Poppa Trix and I have wanted to go to Latino Fest and chow down on all the goodies for years, but something annoying or necessary always comes up and prevents us. This year, despite the punishing heat and humidity, we were determined to make it. And make it we did, though we both nearly had heat strokes in the process. Was it worth it? Well, see all the food and judge for yourselves!
Though before I get to the food - note that the dancers in the above photographs, clad as they are in heavy costumes and hats, do not look like they are about to pass out in the relentless afternoon sun. This despite the fact that they were required to follow the very loud music all throughout the park, which was coming from a boom box that was pulled on a cart by a rather heavy (and, truth be told, somewhat glum) man. All the while they kept dancing, jumping, bending - it made me tired just taking photographs. They were, in a word, awesome.
But you want to know what we ate. We started out sampling some food from a local catering company, Salsa Negra, or Black Sauce Kitchen:
Here we had some of our favorite foods of the day. Maiz tostado con mantequilla de cilantro y limon, or toasted corn with cilantro lime butter:
And pan de maiz de chipotle y queso con mantequila de mango (chipotle cheese cornbread with mago butter) and my all-time favorite, mango a la parilla, or grilled mango:
The mango was so simple, but so good - there was an initial smoky grilled flavor, a burst of sweetness, and then a lingering spicy heat. Perfect. And of course a refreshing bebida to wash it all down - a tamarind tea (enjoyed in the happy times before I succumbed to the heat):
A hit-and-miss plate. We thought the cheese got lost in all that plantain, and I couldn't finish it. (Poppa could!) The pupusa was a bit disappointing, as I could tell it was a frozen brand that I've bought before at a Latino market. Yummy, yes - but not what I was looking for. Though what it lacked in homemade goodness it certainly made up for in pure epic cheesiness:
So at this point we made it our mission to search for more places like Salsa Negra. First we found Max's Empanadas. That's Max handing me two homemade Argentinian spinach ones:
We loved these! Just look at that beautiful dough:
Okay, now you will think we are foolish (definitely) and crazy (quite possibly) when I tell you that we were lured in by the grilled arepas, with their sizzling promise of crisp corniness and gooey cheesiness:
Well, these arepas lied to us! They were greasy, filling, mass-produced, and and flavorless - unless cardboard has a flavor. And we allowed them to take up valuable real estate in our bellies! We should have known better. Besides, how could we have known that we were about to stumble upon Maria's Empanadas? The sign, while rather ... spartan ... was also somehow endearing:
These Venezuelan goodies are made by Maria's son, Anthony Zilleruelo, and follow Maria's recipe. That's him in the middle: