Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Raspados, Frescas, Licuados and More at Nevera

During the few times I've visited Hispanic marketplaces and saw signs of various beverages for sale like raspados, licuados, frescas, etc., I honestly always felt a bit overwhelmed. I wasn't quite sure what the difference was between all the drinks. There were some things I was familiar with like horchata, which is usually a staple at most Mexican restaurants. I've seen and had cantaloupe water drinks, which is a drink that is also popular in the Philippines. But what was a Vampiro or a Diabilito? Can you tell that it was the bright red drinks that tended to attract my eye? :)

To find out more, I set up a Mexican beverage tasting at Nevera Fruit Creations in Bell where we sampled a variety of drinks as well as other tasty treats. Our tasting started not with anything to drink; however, but watching the ingredients added and mixed to make Bionoco, which is a mix of fresh fruit sliced smothered with rich cream and topped with granola, almonds, raisins, dried coconut and wheat flakes. That Bionoco was delicious, sweet, juicy and refreshing. It would be great for a hot summer day.

After enjoying the Bionico, we sampled a Licuado, which is equivalent to a smoothie. Like a smoothie, a Licuado is a blend of fresh fruits, juice and ice. The Licuado we had was called a Poderoso, a mixture of milk, honey, strawberries, granola and pecans. You could really taste the strawberries in this drink.

Following the Licuado, we tried two different Jugos, which is a beverage made up of juices freshly squeezed from fresh fruit and vegetables. The first one was the ominous-sounding Vampiro. The Vampiro is a mix of oranges, carrots and beets and let me tell you, Vampiro is the appropriate name considering the color of this drink. The Vampiro had very interesting flavors. You get citrusy-tart from the oranges, a bit of sweet from the carrots, but I was truly amazed at the beets. When cooked, beets are pretty mild, but blended raw, the flavor of the beets was really strong, but interestingly enough, I liked that this drink had a bite to it. No pun intended. :)

The other Jugo we tried was the Dietico and the purpose of the Dietico is obvious by its name. It's a drink for those who are looking to lose weight. Dietico is a blend of celery, pineapple, grapefruit and cactus. Apparently, it's the cactus that's supposed to have the diuretic properties. I really didn't care for the Dietico that much. There was an aftertaste that wasn't appealing to the drink.

After watching a juicing demonstration, we all got a small sample of mango with chamoy sauce. Oh...My...God! That chamoy sauce was out of this world. We were told that the chamoy sauce is made of peaches and chili. It was hot and sweet. I'm not sure what else it's used for, but I can see it as a glaze for shrimp or fish or some kind of seafood.

After coming down from my chamoy sauce high, we went on to check out Raspados. Raspados are drinks made up of shaved ice with fruit syrups and diced fresh fruits. We had a choice of one out of three we could try and of course, I had to have the Diabilito and what do you know, this particular Raspado had tamarind and mango with chamoy sauce. Back to the chamoy sauce again for me.

I've always been a fan of tamarind, which has tangy, sour, slightly sweet flavors and when you combine that with the mango and that hot-sweet chamoy sauce, my tastebuds were all a-tingle.

After all the chamoy excitement, we went on to try a couple of different atoles. An Atole is a cornstarch-based Mexican drink that come in many fruit flavors. The chocolate atole is known as champurrado.

One atole was strawberry-flavored and when drinking it, it reminded me of a hot strawberry milkshake. A little too sweet for my taste, but still good. It was the guava atole that really got my attention. I can eat fresh guavas by the truckful and guava juice is my favorite juice, so I was really looking forward to a hot guava drink. I totally loved that drink. It wasn't too sugary and I could really taste the guavas with every sip. Forget hot chocolate. I'd take a guava atole anytime.

After being warmed up by the atoles, we were cooled down by two different Frescas. Fresca is a water beverage flavored and sweetened with fruits and flowers. Horchata is considered a Fresca. We sampled two Frescas, one was a pineapple water and the other was a cucumber, lime and honey drink.

The pineapple water seemed too watered down for me, but then I prefer my pineapple juice straight. What I really liked was the cucumber, lime and honey drink. It was cool and refreshing. I can see myself drinking that iced on a really hot summer day and feeling cooled down afterwards.

Overall, my dining group had a great time at Nevera's. I know we learned a lot. Now when I see those drinks for sale, I know what I'm looking at and of course, I'm heading straight for the nearest Diabilito and that yummy chamoy sauce.

To see pics, go to:

4846 Florence Avenue, #101
Bell, CA, 90201


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