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.
Come September in Mexico, the time is right for a food pilgrimage to the city of Puebla for Chiles en Nogada. Trying to find the best food in Mexico is like trying to find the best beer in Germany or the best tea in China. Impossible, you say? Well, Chiles en Nogada is a poblano pepper stuffed with a mix of ground beef and pork, nuts, and fruit, including apple, pear, peach, and plantain (a banana for cooking). Then it is drenched in a walnut sauce and sprinkled with parsley and pomegranate. Distinct flavors are represented – spicy, sweet, savory. The colors of Chiles en Nogada – the white walnut sauce, the red pomegranate, and the green parsley – correspond to the Mexican flag.
A postcard available at Corchos, a small, classy wine bistro in the old quarter of Montevideo depicts a personification of a Tannat grape, Uruguay’s flagship varietal. He is short and … robust… North American of girth and his face sunburned to a deep shade of British tourist. He snarls a challenge over a stubby hand-rolled cigarette and his eyes back it up; try me, they say; see these spurs on my boots, they say; that’s right, they say; I’m no Pinot Noir mo#% *f#$!!@.
And for the longest time he got the arms-length respect he demanded in his native Madiran, a small area in the Gascon region of France. Generally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to make Madiran appellation wines (a wine must contain at least 40% Tannat to classify) or made as a single varietal, wines with Tannat are relatively simple and rustic and usually stored for many years before consumption is even considered.
Milanesas can be made with steak, veal, chicken, or even vegetarian with soy. The protein is dipped into eggs and then patted with the bread crumb crust and shallow-fried. Milanesas are often served with mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, or salad as accompaniments and make for quick, healthy lunches.
Few realize that Cochinita Pibil is actually a Mayan dish. It’s quite common now all over Mexico, especially in the Yucatan where it originated, and I see it often at Mexican restaurants and Taquerias in New York and around the States. Traditionally, cochinita refers to a slow roasted baby pig, though pork shoulder (which is actually pork butt) is more common now. The signature spice in the seasoning is achiote, the orangish-red seeds that give off a deep, earthy flavor and are used habitually in Mayan cooking. Cochinita Pibil is the dish that Rick Bayless won Top Chef Masters with (and his recipe from Mexico One Plate At A Time was very influential in this one).
Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a city that didn’t really even exist 15 years ago. It’s surrounded by jungle, now the city has been infiltrated by hundreds of hotels and even more restaurants, many of which serve stylish, contemporry food. Being that there was nothing here before and Cancun was never exactly a gastronomic hotspot, where do the chefs come from?
In Barrio Chino (Lima, Peru) restaurants such as Wa Lok and Salon Capon Lomo Saltado simply means stir-fried beef. It is a direct translation from Spanish and the dish is the same as the stir-fried beef that’s on any Chinese menu in New York or Jamaica. Thin slices of stir-fried beef and onions (usually red onions in Peru, though) are served family style on a big plate. Scoop a pile of rice on your dish from a bowl served on the side and spoon the beef and juices on top of it.
A new phenomenon in Ecuador’s large cities, Quito and Guayaquil, has been the commercialization of small shops and street stands that sell Yogurt with Pan de Yuca (Yuca/Cassava bread). Several chains have expanded all over these cities and have turned the very simple snack into a sort of Starbuck’s convenience.
For some reason everyone is afraid to grill octopus. Yet, it’s not overly difficult. There is a fine line between cooking and overcooking, but with the tiniest bit of care your pulpo won’t become a rubbery mess. It’s an ideal addition to a seafood barbecue and can be skewered alongside shrimp and tuna. The addition of the Nikkei marinade included below, though not essential, adds a unique, slightly sweet Peruvian accent to the octopus.
Though rarely are frites, or fries, attributed to Belgium – examples: french fries, chips, freedom fries – they are indeed a creation of that northern European nation and nowhere on earth will a cone of frites taste so good. All across Belgium there are small stands called frietkots.