The chorrillana, Valparaiso, Chile’s contribution to junk food, could only have been invented somewhere like Casino Social J Cruz Martinez. The bar is the exact definition of a Chilean picada: a hole, dive bar, or greasy spoon.
A quinta in Cuzco is like a huarique in Lima. It is a simple, traditional restaurant that provides regional dishes at local prices. As much as Cuzco has grown and become a global city and home to dozens of massive hotels, the old Cuzco has become more and more obscure. Still if you take a few steps off the beaten tourist paths there are still a few of genuine lunch only quintas to be found.
El Chiringuito was never meant to attract Chile’s elite. The seafood restaurant, attached to a small seafood market where local fishermen sell the day’s catch, sticks out on a rocky bluff on a once desolate cove where few summer vacationers ever ventured. Now, in town above the restaurant, there’s sushi… Read More →
In Twilight Breaking Dawn, Edward and Bella venture to Brazil to honeymoon on the isle of Esme, which doesn’t actually exist. Where they actually went was Paraty, Brazil, a colonial town and blossoming vacation retreat halfway in between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Specifically, they went to a beachfront house in Saco do Mamanguá, a tropical fjord, which even you too can rent.
I was in the Brazilian Amazon not long ago and on my plate, stuck into a piece of decoration fruit, was this little, pea sized, yellow bean. I thought it was a piece of the fruit and poked the bean on my fork and put it into my mouth, chewed, and swallowed. It was fragrant, a little fruity, and then the earth shattered and my head exploded. Within seconds I was choking and tears were flowing out of my eyes. It took about ten minutes to recover. Seriously that hot. I had to ask the waitress how you were supposed to eat it. She explained that you just sort of squeeze it with your fork and get a tiny bit of the juice on it and then mix it in whatever you were eating to add some spice (in my case it was fish and rice).
The Pure Nacional cacao bean, supposedly indigenous to Ecuador and wiped out due to disease a century ago, and was apparently rediscovered recently in northern Peru’s Maranon Canyon. As TastingTable clearly shows and the New York Times reports, American chocolatier Moonstruck has already released a Pure Nacional single origin chocolate bar (68% cacao), called Fortunato No. 4, as well as chocolate covered beans.
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.
At Lima’s food festival of Mistura, it was the bees that first attracted me to Postres Tradicionales Tina. The restaurant is headed by a group of Afro-Peruvian women who serve a long list of traditional Limeño sweets. For some reason, every bee within a mile of their stand at Mistura flocked to their trays of Mazamorra Morada, Arroz con Leche, Arroz Zambito, and especially their camotes glaseados (glazed sweet potatoes) and another chunky mixture I had never seen before. There are dozens of other vendors selling sweets at Mistura, but the bees didn’t go there. They only came to Postres Tradicionales Tina.
In Ecuador guanta de monte is just another name for Paca, or Agouti paca. It’s a large rodent, not as large as a capybara that lives off the forest floor, eating fallen fruit, leaves, and tubers. In parts of the Amazon, it’s food. In Coca, where Francisco de Orellana set off on his journey across the Amazon in 1541, sidewalk stalls – some of the best places to eat in town – serve guanta in Salsa de maní – a peanut sauce (sometimes called gordo de maní ) that originated in the province of Manabí. PRice with a with a heaping pile of rice and a grilled banana = $1.50.
Oilve oil production in Argentina is still in its infancy. This year is expected to be a poor one because of the falling price of the euro and the fact that Argentineans only consume .15 liters of olive oil annually, compared with 25 liters in Greece. Still, as I discovered at Duty Free in Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza airport while loading up on wine, the country is producing some excellent olive oils.