Last weekend the Chef and I took a Mexican cooking class together. We drove back over to our friends at Oldfarm, Margaret & Alfie, who were hosting this affair, and spent the day swirling around their kitchen with Lily Ramirez-Foran, owner of My Mexican Shop which is an online Mexican food supply shop. Lily and her husband Alan have just recently purchased Almacén Latino and are making some huge changes to the website as we speak. So for now, you can buy and order all your Mexican goodies here, but bookmark this webpage right here because after Christmas they will be launching their new website and based on the sneak peek Lily gave me on Saturday it will be one of your favourite places to shop!
We arrived late, which is as per usual with the two of us who cannot seem to find our way out of Galway, and when Margaret ushered us in the door we were hit with the enticing smells of Lily’s salsa straight away. She had tomatoes simmering on the stove top, two pans, one with red tomatoes and one with green. We make salsa all the time here at home but not the cooked variety that you can buy in a jar. Ours, I found out, is called Pico de gallo when you use uncooked tomatoes and it is salsa when you used cooked!
First lesson of the day under our belt it was time to get busy.
Now, both Margaret and Lily have pressure cookers and both of their pots were whistling away on the stove. To me, pressure cookers are something my Granny’s both had and used a lot. Us, growing up, not so much, and now, not at all. Lily explained the cooking of beans from the bag, un-soaked, in under an hour. I kinda started to feel like I was back in high school and coveting the cool schoolbag that everyone else had and all I had was an old army n’ navy hand me down, or in this case, beat up heavy bottomed pot that has served is well over the years. Then, came the real smell. The beautiful piece of pork that was simmering away for what smelled like ‘overnight’ was produced. It might have taken an hour in the pressure cooker. Apparently they are a dime a dozen at Argos so I expect the Chef will be picking one up later this week.
Now, on to the tricky part of the lesson. How to make your own tortillas. Good news here, incase you fail miserably, Lily sells the best little tortillas online so if you can’t manage this, then fear not! It is not that hard though. You mix the masa with some hot water, stir with a fork and then make into a nice dough. Once you are happy with the consistency you place it in between two sheets of plastic on your Tortilla press (and I do want one of these now) and hey presto you have a lovely little tortilla. There is a trick to this and unless you are really careful you can make a huge mess and the tortillas stick to the plastic and you will die of starvation. Next time you hear Lily advertising a class – go and learn how to do this. OR bring your Chef husband with you and get him to do the hard part whilst you man the stove and try not to burn them.
Once the pork was ready and all the salsas were lined up on our very prettily Nicholas Moss adorned table, Lily’s niece gave us a demonstration on how to load and eat a Tortilla. She did this with such ease and grace it fooled us into thinking that it would be easy. Use a knife and fork people. Or be happy with the mess you make because the food tastes so good you should not care about the mess you are wearing all over your face and clothes.
Thankfully, and because we had all worked up a fierce thirst, there were plenty of refreshments for us to choose from. I can’t tell you which one I preferred because two, if not three, of the beers provided were outstanding paired alongside the Mexican fare. None of that Corona with a slice of lime for us. No siree……..
Eight Degrees Brewing and O’ Haras are making some damn fine brews and they are now, thankfully, widely available across the country. AND they have deadly packaging and cool websites. So, if you are looking to while away a few ‘bored at the office’ work hours, have a look why don’t ya?
It would be fair to say that we made pigs of ourselves. The food that Lily prepared and cooked for us was outstanding. When you are eating such a variety of vibrant colourful dishes paired with equally exciting beers it is hard not to enjoy oneself.
In addition to the food and cooking lesson being fun and educational, Margaret and Lily had taken great pains to organise a beautiful day, weatherwise, so we were able to hang out on the porch outside and take some very pretty photos. I am especially proud of this one and can tell you it is not skill at handling my camera which is not even a dslr, it was just a beautiful day and the props from Nicholas Mosse Pottery and Margarets own personal crockery made everything look so pretty.
The Chef & I had brought along a few little Scottish Tea Cakes to share with everyone after lunch and with it we also had Lily’s fabulous ‘fast’ flan that she threw together in under a minute and cooked in the microwave in 8 minutes. This is going to be attempted here as a ‘keep-the-kids-quiet-with-a-dessert’ someday soon. Maybe even with cocoa.
Sometimes, I would like to expand my repertoire of culinary skills, because although the Chef can cook damn near anything he wants to, I am limited in my skills and confidence in what I can cook. Going to a class like this gives a girl the idea that she could attempt a few new items and perhaps showcase them next time her friends come over for dinner. With there being very little days of sunshine left in the year I am going to take these bright and colourful photos and hang them on the wall near my desk. They will remind me, in the depths of winter, that Chili’s will grow in Ireland, and, if I never manage to cook one thing I learned in the cooking class, it is alright, because the Chef will!
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
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I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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