Saturday, May 4, 2013

La Tortilleria - real tacos in Kensington


I have just returned from Mexico.  It took me 15 minutes to get home.  Let me explain.


La Tortilleria is a tiny, authentic tortilla factory in an industrial part of Kensington.  It's owned and run by the lovely Gerardo and Diana, who are passionate about the real way to make tortillas - from wholegrain corn rather than corn flour.  Diana knows what she's doing - she's previously worked in a tortilleria in Mexico.


The way to make real tortillas is called nixtamal and, save for the machinery involved, hasn't changed since Aztec times.  Most modern tortillerias (and according to Diana, all other tortillerias in Melbourne) use processed flour, which is kind of like using instant coffee powder to make coffee.  At La Tortilleria, the process starts the night before with non-GMO Australian corn that's soaked in a calcium solution.  This helps the corn to release nutrients such as niacin (vitamin B3) and become more digestible.


The next morning it's ground in a stone grinder to create the masa or dough.  Other tortillerias start here, by mixing the prepared corn flour with water.  As I understood it, that's like instant coffee made with coffee powder...versus using freshly-ground beans and the resultant shot that's just streets ahead.  It also means that La Tortilleria's tortillas are 100% preservative and additive free.


The masa is fed into a tortilla press which rumbles and jiggles before plopping heavenly, warm, real Mexican tortillas onto a conveyer belt...into your heart.  You can buy them fresh, vacuum sealed (if you want to cook with them, say, in a few days' time) or best of all - eat them in house with some Mexican street-style toppings!


Gerardo and Diana are really proud that they have the support of Melbourne's Mexican community who have been coming in droves to have Mexican that's just like back home.  They have a disarmingly simple menu of tacos, taquitos (rolled and deep-fried filled tortillas), sopes (hand-pressed, fat tortillas) and more.  This behemoth platter for two (four goodies each, plus guacamole) was $40.  Guess what - La Tortilleria use only free range meat and eggs!


I've eaten a lot of great tacos in Chicago, which has a large Mexican community.  My fave is tacos al pastor - you can read a bit about them in Chi-town in this old post of mine.  La Tortilleria's were delicious, with the meat carved from the spit (like a souvlaki) and spiked with spiced pineapple.  I thought they needed a dash of salt, but apart from that, holy tamales!


La Tortilleria have a fantastic self-serve sauce "bench" where you can load up with amazing chipotle sauce, Gerardo's special sweet mango salsa, pico de gallo and real corn chips, made by deep-frying actual tortillas.


Adored this Mexican spiced coffee, black and sweet with cinnamon and more.  I was so excited about the food I forgot to ask how it's made, but it's delicious.  La Tortilleria also have a fantastic selection of Mexican ingredients for sale - tomatillos, achiote paste and more.


La Tortilleria are open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday.  The business is only five weeks old, but I predict it's about to go absolutely gangbusters.  This is the sort of thing Melbourne loves - uncompromisingly authentic food, made with skill and passion.  And how many times can you say you've eaten food made by someone who's climbed Mount Everest?  Gerardo has!

La Tortilleria on Urbanspoon

72 Stubbs Street, Kensington
Phone:  9376 5577
Hours:  Thurs-Fri noon-2.30pm, 6pm-late; Sat-Sun 11.30am-3.30pm, 6pm-late

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My new website, including Footscray foodie tours!


I'm very excited to announce that my personal website is now live!  The address is:

It's my portable, accessible CV that highlights all the things I'm up to, from writing to speaking and of course, blogging!  Never fear, Footscray Food Blog isn't going anywhere (and now maybe I can work on some of my posting backlog!)  In fact, I've made a few changes here, with a new "About" page and updated "Footscray Food Blog in the news" section.


I've previously launched my Footscray foodie tours on Facebook but haven't yet on the blog.  I'm delighted and very excited to now offer food tours around Footscray, in partnership with Melbourne's venerable and well-respected CAE.


Do you keep hearing about Footscray and want to visit, but don't know where to start?  Maybe you're a local and are keen to find the best suppliers, rather than playing hit and miss?  Or maybe you just want to know what that one peculiar vegetable at Little Saigon is and how to use it.  I've got the genuine local knowledge and contacts that only come from living and breathing Footscray day in, day out - and I would love to share them with you!


Last term was a a huge success, with a second tour added due to large enrolments.  This term we have a new course, "An African Experience".  Footscray's well-known for Vietnamese fare but it's actually the main hub of Melbourne's Ethiopian community.  Come along and discover this, the birthplace of coffee, as well as tastes from Somalia and the world's newest nation, South Sudan.  Book through the CAE - links here at  New tours are also on the horizon.  Stay tuned!

Spring Picnic jpeg

Finally, a big shout-out to my ridiculously talented sister Liz Reed, an illustrator and artist, who painted the beautiful watercolours for the site.  (You might remember her from FFB and Consider the Sauce's annual picnic poster from last year - above.)  See more of her artwork on her site,  Also big thanks to Ravi Vasavan who contributed invaluable technical wizardry.


And big thanks to YOU for reading.  Blogging is personal by definition and I love making the connection with you, my readers, whether it's with a comment (I LOVE those, hinty McHint hint!) or coming up to say hi when you see me out and about in the 'hood.  Keep interacting, challenging, commenting and suggesting and I look forward to sharing many meals with you to in the years to come.
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