Sunday Times

MEX­I­CAN IN MPUMALANGA

An­drew Unsworth delves into a restau­rant that gets its in­spi­ra­tion from all over the world, start­ing in Latin Amer­ica

- Food · Comfort Food · Recreation · Cookbooks · Street Food · Healthy Living · Fast Food · Restaurants · Healthy Food · Pizza · Recipes · Cooking · Dining Out · Italian Food · Mexico

PI­CASSO’S MEX­I­CAN TAQUERIA Z3, Bagh­dad Cen­tre, op­po­site Caster­bridge Life­style Cen­tre on the R40, White River Tel: 013-750-0300 I

t may sound a lit­tle odd: a Mex­i­can restau­rant in Mpumalanga in­spired by Pi­casso’s on the Beach on the Greek is­land of Naxos, both named af­ter a Span­ish pain­ter, and also sell­ing Ital­ian piz­zas and Amer­i­can ham­burg­ers. But it works, and in the four years since it opened, Pi­casso’s Mex­i­can Taqueria has be­come pop­u­lar with lo­cals as well as pass­ing tourists.

I’ve eaten there a few times and never been dis­ap­pointed, cer­tainly not by the friendly ser­vice. But I’ve al­ways stuck to the smaller tacos and piz­zas: rea­son­ably good piz­zas are not that easy to find in the Lowveld, and Pi­casso’s Si­cil­ian pizza is hard to beat if tack­led with a cold beer in the heat. One of their mar­gar­i­tas or daiquiris would go down just as well.

To do the place jus­tice, I had to delve deeper. The menu cov­ers tacos with stuff­ings of pulled pork, chilli con carne, spicy beef or lamb, chicken, prawns, fish and a vege­tar­ian op­tion. The street food or an­to­ji­tos (lit­tle crav­ings) in­clude corn chips, potato or corn na­chos, chicken wings and chimichang­as, which are stuffed and fried tor­tillas.

Co­mida or lunch dishes in­clude fa­ji­tas, sal­ads, en­chi­ladas, bu­ri­tos and que­sadil­las. These all in­volve tor­tillas ei­ther as they come or stuffed and baked or grilled.

I had a siz­zling chicken fa­jita (R115) which was pan-fried breast strips with onions and pep­pers served on a hot skil­let with shred­ded let­tuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream gua­camole and three tor­tillas. You as­sem­ble and roll them to your taste, try­ing not to make too much of a mess.

My com­pan­ions nib­bled at my chicken, and the kid present, who had al­ready pol­ished off an Oreo milk­shake and most of a medium-sized Hawai­ian pizza (R65), even pol­ished off my onions and pep­pers — un­heard of. I could only fin­ish one flour tor­tilla as they are as large as a roti bread and I have al­ways found them blandly chewy, some­what like eat­ing a wet face­cloth.

They are far bet­ter when re-cooked be­fore serv­ing, as with the que­sadil­las my other com­pan­ion had. These are stuffed and grilled tor­tillas. In this case stuffed with slow-cooked beef in chipo­tle sauce and served with the usual trio of gua­camole, salsa and sour cream (R95).

That was ex­cel­lent.

Mex­i­can and Tex-Mex food is jus­ti­fi­ably gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity around the world. It’s healthy, tasty and easy to eat in­for­mally.

I would love to ex­pe­ri­ence corn tor­tillas as made by the Aztecs, still used in Mex­ico when mak­ing smaller tor­tillas. Larger tor­tillas are made with wheat flour to hold their shape. Per­haps some­one in SA needs to mill the cor­rect corn flour, I would pre­sume some­where be­tween mieliemeal and Maizena corn flour.

I also sus­pect that the chilli con­tent of Mex­i­can food is dumbed down or re­duced for for­eign tastes. In this case dishes were mild and the salsa could have done with more kick. You can, of course, ask for more chilli on the side, but South Africans are not shy of chilli. Give it to us.

Open ev­ery day 10.30am - 10pm pi­cas­so­is­mex­i­can.co.za

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 ??  ?? Pi­casso’s Mex­i­can restau­rant in Graskop of­fers a range of the dishes that have made Mex­i­can and Tex-Mex cuisines so pop­u­lar world­wide
Pi­casso’s Mex­i­can restau­rant in Graskop of­fers a range of the dishes that have made Mex­i­can and Tex-Mex cuisines so pop­u­lar world­wide
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