Friday, November 9, 2012

Event: Chevrolet Spark Houston/Color Run at Latin Bites Café

In the recent political campaign, there was a good deal of debate about the US domestic automobile industry, bankruptcy and recovery following its restructure.  One of the companies that went through a major overhaul was General Motors, makers of the Chevrolet brand.  One of the largest complaints that had been made about American branded cars was that they weren't adapting to changing tastes and times, the need for smaller more fuel efficient vehicles that could operate within an urban environment and that they were out of touch with the current generation of social media and marketing, right down to the choices of colors  you could get for your vehicle.  Chevrolet set out to prove that they have learned and adapted to all of those things on Thursday evening at Latin Bites Café where colourful food was served, a colourful car called the Chevrolet Spark was on display and the organizers of The Color Run (the Happiest 5 K run on the planet as its billed) were present to showcase this mini vehicle.  Along with all of these were a colourful cast of bloggers and weblebrities, and fortunately I was included among them.

So without further ado here is the breakdown:

The Food
Tuna Tiradito

Latin Bites Café is one of the first well known Peruvian restaurants in Houston.  I reviewed it after it relocated to Woodway from the Warehouse district.  Chevrolet and Latin Bites made arrangements for a VERY COLORFUL MEAL, which is a hallmark of Peruvian cuisine anyhoo, to go with their car and with the Color Run event.

Veal Osso Bucca
We were served a sumptuous 4 course meal that began with Tuna Tiradato with Passion fruit granita, avocado puree, native potatoes (like yams) and crispy quinoa.  This was paired with either a Porton Pisco sour or a Santa Ema Sauvignon blanc.  This was enjoyable, like sushi, but the granito and quinoa gave it a savoury crunch and texture that worked quite well.

The second course was supposed to the the third, but the kitchen staff got it out of order.  It was still very good.  It was Veal Osso Bucca in a honey panca pepper demiglaze, served over Peruvean mashed purple potatoes, and Peruvian asparagus.  This was like Peruvian Beef stew.  The demiglaze reminded me a little of sweet chile gravy.  The purple potatoes and other veggies complemented the sweetness of the meat and the savoury nature of the sauce.  This dish was paired with either a Raspberry Red wine cooler or Luigi Bosca Pinot Noir.  I had the Raspberry Red Wine Cooler, but kind of wished I'd gone with the Pino Noir (my favourite style of red wine) instead--don't get me wrong, the Raspberry Red Wine Cooler was quite good as well.  It was my own fault as I was distracted by the courses being served out of order, so no worries.

The Third course (which was supposed to be second) was a Duck Confit over cilantro infused rice cooked with chicha de jara, choclo, green peas and bell peppers.  This was very delicious duck.  The way the peas were prepared with the rice and the seasonings were very savoury in contrast with the glazed duck meat and skin that was very tender and not too oily.  This was paired with either a Godiva Chocolate Martinie or Pascual Toso Reserva Malbec.  I went with the Chocolate Martini, which was very good but also had a very potent vodka--seemed like Ketel One.

For dessert we were served a frozen treat: Mango sherbet, chirimoya and white chocolate terrine, served dulche de leche truffles and raspbrerry couli sauce.  This was a very beautifully plated dessert and was by far the most colourful of the dishes we were served.  The dessert was sweet, but not overly so, was very fruity and fresh, and I elected to have the Cafe 43 cocktail that was served with a sweet liqueur on the side.  Others had a Joel Gott Riesling.  Overall the dinner, despite the switch off on the courses, was wonderful from start to finish and reaffirmed my feelings that Latin Bites Café is one of the better restaurants in the Houston area for unique and artfully colourful cuisine.

The Car

Several representatives of Chevrolet, including a fellow in his 30s in a bright purple shirt who was the director of design trim and color for the Chevrolet Spark talked a lot about what the company was going for in this vehicle--small, safe, fuel efficient, effective to use in an urban environment, economical (price range from $12,000 to $15,000), but also loaded with style (colors include jalapeno, lemonade and denim--control panel gauges like a motorcycle and a GPS, and several high tech options including blue tooth hands free for your cell phone.

