I was invited to provide media coverage for Mesa Latin Kitchen’s Día De Los Muertos Festival in Durham on November 1, a day to celebrate the loved ones that no longer with us. In Latin American cultures, the holiday includes full-day celebrations with delicious food, music, vibrant decorations and laughter to remember the ones that have passed.
To be honest, I almost bowed out of the event as I was tired, the weather was miserable, and I really didn’t want to make the 40-minute drive to Durham in the rain. But duty and curiosity prevailed, so I ventured out and was rewarded with some delicious Latin cuisine while listening to a great band.
When I walked in, the reception stand was directly ahead, with a large dining area to the left and the buffet, bar and covered outside seating to the right. I opted to sit at the bar since I was by myself and also because the televisions were broadcasting the late afternoon football game. Great choice – bartenders Joel and Mark took very good care of me! There were several people at the buffet, so I ordered a mimosa (no brainer, especially since they are specially priced on Sundays at $2.50!) to wait for the crowd to clear so I could snap some photos without intruding on the other guests.
The buffet had a number of Latin-inspired salads, appetizers, entrees and side dishes, and I tried a little bit of all of them. My hands-down favorites were the beef Ropa Vieja, Cuban sandwich on a stick and the curried quinoa, all of which are available on Mesa’s lunch or dinner menus. Other favorites included the banana chips, shrimp and grits, and charred sweet corn.
There was also a nice array of desserts, but after my second visit to the buffet, I was unfortunately too full to partake in what looked like a number of yummy sweet offerings (the photo shows only one table of them!)
However, I did partake in a glass of sangria after watching the Joel and Mark make up several batches of them. Excellent choice! According to the menu, this sangria is made with “fresh lime, black currant and blood orange blended with our special wine selection and topped with a sparkling touch.” Extremely tasty — after my first sip I understood why this drink was so popular!
I decided to take my sangria outside to check out the band and decorations, and even though the weather was nasty, it was a festive scene with a number of guests enjoying the upbeat music and wonderful food!
I am so glad I went to this celebration and am excited to go back to Mesa Latin Kitchen to try other menu items. And the Ropa Vieja was so tasty that I’ve come up with a recipe to make this at home, which I will post soon!
Eat, drink and be merry!
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