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Mexican in Melbourne


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Hi Melbourne eGulleteers,

In a few weeks I'll be visiting Melbourne (I'm an expat Melburnian coming back to see family), and on my already long list of things to do, I'd like to add a meal at one of Melbourne's better Mexican restaurants (of which, from memory, there may be very few).

It's a long term dream of mine to open a mexican place somewhere, probably starting with a taqueria, and hopefully building up to something more substantial.

I'm spoilt rotten here in the U.S., not only from the local selections, as I live in East Harlem, where most of the mexican restaurants are staffed by expats from Puebla, but doubly so as my wife is mexican american with an vast ancestral cookbook. I dread coming back to live in Melbourne and not having access to a simple but great taco filled with chorizo, carnitas, cecina, you name it... I'm sure there are lots of tapas places around, but is there anything purely mexican of note?

So this trip will be partly to find out what the lay of the land is - growing up, the only options available were the predictable and pretty awful Taco Bill-type bean and cheese places. Has anything changed?

I look forward to reading any opinions you might have,

Angus.

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but there used to be a place in Carlton North known as Mexicali Rose... not sure if its still there, but it was a damn sight better than TB.

Mexicali Rose is on Swan Street in Richmond these days.....just a few minutes stroll from the Corner Hotel.

There is also Bluecorn on Barkly Street in St.Kilda.

As for myself, I'm not a fan of Mexican food, but my missus reckons that Mexicali Rose is the better of the two.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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I live in Dunedin New Zealand and we have a very sparse selction of places that sell Mexican food.  Only two Mexican restaurants ( one only opened last week ). The one that I have been to was poor to say the least.

I thought Viva Zapata in Dunedin was pretty decent overall. Great tequila list.

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Melbourne has very slim pickings.

There is a small place on Johnston St - can't recall the name - average but it is better than the un-nameable chains

Come Home!!!

ps check out Movida - for an idea of what spanish/latin does well here

"The purpose of a cookery book is one & unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind - Joseph Conrad"

www.booksforcooks.com.au

new & old books about wine, food & the culinary arts bought & sold

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Melbourne has very slim pickings.

There is a small place on Johnston St - can't recall the name - average but it is better than the un-nameable chains

Hi Tim LTNS... where on Johnston St mate?

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Opposite Casa Iberica, the spanish foodstore - which for anguso - should be his first & only stop in Melbourne as that is where his partner will find the best range of stuff to make authentic home cooked food - and hopefully he'll invite us along!

"The purpose of a cookery book is one & unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind - Joseph Conrad"

www.booksforcooks.com.au

new & old books about wine, food & the culinary arts bought & sold

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where on Johnston St mate?

It is, I think, Los Amates. I haven't been, but when I was strolling down Johnston street last year, at the Spanish Festival thing, they had a storefront stand, and they were serving Gordas, with a great black bean topping/filling.

try finding gordas at any mexican restaurant in Melbourne. It was enough to put them on my list, though as I've said, I haven't yet made it. I also looked at the menu at Bluecorn in St. Kilda once while walking by, and it looked good, different and legit mexicano, in a nouveau sort of way. Also plan to try it some year!

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Mexicali Rose certainly used to be very good, it was the first non-TacoBill mex I'd experienced and I was very impressed. Pollo Mole was something I'd previously only read about. Chocolate and chilli with chicken - who'd have thought!

We've since made it ourselves a couple of times thanks to a friend who found a place to buy bottled mole sauce (probably that spanish grocer in Fitzroy). The first experience in the kitchen was doubly memorable owing to the jar's unique "press-on" lid. I ended up wearing a considerable amount of mole after a wrestle involving a (thankfully blunt) knife. If you look carefully you can just see a brown stain up the left arm of that shirt!

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Sorry it took me a while to respond - thank you all for your thoughts - I'll be tracking down all the leads you mention, am quite interested to see what Bluecorn is doing - someone here had also mentioned it to me. It seems from what I've read that they are pushing beyond the traditional. I guess in St Kilda that's a prerequisite, given the other options in the area.

One concern I have about Mexican food in Australia is the perception that it's probably not very good for you. People who think that may well have a point, but there are just as many examples of light and fresh mexican food (especially dishes from the coast) as there are for each plate of beans, lard and jack cheese. I wonder whether it gets in the way of greater acceptance.

