Mamasita: NYE Post

December 31, 2011

Level 1, 11 Collins Street, Melbourne
9650 3821

“Happy New Years Eve!! Un Tequila? Un Sangria? De Paella?”
“Si! Si! Si!”

Happy New Years Eve everyone, and welcome to my last post of 2011! I’m really enjoying the sun today (having been cooped up at work all week), and am looking forward to two more days of summer heat and icy poles by the pool (frosty fruits are my pick of the season). Later today I’m heading to a house party, where our host has kindly offered his home, his Paella dish, and his margarita recipe. How very excellent.

Since I’ll be sipping tequila laced drinks and eating tasty South American food later today (the host is Argentinean and has promised various gastronomic goodies), I thought it was only fitting that I blogged about Mamasita today. I know, I know, Mexican is different to South American is different to Spanish, but before y’all get on your cultural high horses, let me say that there are similarities.

For one, tequila is popular in Mexico and in South America. And I’m sure the Spanish like a shot or two every now and then. Secondly…tequila. I think I’ve made my point. Now to Mamasita.

My good friend V, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and whose birthday party I missed, caught up over some drinks and munchies one Thursday evening. All too aware of Mamasita’s popularity, even on weekdays, we arrived frightfully early for dinner at 5:30 and, feeling rather geriatric, scaled the narrow staircase and were led to a table. Success!

The restaurant is noisy and relaxed, and has an enormous photo print of a woman in a bikini along one wall. The staff are all Mexican-looking and the service was excellent all round. Plus most of the waiters had mustaches and dark brows. My kind of food, my kind of waiters!

I had a frozen margarita, which was excellently refreshing and tart. V started with a tequila and grapefruit mixer, involving a cheery green glass bottle of Mexican soft-drink Jarritos, which I’m seeing around quite often. I recently had the same drink (minus the tequila) at Paco’s Tacos, MoVida’s new taco outpost near the corner of Bourke and William Streets (coming soon to a blog near you!)

The back of the menu is covered in a map of the Mexico City metro. I collect postcards of metro maps from places I go – so far I’ve got Paris and London, looking to get New York, Moscow and now a Mexico City. Oh yes, and the Stockholm metro. Check it.

On a more serious note, and relating to the other side of this sheet, the menu is excellently geared for vegetarians. I could have happily ordered all vegetarian dishes (though ideally pescatarian because those fish tacos were so damn tasty). Also, the menu is entirely gluten free – celiacs rejoice!

First up (the service is super quick here) were the Elotes Callejeros – street style chargrilled corn, queso, chipolte mayonnaise and lime. UGH, why did I ever eat corn without these things?! The corn was delicious, a bit of a conversation killer because they’re so tasty and all you can do is dive in, but brilliant with the sour lime and salty cheese and spicy chipolte that leaves your lips tingling.

Next to arrive were the tacos de pescado (actually, I had the fish taco, V had another taco that I can’t remember – shredded pork maybe? Sorry V, too much tequila obviously…) The soft and floury tacos were freshly made and held together well. The grilled fish looks overdone in the photo but was wonderfully soft and tender and very flavoursome. To jazz things up a bit, this taco comes with lime, achiote paste and a red onion salsa. Jazzy.

Next up was the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche with mushrooms, corn, epazote, pico de gallo and queso fresco. This was bloody brilliant, and possibly my favourite dish of the night. The earthy taste from the mushrooms and the huitlacoche was out of this world, contrasted with a sinful tang from the cheese. Huitlacoche, for the non-Mexican readers (me included), is affectionately known as corn smut, and is a fungus that grows on corn (so kind of like I mushroom, I suppose). See grotesque images here and here.

Another excellent dish was our board of Tostaditas de Carnitas, slow braised pork shoulder with encurtidos and jalapenos, topped with a piece of crackling. Such excellent little morsels, with a surprisingly delicate flavour. Next time I’m going to try the Tostaditas with crab, avocado and tamarind.

Finally a dish that I really enjoyed and thought was an excellent contrast to the rest of our bready/cheesy dishes was the Ceviche de Atun. Raw yellow fin tuna, blood orange, avocado, pickled jalapenos, lime, coriander and toasted sesame. Such a refreshing dish, stupidly high in Vitamin C, but you still get the thickness of the tuna which appears in pleasantly large chunks. I also enjoyed watching the tuna slowly cook in the lime juice, although I do think the texture is best when raw so don’t let it sit for too long.

For dessert, we shared the Frituras de Manzana, apple fritters with vanilla pear sorbet. I wasn’t really sold on these, to be honest. The apple was slightly crunchy (which upon reflection was probably better that being completely mushy), but I guess I’m just not a fan of frittered fruit. However, I loved the pear sorbet. Give me a big bowl of that coy, honeyed goodness, and I would be happy as a clam.

As our meal was wrapping up, I finally remembered something and exclaimed, “Oh! The tequila! The tequila!” V and I had spoken previously of the tequila shots here, that come with a spicy cold tomato juice. Traditionally you’re supposed to have it before the meal, and sip between the spirit and the juice. V and I defied both rules and threw them back as a festive end to our meal. My throat was burning but holy smokes it was good!

I loved Mamasita, the food was extremely tasty and not stodgy, as some Mexican food can be, the service was good and vibe is chilled. In reference to the upside-down question-mark bookended question “Un taco? Un tequila?”, my answer will always be “Si!”, as long as it’s at Mamasita!

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Melbourne CBD, Mexican