Quiero Queso!
January 20, 2010 8:01 AM   Subscribe

What is a traditional Mexican Cheese to go with Black Beans in Burritos and where can I get it in London UK? Also where can you get Tomatillo's in London?

Cooking up some 'Mexican Black Beans' for a dinner party and thought i'd try and get a proper 'mexican cheese'. Would a Queso Fresco be appropriate?

Although i don't know where i'd get it.

And i've never seen or dealt with tomatillos before, can you get them in the UK? And how do i make a sauce with them?
posted by mary8nne to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help with London availability, but Queso Fresco, Cotija, or even Monterey Jack cheeses are all appropriate. Cotija is probably best.

I sometimes can't find good cheses, but I just mix cream cheese into my black beans with a tbs of chili powder and a tsp of cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yummy.
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:07 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

well, they look like this and the caption says they are from germany so I bet you can get them.

here's a thread on chowhound about shopping in UK for mexican foods.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:10 AM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: What about this Oaxaca Cheese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oaxaca_cheese? probably even harder to find in UK.

Are there any spanish cheeses that are similar? Manchego?
posted by mary8nne at 8:10 AM on January 20, 2010

Yes, I was going to come in here and say Queso Fresco before I saw the [more inside]!

I live in London too but I have no idea where to get any. What we've found is that a raw milk cheese such as Gorwydd Caerphilly is close enough.

You can get it as well as tomatillos at Borough Market.
posted by vacapinta at 8:12 AM on January 20, 2010

Feta cheese makes a good substitute for Cotija which is a salty, dry, crumbly cheese. Queso Fresco is also crumbly but moister with a milder flavor.

If you find fresh tomatillos, peel the dry papery husks, roast them with onions, garlic and chili and wisk the lot up in a blender with cilantro, then reduce briefly. This makes a nice, tart sauce for chicken, fish or as a salsa. You can add cream (crema) to the sauce if you want to smooth the tartness a bit. Tomatillos are also available (in the US) canned which eliminates the need to roast them.

posted by Allee Katze at 8:12 AM on January 20, 2010

Nthing cotija, oaxaca, or queso fresco. A spanish manchego could work, but won't be the same. MexGrocer ships internationally.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:18 AM on January 20, 2010

My wife corrects me and brought me a taste of some Wensleydale just now to prove it!

Yes, Wensleydale here in the UK is pretty close.

Spanish cheeses and Mexican cheeses have nothing in common.
posted by vacapinta at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2010

Manchego isn't a good substitute at all. As for tomatillos, I know I saw some at Borough Market in the summer. I doubt they'll be there now (if it's even open in winter?).
posted by cooker girl at 8:25 AM on January 20, 2010

Best answer: There is a Mexican grocery by Victoria Station. And I cannot find the website for the life of me. It used to be in the Elephant but then it moved at some point.

There's also one in Bethnal Green. http://www.casamexico.co.uk/

You'll definitely be able to get tomatillo sauce there, and possibly queso fresco or cotija.

I'll keep searching for the one near Victoria.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:30 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Honestly, I wouldn't put forth too much effort on the "authentic." It'll be difficult and expensive, when for much less you could really get any decent cheese (though not a soft, blue, or cream cheese) and use that.

Cheese tastes good with beans. A sharp Cheddar, Manchego, or hell, even Fontina will taste good, even though it won't be traditional. Beans and cheese are friends.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:32 AM on January 20, 2010

El Azteca! But I think they may have closed down. I'd give them a ring before attempting to go there.

posted by elsietheeel at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2010

A good place to start is Cool Chile. They have an online store as well as a stall at Borough Market. Although they don't sell cheeses, they do have a restaurant, so may be able to point you in the right direction for a locally available substitute.
posted by sleepy boy at 8:50 AM on January 20, 2010

I am not in the UK, but I do cook tem-mex/mexican food fairly regularly, and we almost always use sharp cheddar with it. I know it is not authentic, but it is damn good.

Also I understand you will be able to get cheddar without too much hassle over there.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2010

If you can get a queso fresco, go for it. It's ideal: finely grated on top of your black beans. It's how I eat black beans here in Texas, when I eat delicious Tex-Mex or Mexican food.
posted by Pants! at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2010

i hate to recommend the high st. kensington Whole Foods (i really do) but i've bought canned tomatillos there before. they also have quite a wide selection of imported cheeses and might have queso fresco.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 9:18 AM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks All. I live in East London so this Bethnal Green place sounds perfect. I'll have to have a look tomorrow.

The dinner is tomorrow night so Online is probably out of the question.

Borough Markets are generally not open mid-week unfortunately. And true, it seems unlikely that mid-winter they would stock tomatillos.

I've usually just used a Britich Cheddar but thought for a change I'd try and find a 'proper' mexican cheese.

Thanks for the tips!
posted by mary8nne at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2010

I saw Monterey Jack cheese at Morrison's this weekend.

Damn, this whole thing is making me hungry. Queso fundido.
posted by sagwalla at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2010

Yes, I've bought Mont. Jack at Morrison's as well.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2010

Cool Chile definitely sells (giant) cans of tomatillos, and should have them for sale at their Notting Hill taqueria. I hear you can find fresh tomatillos at Borough Market, but at the price of gold. The little grocery near Victoria Station closed last year. Please report back on the Bethnal Green market, I'd be really curious to hear whether it's worth a visit.

For others interested in the Eternal Quest for Good Mexican Food in London, I've found this From Chile to Chocolate blog to be worth a read.
posted by KatlaDragon at 2:56 PM on January 20, 2010

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