On a post not far from my table a Kingfisher sits for a moment and then flutters off. Off in the distance closer to the shore a white egret stands zen-like. When I came by boat to Al Frio y al Fuego, a thatched roof restaurant in the middle of the Itaya river near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, the clouds were dark and raindrops bounced across the murky water. Now the sun was out and the restaurants turquoise pool was sparkling and inviting though I didn’t think to bring my trunks.
In Montreal everyone has an opinion of their favorite delicatessen. I asked a cab driver late one night about Snowdon and without hesitation she said to go to Schwartz’s. Others I asked said the opposite. Each place smokes an estimated 10,000 pounds of meat per week. The practice of smoking meats dates to ancient times as a way of preserving it. Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Eastern Europe were well known for smoking meat in the 19th century and it has since been generally considered a trait of Jewish communities, particularly in North American delis.
Peru doesn’t have a well developed beer culture. In most parts of the country there are just two options: Pilsen or Cuzqueña. A few other mass produced brands are available too, though they are all simple lagers that taste quite similar to one another. Even the imports are limited to Stell, Peroni, or Corona. So, when I discovered the stand of the Mushna microbrewery at Lima’s annual gastronomic festival Mistura, I was quite surprised. The small brewery from Tacna, in the south of the country near the Chilean border, had three beers on tap: Irish Red Ale, Pale Ale, and a Robust Porter.
Peru’s capital of the south of Arequipa, the country’s second largest city and an agricultural powerhouse, is part of an extremely gastronomically unique region. Arequpeñan cuisine is renowned the country over for its high quality prawns, rocoto peppers, cheeses, piscos, oilves and olive oils, beans, grains, and alpaca meat. The city is full of great restaurants and talented chefs, but it’s the San Camillo market that really grabs the pulse of the city. The sprawling market that sits just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas is one of Peru’s most lively.
Since winning Top Chef Masters last year, Rick Bayless has been on everyone’s radar (though for many he was already). As the recognition of the American chef who travels around Mexico discovering native foods grows, so does his restaurant empire. One of his latest Chicago eateries, Xoco, sits right beside his much more expensive and now impossible to get a table at Frontera Grill and Topolabampo.
I’ve only recently discovered the brilliant adjoined stores Puro Chile and Puro Wine in New York’s Soho. While Puro Wine focuses on selling premium Chilean wines, Puro Chile sells an array of high quality Chilean products – olive oils, wool sweaters, photo books, and handicrafts. Combined they are a powerful tool for promotion. Last night they held “A Taste of Chile,” which was put on by Wines of Chile. A number of wines, served by bartenders in miner outfits, were available from four different regions: the Casablanca Valley, Elqui & Limari Valleys, Maipo Valley, and Colchagua Valley. Their were several wines I had yet to try so I pleased to have the opportunity for so much Chile in one place.
October is called El Mes Morada, or the purple month, in Lima because this is when El Señor de Milagros, or the Lord of Miracles, a massive religious procession, is held in the historic center. El Señor de los Milagros is the most revered image of Christ on the Peruvian coast. The image was painted on a wall by an West African slave in the Las Nazarenas Church in the district of Pachacamilla in what is now downtown Lima. In 1655, a massive earthquake struck Lima and much of the center was in rubble. Miraculously, the wall of Las Nazarenas where the image of Christ sat was left untouched, though the rest of the church crumbled around it.
El Señor de Milagros, or the Lord of Miracles, is a venerated image of Christ, apinted by an Angolan slave, which has been attributed to protecting the city of Lima from earthquakes for several centuries as well as curing worshippers of various ailments. During an earthquake in 1655 nearly the entire city of Lima was destroyed, but still standing was the image and the adobe wall it hung on in the Pachacamilla neighborhood. On select days every October, El Mes Morada (the purple month), the image is carried from its resting place in Las Nazarenas church around the center of Lima as tens of thousands of purple clad followers watch and pray. It’s the largest Catholic procession in the Americas and one of my favorite spectacles to occur in the city (outside of Mistura, of course).
In Indonesian-Latino Comes to Jackson Heights, Edible Queens World’s Fare blogger Joe DiStefano describes his visit to a new Indonesian-Latino restaurant, Tropika Grill n’ Cafe, in Jackson Heights, Queens. Say what? Indonesian-Latino?
Unlike in neighboring Ecuador, Peruvian cocoa beans have not found a following, though growing conditions are quite similar. The industry just hasn’t developed. In Lima’s Miraflores district, the sweet shop Xocolatl, is one of the first to concentrate on higher end chocolate in the city. Even though the majority of their cocoa comes from Ecuador, it’s a start.