It's really only been (from what I'm told) the last 15 years that have seen a change in that perception here in New York - let's hope that such a change might occur in Melbourne, or Australia. I would've thought Melbourne is as adventurous (or moreso) as any other city...

Notwithstanding all the above, as I type, I'm starting to salivate at the prospect of my weekly lunchtime Taco feast on 116th Street in East Harlem. It's no health food, but it's not my full time diet... I'll see if I can take a couple of pics while I'm at it and post them...

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aztec foods is a good source for mex products though their marketing is aimed at the Australianmarket so they are naturally expensive but well assorted meanwhile (sorry) Fortunato's shop and Casa iberica are kind of suppliers to the community and there is wher I have been shoppping for my own ethnic needs needs for yonks

Fortunatos' shop is 320 Ascot Vale Rd, Monee Ponds and casa iberica's address I belive is well known here

Buena suerte

chau!

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aztec foods is a good source for mex products though their marketing is aimed at the Australianmarket so they are naturally expensive but well assorted meanwhile (sorry) Fortunato's shop and Casa iberica are kind of suppliers to the community and there is wher I have been shoppping for my own ethnic needs needs for yonks

Fortunatos' shop is 320 Ascot Vale Rd, Monee Ponds and casa iberica's address I belive is well known here

Buena suerte

chau!

Just been to 320 Ascot Vale Rd., it was great, though the range is not as big as casa iberica , they stock a lot more Mexican products, and it is only 5 minutes away, it is a pity I didn't find out earlier( been driving pass there for years , wonder how I could have missed it) now they got a big for sale sign on the window :sad: the prople there are really friendly too. thank you Piazzola.

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aztec foods is a good source for mex products though their marketing is aimed at the Australianmarket so they are naturally expensive but well assorted meanwhile (sorry) Fortunato's shop and Casa iberica are kind of suppliers to the community and there is wher I have been shoppping for my own ethnic needs needs for yonks

Fortunatos' shop is 320 Ascot Vale Rd, Monee Ponds and casa iberica's address I belive is well known here

Buena suerte

chau!

Just been to 320 Ascot Vale Rd., it was great, though the range is not as big as casa iberica , they stock a lot more Mexican products, and it is only 5 minutes away, it is a pity I didn't find out earlier( been driving pass there for years , wonder how I could have missed it) now they got a big for sale sign on the window :sad: the prople there are really friendly too. thank you Piazzola.

No problems glad that I could help

Fortunato and his mob are great people

BTW Johnston Street Fiesta 2005 will be held over two days:

19 and 20 November 2005

http://www.hispanicfiesta.com.au/

chau!

Edited by piazzola (log)
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Just been to 320 Ascot Vale Rd., it was great, though the range is not as big as casa iberica , they stock a lot more Mexican products, and it is only 5 minutes away, it is a pity I didn't find out earlier( been driving pass there for years , wonder how I could have missed it) now they got a big for sale sign on the window :sad: the prople there are really friendly too. thank you Piazzola.

I literally drive past that address every morning and every night as well Dim Sim... and I have never seen or noticed it either! I am definitely going to have a look, what a great potential find. I've been schlepping out to Tulla for stuff from Aztec the last couple times, so this is a great development.

As for growing fresh chiles, I can report major success with the only one I tried, which was fresh habaneros last summer. The plant didn't fruit til well into the summer (Feb from memory) but once it did, i got at least 20 beautiful bright orange chilis from it.

Very heartening to see all the interest, replies, suggestions and posts on this topic.

BTW Dim Sim, if you live/work out this way, maybe you've seen something called "Tres Tacos" (!!!) on, I think, Racecourse Road, just up from Flemington racecourse? I've seen it, but something keeps me from actually trying it out...

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BTW Dim Sim, if you live/work out this way, maybe you've seen something called "Tres Tacos" (!!!) on, I think, Racecourse Road, just up from Flemington racecourse? I've seen it, but something keeps me from actually trying it out...

yes, I have been to Tres Tacos a number of times, some nights I feel like having Australian Mexican food like Taco, enchiladas, frijoles ( in fact you can order something called "stacked ehchiladas" on the menu and you get all of those things on one plate, a bit like the local chinese combination :biggrin: , you get a fried egg on top too, I did say Australian Mexican :laugh: ) I live within walking distance so it is convinient for me to walk there, I won't travel across town for it though, come to think of it I did have some nice tamales there once but there are not always on the menu.

