Thursday, 10 December 2009

Stash of handtinted postcards from 60s & 70s, a treasure trove of saints

I bought a bundle of 100 beautiful vintage postcards recently which were originally printed and then handtinted during the 60s & 70s. According to the person I purchased from they were sold by street vendors to people visiting the Virgin of Guadalupe Shrine outside Mexico City. Well lucky for me that a couple of boxes must have got stuck behind a cupboard somewhere and have just recently come to light. I have a small stash of these at the moment which had just five Virgin of Guadalupe images which pretty much sold out immediately, although I think there might still be one left in the shop. I am selling these individually at the moment, getting them listed when I can and will be putting together some sets to sell together as well. I am scanning in each image as a high resolution file each time I list with a plan to put together the best of them and maybe use them on something in the future, not sure what, maybe some bright ideas will come to me over the festive break and my upcoming trip to Mexico in January!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Churros & chocolate, I visited Wahaca and left in love

While I was up in London visiting the British Museum's wonderful Dia de los Muertos event I thought I would take the opportunity for my first visit to Wahaca, a restaurant I had first bumped into on Twitter (where else?). I must admit to having built my expectations to such a level that I was bracing myself to be slightly disappointed, being a bit of a picky eater, I tend to usually find something to complain about..but not this time. WOW! I am now totally in love with the restaurant and plan to revisit it as much as possible in the run up to my trip to Mexico in the New Year, which will result in a double bonus of a) eating lots of yummy gorgeous food and b) aquainting myself with the best of 'real' Mexican food, and in particular its street food. I took away their fab menu which doubles as a magazine full of great articles plus I filled my pockets with cute little packs of their chilli seeds, some for me and some for a neighbour who has an allotement, in part a thank you to him for the veggie goodies we get presented with throughout the growing season.

Although I loved everything we ordered(Quesadillos with black beans must be mentioned here also, OMG, think massive comfort food!) as is usually always the case, the best was left to last when I ordered their churros & chocolate, I swear the yummiest thing I have ever tasted and I rarely do desserts when eating out. A month later and I am still fantasising about it..then I stumbled on the recipe on Wahaca's website which they have kindly allowed me to publish here. You HAVE TO TRY THIS AT HOME..then go to the restaurant and see how your efforts compare. A perfect treat for cosying up on winter weekends in front of TV and something I look forward to sampling in Mexico in the New Year too. Enjoy!

Wahaca chocolate sauce recipe

200g dark chocolate
75g milk chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
200ml double cream
150ml milk
A good pinch cinnamon

Mix all over a very low heat and enjoy with churros or over vanilla ice-cream.

I've never made churros before, there are hundreds of recipes online but just in case you can't be bothered to look, here's the one I have printed off. I plan to try this out next weekend, so will report back!

Ingredients: (Makes one plateful)
Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Prepare to fry the churros by heating oil in a pan (1 to 1&1/2 inches) to 360 degrees F.

To make churro dough, heat water, margarine and salt to rolling boil in 3-quart saucepan; stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute; remove from heat. Beat eggs all at once; continue beating until smooth and then add to saucepan while stirring mixture.

Spoon mixture into cake decorators' tube with large star tip (like the kind use to decorate cakes). Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. (Mix sugar and the optional cinnamon); roll churros in sugar or dump the sugar on the pile of churros.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bizarrely - it's another Day of the Dead story!

The boys at Bizarre magazine were kind enough to send me this fab photo from their recent take on the wonderful Day of the Dead festival. Starring one of their favourite models, Kitty Lea, the photo spread was the highlight of their bumper Day of the Dead feature in the latest issue. I'd had a call from them asking if I would loan out some Day of the Dead products I stock in my eBay shop for the photo shoot. In the end, just one calavera made it into the shoot (bottom right corner), and isn't he looking as pleased as punch about it? I had a dozen of these wonderful glittery papier mache skulls in the run up to the Day of the Dead weekend but only one actually made it into the store. The rest of them were destined for some big DotD parties planned around the UK. It has been a real breakthrough year for this wonderful Mexican event and with the amazing response to the British Museum's special one day event last Sunday, I can only imagine it will be even bigger here next year! Watch this space for more about the BM's Day of the Dead event later this week..

