Sunday 7 November 2010

Lupe Pintos - The Half Canned Cooks

Recently I started introducing myself in all the places I've been going to for years in relative, or at least nominative, anonymity. One of my first 'outings' was in Lupe Pintos. Now, I've been using this brilliant deli for years but somehow never got around to saying hello.

Aside from an incredible array of hot sauces, chillies and tortillas, their cooking chorizo and morcilla from Asturias are as good as you'll get, and, where else in Scotland will you find the Spanish air dried tuna 'mojama' or a bottle of the thirst quenching Basque wine Txacoli?

I accept not everyone finds themselves suddenly short of cave aged Manchego of an evening, but it happens to me and the fact this place has been here a decade suggests I'm not entirely alone.

So, not long after introducing myself, as Keith Floyd might say, '"my latest chum Ian" tells me Lupe Pintos have just launched a wine list of purely Spanish wines and are having a free tasting on Friday. Result. Then on the Monday he tells me there's the shop's cookery book launch where, for the price of the book you get to sample some of the recipes, a talk by the author and a signed copy of the book. I decide that introducing myself to people is a very good thing indeed and resolve to do much more of it.

Two decades back Doug Bell started a wholesale business distributing tortilla chips, refried beans and Monterey Jack cheese in Edinburgh. He sold the wholesale business in 2007 but kept the delis in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The book launch was in Mancini, a restaurant next door to Lupe Pintos, a place with an admirable selection of wines by the glass. While waiting for the author to say a few words everyone flicked through the book and nibbled nice nibbles. While he seems rather shy and withdrawn initially, I'd seen at the wine tasting a few days earlier that once Doug gets going he's quite a captivating speaker.

Utilising props from a suitcase, Doug had a dig at the homogeneous nature of supermarkets and the absurdity of celebrity chefs. As he poked fun at people trying to make restaurant food at home I stared awkwardly into my wine glass recalling times spent stuffing quail legs.

The admirable ethos of this book is that food should be good, fun and not a faff to prepare. No need to soak black beans for 24 hours and boil them for 2 when you can open a tin. The book's intention is to help people make the best rendition of a dish possible with the least amount of fuss. Fortunately for Doug's deli businesses you'll not find a lot of this stuff anywhere else!

My first foray into cooking from the book came tonight. Pollos Asados De Dos Hermanos With Salsa Boracha. The book explains the name's a tribute to one of US televisions best ever series 'Breaking Bad' in which a roast chicken business is used as a front for mass distribution of meth amphetamine produced by a terminally ill chemistry teacher.

Oh, and you shove a half finished can of beer up the chickens jacksey. Keeps the breast moist apparently. The little white container holds the deli's own achiote seasoning.

Well this was pretty damn tasty. Lovely unusual flavours combining deliciously together. An impressive start. Only one thing to drink with this really...

Very pleased with my first foray into The Half Canned Cooks. But next up a real challenge. One of the recipes is for a seafood paella made entirely from tinned fish. It goes against the grain for me... but I have to try it. Will post the results soon along with a few of the very tasty wines they're now selling there.


  1. Manchego and Breaking Bad in the same blog, top stuff! 'El Gaitero' Spanish Cider offer this week!

  2. arggghh!!! monteray jack cheese, real live tortillas and chillies???? why or why can´t we have a shop like this in London? Despite the recent craze in mexican restaurants, none of them are very authentic, makes me long for my favourite taco shop when I was in university back in San Diego, Roberto´s.

  3. ha ha that's brilliant Denise, I spend so much of my time looking at blogs like yours thinking "god why isn't there one of them in Glasgow". It's a cracking wee place, if I remember, next time I'm headed for London, will get in touch and pick up a few faves for you. It'd be a good excuse to meet up at last!