Mexican Soul, British Ingredients
In recent years, contemporary Mexican cuisine has skyrocketed into the headlight of the culinary world, standing out from the other more traditional countries and putting itself on the map. The forward thinking and outrageously delicious cuisine uses rich, bold and punchy flavours that are matched with fresh and zingy ingredients; truly perfecting the salt, fat, acid, heat analogy.
However, when you think of Mexican cuisine, Scottish Seaweed or Hickory Smoked Wild Mushrooms might not spring to mind. These are some of the beautiful flavours that chef Santiago Lastra served up at his pop-up Supper Club to build-up to the opening of his first restaurant, KOL. Set in an intimate room, we tried dishes influenced by his Mexican heritage but only using seasonal British produce. We were excited as soon as we walked in the door.
The Mushroom Pipian was built up of smoked wild mushrooms, sea herbs, succulents and toasted pumpkin seeds. Subtle notes of the sea accompanied by woody smoked mushrooms really pushed this dish to the next level bringing land and water together. The chef personally came out to present us with the mushrooms that were foraged, showing the authenticity and thought process of Lastra’s menu and setting themselves apart from other restaurants. Other dishes also stood out, such as the Roasted Skate Wing, Achiote, Clam Xnipec and fresh Tortillas. This dish emulated the classic tacos with a fiery red hot ‘devils’ sauce’ that was perfectly balanced by the clam xnipec, beautifully fresh and acidic salsa that accompanied the roasted skate perfectly. This was all wrapped up in a steaming black corn tortilla, one of the most notable flavours of central American cuisine and it really brought the dish together.
Alongside the food we opted into the wine pairing to get the real experience of what to expect at KOL. We were unsurprisingly met with little to no Mexican wines, mainly Eastern European varieties from Bratislava, Czech and even a German white that had hints of orange. Each glass was organic and had subtle flavours as not to overpower the strong flavours of Santiago’s cooking. They all had a slight zing to them due to the fermenting process, the more acidic varieties accompanying the bolder dishes such as the skate and the less acidic pairing better with the subtler flavours of the Kohlrabi and lightly Smoked Eel. We were happy to learn that Lastra planned a Mezcalina in the basement of KOL selling the quite distinct and beautifully clean Mezcal. We couldn’t resist a shot of the smokey liquor which rounded the dinner off perfectly!
Everything was totally delicious, and we are so looking forward to the opening of KOL in 2020. Many congratulations and thank you so much for having Social Pantry, we loved every bit!
Blog by Danny