Dia De Los Muertos & Guy Fawkes… a tasty combination!

Halloween & bonfire night are traditionally associated with being a whole lot of fun for kids.

For me, however, it’s the perfect excuse for some food indulgence (like I need an excuse…)

Although I have been known to dress up in some weird and wonderful costumes and go out on the hunt for sweeties, this year my Halloween was a much more grown up affair as I celebrated Dia De Los Muertos with my good friend Sarah at Birmingham’s own little slice of South America, Bodega.

Bodega Bar & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Their event included a pop-up shop, a special cocktail and a healthy dose of delicious food.

Whenever I frequent Bodega (and it happens a lot) it takes me an age to decide what to eat. Do I play it safe with a tried and tested Burrito or do I dare try something new? This time, however, greed got the better of both of us, as we opted for the Bodega Selection platter with a selection of some of their best dishes, like Pork Carnitas Tacos, Patatas Bravas, Frijoles, Nachos, Albondigas Cubanas and Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas. Plus we got a side of sweet potato fries!

I tucked into the Albondigas Cubanas first of all, tender and juicy beef meatballs in a deliciously rich red wine and tomato sauce, which were a flavour explosion in the mouth. Definitely gives Italian meatballs a run for their money! The patatas bravas in the same sauce were equally as impressive.

Next up I tucked into the quesadillas which had the tiniest hint of spice, delicious flavour and stayed crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Just the right amount of cheese complimented the chicken and made the quesadillas surprisingly light.

The nachos were a surefire winner, smothered in tomato salsa, fresh guacamole and sour cream topped with melted cheese. You can’t go wrong with that combination and these were definitely right.

The Pork Carnitas Tacos were also really good, with succulent, spicy shredded pork in a soft shell taco.

The biggest surprise for me though, were the Frijoles. Call me uncultured, but on paper, double cooked black beans with cream and crumbled cheese doesn’t sound as appetising as the rest of the menu, but man was I surprised. The Frijoles were absolutely delicious – perfectly cooked, tender rice, flavoursome black beans with a really creamy and rich texture, all topped with gooey melted cheddar cheese. If this is a true taste of South American food, then I’m in. I’ll definitely be ordering them again.

And of course, a trip to Bodega couldn’t go without one of their signature cocktails. I indulged in the Bodega Punch – a fruity mix of dark rum, lime, pineapple and pomegranate, before going down to the Sugarloaf bar to have the special Dia De Los Muertos cocktail, spookily purple and adorned with a floating blackberry. The cocktail was delicious, but I was surprised that the bar was fairly empty apart from the group of Beadesaurus staff. The pop up shop had some cute bags and accessories featuring the traditional Mexican image of the sugar skulls, however the staff weren’t the most sociable and didn’t pay any attention to anybody browsing the goods or entering the colouring competiton. My friend Sarah did, however, enter a very artful looking skull so I hope she wins the vouchers!

We finished off our cocktails and headed home, no trick or treating on the way, though I don’t expect Harvey Nichols in the Mailbox would have appreciated two twenty-somethings asking for a treat!

So that was Tuesday night. I then spent the rest of the week gearing up for an epic Guy Fawkes night barbecue and bonfire! Barbecues in our household are always a big deal, with most of the family coming over to enjoy a barbecue of epic proportions.

I spent most of the day chopping onions and garlic for a mammoth pot of Steven’s mum’s home-made chilli con carne and Harley’s home-made curry. I also washed the biggest pot full of rice I have ever seen. The amazing thing is, that all of it got eaten!

On the barbecue, we treated ourselves to four different flavours of chicken drumsticks – hot & spicy, Chinese, Kentucky BBQ and tandoori, as well as Chinese chicken kebabs, garlic butter prawn kebabs, jumbo sausages with fried onions and mustard, beef burgers as big as a dinner plate and barbecue pork spare ribs.

Everything was just beautiful, and with a massive bonfire burning all the old wood from the bottom of the garden, everything (including me) was infused with a smoky flavour you can only get from cooking with fire!

Now an earlier version of this blog may have mentioned a particular culinary event involving a Turkey but my dear friend Sarah mentioned earlier has corrected me, as before November is out the German Christmas Market opens and Spiceal Street at the Bullring opens it’s doors.

So there is more fun to be had before the big day!

So thank you Sarah! And until next time