Ah, Cafayate…

We just spent a week in the other Argentinean wine country. Not Mendoza but Cafayate, in the northwest. It’s a lot less accessible than Mendoza and thus a lot less visited and a lot quieter.

It is Torrontes country but our highlights were more of the red wine and beer type – yes, beer.

More to come soon but a few links to get you all started:

Porvenir Winery: definitely our best tasting experience since Vérité and some beautiful, beautiful wines; light but still extremely flavourful.

Tasting at Porvenir in Cafayate, Argentina

Tasting at Porvenir in Cafayate, Argentina

Me Echo la Burra Brewery – Belgian style brewing with a light, refreshing feel  in the Calchaquies Valley

Bodega Salvador Figueroa in Cafayate. What a winemaker makes once he retires: his wine, his way, his time and his quantity (5000 bottle per year). And no website.

We’re in San Juan now, getting ready for a second week of tasting, this time around here and later on in Mendoza…


Pérou et ceviche

Leaving Peru for Chile tonight, we are a bit sad to leave the land of ceviche. Here are a few links to some recipes but they all seem to be more Mexican inspired than Peruvian. Do you have any good Peruvian ceviche recipes? Please share in the comments!

On nous a raconté toutes sprtes d’histoires d’horreur sur le Pérou: c’est hyper dangereux, tout le monde veut vous arnaquer, vous n’allez manger que des pommes de terre et rien d’autre… Et bien non, non et non. À la veille de notre départ pour le Chili, nous nous sentons plutôt nostalgiques.

Picnik collage

Nous avons beaucoup aimé le Pérou et avons trouvé les Péruviens très chaleureux. Oui, il faut faire attention, mais pas plus (probablement moins) qu’ailleurs – à moins que ça soit la barbe de D qui ait tenu les malfrats au loin? Oui, les agences sont rapaces mais c’est comme partout ailleurs et on n’a eu recours à leurs services qu’une seule fois. Finalement, oui, il y a beaucoup de pommes de terre mais il y a aussi le ceviche. Et mon Dieu qu’il va nous manquer celui-là.

Qu’est-ce que c’est exactement, un ceviche? C’est tout simplement une sélection de poissons et/ou de fruits de mer, crus et marinés dans un mélange d’acides (jus de lime ou de citron par exemple) et d’épices. Il ‘y a pas de recette unique, le jus varie de famille en famille, de région en région et de restaurant en restaurant. Il s’agit d’en essayer plusieurs et de trouver son favori!

Je n’ai jamais fait de ceviche à la maison mais après m’en être gavée au Pérou, j’ai bien hâte de mettre ces quelques recettes à l’essai:

En français:

Ceviche lime et citron chez Banlieusardises, avec beaucoup de légumes et assaisonné à la coriandre

Chez Ricardo, une version un peu plus élégante: le tiradito, qui s’apparente au crudo italien. Un ceviche dans lequel le poisson est coupé en fine tranches. Excellent, masi demande un peu plus de temps.

En anglais:

Une version qui s’inspire des saveurs du Mexique et une autre aux crevettes chez Simply Recipes

Un classique au poisson de chez Epicurious.

Ces versions sont cependants toutes plus proches du style mexicain que du style péruvien, plus épuré, normalement avec maïs, pomme de terre et onions comme seuls légumes. Vous en avez une bonne recette? Je suis preneuse!

Breakfast in Cuzco

Just got off of yet another long night bus ride, this time from Arequipa to Cuzco.

Starving, we found a street block packed with small local restaurants. We chose one that advertised a S/.2,50 (about US$0,80) breakfast, in whoch the women of the family were all gathered, peeling potatoes.

So this is what we had. It was sublime.

Cusco breakfast 002Chicken, potatoies and carrots in a light (yellow?) gravy with rice. Bon matin!

Lunch à Panama

Nous sommes à Panama City, en route vers le Pérou et le sud de l’Amérique du sud.

Dans un récent post, je partageais ma peur de me retrouver à ne manger que du riz et des pommes de terres pendant cette partie du voyage. Et bien je me rétracte: le riz et les patates, c’est bon!!!

