Tag Archives: drinks

Lima: The City of Kings

The best thing about this city is the food. We finally found something worth eating – ceviche, the delicious dish that is the star of Peru’s culinary repertoire.

A sample of ceviche.

Wandering along the coast line, stopping to drink wine and eat seafood is a pretty awesome introduction to any new place. We decided to stay in Miraflores, the seaside suburb of Lima, and stopped for lunch at ‘La Mar’, one of Lima’s best cevicherias. Here we were treated to a selection of different ceviche dishes (variations of raw fish, chili and onions marinated in lime juice). Ceviche, where have you been all my life!?

Lima is also the home of the Pisco Sour, a cocktail that is popular along the west coast, and the Lima Sigh, a wonderfully sweet desert. A stop at the Gran Hotel Bolivar, where the Pisco Sour was conceived, is mandatory, and any decent restaurant around the central squares will spoil you with a Lima Sigh.

We weren’t in Lima for long, but we did manage to catch up with old and new friends, as well as wander around the shops and city streets. A referral put us onto a city tour bus, which we thought was the easiest and cheapest way to get around and see the sights all in one afternoon.

We went through the old squares in the center of town and saw the glamorous buildings from the colonial era, which still look magnificent.

The tour finished at the Museo Larco, which has one of the most incredible collections of Inca art anywhere in the world. The museum is a beautiful building of white washed walls and red flowers. Established in 1926, the Museo Larco hosts a vast collection of around 45,000 artifacts excavated from northern, central and southern Peru.

Photo taken from the courtyard.

Peru is one of the six cradles of civilization and the museum exhibits cover the many tribes that rose and fell over the last 5,000 years. Over time it is possible to see how the art became more sophisticated and how the different cultures influenced each other. The apex of this art is represented by the Incas, who amalgamated all of these influences as the empire spread across Peru.

We learnt a lot from the visit, and as it happens many of the best pieces from Cusco’s Museo de Art Pre-Colombino are on loan from this museum. We were so impressed with the collection that we bought a photographic book published by Museo Larco (which Mark used to design a tattoo on his back).

Lima itself was rather grey due to a haze that hangs over the city from April to November. It would have been nice to stay longer, but we were getting travel weary and were keen for some sunny beach time. So we boarded a dreadful overnight bus and escaped to the surfer’s paradise of Mancora!

The hazy shades of Lima.

 


The Pisco Museum

So we had heard about this pisco stuff when a mate of ours visited Chile some years ago. However our stint in Chile was pretty short so we were stoked to learn that pisco is also popular in Peru. In fact, the two countries have been arguing for a long time over who invented it first.

Fortunately a couple of entreprenuers have started up a Pisco Museum in Cusco. We were expecting something low key but the museum could be more accurately described as a cocktail bar.

That's a lot of pisco.

A Cholopolitan and an El Majeño.

There's all sorts of information on how pisco is made but we recommend having a go at the degustation. There were several options, we went with a tasting of four bottles. To our surprise this came with a talk from one of the staff (cheers Sergio!), who walked us through how the various varieties are made. The service was excellent and it was a lot of fun.

The bottles in the degustation have been hand picked by the museum owners. That must have been quite a task as there are many, many producers.

In brief, there's a bunch of different varieties, distinguished by whether the grapes are red or white. Production involves a staged distillation process that is periodically 'paused' to control fermentation of the grapes, resulting in a sharp, crisp product at the end. Would love to say more but pisco consumption got in the way of note taking…

Here's the low down on the tastings. The type of pisco is listed after the name of the producer.

  • Don Zacarias, Quebranta (no date). Made in Lima. Strong sharp taste. Fruity. Pronounced, lingering aftertaste.
  • Ferreyros Acholado, Cosecha (2011). A mix of red and white grapes. Smoother, more body to it, easier to drink. No pronounced aftertaste. Made in Ica.
  • Estirpe Peruana, Puro Moscatel (2008). A bit sharp but not as much as the Don Zacarias. A mid-step between the two; still an aftertaste but not as strong, still a bit smooth but not as smooth as the Ferrey. Tasted better on the second mouthful.
  • Don Amadeo, Torontel (2012). Tastes a bit like a muscat. Made in Lima. Fruity, not too sharp with a strong aroma. Added lime, became refreshing and easier to drink.

This experience kickstarted a whole lotta pisco concumption while we were in Peru. We mostly stuck to Pisco Sours, the national cocktail. It originated in Lima and Mark actually visited one of the hotels that helped make it popular, the Gran Bolivar Hotel. The drink uses quebranta pisco and is mixed with egg whites, limes and sugar syrup. As it settles the egg whites seperate from the mix resulting in a layered cocktail. Very refreshing on a hot day.

We've had a few goes at making them with mixed results. It is probably a good thing that they aren't easy to replicate, best to go straight to Peru!

Here's a picture of bacon with chocolate sauce. It was delicious. Get on to that. Now.

Tasty snack from the museum.

 


Out and About in Sucre

A beautiful white washed colonial city, colourful markets, cool bars and an amazing array of restaurants makes Sucre a great place to hang out. We planned to stay a couple of days and ended up here for a week, with not much to show for it except lots of good food, cocktails and fun with new friends!

When you have been travelling for awhile in one continent, you inevitebly end up on the same path as other travellers. For some reason, Sucre seemed to be the place we converged with all the friends we have made along the way over the last few months. What are the odds of walking down the street and running into people you know, or staying at the same hostel on the same date, months after you have met someone? Pretty random, but lots of fun! We had a great time socialising, going out for lunch and dinner, drinking and salsa dancing, which was some much needed luxury after battling through the cold of the Salt Flats. It was really nice to see familiar faces and have some element of a normal life after being on the road for so long. The next best thing to being at home with all the friends we miss!
After wandering around town admiring the plaza and colonial buildings, we stumbled across the local markets. Not only is this the best place to buy cheap delicious fruit juices, but we also found all sorts of comfort food. We got a little excited, Mark bought a bunch of meat, we found olives, cheese, and the ingredients for guacamole, and decided to invite everyone around for a bbq to use up some of the ridiculous amount of spices we have been carting around with us since Argentina. Then we bought a massive cream filled cake. Just because we could. On top of that, we decided to make mulled wine and found huge cinnamon sticks to go with it. Perfect ingredients for a dinner party! Other backpackers looked on with curiosity as we fired up the bbq and put our gourmet chef hats on. Good fun, and so nice to be able to cook for friends even if we were in a hostel far from home!
If we had more time we would have loved to stay longer. Sucre would be the perfect place to hang out for a few weeks and learn Spanish. Not only is it a cool city, but the Spanish spoken in Bolivia is so much essier to understand than the heavily accented Spanish elsewhere in South America!

 


Beers in El Bolsón

This is part two on our foray into the micro breweries in Argentina's Lakes District. You can read part one here.

El Bolsón is a great spot about two hours south of Bariloche. Nestled in a valley that runs north to south, it is famous for its mountains and craft market.

The Lay of the Land

As the hops are locally grown we expected to find a few breweries humming away and we weren't disappointed. By our count there are seven, but we suspect there might be a couple more:

  1. Araucana**
  2. El Bolsón*
  3. El Dragon Verde**
  4. Otto Tipp*
  5. Parapapoto*
  6. Pittri
  7. Rupestre

Those I marked with a * are covered in this post. The breweries marked with a ** I tried in a bottle and are not covered here in detail. The rest we didn't get to as we were only there for the weekend. Please feel free to share your experience if you try them and I will duly update this post (or link to your review).

We should also note that nearby Lago Pueblo also has a few beers to boast about. While we didn't go there we did try Pilker, which was for sale at the market. This is also covered below.

The market is best visited on a Saturday and can be found in the central plaza. The craftsmanship is the best we have seen in South America.

Available at the Market

Both Cerveza Parapapoto and Pilker were for sale at the market when we swung through. To my joy both had a range available on tap, which is awesome.

Parapapoto

Parapapoto are keen brewers. The thirsty tourist is lucky to choose from an I.P.A., Pilsen, Weizen and a Stout. I chose the Weizen as had not yet seen it for sale. It was very fruity and full flavoured. In fact, you can almost see the fruit in the photo above. Those keen to try it should be warned though: mine came with a lot of sediment, which caused the beer to go bitter on the tongue. Don't expect to drink the whole thing if you order a pint.

Pilker

The staff at the tourism office reckon that a few brews are available in Lago Pueblo. We didn't have time to get there but apparently it is worth a day trip (it is at the end of the river in the photo below).

On the day, only a stout was available. By this point I had noticed that almost everyone made a stout, which is understandable given the climate. I tend to avoid heavy beers but when in Rome…

This one surprised me. It looks like a stout but tastes like an ale. A fresh alternative to a coffee or chocolate heavy version, easy to drink.

Apunto Restaurant

Affiliated with the Otto Tipp brewery, Apunto Restaurant is a classy affair that provides good food and live music. It can be found on Isla Malvinas, near the intersection with General Roca.

Five beers are available on tap: Negra Fuerte (strong stout), Dorada Fuerte (strong lager), Gringa (pilsen), Mestica (red ale) and a seasonal fruit beer. I went with the stout, and yes, it was strong! Came at me from several angles – not too bitter with balanced coffee, malt and chocolate flavours. Quite good.

A very dark beer.

Since we weren't going further afield that night I also ordered the fruit beer, which on the menu is called Con Frambuesa (with fruit). This version was a raspberry lager and it tasted very much like fermented raspberries. Very nice, Saskia also enjoyed.

A very pink beer.

El Bolsón Pub

Anyone passing through El Bolsón must make a pilgrimage to the brewery of the same name, which can be found 2 kms north from town. They make a huge range of beers and you can camp there. Crazy.

We were out of luck though, as it was closed for winter, so we opted for choice number two: their pub in town. Apparently this is not as good and I can believe it. The pub was fairly basic, just wooden tables and benches with an outdoor beer garden. Might be better in summer. Can be found on Avenida San Martin, near the junction with Pellegrini.

We were able to choose from a Pale Ale, Red Ale, Weizen, Stout, Smoked Stout, Winter Stout, three fruit beers (black current, cherry and raspberry), Chili Beer and a Honey Beer. You can see why they provide camping at the brewery.

I went with the Winter Stout, again because stouts seem popular here. I expected something heavy with a hint of charcoal but found that it was sweet, easy to drink and refreshing. I would go so far as to say it was my pick of the stouts. We also tried the Pale Ale and the Weizen, which were good. Would recommend the degustation.

Bonus Points: Araucana and El Dragon Verde

As mentioned at the beginning, these beers were bought from the supermarket but Araucana can be found on tap in town. Araucana makes a Bock, Weizen Dunkel, Weizen and a Pale Ale. Their bottles are fairly hefty and easy to recognise. I think I tried the Weizen but didn't take notes. El Dragon Verde make a Stout, an Extra Strong Stout, a Golden Ale and a Chili Beer (Rojiza). I tried the Chili Beer and enjoyed it. It was strong and woke me up, but very drinkable. Let me know if you find where it can be served on tap.

And so ends our beer bonanza! Thanks for reading, I hope this is helpful for anyone planning a trip to the Lakes District. We had a great time uncovering the many beers hidden in Bariloche and El Bolsón. To my knowledge no tour companies offer trips to the breweries, which is a shame, but on the upside that means there's much to discover. Get into it!

Note: most beers were labelled in Spanish. I found that the word 'Rubia' was applied to lagers and pale ales. Unfortunately I discovered this late in the game and am not sure whether I have incorrectly described a beer as a Pale Ale. Welcome any corrections.


 


Beers in Bariloche

This one is for the beer lovers.

Turns out Patagonia is the home of craft beer in Argentina. The cause is El Bolsón, which is similar to Nelson, NZ, in that they grow mighty fine hops near a town filled with hippies. When we planned our trip to Bariloche I had hoped to discover tasty local brews and I wasn’t let down. In fact, I was amazed at the number of micro breweries up to their eyeballs in amber goodness.

This is a two part post dedicated to the beers we uncovered in Bariloche and El Bolsón, which can be found in Argentina’s Lakes District, Northern Patagonia. Thing is, not only do these towns host great brews in an amazing setting, they have great pubs and restaurants too. So, these posts will cover both the beers we tried and where we drank them. The sole criterion for venue selection was whether local craft beer was served on tap.

Like a Kid in a Toy Store

So how many craft breweries are there in Bariloche? Well, after talking to locals and the ladies down at the tourism office we established that there are at least eleven. At least. The issue is no-one really knows, hence this post. But I can share the following:

  1. Bachmann*
  2. Berlina**
  3. Blest
  4. Colonia Suiza
  5. Gilbert*
  6. Konna*
  7. Lowther
  8. La Cruz*
  9. Manush*
  10. Tres Monks
  11. Windmill

Those I marked with a * are covered in this post. The brewery marked with a ** I tried in a bottle and is not covered here in detail. The rest we didn’t get to, reason being that the ones we did try can be found within three blocks of the city centre (we stayed at Hostel 41 Below). The rest require a bit of time on the outskirts of town, which alas we did not have, so please feel free to share your experience if you get there and I will duly update this post (or link to your review).

