Food 8: Drink
313 Great Western Road. Glasgow. 0141 33/1 5444
Glasgow gets a taste of the hot stuff
The monikers are as merry as the potions are potent: Smokin’ Satan Chipotle, Who Dares Burns, Tongues of Fire - and best of all - Red Ringpiece, It Burns Ya Twice. Oh dear, I hear you think, don’t go there.
Anyone in Edinburgh with an interest in the cooking of Mexico, South America and the US knows about Lupe Pinto’s. It offers an unparalleled array of bottled hot sauces, such as those above, as well as fresh tortillas, tinned refried beans (of the most excellent Rosarita brand), chorizo sausage, Betty Crocker cake mix and a whole lot more, including Thai and Japanese goods, too.
The Leven Street shop has been around for a decade, but now owners Dougie Bell and Rhoda Robertson have opened a second outlet in Glasgow and it hasn’t taken long for the word to spread in the West End.
The shelves don’t seem to be on the verge of bursting like they are in the capital. But the simple explanation is that this place offers a bit more space. ‘We want to repeat what we’ve done in Edinburgh,’ Bell says. The new branch on Great Western Road (across from the splendid St Mary’s Cathedral) culminates a five-year search for the right site.
Bell and Robertson’s story is a good one. They began with a restaurant in Edinburgh but Bell tired of churning out plate after plate of fajitas when he knew there was so much more to Mexican fare. So they upped sticks and went to the New World, ending up on the Yucatan. Their shop’s namesake is an estate agent there who became a mate and mentor on authentic ‘hot cooking’.
Back in Scotland, rather than return to the restaurant drudgery, they translated their enthusiasm for food into Lupe Pinto’s. While this country is not yet swamped (apologies to Mr Blunkett) with so-called ‘chilli heads’ there are sufficient aficionados to make Lupe a successful venture. One of the real joys for Bell are the seasonal fresh peppers he receives from a grower in Dorset. He calls on a Tuesday morning; habaneros, jalapeﬁos and the like are harvested that day and available in his shop the following afternoon.
And even if one is a novice, Lupe Pinto’s will assist in the pleasures of Mexican cooking. They sell an A5-size cook book, Hot As Hell, and regularly issue single sheet recipes - eg chicken mole, pollo verde, chilli con carne — that also debunk what Bell sees as myths and misconceptions. Take chilli con carne: never add a bar of chocolate (save it for your mole sauce). But a bottle of dark beer or red wine is just fine.
‘I get hacked off by middle class, safe cooking,’ Bell says. ‘We are down to earth, humorous and want to offer a few basic rules.’ The first of which is probably body swerve the inferior brands (namely the dreadfully ubiquitous Old El Paso) in the supermarkets and begin at Lupe Pinto’s instead. (Barry Shelby)
A NEW NOTE WEST 13TH 1 1—13 Kelvmhaugh Street. 0141 576 5018
The 13th Note is dead. Let's accept that. While it may still trade (under the management of liquidation speCIalists KPMGi with that name and in a familiar location at the base of King Street. its spirit has moved towards the setting sun. Now known as West 13th. the vegan cafe. bar and hip music hangout has taken over the body of McChuill's Way Out West in Kelvinhaugh Street. With the same staff and direction of Craig Tannock. West 13th plays a new note with most of the same instruments.
The menu is smaller: but curiously it has liberated the kitchen staff. Cook Liam Stetani explains that while some chOices may be static. With a few of the old tav0urites such as veggie burgers and chips, daily speCials WI“ allow West 131h more freedom and opportunity to highlight seasonal produce in daily specials. ‘lvlaking things in smaller quantities allows us to expenment.‘ says Stefani. About two thirds of the offerings. he expects. will be reliable and predictz-ible. 'We have an armoury of reCipes to fall back on. We will follow the formula but With more seasonal selections and always keeping prices down.‘
As ever. meals are a bargain at West 13th with nothing over 94.50. ‘We're lucky to have a team that works well together.‘ Stefani adds. with staff bringing various strengths and talents. whether with Middle Eastern cuisine or cakes.
Two of his favourite dishes are retried black beans with cherry tomato salsa and marinated smoked tofu or savOy cabbage parcels stuffed with spicy rice and served with a vodka tomato sauce.
Although it's early days. manager Paul Smith says he's beginning to recognise “a lot of faces from King Street”. Still. theie is a way to go: other people come in and ask: ‘Where's the meat gone?‘ he says.
For Stefani and the other cooks. the challenge remains the same. even it the ingredients for vegan cuisine are increasingly eaSIer to sOurce. 'We have to perSuade people that it can taste good as well as being good for you.‘ tBarry Shelbyi I West l3th's launch begins Thursday 23 May and runs through the weekend wrth live iiii/Sica/ acts such as Life 'v’VIl/lOL/f Bur/dings. See music for fir/l details.
The spirit f the 13th Note lives on and moves west
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Excellent value at £17.50 per person.
12 Ashton Lane 'lbl 01-11-334 5007
1 10 THE LIST '9 1/", Ma, 7732’