Chevy Rep Lamar Giving the 411 on the DL about the Spark
I took a few minutes to sit inside the Chevrolet Spark and look under the hood.  As someone who was burned by previous generations of GM vehicles I was a bit hesitant to attend this event.  I'm also not in a position to be using such a small vehicle.  I live near Alief/Westchase, an area that is Semi-Urban and Semi-Suburban.  I have two growing kids and have to haul around a lot of stuff for all our activities and the vehicle is a little small for my uses.  However, if I were older and had an empty nest, or if I were in my 20s and getting started, I would seriously consider buying this vehicle, as this is a very nice car for someone in either stage of life.  It reminds me A LOT of my old 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage hatch back in styling, but with A WHOLE LOT MORE cool bells, whistles and options.  The command deck, blue tooth and electronics are built around those of us who use smartphones, tablets and iPods, with some retro elements thrown in for styling.  The engine is small, but is of appropriate size for the body and weight, and is quiet fuel efficient   I also noticed as an occasional do it yourself mechanic, that much of the items you would work with are reasonably accessible--it appears GM has learned some lessons and finally is thinking outside of its history in the design of such a vehicle, which competes directly with Scion and Fiat.

The Houston Bloggerati

Networking with the Bloggerati
Urban Swank, Food Monsters, Mile High Mama, Lynne Gabriel, My Cosmetic Bag and Yours Truly were among several bloggers that Chevrolet's team had picked to come out.  Swank and Hank have kicked more than a few of these events together over the past year or so. The Monster Lifestyle's Dominque McGhee & I have interacted via social media before, but it was fun to put a face and name together.  Dominique left a very strong impression with me--he is a very intelligent, driven young man with a lot of ideas and is achieving a number of dreams and goals through his blog.  He's definitely someone I'd want as a student, employee or business partner, but he's more CEO material and I wish him well.  I've never met Mile High Mama--a Houston transplant from Colorado raising 9 kids and has found ways to be frugal and live well.  I'm definitely going to be reading her blog for sure.  Lynne Gabriel and Chrissi Pham of My Cosmetic Bag focus more on fashion, style and makeup, but I know many of my lady readers would find their blogs to be informative and entertaining.  It was fun to see familiar faces like the delightfully sassy Shanna Jones at this event too.  According to Katie Barnes, one of the organizers of this shindig, they wanted to choose a diverse group of colourful bloggers which fit the theme of the event--and I am humbled that I was included with some of these powerbloggers, dear readers.

The Color Run 

The Color Run 5k is a unique experience focused less on speed and more on crazy color fun with friends and family. Color runners come from all different ages, shapes, sizes, and speeds; but everyone toeing the start line has a blast. Whether you are a casual morning mall walker or an Olympic athlete, the 3 miles of The Color Run™ course will be the most memorable and colorful run of your life!

How does it work? The Color Run™ event pretty much has TWO SIMPLE rules: 1) White shirts (any mostly white T will work great) mandatory at the start line. And 2) color plastered EVERYTHING at the finish! Runner/walkers begin the 5k at the start line like a brand new pristine coloring book. By the end, they look like they fell into a Willy Wonka… tie dyed… vat of colored goodness. We are the creators of an all new paint race phenomena!

What is the Color? Each kilometer of the event is associated with a designated color: yellow, orange, pink, or blue. As the runners/walkers reach the Kilometer COLOR Zones, they are blitzed by our volunteers, sponsors, and staff with COLOR. All products are 100% natural and safe. You can eat the stuff if you’d like (we have tried it and don’t suggest it, it is surprisingly high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste). See the diagram below for the COLOR ZONE specifics. Of course, we save the best for last, ending the race with a color extravaganza of epic proportions.

Sounds like a Mud Run done with home made tempura paint and with less intensity to me, and if it's fun then why the heck not?

C43 Cafe, Pisco Sour, Red Raspberry Cooler, Chocolate martini
The Wrap Up

The Food and Cocktails were of the high quality I expect from Latin Bites Café--I was thoroughly pleased with the choices presented, colourful, fun, a little spicy and sweet at times, but never unpleasantly so. I was intrigued by the car--it may be a good one for my daughter's first vehicle in a few years and I would like to test drive it just for my own information.  The event was well put together and was a lot of fun.  I want to thank Chevrolet, Latin Bites Café, Tina Barnes, Katie Barnes, Tara Kuhnen, The Color Run and the rest of the crew from GM and Chevrolet for putting together a wonderful dinner event and for including me in the mix.

And Remember to Eat Colorfully and Happy Y'all!!!

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