Whenever I arrive to Cartagena, Colombia, after the hot, sticky cab ride from the airport, all I can think about is that I need something cold and refreshing to drink. In many cases a limonada de coco is waiting for me at check in at whatever hotel I’m checking into. It’s the unofficial welcome drink of Cartagena.
I’ve never been a fan of chicha de jora. I have tried it dozens of times, but it always tastes a bit skunky. The only time I can manage to stomach an entire glass is in Cuzco’s picanterias, where they add strawberries to it, and call it frutillada. Chicha de… Read More →
I randomly met Romina Puente-Arnao at a famed fried yucca stand in Lima, Peru’s Mercado Palermo earlier this year while filming for the Travel Channel’s Street Eats International and was excited to learn that she was helping launch her family’s pisco label in the United States this year. While most Peruvian piscos are far less mass produced than those in Chile, the brands that have made the trip north thus far are some of the largest labels and are no longer family owned and operated, which is a generally a defining characteristic of Peru’s, mostly small batch, piscos. The brand is called Capurro Pisco in the US and Nazca Pisco in Peru. While Nazca Pisco has been around for decades in Peru, Capurro just launched in Miami this September and has plans to make its way up the East Coast later this year. It’s a much needed addition to the American Pisco market. Puente-Arnao was kind enough to give us a detailed story of Capurro:
Last night the 12th edition of Vinos Y Bodegas, Argentina’s biggest wine expo, got underway at the giant exhibition centre of La Rural in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Although tending towards extremely crowded, particularly on the last two evenings Friday and Saturday, the event is a must for any wine lover, and even more so for those who are relatively new to the local wine scene. At Vinos y Bodegas visitors literally have the chance to taste their way around the country, visiting all the country’s major wine producing regions in the 5000m2 space filled with 70 wineries and over 1000 wines to try.
Agua de Sapo is a traditional Costa Rican drink made from tapa de dulce (unrefined sugar), limes and ginger that originated in the Limón province on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, an area that takes on a much more Afro-Caribbean feel than it’s more Latin flavored Pacific side. According to Monte Azul, a lovely hotel on a private mountain reserve near Chirripó National Park, the region’s cultural roots are apparent in the language which is a Patois based on Jamaican English, with French, Spanish and Bri Bri (the principal indigenous people of the area) influences.
I was recently given a sneak peak at Solbeso, a spirit being distilled from fair trade fresh Peruvian cacao fruit. It’s the first spirit of its kind. It’s not a chocolate liqueur, but a clear spirit with a consistency like that of pisco. It is said to have the same the chemical benefits of dark chocolate, yet none of the sweetness or flavor. On tasting it, I smelled chocolate notes immediately as soon as I brought the glass to my nose.
Chile’s expanding craft beer scene is still going strong, particularly in Valparaiso where a handful of small breweries are thriving.
Demerara. That word alone is infectious. It’s derived from the Arawak language, meaning “river of the letter wood.” It sounds exotic. It is exotic. Demerara is a place, among other things related to that place. It’s a region of Guyana founded by the Dutch. There’s a river, also called Demerara. There are fields of sugarcane lined with canals where herons and egrets wade. The air is sweet smelling. It smells of forests. And the Caribbean, which is not far away.
At Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena, Colombia’s once down and out Getsemani quarter, a new scene is emerging in the Caribbean enclave. There’s not the cookie cutter cruise ship emerald shops and Hard Rock Cafes, but rather the atmosphere is fueled by the faded stone walls, graffiti, loud music, and strong drink. In this day glow painted bar, owned by Jorge Escandón of La Cevicheria fame, that particular strong drink would be the Machaca’o, a newly invented cocktail that is aiming to become Cartagena’s official.
A four day tour of Uruguayan wine country, small though it is, still barely scratches the surface and leaves one wanting more – be it somewhere new, or more of the same, the wines, people and culture are wonderfully addictive.