29 August 2010
Yesterday, South Bend had their Art Beat thing, where a variety of art vendors, performers, and culinary people come together in one spot. I went there for two reasons, really: to find earrings, and to eat at Sangrias, a fairly new restaurant to the downtown area.
The restaurant is a unique spin off from the creators of La Esperanza, another local restaurant I blogged about a while ago. While La Esperanza is strictly a Mexican restaurant, Sangrias' aim is to create a Latin fusion menu with a unique variety of drinks and a fun atmosphere. They often have a live band to enhance your dining experience, and stay open to midnight on some nights. There even is a tapas menu certain days of the week.
Sangrias has a small, homey feel due to its smaller size. The ambiance is lively and you instantly feel happier the moment you walk in.
Sangrias special offering for Art Beat was their "Latin sushi", which I unfortunately wasn't able to try since I needed to leave. But it looks really great!
There was some very impressive fruit carving work on the table as well.
I did take my picture with the chef, though! Some people watching even coaxed him into breaking a smile:
The bartender on duty, Abatu, was busy mixing up drinks for everyone.
Here he is shaking up a drink, but my camera is bad with motions, so it didn't come out very well.
My drink was a mojito de fresas. Translation: strawberry mojito. The flavor of lime and strawberries combine well together, in case you haven't tried it. The rum used here was a Cruzan rum, though I'm not sure which type was used. All I know is that it didn't overpower the flavors of the other ingredients. I don't drink at all, really, but when I cook with alcohol I use it as a flavor enhancer. It's not about saturating the dish with an overwhelming taste of wine, or beer, but simply to enhance, and thankfully this mojito was the same.
Each meal begins with a complimentary basket of tortilla chips, which I believe are made fresh in the restaurant. I think. All I really know is that they are addictive. The salsa is extremely good and spicy. The guacamole, which is extra, had a good consistency and tasted nice, though I would have liked it if I could taste the lime and cilantro a bit more.
For the eats, I ordered a sope, which is a thick fried tortilla made from maize. It was topped with Cuban-flavored pinto beans, lettuce, cheese, and I think I see tomatoes. I also ordered a side of roasted jalapenos, which I could not tolerate. I spent 10 minutes trying to recover from one tiny bite, so I stuck with the relatively minor heat from the salsa.
The sope was delicious. Dense, but not hard, and a nice corn flavor that paired well with the toppings. It seems like a light meal, but is surprisingly filling.
What I like the most about Sangrias is that they offer many reasonably priced menu items, and the portion sizes are decent for a meal. I will definitely be going back because I heard they had ceviche, which I've never had, and I want to blog about their fried ice cream, which was amazing! Definitely stop by if you're in the area.
123 North Michigan Street, South Bend, IN
View Larger Map
17 August 2010
Bit of silence happening over here in case you haven't noticed. I figured the best way to make it up to you was with cupcakes... that you can't eat. But we're ignoring that last part.
I saw the recipe for mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream over at Brown Eyed Baker and figured, why not? What caught my eye were the words "mocha" and "espresso", something that gets me every time. If I'm ever talking to you and start losing my focus, adding a quick, out of context "ESPRESSO" will immediately snap me back to attention.
Mocha means a combination of chocolate and coffee. These cupcakes definitely do the job with both strong brewed coffee for part of the liquid, and instant espresso powder for an added boost. I felt the balance between the cocoa flavor and the coffee was really good here, and the cupcakes came out very moist and tender.
The frosting is just a basic butter and confectioners' sugar frosting, enhanced yet again with the addition of espresso power and some vanilla extract. What I noticed was that there wasn't any milk in this recipe, so the texture of the frosting remained firm, but still silky in texture.
This recipe makes exactly one dozen cupcakes, so it's perfect if you want a dessert that yields just enough without spending all day in the kitchen decorating and cleaning up. Because that's really not the point of baking, to clean dishes when you should be eating a cupcake.