Konna Bar

Rightio. Konna Bar was first on the list and can be found on Juramento 73. It is a cozy, easy going pub with good beats. It seems to be poplular with the locals, always a good sign. Konna is a dedicated bar serving its name sake, Konna Beer, and we highly recommend a visit.

Clockwise: pub entrance: the Kolsch beer label; Kolsch half pint.

Konna make an India Pale Ale (I.P.A.), Kölsch and a Porter, all of which you can buy on tap. We tried the Kölsch. Its a delicious, cloudy beer with a slightly sweet, lingering aftertaste. I sampled the other two and, while good, personally preferred the Kölsch.

Los Vikingos Pub

Ahh yes, The Viking Pub. As you would expect, it has a bit of mongrel in it. But, paradoxically, it has quality beer on tap. Figure that out. Can be found about 15 metres from Konna Bar, corner Juramento and 20 de Febrero.

Clockwise: pub entrance; toilet door; beer brands on tap.

La Cruz

First up was La Cruz, a local favourite, although this may change. We heard that it had been sold to Quilmes, Argentina’s mainstream brewery, and as with Little Creatures in Fremantle, there are fears that the quality will slide.

Only two beers were on tap at the pub, but La Cruz produce seven types: English Pale Ale, I.P.A., Brown Ale, Working Man Porter, Barley Wine, Scotch Roble and an I.P.A. Double Hop. The Pale Ale was the choice of the day, as recommended by the barman (who didn’t look like a viking). The beer was sharp and tart with a light amber colouring. Despite the tartness we found that it was still smooth and refreshing. Recommended.

Bachmann

Having tried a Pale Ale we went with a Red Ale, or Roja, from Bachmann. This was fairly rich in flavour, with a delicious, slightly smokey taste. The ale is dark amber in colour, which goes with the flavour. Enjoyed.

If you scout around you will also find a Bachmann Stout, Fruit Beer (probably rasperry) and a Pale Ale.

As we were sipping the suds a fella approached us at the bar. He was an Argentine from Missiones (think Iguazu Falls) and he was hoping to fund his beer through magic tricks. His first attempt went well, somehow managed to undo a knotted piece of rope with his tongue. His next trick not so much; the old pull a ring through string trick ‘came undone’ when Saskia pulled the ring too hard and revealed the gap in the steel. The look on the magicians face was priceless. Good times.

Note that both La Cruz and Bachmann have their own pubs in town. Bachmann is a few blocks east however La Cruz is several suburbs west. You can get to La Cruz by bus but still need to walk a few blocks. Ask at the Tourism Office for directions to both.

Manush Cervecería and Gastropub

Recommended by Leo, our hostel host, Manush is the cool kid on the block. Sitting on the corner of Morales and A.M. Elflein, Manush provides seven brews on tap: Milk Stout, Stout, Irish Cream Ale, Honey Beer, I.P.A, Kölsch and a Pale Ale. The beers are brewed 15 blocks away by the bartender’s brother. So, it is local.

We really liked Manush. It has an upbeat atmosphere and a slick interior design. Think of a modern log cabin. The menu is exceptional and you can order a sample of all seven beers, which we recommend. Dan, our comrade in arms and food fiend, ordered the tiramisu with milk stout and the chocolate brownie and cheesecake with Patagonian ice cream (the famous El Bólson Jauja, no less). We can confirm that they were delicious!

Although we tried all the beers, we did order a half pint of the Irish Cream Ale. Not surprisingly it was very creamy, with a slight sting of ale. Tasty.

Gilbert Restaurant

Located on A.M. Elflein, just along from Manush, the Gilbert Restaurant offers three brews from the Gilbert brewery: Pale Ale, Red Ale and a Stout (or Rubia, Roja y Negro). We weren’t too excited by the beer or the restaurant.

Note that the two for one deal is per person. You can’t share between two people.

We went with the Pale Ale. It has a strong flavour to it, honey coloured with a slightly bitter finish. Probably the least favoured of the brews we sampled, but of course this is subjective. The restaurant offers the usual Argentine fair, could do more to distinguish itself. Swing by for the happy hour and then move on.

Honourable Mentions

There are two other pubs nearby that are worth a look in, even though the beer is not local. Antares and Warsteiner both have national coverage and are a good mainstream alternative to Quilmes. Their dedicated restaurants in Bariloche are pretty good, but note that only Antares offers a range of craft beers (all of which are made by Antares). Both venues are within a stones throw of Manush.