The Ascot Vale store stocks things like chipotle in adobo sauce, masa flour, and the Mexican chocolate, which I used to travel to Aztec for, I remember the good old days when we used to have Daimaru, I used to be able to get hominy there too. :rolleyes:

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Mexicali Rose ROCKS.

I first came across the place when they were in Carlton. Great uni hang out in those days, with margherita and taco nights a plenty.

Somewhat more refined now.

We had:

- 1x Corona

- 1x Tequila Sunrise

- 1x La Combinacion = selection of beef filled goodies: taquito, enchilada, and one more

- 1x Seafood Combinacion = ditto as above, but with prawns and an awesome battered fish taco, with a mild red salsa.

total damage, $50.70

I think we have a WINNER.

Probably going back tonight... long story, don't ask why...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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- 1x La Combinacion = selection of beef filled goodies: taquito, enchilada, and one more

- 1x Seafood Combinacion = ditto as above, but with prawns and an awesome battered fish taco, with a mild red salsa.

total damage, $50.70

Gotta say, their combinacion's are bloody good value.

I did notice that you didn't go for desserts. From memory, their chilli chocolate ice cream was very good, as is their Mexican creme brulee. The brulee is somewhat thicker and sweeter than the traditional French one.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 2 weeks later...

Attended a session at Mexicali again last night.

Chili was a little dry, but man, them fried fish taco's... to die for.

No dessert this time neither Shin... no sweet tooth at the moment lah...

Will be attempting the Johnson St option soon...

And also, Mexicali Rose have a customer card system, eat there like, 5 or 6 times and get a Main course free... or something or rather... but worth going in any case.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 1 month later...
Chili was a little dry, but man, them fried fish taco's... to die for.

Went to Mexicali Rose tonight. I still don't get why people go ga-ga over Mexican food. I did have the fish tacos....they were nice and all, but not really all that memorable. I think I'll go back to the beef combination next time.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 3 months later...

Can't find the exact topic where we talked about growing fresh chiles but this one is close enough.

I just wanted to report that my poblanos did absolutely fantastically here in Melbourne. Next season I'll start earlier (probably inside) to get a larger crop. It is heaven to have the real thing again.

Thanks to whoever it was who encouraged me.

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Jango, you've benefitted from close to perfect growing conditions down in Mornington. Sea breeze, dry air. Good for chiles!

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Jango,

Excellent news! What I'd reallylike to know is what you did with them. Did you stuff them or dry some for winter? My plantings came to naught, I planted too late. Next year, though...

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Jango,

Excellent news!  What I'd reallylike to know is what you did with them.  Did you stuff them or dry some for winter?  My plantings came to naught, I planted too late.  Next year, though...

What I'm doing with them is roasting them and making a sauce with onions, garlic and mexican oregano. Then I can use the sauce in a variety of dishes or use as a condiment - whatever I feel like. Although simple to make it is SO deeply flavourful, and quintessentially Mexican as Rick Bayless says.

My inspiration is his Mexican Kitchen - a marvellous book which I picked up second hand at Books For Cooks ages ago. Ever since reading this book we've always made corn tortillas by hand, and the difference between fresh and packaged is astonishing.

Yes, start really early - I think I will about early Sept. Where are you getting the seeds from? Do you need some?

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Jango,

I will need the seeds. I was hoping to have some brought to m by visiting friends but I think there will be Customs issues. Do you have a supplier?

Do you have any of Diana Kennedy's books? They are wonderful. Although I do have a soft spot for Bayless as we used to eat at his restaurants when we were in Chicago.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Jango,

I will need the seeds.  I was hoping to have some brought to m by visiting friends but I think there will be Customs issues.  Do you have a supplier?

Do you have any of Diana Kennedy's books?  They are wonderful.  Although I do have a soft spot for Bayless as we used to eat at his restaurants when we were in Chicago.

I'll be happy to provide seeds - contact me via this board. You can't bring them in from the USA - customs will be all over you like a rash. I got mine from a little store in North Melbourne which sold all things chile. They've either moved or gone out of business.

Yes I love Diana Kennedy's books - they are dauntingly authentic. In another food forum we practically had open warfare over Mexican cookbook authors. What passion. It was fitting that it was about Mexican..

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Do you have any of Diana Kennedy's books?  They are wonderful.  Although I do have a soft spot for Bayless as we used to eat at his restaurants when we were in Chicago.

What's the best Kennedy cookbook to start with? The missus is a big fan of Mexican food, so I really should try and cook it for her once in a while.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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