Voici ce que nous avons mangé lors de notre premier lunch à Panama City, dans la vieille ville, à un bar en inox, coincés entre 3 officiers de la police nationale: una comida con pollo soit du riz avec du poulet, des haricots et… des patates!!

Panama 033

Et on n’était même dimanche! …mais vous savez pourquoi c’est si bon?

Le sel mes amis, le sel. Tout est cuit dans le bouillon en cube… et c’est bon!

Wine shopping abroad – a primer

Who among us doesn’t like a tipple of wine whilst on holiday?  This question is, of course, rhetorical… since everybody does!  But which wines are the “best” deals is a question as old as the fermented grape juice itself.

My reflex answer is drink local – sometimes the best wines never make it out of the production area and usually are very competitively priced.  However, this was challenged recently on our trip to a Panama City wine shop.  In the wine shop, not only were there NO strictly local wines to choose from,  but the French and US wine was ridiculously cheap – ridiculous as in cheaper than in France and the US.   But why?  Here goes my theory…

Reason 1)  The required profit margin on a bottle of wine in the US (or insert name of other “developed” wine producing country here) to cover rent, employee salaries, insurance, corporate tax, etc. is many times more than other places in the world.

Reason 2) The cost per bottle to ship wine overland long distances within the US can sometimes be more than bulk shipping by sea along traditional shipping routes

So, for the above reasons, Panama City really hits on all cylinders for drinking imported wine from traditionally expensive areas…  and if you don’t believe me, here are two examples (both including tax):

2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon – $55

2002/2003/2004 Hugel “Gentil” – $10 each

Anyway, moral of the story is: don’t automatically assume imported wine is a rip off simply because it’s imported.  Sometimes it can be a better deal than you think!

Bangkok Donuts

Yes, donuts. Not noodles, not soup, not street food – donuts.

We stumbled upon this donut shop in one of our attempts to escape the city heat in the air conditioned malls.

D was hooked right away and insisted to get one – or three, actually. The choice was quite impressive. For those who know him, you can easily guess which ones he went with, right?

Bangkok Donuts

The answer in one week!

Big Apple Donuts – in you favorite Asian mall

Lima Food Planning

My sister made up this song when she went to Peru for the first time and as much as D likes potatoes, we both agreed that we’ll get enough of them even by trying to eat well.

Lundi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Mardi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Mercredi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Jeudi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Vendredi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Samedi, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates!

Dimanche, qu’est-ce qu’on mange – des patates et du riz!!!!!!!

I have been looking forward to the food in Peru for the past year and to be honest, the song kind of scared me. I know one can eat well in Peru and I hope to be able to do it even on our budget so here are my research notes from Chowhound.

Chinatown: Peruvian Chinese seems great and I really miss Asian food

–  “Pato con frutas” is one of my favorites.. it’s a sort of sweet and sour duck.

Get anticuchos from a street vendor: marinated, skewered, veal or beef heart. We’ve had some at one of my favorite restaurants in New York and also had a Laos in Vientiane. Can’t wait for the real Peruvian thing.

Try andean trout

And, of course, potatoes:

There are over 200 types of potatoes in Peru.. so keep your eyes out for the SMALL cafes — they’re more likely to have the locally grown ingredients.

Cancha, the toasted corn kernels, served before the meal at cebicherias – I really want to eat ceviche!!!

Coca tea – we have some at the hostel here in PC, will try tomorrow, should be an appetite suppressant, which may help our budget…!

Alpaca meat:

– Pachapapa in Cuzco had an AMAZING alpaca anticucho

– Alpaca loin

Alpaca meat in Cusco from mmm-yoso on Flickr

Alpaca meat in Cusco from mmm-yoso on Flickr

May want to try Astrid y Gaston, a classic that has been recommended by many although it is quite pricey for Peru.

Again, if we feel like spending more than $5 per head , Huaca Pucllana for gourmet traditional Peruvian food.

Pepino Melons – fruits!!!

Marinated sliced radishes – veggies!!!

A few more Cusco notes:

Parallel to Avenida del Sol is a street called Pampas de Castillo, there are several Chicharonerias lining the street. During lunch they wheel some of the fryers into the street, so all you smell is pork and chicken frying.

