Tuesday 7 September 2010

Tequila Tasting at Green & Red

Most of us drank some sort of dark and evil spirit when we were teenagers that made us throw up until we could throw no more and we swore to ourselves we'd never drink it again. Actually, it was more than one spirit for me, but the one that I've never been able to get over is the dread tequila.

My friend Will of the Hawksmoor fame is also a part owner at Green & Red, a Mexican bar and restaurant in Shoreditch. He, always up for a challenge, told me he could change my mind about it. At his invitation and with some trepidation, I trudged over with a tequila-loving friend in tow.

In the able hands (uhm, figuratively) of the lovely barman, Davide, he asked me what my favourite cocktail was. The martini, of course. It didn't work so well in its tequila guise. I managed a sip and and a grimace.

We got back to basics with the tastings of the different ages of tequila. Through this, I learnt that I like the aged stuff the best, the tequila that's caramel in colour, and aged in barrels for a couple of years. The blanco, the youngest of all the three ages we tried, had the strongest flavour of agave. It was my least favourite.

What I did love though were the shots of sangrita (left) and verdita (right), which you drink after each tequila. The sangrita was like a little shot of bloody mary; spicy and intensely of tomato flavour. The verdita is a blend of mint, coriander, salt and chilli and it was incredibly moreish and refreshing.

The Real Hacienda is one of the priciest tequilas there. At £60 a shot, only a few hundred bottles of it are in existence since the maker closed down. It was alright.

A selection of tacos and totopos with salsas and guacamole arrived to line the stomachs. The corn tortillas which I usually find a bit chewy and muddy-tasting were thin, light and conveyed the food to the mouth well as the juices dribbled down my hands. The prawn filling was expertly cooked, with a dice of red onion, some salsa and a few coriander leaves to liven it up. Pork and pineapple was another favourite what with it being tender and smoky. The Nopales y Queso Fresco was standout - crunchy cactus with a fresh cheese and some jalapeno. It was nothing like the rubbery, bouncy salt slabs of queso fresco I suffered in Nicaragua.

We ended with probably the only drink I'd order happily again, and it was this watermelon margerita. Fresh watermelon smashed up with plenty ice, it belied the merest hint of agave.

So while I haven't been swayed towards the so-called merits of tequila, I've fallen in love with verdita and sangrita. I'd drink tequila just for them. And the next time I'm back, I'll be exploring that menu more extensively.

Green & Red

51 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA

Tel: 0207 749 9670

Green & Red Bar & Cantina on Urbanspoon


Chris Pople said...

Well I bloody love tequila and needed no convincing, but the food at Green & Red was great. Definitely no need to go back to Cantina Laredon't :)

Jessica said...

Oooh goody, glad you enjoyed. I have always gone on about the bar food after a night there but never worked out whether it was good because I was smashed. Shame you can't get into the tequila, the bartenders are awesome (I never order on menu, just get them to 'make me something', and it is always great).

An American in London said...

Green & Red has long been my favorite resto in London for tacos and carnitas. That said, I must sheepishly admit I haven't been back in a long while, largely because while the food was good on every visit, it was pricey for tacos, and the restaurant seemed increasingly packed with large groups celebrating birthdays and hen 'dos.

Additionally, now I just cook the stuff - carnitas tacos - at home.

Entertaining that you visited the place as part of yet another food-related challenge.

gastrogeek said...

I haven't been to Green and Red's for a couple of years now...although I walk past it all the time! Glad to hear it's still serving decent stuff.

The Shed said...

Ahh have only ever been in Green & Red for tequila before, will now endeavour to try the scran.

Must admit I'm not a fan of their watermelon margerita, but I love tequila so just prefer the original recipe. Mmmmmargeritaaa.

AdLand Suit said...

I am late to this post. You are wrong about tequila, as I think we may have discussed before. However, I forgive you for the Real Hacienda, 'It was alright' line. Top writing, Mabbott.