A trip down mem­ory lane

Stan­ley Street’s Tilt­ing Heads takes Louise Lieben­berg down mem­ory lane with Mex­i­can food that’s fill­ing and fun

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

I’VE had a soft spot for Mex­i­can food ever since my Amer­i­can god­par­ents, Bill and Jerry Price, in­tro­duced our fam­ily to the de­li­cious and spicy cui­sine of that coun­try, where they had lived for some years.

I was just a kid and this was at a time, prob­a­bly around the mid-1980s, when few peo­ple in Port El­iz­a­beth even knew what a taco or tor­tilla was. For­get mar­gar­i­tas – all we were fa­mil­iar with Mex-wise was na­chos from the Spur (these are still a favourite, I must con­fess!)

There were no ready-made taco shells or flour tor­tillas avail­able in town, so we made our own, and if you wanted salsa you had to chop it up your­self.

My god­par­ents in­tro­duced us to tacos, tostadas, tor­tillas, bur­ri­tos, fa­ji­tas and the like . . . even the dreaded tamale pie – a relic of the US’s first love af­fair with Mex­i­can cui­sine and a spongy mess I never took to.

But I re­mem­ber the first time I ate gua­camole – now that was just won­drous!

Ev­ery time they re­turned from the States, Un­cle Bill, a ge­ol­o­gist, and “Ant” Jerry, his wonderful, free-spirited side­kick with Navajo an­ces­try, would bring us Mex­i­can spices and ev­ery type of chilli imag­in­able. We kept the seeds so we could grow our own.

They even taught me and my sis­ter a lit­tle Span­ish, which came in un­ex­pect­edly use­ful many years later when I mar­ried into a Span­ish fam­ily!

I still en­joy Mex­i­can food though many are un­aware it is a lot spicier than Span­ish food, which my hus­band, Salve­lio, and I eat much more of­ten.

That said, I used to en­joy pop­ping into Chin­gada’s lit­tle bur­rito bar at Walmer Park on a week­end for lunch on the run, though sadly it now seems closed.

Tilt­ing Heads in Rich­mond Hill is an­other great go-to when the chilli crav­ings start to hit. Salve­lio and I re­cently went around for a quick din­ner and re­ally en­joyed their small but tasty menu.

This chilled and in­ti­mate lit­tle cafe has been there for months, so it’s sur­pris­ing we hadn’t got there sooner.

The con­cept is su­per sim­ple – it’s es­sen­tially a taco cafe with killer mar­gar­i­tas served in jam jars. Not my re­cep­ta­cle of choice, but it does add to the fun if you’re there with friends and the mar­gar­i­tas cer­tainly are ice cold and lip-puck­er­ingly zesty!

If you pre­fer you can have Mex­i­can beer, served with the oblig­a­tory slice of lemon or lime in the neck, in­stead. These are very dif­fer­ent in taste from our South African lagers – I found the Sol lighter, smoother, blander, even, although it was a marvel­lous thirst quencher and did go down well with our na­cho starter (R62).

Salve­lio’s Corona Ex­tra was crisper and more re­fresh­ing. The wait­ress couldn’t say what the pur­pose of the lime was, but some un­der-the-table Googling sug­gested it adds tart­ness and flavour.

The na­chos is a big por­tion even when you share it, as we did, so fin­ish­ing our mains was eas­ier said than done. I usu­ally just make na­chos with bot­tled salsa (c’mon, who doesn’t?). Tilt­ing Heads does it with fresh, raw tomato and I re­alise now how much nicer this is.

My mains, the Taco Lan­gostino (R111), in­cluded three soft tacos topped with tem­pura prawn, shred­ded radish, fen­nel ali­oli and sliv­ers of ex­plo­sively hot and crunchy, deep-fried green chilli.

I adored the flavour com­bi­na­tions and un­usual colours, and would have heartily en­joyed eat­ing it too had the kitchen not slipped up and fried the prawns prac­ti­cally to a crisp.

I’m sure this dish is a stun­ner when the prawns are treated with a lit­tle more care.

Salve­lio de­voured his lamb en­chi­lada (R115) – tor­tilla lay­ers with lamb, recco sauce (I don’t know what this is and for­got to ask), kid­ney beans, rice, crispy corn ker­nels, cheese, co­rian­der and a de­li­cious driz­zle of cool­ing sour cream.

Dessert? Out of the ques­tion, though the chur­ros with choco­late sauce would’ve been a fit­ting fin­ish, I’m sure.

Owner Ai­den Pien­aar will be in­tro­duc­ing an ad­di­tional tapas-style lunch menu from Thurs­day and I can’t wait to try it.

ý Tilt­ing Heads is at 3A Stan­ley Street and open for lunch and din­ner, Mon­day to Satur­day. Con­tact them on (041) 582-1566.

This re­view visit was anony­mous and the meal paid for in full.

“The con­cept is su­per sim­ple – it’s es­sen­tially a taco cafe with killer mar­gar­i­tas served in jam jars”

FRA­GRANT LAY­ERS: The lamb en­chi­lada is driz­zled with sour cream

EV­ERY­ONE’S FAVOURITE: Na­chos – the best an­ti­dote to a cold day

FLAVOUR FI­ESTA: Taco Lan­gostino is topped with prawn and radish

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