In Singapore, your average chilli is of the bird’s eye variety, typically red or green. By contrast, Mexico grows over a hundred and fifty varieties of chilli peppers, each with their own distinctive flavour and heat profile. We spotlight some of the most popular peppers used across Mexican cuisine and show you how to match the best chilli to your favourite Chico Loco dish.

Cayenne pepper

This small but spirited pepper from the nightshade family was known to natives as kyynha, an indigenous Brazilian Tupi language spoken in the vicinity of Cayenne Island, before it was later anglicised to its present day form by 17th century European merchants who traded in that region. Notorious for its fierce bite with a Scoville scale rating of 4, the cayenne pepper’s characteristic piquant edge and sharp heat packs a fierce punch in marinades, dips and sauces. We’ve jazzed up our chimichurri yogurt with cayenne pepper as a tangy and invigorating companion for salads, roasted vegetables and meats.

Best paired with: spicy bean dishes, meats or roasted vegetables. Our chooks recommend the Lamb Rotisserie and Hearty Farm Lunch Bowl.

Pick up a bottle of our Chile Morita Jamaica Loco Hot Sauce here or a portion of our chimichurri yogurt here.

Green peppercorn

Green peppercorns are the immature drupes harvested from the same Piper nigrum flowering vine native to Kerala that produces black peppercorns. Carrying a striking blend of aromatic, herbaceous and tart notes that impart an invigorating freshness, our green peppercorn gravy’s fruity notes make it an ideal companion for eggs, delicate meats like chicken or fish, or in stuffed tomatoes.

Best paired with: eggs, white meat and stuffed tomatoes with rice. Our chooks recommend our tender Boneless Chicken Thigh Steak and Baja Fish Taco.

Pick up a portion of our green peppercorn gravy here.

Habanero pepper

Once upon a time, the habanero reigned as the world’s hottest chilli with a Scoville scale rating of 5, delivering a punch to the throat—almost seven times as potent than cayenne pepper itself — and closely accompanied by a lingering burn that builds to a slow crescendo, intensified by the pepper’s maturity. Despite the heat, habanero peppers have a sweetness composed of bright floral and zesty citrus notes that pair well with sweet fruits such as apricots, peaches or mangoes to counter its spiciness, as we have done in our mango and habanero sauce.

Best paired with: hot sauces, jerk chicken and tequila cocktails. Our chooks recommend starting with our classic Chicken Rotisserie, Mexican Jackfruit Taco and Coconut and Apricot frozen margarita.

Pick up a bottle of our Habanero Y Maracuya Loco Hot Sauce here, Chile de árbol & Habanero Loco Hot Sauce here or a portion of our habanero mango salsa here.

Serrano pepper

Lightly bitter with a herbaceous profile similar to the jalapeño, serrano pepper offers a richer, slightly smoky facet that is enhanced through roasting and is a well-loved favourite often used raw in salsas and sauces, as we have done in our pico de gallo verde salsa.

Best paired with: carne asada, chicken, tacos, molletes or tortilla chips. Our chooks recommend our Chicken Taco and Corn Tortilla Chips.

Pick up a portion of our pico de gallo verde salsa here.

Jalapeño pepper

Compared to the rest of these scorchers, jalapeño peppers positively elicit a mild tickle on the tongue at best, with a Scoville scale rating falling between 2 and 3. Eaten fresh, the jalapeño is bright and offers a freshness that is slightly sweet when it is harvested at its ripest stage. Traditionally dried and smoked by the Aztecs, the jalapeño produces an earthy, rustic and smoky undertone that makes it a perfect complement to sauces and stews.

Best paired with: salads, stews, meats or on its own. Our chooks recommend the Green & Clean Salad Bowl, Chicken Rotisserie and Sweet Potato Fries.

Pick up a portion of our chipotle mayo here or smoky chipotle BBQ sauce here.

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It’s no secret that Hispanic representation in Hollywood continues to elude the big screen and behind the scenes, despite the feel-good diversity talk in recent years. Likewise, nuanced portrayals of Mexican culture and society in Hollywood are few and far between. In honour of Hispanic Heritage Month, we present what’s on our bucket list of films and shows to watch this weekend that tear down stereotypes, illustrating the charming and colourful worlds within the Mexican community. Settle down with your favourite cocktail and get comfy, because there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)

Set in Los Angeles during the summer of 1938, the spin-off to the dark Victorian fantasy cult television series Penny Dreadful by screenwriter John Logan opens with L.A.’s first Mexican American detective Tiago Vega (played by Daniel Zovatto) and his veteran LAPD partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) investigating a macabre murder that implicates the Chicano community in a time of transnational politics and racial division. Tiago has to reconcile two polarizing identities that often come into conflict: what it means to be a cop who also happens to be Chicano.