Monday, 2 November 2009

Happy Dia de los Muertos - an ofrenda to my Mum

Finally completed my Dia de los Muertos ofrenda in honour of my mother who passed away February 26, 2006. Getting together all the items for the altar gave me real joy and purpose over the last week. It has been a really great way of honouring her life and all that she meant to me and my family and remembering her with fun and real engagement. I will toast her later tonight with her favourite tipple, gin & tonic and join her to munch some of her much loved jelly sweets. Happy Dia de los Muertos Mum, it has been great having you back if only for a day.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Getting it together for Dia de los Muertos!

My finished sugar skulls, decorated with glitter glue pens, not ideal as the sugar melts a bit, but definitely the easy option for someone who has never used royal icing decoration! I am making an altar tonight in memory of my mother who passed away Feb 2006, really looking forward to putting everything together, bone bread is also made and I found some fresh marigolds in a local allotment, so just a few things to get together now!

Friday, 30 October 2009

British Airways - Day of the Dead ad, the long version!

Following the article on Dia de los Muertos posted yesterday, I just spotted a comment left on the post inviting me to share with my readers, this mini-documentary film produced by advertising agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty on Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations for BA. So here you go, the long version of the shorter ad which is doing the rounds on UK TV at the moment. I hadn't actually seen this yet myself although a few friends had mentioned it to me, of course I didn't think of looking on good old YouTube. I thought it was a beautiful film and I liked the fact that it mostly showed the preparations rather than the event celebrations itself as I felt this worked really nicely to tie in with the emotion of what is actually happening right now across Mexico and with others around the world planning to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. And possibly some like me, for the very first time. I'm building an altar tomorrow, so today have been running around trying to find the last few items I need, and thanks to a local allotment, my dream of getting fresh marigold's for my altar in remembrance to my mother, has been fulfilled. Just time to bake some 'bones bread' and get my sugar skulls decorated better get onto it then. Hope you enjoy the film as much as I did - and seeing as I am planning to go to Mexico in the New Year, this film has also reminded me that I really must get the flights booked. Hope BA's deals to Mexico are as good as they say!

On the Road in Mexico Angela from the Mexican Sugar Skull company

Meet Angela Villalba, owner of the Mexican Sugar Skull company in Texas who has set up a fantastic facebook page for sugar skull fans. I've been working with this company for just over a year now and Angela along with sidekick, Kathi are just the nicest, most helpful, friendly suppliers ever! Angela is a genuine Day of the Dead veteran visiting Mexico every year for around a month in the run up to and during the festivities to further her research for her business and currently a book she is working on. This year she is driving through five states, visiting some out-of-the-way villages in Puebla & Oaxaca. I love seeing the photos she is posting daily from Mexico as well as all the contributions from the 750 sugar skull fans from all over the world who have joined the site since its launch just over a month ago. Here are some of my favourite pics from the page so far. Hope you like them!

Sugar alfinique Catrinas found at the Oaxaca market. Made from powdered sugar,egg white &lime juice.

Anise liquor filled sugar candies from Ejutla, Oaxaca. Used for the ofrendas of their loved ones.

This Veracruz baker took Angela on a tour of his baking facilities. Here, he has a tray of hot Pan de Muerto! His shop was decorated with skeletons, skulls and papel picado banners. His bread had the traditional "bones" on top!

Yum! Chocolate Sugar Skulls!

And finally, I couldn't finish this post without introducing Tacuba, a beautiful Bengal cat and Mexican Sugar Skull's company mascot, who (in Angela's words) is a constant "pain in the ass cat", always ready and poised to either eat or attack newly received papier mache skulls. She certainly is a gorgeous Bengal cat, and I can relate to Angela's comment about her personality, I have a similarly nosey and playful puss in the house to contend with.

All photographs (c) Angela Villalba Mexican Sugar Skull.