Each day, Rancho Valencia’s executive chef Eric Bauer passes by Chino Farm on the way to work. The resort, a modern hacienda set on a 40-acre enclave of rolling hills in Rancho Sante Fe, a short drive from San Diego, has fully embraced a healthy lifestyle with the recent reopening of the 49 private villa suites. A concept that extends not only to championship tennis and golf, but to food. Having Chino Farm, helped made famous by Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, and an abundance of locally sourced, seasonal produce, not to mention flowers and honey from Rancho Valencia, allows Bauer the opportunity that few hotel chefs are given. The following recipe is Bauer’s fresh, nourishing take on the Andean grain quinoa.
FOOD + DRINK
Javier Wong, the chef owner of Chez Wong in Lima, is one of the most legendary chefs in Peru. His restaurant isn’t fancy, far from it. It’s in one room of his house, in the rough and tumble district of La Victoria not far from a line of auto repair garages. There’s no menu. He serves a ceviche, always using Pacific sole; enormous ones.
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.
The Ica region is Peru’s leading grower of grapes, with the area around the city of Ica itself being the epicenter. Pisco, a sweet aromatic grape brandy is produced here, as well as wine.
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.
If you happen to grab a bite in Peru’s Amazonian region and come across plates of yellowish balls served all around you, don’t panic! It’s nothing out of the ordinary, just one of the most wonderful dishes Peruvian cuisine ever invented. Served in every village, town and city in the jungle, tacacho is part of a strong gastronomic tradition that still remains a secret to the rest of the world. Although Peru has been enjoying a culinary boom for the past few years, its Amazonian region hasn’t gathered much international attention. However, it’s a solid gastronomic identity simply craving to be discovered.
Monte Azul, a hotel on a private mountain reserve near Costa Rica’s highest point, Chirripó National Park, about two hours from Manuel Antonio, has become something of a beacon of culture in the middle of the rainforest since it opened in 2005. While the hotel is best known for their promotion of Costa Rican art at their residency programs and gallery, Monte Azul Contemporary Art (MACA), their world with Costa Rican food has become perhaps equally as impressive. The following recipe is for a Tico version of Piononos, a small traditional pastry that originated in Santa Fe, a town near to Granada, Spain, and has taken a life of its own in Latin America.
In 2009, after expanding his restaurant empire around the world, Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio opened two new restaurants in the provinces of Peru, his first outside of the confines of the capital of Lima. The two restaurants, both named Chi Cha, bring Acurio’s signature style to two of Peru’s largest cities: Arequipa & Cuzco. Each skews toward regional dishes and ingredients, though also serves a wider national cuisine and Acurio originals. The dining rooms are elegant, yet they’re not stuffy nor is the food over priced. As with most of Acurio’s restaurants, the bar menu is creative with a dozen or so Pisco based cocktails that go beyond a traditional Pisco Sour.
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.