An evening with Mission Burrito…

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Good times in Bath last Thursday – to celebrate the opening of the restaurant (their fifth, after two in Oxford, one in Reading and the Bristol branch), the owners of mini-chain Mission Burrito invited a select few bloggers and journalists over to learn more about the company and burritos in general, and to test out our culinary talents…

The evening was hosted by Jan Rasmussen, who founded Mission in 2008 with wife Sharon when the pair decided to open a small, 20-seat restaurant in Oxford. Since then, the demand for their burritos has been clear, with restaurants springing up all over the South West. The Bristol branch, based on Park Street, opened in early 2011, and the Bath venue, situated on New Street, in late August.

The idea of setting up Mission Burrito stemmed from the time that Sharon and Jan spent in the taquerias of San Francisco. It’s a competitive business out there, with entire blogs dedicated to sourcing the best burrito in the Mission District (you now know where the name came from…!) and a hell of a lot of variety in terms of fillings, leading to claims from some taquerias (this is where the competition comes in!) of selling the most authentic burritos you’ll find. Or the most original. Or the biggest. You get the picture…

After our introduction to both burritos and Mission Burrito, it was time to work on out own take on the guacamole served at Mission, instructed by Operations Manager (and bona fide Mexican) Victor. Amazingly simple when you’re just making one avocado’s worth: one ripe, mashed avocado and the juice of half a lime, along with fresh chilli (seeds optional!), salt, pepper, finely chopped onion and fresh coriander to taste. As I say…simple enough when using one avocado, but the Mission team make their guacamole fresh every morning, and you can imagine how much they get through! And as Bath-based blogger Tom, who also attended, says, ‘it was amazing how different they (my, his, Victor’s and Jan’s guacamoles) each tasted depending on the amounts of salt or lime juice we used.’

Rather than taking our guacamole home, we decided to use it as one of the fillings in the burritos that we were then tasked with making. Getting behind the counter and donning gloves, we were first talked through the process: grilling the tortilla for a few seconds to soften it and make it easier to roll, the order in which to add the fillings and sauces and the rough quantities to include, and finally the more tricky part: how to actually roll the thing. It was also interesting to see their innovative tools used to train new recruits at Mission – two gloves, one filled with dried beans, one with water, that are roughly the size of the burrito fillings. And why the two different versions? The beans are the ‘easy’ version, while the water-filled glove is obviously trickier to roll, and more similar to the real thing.

We let Jan go first, so that we could watch an expert before we were let loose on the huge variety of fillings that Mission Burrito customers could choose from. This may have been a mistake, as he made it look ridiculously easy.

Tom was up next, successfully creating his carnitas-laden burrito before wrapping in silver foil and posing for a cheesy photo.

And then, time for me to have a go…arranging the carnitas, beans, rice, salsa, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and sour cream in neat lines before rolling in the way that we’d been taught: mixing the fillings a little with the sides of the tortilla before folding in the sides and rolling quickly, tucking one edge under the filling before wrapping tightly in silver foil. Surprisingly, it didn’t look that amateurish, and tasted pretty good too…

After finishing our burritos while chatting to Jan about all things Mexican, we were handed goody bags containing a Mission Burrito t-shirt, nachos with a small pot of each of their three salsas, a bottle opener and a magnet, and were also given the aprons that we had been wearing to take home with us. A fantastic way to spend a Thursday evening, and a great way of learning more about Mission Burrito – many thanks to Sharon, Jan and the Bath team. There are plans to organise something similar in Bristol in the future, so watch this space…

Find the Bristol branch of Mission Burrito on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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