yes’. The fact that it was going to be held at Waitrose Cookery School; the fact that it was about Mexican food; the fact that really is my first event where I am invited because I am a blogger.
How could I refuse? Moreover, it was organised by the same PR company that provided the base for the super fun event at London Foodie’s, the Nduja Cooking club. It had to be good!I turned up at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley Road – it’s gorgeous, with plenty of space for entertainment (we were in fact welcomed by plenty of Margaritas), has a warm feel to it, with a nice bar, and on one end the actual demo area and the cooking station. Heaven! so much space..
I was very pleased to find there Rosana, Cassie and May whom I had met at the Nduia event, established bloggers and chefs who are also great company and a good laugh.We were introduced to the owner of Benito’s Hat and the head chef. After a brief intro on Benito’s Hat and the Discovery range of products (which we were going to be eating and using during the evening) chef Felipe Fuente Cruz proceeded to demo a couple of dishes. The first was a simple but clever, fresh salad of jicama (a cross between an apple, a potato and ginger root), cucumber, paprika, lemon juice and peanuts. It tasted really good and we were all fascinated by this root vegetable we had not seen before.
The second dish, I admit, did not look like much to me. A sauce made of mayonnaise and Discovery chipotle with a bit of milk to thin it down, king prawns sauteed in butter and garlic, a bit of freshly made salsa and a bit of shredded lettuce. Yet when we got to try the tacos chef had made, it was an explosion of flavour. I think we were all really surprised by how good the sauce he had made was, and how much flavour the chipotle gave. A sudden favourite!
After the demo, was time for us, the tipsy bloggers, to have a go. With 30 minutes to spare, we had to come up with one or two dishes, Mexican inspired or not. We had enough to choose from… a wide array of fresh vegetables, prawns, chicken, sea bass, plus a lot of spices and some herbs. I couldn’t think too much (thanks to the Margarita of course) and I thought I should still keep within a Mexican theme. I made a fresh ‘salad’ of raw sliced courgette, fresh tomatoes, onion and chili pepper, with lemon and lime juice and chopped coriander.
I also sauteed a yellow pepper and some mushrooms in the pan with some chipotle sauce, and then pan friend the prawn, which I had marinated with lime juice and paprika. Once I steamed the tacos, I filled them in with the prawns, the pepper and mushrooms, some shredded lettuce and a sprinkle of sour cream.
The sour cream was the only product I tried on the night from Discovery which I would not buy (I would rather buy fresh) but the chipotle is fantastic, and the tacos are very nice. I had tried the seasonings before and found it good and very easy to use, especially if in a hurry.
As soon as I finished, I managed to walk around the other stations. @linguinaDC in front of me had recreated the chef’s dish and made a chicken taco as well.
Rosana has made an original bean soup. Elly a fantastic (but not so Mexican) roasted sea bass with spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds and raisin dish (which in fact, won the first prize!). All the dishes looked great and the judges took their time trying them, which was a little intimidating!
We all got to try each other dish which was fun, and interesting as we all saw various interpretations of the very same ingredients.
In all a really fun night, with the chance to meet yet more cool foodies and taste some lovely products.