I needed to stop by Argyll Foods to see first-hand what all this “Tienda Latina” fuss was about. Apparently, the name, Argyll Foods, was confusing a lot of people. Many knew it was the place to purchase culinary items for Latino dishes, but lots of people still thought of it only as a convenience store on Argyll Road. Some, no doubt assumed it as where one would find haggis and other Scottish delights. So, a new sign went up announcing Tienda Latina (or Latin Store for us anglophones). Hopefully this should put to rest any confusion as to what is sold inside.

I was happy to see that owners Carlos and Bernardo are carrying products from even more Central and South American countries than when I first stopped by their store a few months ago. (My original blogpost about them can be found here.)You can now find common and hard to find ingredients from Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina and of course, Mexico…and I probably missed a country or two.

Pickled cactus, fruit pulp, hot sauces, salsas, moles, chipotles, flour for baking and flowers for cooking (hibisicus, pumpkin and loroco), you name it! From Dulce de Leche toYerba Maté, Tienda Latina has it.

How about Mexican cheese? Oaxaca, queso fresco, or queso blanco? Of course they have those, and others. Maybe you need pupusas from Central America, or their twin, the arepa, from South America; they’re in the freezer right next to the two types of chorizo (Mexican and Colombian).

If you prefer to make these dishes yourself, Tienda Latina has all the ingredients you need, from the Maseca (to make Masa) to beans and cheeses, seasonings and spices (whole and ground).

If you need corn husks for tamales, they’ve got those as well.

You’ll also find cuitlacoche (also spelled huitlacoche), a black mushroom that grows in ears of corn and looks like a dark bulbous kernel. The cuitlacoche (pronounced KWEA-tla-kho-chay) has a smoky sweet flavour and is used in quesadillas and soups. FYI: the cuitlacoche goes by a few different names, so if you come across a recipe asking for corn smut, Mexican truffle, or Mexican caviar, that’s cuitlacoche.

Another “just hot off the press” news flash: Carlos and Bernardo have just received a license to prepare food on site which means—lucky for us—we can now stop in and have a torta (Mexican Panini) that Bernardo prepares himself: a crusty, chewy bun filled with turkey, creamy avocado, cheese, onion and lettuce, topped with smoky chipotle spread…wash it down with a tamarind soda, or a fruit juice from El Salvador and that’s a whole bunch of ohhh-yeahhh right there.

They carry a small selection of fresh goods including produce like poblano peppers, jalapenos, tomatillos and plantains.
Tienda Latina has a vast selection of dried peppers including arbol, ancho, chipotle, guajillo, mulato, cascabel and pasilla, among others.

And all that heat means you’re going to need something refreshing to wash it down with so check out the selection of exotic soft drinks and fruit nectars.

Same store, different name, same great service and now with more product to offer. (And that’s my pitch for Tienda Latina!) Check ’em out.