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Taste of Michiana 2016: Popular local tasting event draws crowd to Century Center in South Bend

According to Chef Bela from the Century Center, there were more than 40 vendors serving up scratch-made food and drink to more than 2,800 attendees throughout the lower level of the Century Center in South Bend on April 27.

“It’s been great so far — there’s lots to choose from,” first time Taste-goer and Mishawaka resident Michal Ziger said. “I like the wide representation of vendors. You can try everything from beverages to entrees to appetizers.”

The biggest draw for Ziger? Pepsi 1893, a new formulation of the classic beverage highlighted by Pepsi of South Bend.

On the local beverage front, Lemon Creek Winery, Satek Winery, Indiana Whiskey, South Bend Brew Werks and Virtuoso Distillers all poured up handmade beer, wine and spirits. South Bend resident Lisa Dale, who’s in the food service business but was attending the festival for fun, said she enjoyed Indiana Whiskey’s white whiskey and was looking forward to trying it in place of vodka in a Moscow mule.

Debbi Seniff, Dale’s coworker at Grill 362 at 4025 Lincoln Way West, said she liked what Virtuoso Distillers had to offer but wished the distillery brought its limoncello in addition to its vodka, gin and whiskey.

As for the grub, Javier’s Bistro came up repeatedly as a fan favorite on the strength of chef Javier Mendez’s smoked pork and hot giardiniera.

“I loved Javier’s Bistro, which we’ve never been to, which is crazy,” Dale said. “It was Javier himself doing the cooking.”

Allison Penington, a friend of Ziger’s, said she liked the macaroni and cheese offered by several vendors, and Dale seconded, praising the way the DoubleTree Hotel turned an omelet bar into a mac and cheese bar with toppings available on demand.

Other attendee favorites were the sliders at Between the Buns, Smith’s Downtown Tap & Grill’s chili, sauerbraten with ginger gravy and red cabbage from Weiss Gasthaus and the Cajun Creole comfort food served by Yats.

“The chili at Smith’s was really good — a little spicy,” said South Bend firefighter Brian Bartlett. “Between the Buns had that slider right when we walked in. That was a nice little appetizer.”

Proceeds from the festival will support South Bend’s Life Treatment Centers, a non-profit working to help those with addictions.

Shea Gibbs is a freelance writer for Flavor 574, covering South Bend and the surrounding area.

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