Enough planning now – off to get some parilla now.

What to do with only a few hours in New York: Eat Pizza!

We are in Panama City for a few days, were in New York  yesterday and in Zurich, Québec and Montréal before that. We are off to Peru on Monday.

We almost missed our flight again today. This time however, it was simply due to gluttony.

Since moving to London 2 years ago, we almost stopped eating pizza altogether. I know some of you are big Pizza Express fans but to be honest, it never really did anything for me. I’ll sound arrogant but honestly, you just need to have New York pizza to understand why.

Being back in New York for a little over 24 hours, we had pizza last night, and then again today. Last night did not really count though as it was at Otto and although their pizza is wonderful, we really go there for the wine, the bartender and the pasta. But after a long evening with friends, a lot of wine and too little sleep, we woke up starving.

Pizza at Lombardi's

We thought about going for Chinese or Vietnamese food in Chinatown. Although I love cheese (I ate cheese for every meal since we left Asia), I have been sorely missing my Asian food since we got to Zurich last week. I really got used to having at least one huge bowl of noodle soup per day, ideally for breakfast. We are however about to go to one of the Americas most interesting Chinatowns as far as food is concerned – think chinese with more spices and fresh seafood – so I thought I could still wait a little. One thing we may not have soon is good pizza.

We have our favorites: Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, Totonno’s in Kips Bay and Otto for the gourmet fix but I had never been to the legendary Lombardi’s Pizzeria, in Soho, which is meant to be the first pizzeria in the United States. People have been raving about it everywhere and for ages which is why, when I lived in New York, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to like it. I was a Grimaldi person and I had no interest in trying the competition. Now, after 2 and a half years in London and 3 months in Asia, I am completely pizza starved and undiscerning. They say it’s good, so we went.

Well… it was fantastic. Friendly service, good beer selection and thin, crispy pizza with plenty of tomato sauce and mozzarella on it. As far as the pie is concerned, I am not sure I can pick one that is better than the others: is it Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s or Totonno’s? If you are not a (slightly obsessive) connaisseur, the margheritas are all very similar.

Lombardi’s location and atmosphere make it a lot more tourist friendly than the others. It’s not as intimidating as Grimaldi’s with its long queues and rough staff and it is actually in the middle of the touristy action, much easier to find. Totonno’s is great for a real New York atmosphere as there are no tourists there but at the same time, there really isn’t much to see and it is definitely off the beaten path for tourists. There is, however, a great, great beer bar and a few more good Irish pubs in the area.

And the plane you may say? Well, we did not miss it but rushed to the airport as we spent way too much time eating pizza. We ran like mad, skipped queues and finally realized that our flight times had been changed, we had one more hour before departure!

Lombardi’s Pizza Corner of Mott and Spring streets Manhattan.

Totonno’s 462 2nd Avenue, between 26th adn 27th streets, Manhattan

Grimaldi’s Pizza 19 Old Fulton street, Brooklyn

Otto Enoteca, one 5th Avenue, Manhattan

Dinner inspiration – Nyonya style

For those who do not know what to make for dinner tonight, how about some nyonya noodles?

Chinese food in Malaysia is called nyonya, which is from the Straits Chinese, Chinese descendants of settlers who came to the area during th Ming dynasty.
Nyonya food contains many of the traditional ingredients of Chinese food and Malay spices and herbs but is eclectically seasoned and different than either Chinese or Malay food. Think of it as the ultimate fusion cooking!

For some inspiration, here is one page from the menu at a delicious hole-in-the-wall we ate at in Kulala Lumpur’S Chinatown yesterday.

Kuala Lumpur J1 036

If you feel adventurous, you may want to try to recreate what was definitely one of the top 5 pork dishes we’ve had: melt in your mouth BBQ pork…

Kuala Lumpur J1 038

Let us know what the results are – and we want that pork recipe if you find one!

More Nyonya recipes:

Malaka Nyonya Laksa from Anatomy of the Mind blog

Nyonya Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Sauce from Food and Wine

An entire – beautiful – website dedicated to nyonya recipes Nyonya Food