Tortilla awesome, totally awesome? I know, I know— groans all round. Luckily I know of an antidote to bad tortilla puns…a visit to Victoria BC’s local tortilla factory, Tortilleria Monterrey. I caught up with owner, Claudia to chat about the ancient process of making corn flour and the traditions of Mexican cuisine.
So first things first, what’s behind the name TORTILLERIA MONTERREY?
Tortilleria is essentially a tortilla factory—a place where tortillas are made and people can pick them up fresh daily. Monterrey is the capital city of the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It is my home town and the chosen name for this Tortilleria.
And explain to us what you do at TORTILLERIA MONTERREY
We manufacture corn tortillas in small batches and provide them fresh to our customers at four different Farmer’s Markets around the city of Victoria. The markets have been a great community space and outlet, we love our tortillas, we love the markets, and we love our customers, so we are happy and proud to provide a fresh, healthy and delicious product. We use only the best quality ingredients. We’re also in the middle of some very interesting developments that you’ll be able to find out about in a few weeks time.
How long have you been in operation and what was the motivation behind starting the business?
We’ve been making tortillas for almost 14 months now. We started thinking about the business years ago when we were living in Vancouver. But upon moving to Victoria from Monterrey and seeing there weren’t any high quality tortillas being made in the city we decided to start making them for ourselves, our friends and family. After our family and friends encouraged us to start selling them, we applied at Moss St. Market and we had a very successful first few weeks. We couldn’t keep up with the demand and we now sell out almost every week. We’re also building our customer base at all the other farmer’s markets on the island.
What makes your tortillas so darn good?
We use a very high quality golden corn flour (or masa harina). The corn for this masa harina has been nixtamalized, which means it has gone trough a traditional ancient process which makes the corn kernels lose its husk so the nutrients (Niacin, B vitamins) are more readily available for absorption in the human body. Therefore, tortillas are a very nutritious, flavourful and versatile food product that have been historically a food staple in Mexico and Central America. The other two ingredients used in our tortillas are Vancouver Island Sea Salt and B.C. Artesian Spring Water. Both companies from the Island. Our tortillas are hand crafted, meaning, we cook/grill them one by one but in a bigger “comal”. They are also gluten-free and a perfect alternative for people who are sensitive to gluten or just want a healthier alternative to bread. And they are made with love!
How do we get our hands on them?
At four different farmer’s markets around Victoria:
- Wednesday from 12-4 at Market Square hosted by the VDPMS.
- Thursday from 5:30- 8:30 at the Sidney Market on Beacon Ave.
- Saturdays from 10- 2 at Moss St. Market
- Sundays from 11-4:30 at Bastion Square on Langley St.
Tortillas are made fresh for every market! The markets are a very important part of our business. We feel strongly about supporting the local food movement and by being in the market community we can! Its great to be able to talk to every person that buys our tortillas and for them to see how much we care about food security here on the Island.
So I see you have tortilla recipes on your website, and the ideas there look absolutely delicious, tell us what you think makes the best tortilla recipe!
Simple and fresh. A good friend of ours, who is a chef in Paris now and who my husband worked with at West in Vancouver, also told us to start with the best possible ingredients and go from there. So that is what we do. Also keep it simple and with lots of colours. A little bit of happy island raised pork lard doesn’t hurt either (to brush the tortillas with).
How often do you eat tortillas?
We eat tortillas every day, some times more the once a day! For breakfast always… and for snacks, and dinner, or when we are having a BBQ.
For a Mexican food novice (like myself) what would you suggest I do with my first batch of tasty tortillas?
Some of our favourite things to do are the most simple ways to eat tortillas. Quesadillas are the easiest. Just heat up your tortilla in a pan (cast iron works best) you can add a little bit of oil (optional) heat up on both sides, then put some cheese and fold it once the tortilla is hot, this will prevent the tortilla from breaking. Once the cheese is melted your quesadilla is ready and inside you can add your favourite salsa, fresh tomato, avocado slices, beans… It makes the best snack, light dinner, or lunch. Or try it with eggs in the morning.. Fry two tortillas lightly , set aside on your plate. Then fry two eggs and put them on top of the tortillas. Enjoy with you favourite salsa. Tortillas are also a great way to eat all your left overs!
When you go out to eat Mexican food, where do you go?
We don’t really go out to eat Mexican food in Canada. We have enough tortillas at home. But when on the run, we like Herndande’z Power Bean bars.
Anything else we need to know?
We have a lot of big things planned for late summer and fall. We can’t talk about it in detail but you can see and hear about it soon on our blog, twitter or in a few weeks at the local farmers markets. Also at the Eat Here Now festival in September !!!
We invite people to follow us on twitter: @TortilleriaM and visit our website for upcoming news and recipes from our customers whom we keep encouraging to send us their best recipe/idea and pictures so that we can share them with every Mexican food lover in Victoria.