What do we love about this one? With the help of Latino writers and directors, the show has taken a lesser-known and often-forgotten piece of Los Angeles’ history in the ‘30s and breathed life into it: immersing viewers in the ways of the Chicano community, pachuco counterculture and offering various authentic perspectives of Mexican American identity through the central Vega family, particularly through the family’s matriarch Maria Vega (played by Academy Award-winning Mexican actress Adriana Barraza). Another noteworthy mention is the show’s use of culturally specific iconography of Santa Muerte and her portrayal as revered folk saint of the newly dead who carries their souls to heaven, without being plagued with stereotypes of drug trafficking. If we had any qualms, it’s that Izzo was definitely under-utilised as Santa Muerte and could have done with more screen time.

Watch the trailer here.

Coco (2017)

This heartwarming film is an emotional rollercoaster that had us crying happy tears. Directed by longtime Pixar director Lee Unkrich with a star-studded cast of Latin American talent, the film centres on Miguel Rivera, a young, brave and kind-hearted boy with dreams of becoming a famous musician like the legendary crooner Ernesto de la Cruz, much to his family’s disapproval. Upon a chance discovery that de la Cruz is his great-great-grandfather, Miguel visits his mausoleum on Dia de Los Muertos for advice and “borrows” his guitar for a talent show, only to find himself accidentally—or so the film would have us think—transported to the Land of the Dead, for stealing from the dead. He must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise with help from a dead relative with their blessing, and so embarks on a mission to find de la Cruz. As with all Pixar films, the film’s hero undertakes a path of self-discovery on the way to what they were seeking, and ends up finding a treasure far greater than they were expecting.

Much like the strong oral tradition of storytelling in Mexican culture, the plot develops through storytelling and song, establishing themes of family, destiny and the importance of heritage and legacy. It’s not just the film’s ability to skillfully delve into complex issues of identity and death without minimising its significance for the film’s younger audience, but the colourful celebration of and rich, unfiltered insight into Mexican folklore that its audience (and especially non-Hispanic viewers) are given: the detailed explanations behind each Dia de Los Muertos cultural tradition and the film’s incorporation of mythological creatures such as Mama Imelda’s gigantic, winged dragon-jaguar alebrije—spirit guide—whose growl is more ferocious than its bite.

Watch the trailer here.

The Taco Chronicles (2019)

Just when we thought we couldn’t love tacos anymore than we already do, the Taco Chronicles comes along. Food enthusiasts and history buffs will enjoy this educational documentary web television series that delves into the history and culture of tacos, often peppered with little-known facts of the trade and astute insight from taqueria owners, cultural anthropologists and food writers weighing in with iconic quotes like: “Eating tacos is a Mexican sport”.

Indeed, that’s what it is. The distinct stories behind and memories associated with each type of taco are made apparent, as viewers are taken through each step of the preparation process, carried out with the utmost care and precision. In the words of one taqueria chef: “I always prepare tacos with joy and with my heart. I think that’s what flavours the tacos”.

Season 2 of The Taco Chronicles is now available on Netflix. Watch its trailer here.

Los Espookys (2019)

Fans of the late-night comedy sketch television show Saturday Night Live will instantly recognise Fred Armisen’s signature scene-stealing displays of oddball humour in this singularly strange horror-comedy series that follows a band of horror enthusiasts turned professional, staging hilariously low-fi supernatural scenarios for clients in spirited sincerity. Between situations that take on proportions so bizarre, it’s almost surreal and brilliant one-liners delivered deadpan with impeccable precision in true Armisen fashion, the show’s purposefully odd and chaotic cadence crafts a magical realism that simultaneously delights and intrigues.

It’s not just the series of absurdist contradictions and complications that kept us coming back for more, but the exceedingly weird yet inexplicably lovable dynamic between characters of this makeshift family united not by their Hispanic identity, but by their shared passion. That, and the ingenuity of the show’s bilingual comedic genius of flawlessly executing jokes in both Spanish and English, without losing comedic effect. As Armisen puts it, he wanted to write a Spanish language show that “isn’t an explanation of Latino culture, but moves past the foreignness of it”.

Watch the trailer here.

