Sunday, May 6, 2007

Cinco de Mayo Festivities

Down here in Texas, Cinco de Mayo is a cause for celebration. Mainly it gives us an excuse to slam down margaritas and devour Mexican food, which really goes on year round here, but is especially out of control today. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the May 5, 1862 victory of the Mexicans over the French army in the Battle of Puebla, not actually the day of Mexican independence as many people assume (which is Sept. 16, 1862). It seems as if today is even more of a celebrated holiday than Texas Independence from Mexico, which occurred on March 2, 1836. But, regardless, it is a fun day to be living in Houston.
To celebrate, my boyfriend and I attended my first Houston Vegan MeetUp at Azteca's Margarita Bar and Grill. I am always a bit nervous meeting new people for the first time, so it was nice to have him along as well. The restaurant was a bit rowdy when we arrived, a group near our table had apparently been there most of the day and several of the girls were actually chasing each other around the tables. The wait staff was slow to respond.... I ordered a mango margarita to start off with and tried my best to avoid the chips and yummy salsa. The margarita was very sweet and I could barely taste any alcohol. As we got more comfortable with the crowd, we found out a bit about the history of the meetup group, a couple's trip to Farm Sanctuary in New York, and shared our frustration and hunger in not getting food for over an hour after we ordered it!! This is a Mexican place, usually they just have everything cooked and just send it through the heaters! I suspect that we threw them off since we ordered from the vegan menu (a separate small piece of paper), the waiter admited he'd never taken an order from it before. When the food finally did arrive, it was pretty reasonable. My bf had mushroom soft tacos and I got black bean enchiladas. We decided that although we may not be going back to Azteca's that we would definitely try out another vegan meetup. We had to split pretty quickly after the food in order to make it to our next Cinco de Mayo party....

I spent most of the afternoon making empanadas modified from a vegweb recipe and Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. For the empanadas, instead of using frozen dough, I made my own crust from the Vegan Lunch Box (I also use this for pizza and calzones). For the filling, I sauteed some Field Roast Chipotle Sausage with shallots, red pepper, and some canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. After removing from the heat I added some black beans to the filling. These were hugely popular at the party....people were just getting drunk enough to start having the munchies, and the food from their earlier dinner spread (pork and beef fajitas, glad I missed that) was long gone. They were all gone in less than half an hour, several people admitted to having at least three. Needless to say I will be making these again.

After a not so successful first try with Vegan Cupcakes, I took another shot with what I thought would be appropriate for Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes. I splurged and bought full fat coconut milk. Healthy cupcakes these are not, but the batter was yummy and they filled the house with such an amazing aroma. It was truly a test of self-control not to eat one before the party. I topped them with powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. After arriving at the party the first thing I did was try one. They were delicate, a bit crumbly, and heavenly chocolatey with just a hint of cayenne pepper at the back of your mouth. Although there were some left at the end of the night (yay, more for me!), the ladies (and a few guys) gave their compliments.

After all that eating yesterday, we ran this morning and took a walk in the ever-increasing Texas heat. The normally large brunch crowd seems absent, maybe they all had too many margaritas last night (not the ones I had though!) Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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