Somewhere far, far away, hanging off the end of the Chilean Lake District, in a wooded stretch of coastline near the far end of the island of Chiloe, there’s an upside down boat. The wooden structure was built purposely upside down, somewhat like the island’s UNESCO world heritage wood shingle churches, which were also modeled after boats turned on their heads. It’s at least two hours from anywhere. In this boat is Espejo de Luna (www.espejodeluna.cl), aka Lef, a restobar and café serving some of the most resourceful food in Chile.
Freddy’s bar at Orient Express’ Maroma Resort and Spa on the Riviera Maya seems a little bit out of ordinary compared with the bars of the neighboring resorts. While Corona and fried chicken wings are being served elsewhere, Freddy’s has a Tequila and Ceviche Bar with more than 100 tequilas paired with a daily variety of six exotic Ceviches created by Executive Chef Chef Juan Pablo Loza.
On an almost unbearably hot day on the Riviera Maya, I came across the Refresco, a tequila based cocktail at Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s Sands restaurant, where the infinity pool joins with the turquoise blue Caribbean water to meet the horizon. As it’s name would lead you to believe, the cocktail is indeed refreshing. Here’s what you need to put in your glass:
I’m quite fond of eating fruit in salad form, though it usually ends up a soupy mess. Jicama, like apple, stays firm no matter how much juice is splashed on it and makes a nice bar snack as cubes when just drizzled with lime and sprinkled with chile powder. Also called yam bean or Mexican turnip, the sweet and starchy vine ripened jicima is often used in Mexican cooking.
Last year, while enjoying chef Roland Villard’s incredible Amazônia Menu at Le Pré Catelan in Rio de Janeiro’s Sofitel hotel, I heard rumblings that the chef was working on a similar tasting menu comprising of the most common Brazilian ingredients: rice and beans. I just received word that the menu is now being served in the restaurant.
Intipalka, produced in the Peruvian pisco heartland in of the region of Ica, manages to accomplish something that rarely occurs with Peruvian wine: not be spit out. Sure Tacama has put out a few alright wines, mostly their reserves, but nothing that could ever rival an average (lets not get carried away here) vino from Argentina or Chile. This wine isn’t half bad. Drinkable even. It proves Peru has the grape growing potential that extends beyond pisco.
Cuzco offers the most diverse craft and textile selection anywhere in Peru, not too mention fine jewelry and alpaca clothing. Be sure to bargain, as prices can often be inflated. Handicrafts from throughout the Andes can be found here and quality is usually very good.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas (El Valle Sagrado de los Incas) is where it all started. Inca civilization began here when Manco Capac, as the legend goes, came upon the valley from Lake Titicaca and founded the city of Cuzco. One of the greatest civilizations the world had ever seen grew from there. The valley is dotted with spectacular Incan and pre-Incan ruins, not to mention the world-renowned site of Machu Picchu and several other lost cities.
There is an unmistakable calm air that surrounds Chinchero. The small market area, church, and grassy plain that make up much of the town seem raised up amidst a circle of tall mountains, such as the snowy peak of Salkantay. It feels secure and a bit mystical. It doesn’t have any large hotels or fancy restaurants. It has retained its simple Andean character better than other towns on the Sacred Valley tourist circuit.
Juliaca is perhaps the most undesirable town in Peru. This is the definition of a third world shantytown and has very little to offer other than being a base for trips to smaller nearby towns on Lake Titicaca, the site of the Puno airport, and a stop on the rail… Read More →