Sam Sifton, the talented new NYTimes restaurant reviewer has a piece in todays Travel section about Los Roques (Silent Days Stalking Bonefish in Venezuela – NYTimes.com), a string of tiny cays off the Venezuelan coast. I’ve been trying to get a magazine to send me to Los Roques to learn… Read More →
A tweetpic from Chicago chef & Top Chef Master Rick Bayless roasting a tray of tomatillos gave me this salsa idea for the leftover tomatillos I had in my fridge. I’m not a fan of canned tomoatillos, so try to get fresh if you can.
Cartagena’s dining scene is more impressive than Bogotá’s, if not more so. The atmosphere is definitely better. Vera is one of the most anticipated restaurants to open in the walled city in a long, long time. Part of the reason is the setting. Vera sits on the ground level, partly poolside, of the most anticipated boutique hotel to open in Cartagena ever, fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s seven suite Tcherassi Hotel + Spa. The breezy open air dining area is all white, like much of the hotel, and fronts the courtyard, pool, and an amazing vertical garden that features 3,000 plants native to Colombia. Mirrors line one wall. A second, air-conditioned dining room is equally as sleek.
Tierra Firme is iconic. Though Panama City’s international terminal has added the culinary diversity of a Subway and Dunkin Donuts in the past couple of years, Tierra Firme is still the lone sit down eatery. Everyone to have passed through the international lounge of Tocumen knows it. For some reason layovers here are almost always long.
I was walking back to my hotel from La Chonta restaurant in Pucallpa, Peru recently and noticed a glowing shrine in the back lot of a building. I stepped into the lot to take a closer look. It almost looked like a Voodoo or Santeria shrine. There was a venerated image with a heading La Diosa del Amor, the Goddess of Love. Candles were all around it and small offerings sat with them. A man came out from the backdoor of the building and saw me peering at the shrine.
“I Love Ho’s” was the sticker I got with my check at the end of my meal at Uncle Ho’s in Quito, Ecuador’s Mariscal recently. I first heard about the restaurant from Tripadvisor where it was ranked in the Top 5 of about 150 of all restaurants in Quito. People were raving about it. Quito’s Mariscal District is a major hangout for expats in South America, many of them taking advantage of cheap Spanish schools or volunteering at the many non-profits based there.
Pucallpa, in the Peruvian Amazon, is where the highway ends. From here the roadless expanse of the Amazon begins, extending far into Brazil. Fruits and vegetables arrive to the city from the Rio Ucayali and its tributaries and, what is not consumed here directly, are then filtered by road into the rest of Peru. While Pucallpa does not have a massive tourist lure (though there are a few tourists that make it here, mostly Peruvians), there is a considerable amount of interesting things going in and around the city, especially for the adventurous Foodie.
Calabaza is the West Indian pumpkin and its often used in Caribbean cooking. It’s an old Spanish term that can be applied to a variety of squashes and melons. In North America, calabaza generally refers to any species of tropical gourds of the genus Cucurbita such as C. moschata and C. maxima. In Latin America calabaza goes by several names such as auyama (Venezuela), ayote (Central America), abóbora (Brazil), and zapallo (most of South America).
Amazonian markets tend to be either great or terrible. Some rely heavily on local produce and gather fruits and vegetables from the surrounding rivers, while others seem to be just drop off points for processed and packaged food. Pucallpa’s Mercado Numero 2, just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, is great.
Magaly Solier is better known as an actress in Peru, having starred in Claudia Llosa’s Madeinusa and the more recent La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow), which is nominated for best foreign film at the Oscar’s this year. Her childhood dream has always been to be a singer, however, and she recently drew eyebrows (and made Tilda Swinton cry) when singing a song in Quechua during her acceptance of a Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.