La Bamba (1987)

This biographical film, based on the life of Mexican American singer Ritchie Valens who was best known for his rendition of the Mexican folk song La Bamba, is a bittersweet and sentimental film of a young kid with talented promise who never got to fully realise his dream. Starring Lou Diamond Phillips in the titular role, the film touches on themes of family, identity, socioeconomic class and the struggles of a Mexican American trying to make it in Hollywood and 1950s America, facing the common ‘ni de aquí, ni de allá’ (neither from here nor from there) problem.

Following his death, Valens (whose birth name was Richard Steven Valenzuela) was immortalised as the godfather of the Chicano Rock subgenre, rock and roll pioneer and talented guitarist. The film rolls back on his stage persona and onto the other aspects of Valens: the role of a doting son, loving brother, loyal friend and adoring boyfriend. As the plot progresses, we celebrate the musical milestones Valens achieved in his career—not only as one of the few Latino musicians to successfully sign a major record label at the time, but in creating an enduring legacy during his short lived public career that continues to inspire many today.

Watch the trailer here.

Get your favourite movie snacks delivered to your door by clicking on our takeaway menu here.

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It’s no surprise that natural wines are gaining popularity in Singapore. After all, it’s made from hand-picked fermented organic grapes, where nothing is added or removed. No added additives like fake oak flavor, sugar, acid, egg white and with little or no sulphites.

Conventional wines (aka non-natural wines) that we drink, on the other hand, comes with a ton of intervention during the wine-making process. You get the pesticides & herbicides in the vineyard, and chemicals you never knew could go into your glasses from the cellar. Winemakers add loads of stuff to regulate flavour, acidity and to preserve them. Sulphur dioxide for one, is why you get a bad hangover the next day. Imagine drinking all that down your gut. So, given the absence of foreign chemicals, additives and manipulation, natural wines sound like the better,  healthier option to unwind with. And the best part about growing grapes organically and producing wines naturally is that it reduces the impact to our environment.

Natural wines are often misunderstood as being too ‘funky’ or ‘not clean’ but there’s always something for everyone that won’t feel like an acquired taste. We’re always sourcing for the most interesting and delicious natural wines at Chico Loco for you to try. And if you don’t already know, natural wines and spit-roast chickens are a match-made-in-heaven!

Our General Manager and in-house wine enthusiast, Will Leonard, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about all things natural wine.

What’s in natural wines that’s different from conventional wines?

Natural wines essentially have a different appearance, aroma and flavour. While many natural wines are actually pretty normal in style, some can be really wild and complex. Due to the fact that natural wines are unrefined, unfiltered and well, natural, they might look more cloudy and carry a funkier flavour. While others describe it as ‘sour’, ‘barnyard’, it’s actually a result of the use of native yeasts and lack of preservatives.

Are natural wines the same as organic or biodynamic wine?

Organic and biodynamic wines are part of the natural winemaking umbrella, but their definition and requirements vary.

For a wine to be labelled as ‘Organic Wine’ in the U.S., the wine has to be made from organically grown grapes, and the winemaker also may not add sulfites to the wine at any stage. Even then, organic wines do undergo other technological and chemical processes in the winery, which makes them less than natural already.

Biodynamic wine, on the other hand, goes beyond organic -  they take into consideration far more aspects than just the grapes. Biodynamic farming views the farm or vineyard as one whole entity and creates an ecosystem with diversified crops within the farm to self-sustain every section, with each component of the farm contributing to the next.

They pride themselves on using natural materials and composts to sustain the vineyard. A range of animals live on the soil and fertilize it, producing a rich and fertile environment for the vines to grow in, without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase soil fertility. Biodynamic farming also means that they follow a biodynamic calendar as part of the process, from pruning to harvesting.

Despite all these, it is possible for both organic and biodynamic wines to have additives and allow for the use of inoculated yeasts for fermentation and the use of animal-based fining agents, unlike natural wines which involves little to no intervention.

Does natural wine contain sulfites?

Sulfite is a natural byproduct of fermentation, so yes, natural wine does contain sulfite, but not any more that it produces. Conventional winemakers add sulfites to their wines to keep them fresher for longer, but natural wines mean that there is minimal or no added sulphur, giving each bottle a different taste.

Is there an official natural wine certification?

As opposed to organic and biodynamic wines, there is no certifying body for natural wines. But do look for hints like “minimal intervention”, “natural winemaking techniques” and “unrefined/unfiltered”.

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