What do you get, how much is it and how easy to prepare?
What - Taco Or Don’t, Mexican Food Hamper
Taco Or Don’t is the creation of Liverpool chef, mixologist and entrepreneur Joe Wild, who started the business two years ago after working as a tequila ambassador and travelling across Mexico. Talk about a dream job. This one certainly paid off, as Joe’s authentic blue corn tortillas, nachos, yuca fries and jalapeno poppers have been propelled from small local markets to pop-ups across Liverpool and the North West, including One Percent Forest, Phase One, Teddy’s Bar and Lono Cove in Chester.
All I needed to do was put my wrestling mask on and go to Tesco for some taco toppings
More recently, Joe decided to season the moment and get his freshly cooked Mexican food direct to your door using Deliveroo, as well as offering cook at home taco kits and Mexican food hampers that can be ordered and delivered via LIDS and Good Liverpool.
It all sounds like a brilliant idea and the only thing I’m a bit confused about is the name. Is it a pun on Do or Don’t? Should I be saying Tac-oo or Don’t? I can’t help but feel that Joe’s people have missed a trick here by not suggesting ‘Taco Walk on the Wild Side’.
What do you get and how much does it cost?
Joe only uses ingredients which are 100% gluten-free - including corn-based flour - which is brilliant news for coeliacs and wheat intolerant. The Mexican Food Hamper comes in three different sizes or rather, skill levels. The beginner box (£25) comes with 20 small corn tortillas, Azul GF blue cornflour, El Yucateco hot sauce, San Marcos taco salsa, two soft drinks, Tajin seasoning and a tub of al pastor dry rub.
Spend £35 on the semi-professional hamper and you get an upgrade with a metal tortilla press. You could just roll out your tacos with a rolling pin, but why be a taco belle when you can be a lucha libre? I went for the top-level professional hamper (£45) which gets you everything in the semi-pro box plus four bottles of Dos Equis Cerveza and a piñata. Booze, homemade tacos and a brightly coloured donkey sounded like the ultimate smackdown. All I needed to do was put my wrestling mask on and go to Tesco for some taco toppings.
Delivery via LIDS added on a £1 booking fee and £5 for delivery, but when the hamper did arrive it was two Dos Equis beers short. LIDS responded quickly by email and assured me that Joe would bring the missing drinks himself. After two days, and what sounds like a comedy of errors involving the wrong house, an ironing board, Joe’s dog and a smashed bottle of beer, I did finally get my complete order. Hey, sometimes life happens.
What do you have to do and how difficult is it?
The Mexican Food Hamper is basically an accessory kit packed with authentic taco essentials and seasonings. The only thing that requires any preparation is the flour tortilla.
Written instructions tell you how to turn your bag of Azul Flour into a smooth dough (key ingredients; water, salt, pepper), divide it into ping-pong ball sized portions and then flatten it into the perfect tortilla shape using the metal press. Your tortillas then need to be fried in a “cast iron or heavy skillet” (frying pan works fine) and you can go wild with whatever toppings you like and a splash of different seasonings. I made pork and steak tacos with strips of meat marinated in the al pastor dry rub, pan-fried and then served with the taco salsa, hot sauce, Tajin seasoning and some homemade guacamole. I felt ready to battle anything after four bottles of Dos Equis and even threw down some polenta-crusted cod goujons with a sweetcorn salsa. Me and beer have always been a great tag team.
Is it any cop?
Chef, will my taco be long? No, it will be round! (Groan! - Ed) At least, that’s the idea if you follow the written instructions. My first batch of Azul corn flour tortillas came out of the taco press looking like something a child would make at playschool. They did get better after some trial and error but eventually got ditched for the Guanajuato white corn tortillas included in the hamper as well. The premade tortillas crunched up a treat in the hot pan and I enjoyed putting together my own taco toppings with a big splash of that amazing El Yucateco hot sauce, my new favourite condiment. I’m glad I discovered the Tajin seasoning too, a Mexican spice blend made with salt, chilli peppers, and dehydrated lime. It adds just the right touch of zing to tacos, nachos and allegedly even ice cream or fruit.
The Taco Or Don’t hamper is good fun to try and brings a flavour of Mexico’s sizzling street food into your home. But it’s also given me a new respect for the skill, knowledge and experience that goes into authentic world cooking. Joe Wild, you must be a Tacosaurus.
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