NOW I’ve finished thoroughly boring my friends and family about my recent exchange trip to Brazil, the only audience left was my fellow exchange students.
So, we decided to get together at the closest thing Wearside has to a Brazilian eatery – Tia’s Mexican and Mediterranean restaurant in Durham.
I tracked it down on the bible of good eats, Trip Advisor, and dragged my three amigos through the city centre on a mission to scoff and catch up.
We’d booked a table, but there was plenty of room on a wet Wednesday evening.
Service started with drinks and a bowl of tortillas and chips while we flicked through the menu.
There’s a sombrero-tossing array of Tex Mex food, from fajitas and chimichangas to things on skewers and chilli.
We’d just missed the 5pm-7pm happy hour, but Tia’s menu is easy on the wallet, with most main courses coming in at around a tenner.
After a round of drinks, we decided to share plates of nachos and potato skins.
The nachos, topped with cheese, onions and jalapenos, were crisp and so more-ish that we ended up in a race for the last bite.
Equally quick to disappear were the potato skins with a choice to two dips – sour cream and BBQ for us.
In between reliving our time in the sunshine, we managed to narrow down an extensive choice of main courses to baby back ribs for Rob, the sportsman with a big appetite; salmon with a Jack Daniels glaze for me; a Mexican platter of beef chimichanga and chicken and sweetcorn enchilada for nurse Yvonne, and chicken fajitas for Maxine, who said her chicken was “tasty”, but would have liked a bit more variety in the salad side.
Yvonne had never tried chimichangas – deep fried burritos – until her visit to Tia’s and said they were delicious, but sweeter than she expected.
The sauce on my salmon was also sweet, but its rich stickiness was the perfect foil to the delicate pink salmon.
Rob loved his ribs, ticking all his requirements of being big on taste and portion size.
Our feast for four, plus drinks, came to about £60, plus a tip for the lone and hard-working waitress.
Family-run Tia’s also caters for veggies, vegans, those following a gluten-free path and has an atmosphere so informal and friendly that you might forget yourself and talk loudly about your “hilarious” exploits in a South American country.
Descuple (sorry), as the Brazilians would say.