Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Dinner - Mexican

Gastronauts Supper Club's August dinner took place last weekend, and was all about Mexican food. The dinner kicked off with a few drinks while we grazed on a huge bowl of guacamole and corn chips, trying to pace ourselves for the rest of the evening.

Keeping on the theme of finger food, we then enjoyed pumpkin & sesame tamales, served with a deliciously zingy tomato sauce. Tamales are made with a corn dough, then filled (tonight with pumpkin & sesame seeds) and steamed until cooked. Although the tamales were very filling, they were so moreish it was impossible to stop at one.

We then migrated to the dinner table and were served a black bean soup, which had a beautifully delicate flavour and a warm chilli hit with every mouthful. I would have easily eaten another bowl, but by this time of the night we were all wondering how we'd manage to fit all the rest of the food into our rapidly filling stomachs.

After a short break, it was time for the main course which comprised of pork tatemado, stuffed poblano chillies with walnut sauce, coriander & cabbage salad and tortillas. Things were starting to feel fairly decadent by this stage of the night, as these dishes would normally amount to a substantial dinner on their own. Pork tatemado is a slow-cooked, marinated pork stew. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when the lid came off the large Le Creuset dish, and the aromas were magnificent. As a massive pork fan, this was the highlight of my night. The pork had a lovely rich flavour, but retained its tenderness - it was perfectly cooked. After eating about 6 large slices of the pork, I eventually admitted defeat.

As I'd helped stuff the poblano chillies earlier in the night (with a pork or tofu filling), I was really looking forward to trying the finished product. On a cold night, these were a terrific match with the pork, and the rich walnut sauce disappeared quickly from everyone's plates. Finally, the crunchy, tangy coriander & cabbage salad provided some excellent textural contrast to the rich pork and stuffed chillies.

Most of us were now thinking we wouldn't need to eat for the rest of the weekend, but there was an amazing looking ancho chilli chocolate cake sitting on the kitchen bench that just had to be tasted. Generous slices of the cake were served alongside a dollop of cinnamon & vanilla ice cream. The spice in the ice cream and the gentle chilli taste of the cake kept the Mexican flavours alive right to the end of the night.

For me, the standout dishes of the night were the black bean soup and the pork tatemado, but as a group the most satisfying part of the night was having the opportunity to try Mexican food that we'd never come across before (other than of course the guacamole). On that count alone the food was a huge success.

As well as the food, we did of course enjoy a range of drinks during the night, including a bottle of prosecco at the start as well as bottles of 2007 George Duboeuf Chiroubles, 2008 Sticks pinot noir and 2008 Tscharke Only Son tempranillo graciano.

We'd all like to pass on a massive thanks to Helen for all of the brilliant Mexican food during the night - another memorable Gastronauts dinner.

Stay tuned for details of the next Gastronauts Supper Club dinner, which is likely to be in late September.

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