El queso equivocado

In keeping with my tradition of attempting various ethnic dishes using entirely the wrong ingredients, I give you my Mexican-style burrito thing!

Everything always looks so good on TV, so achievable, and yet I always seem to end up with some weird Anglicised version of what I’m attempting to emulate! On this particular occasion, I was inspired by the Instagram posts of Criollo Taqueria – a restaurant overlooking San Miguel Bay, in Baja California. They also featured briefly on Rick Stein’s Road to Mexico TV series. Their food is very Instagrammable, it’s kind of their “thing” really. It’s a style of food they call MexaPop – or Mexican Popular – a modern, high-quality fast food take on traditional Mexican cuisine.

My attempt at reproducing something similar was a fairly pale imitation, it must be said. For a start I was going for a taco and ended up with a burrito (I had to look up the difference), then of course my choice of ingredients wasn’t quite on the money either. In particular, I was never going to find Oaxaca cheese on the shelves of my local Tesco Express, and my choice of alternative was questionable. If I’d had my wits about me I should really have opted for mozzarella, which is probably the closest you’ll find to Oaxaca this side of the Pecos. Instead, and for reasons I’m unable to exaplain in a coherent and reasonable manner, I chose manchego (don’t even ask). Actually, on reflection, aside from the cheese débâcle the rest of the ingredients were there or thereabouts, and all things considered it really wasn’t a bad lunch.

Before the wrap

A simple assembly job was all it amounted to really, starting with a tortilla, spread generously with a smoked Oaxaca chilli paste, followed by a pile of the aforementioned cheese. Sliced avocado, cucumber and spoonfuls of sour cream were next, topped with thinly sliced radish, spring onion and a sprinkling of chopped coriander, with a cheeky dash of tabasco to top things off. Folding in the edges and rolling the thing up into a sort of cylinder is what makes it a burrito apparently (a simple fold would have been a taco), and that was that. I mean, despite the lack of authenticity it was kind of awesome. The smoked chilli paste gave it a warm, background taste with a bit of a kick that didn’t reveal itself for a minute or two. The cheese and the avocado were rich and creamy, contrasted by the zingy, freshness of the radish and coriander. Listen to me, eh!

After the wrap

I’d tried somthing similar the night before, using some fried white fish instead of the cheese, and it was alright. That’s the best that could be said about it to be honest… it was alright. It definitely needed a little… I don’t know… culinary expertise! Yes, that’s it. Any semblance of skill was certainly lacking. But the cheesy, non-fish version was a winner!