Antares Restaurant

One of a chain of upmarket hang outs, the Antares Restaurant is polished with a lively atmosphere and good food. They provide a standard set of seven craft beers as well as up to two one-off brews. When we visited the special brews were an I.P.A. (a collaboration with Odell Brewing Co., Colorado) and a Belgian Strong Ale.

At 7.0% the I.P.A. is stronger than your average beer. Surprisingly the flavour is more similar to a pale ale, with a sweet aftertaste. I (Mark) enjoyed it, and I am not a fan of I.P.A.s. The Belgian was also good, light, sweet and very tasty. In fact, about what you would expect from a Belgian beer. Get into both of them if you are in town.

Warsteiner Restaurant

Proof of Argentina’s German migrants, Warsteiner provides a tasty mainstay that is easy to drink a lot of. Think of a German lager and you’d be close. The restaurant is a very deutsch brewhouse with a touch of ski lodge. Unfortunately we didn’t look at the menu so cannot comment on that (we did enjoy the beer though).

Dan jumped behind the bar to take this. Cheeky.

And thus ends our coverage of Bariloche. My thanks to Dan and Saskia for the photographs and for indulging in my crazy ideas.

Bariloche is spoilt with stunning scenery.


Mark’s Mighty Asado

Today is Sunday and our last day in San Rafael with our extended WOOFing family. To celebrate, we hosted a fiesta yesterday, which featured over ten litres of wine, one chicken, one goat and a lot of sunshine.

After learning about the Patagonian style of cooking lamb I (Mark) set myself the goal of learning how to cook one while we were living in San Rafael. The farewell fiesta was the perfect excuse! As we have mentioned, chivo (goat) is the popular meat in Mendoza. So, since I couldn't buy lamb, this was the best choice.

We went on a bit of search in the city to find a butcher (carniceria) that could sell us a whole goat. As it turns out this was harder than we thought. The goats are bred in Malargüe, which is two hours drive away, so not everyone stocks it. But we did find two cheerful geezers who were only too happy to sell me 9.7 kgs of frozen chivo.

The process for cooking a goat in the Patagonian style takes about 7 hours, depending on the climate, the size of the carcass and the amount of wood you have. I started at 8 am in the morning. Managed to get the fire going before preparing the framework that would hold up the carcass.

The crucifixion in action.

Once that was ready it was carried outside and planted in a hole 40 cm deep and around 1 metre from the fire.

Carcass Cam.

The idea is that you drag hot coals close to the meat to slow cook it. If the day is cold or there's wind etc you can control the heat by adding more coals or shifting the fire closer.

Every couple of hours the whole carcass is basted with saltwater, about a litre in total. It is also important to rotate it on its axis to prevent the meat from getting too hot (remember that the idea is to slow cook it!) and ensure the meat is cooked evenly.

After five hours we added a chicken to the parilla. We bought a whole chicken, which was butterflied and seasoned with paprika, chilli, salt and pepper a day in advance. You can also add vegetables and/or sausages, but we cooked our vegies seperately.

Racking in more coals. Chicken on the right. The grill is raised on bricks with hot embers underneath.

At 2:30 the meat was good to go! Took great joy in carving the meat straight off the frame. Good fun.

The meal was a huge success, everyone was happy, plenty of food and wine to go round and some beautiful sunshine to keep us warm.

¡Salud!

 


Mendoza

Mendoza is a nice city in the heart of Argentina's wine region, surrounded by snow capped mountains and plenty of vineyards.

While we were in town, we thought it would be fun to go on a horseriding adventure, to experience the sunset over the desert and mountains. The tour also came with an Argentine asado (massive slabs of bbq meat) and all the wine you can drink. We made friends with a couple of Kiwis and some Canadians, and all made the most of it!
The wine of choice is Malbec, a delicious red which only grows in this region. We tasted plenty of wine, both in the city and at the vineyard's cellar door. We spent one afternoon on bikes riding around the tree lined streets of Maipu, although this required a little more effort than we wanted at the time, as we were feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves after all the wine from the previous night!

Di Tomassi vineyard.


Di Tomassi and Bianchi vineyards.

Despite that, we managed a tour of one of the oldest cellars, and found a gourmet liqueur and chocolate place as well. Apparently they make their own absynth there, so Mark tried a shot, then bought a bottle!
We had a great time and we are planning to go back for a few nights in June! Bring on the vino.

 


A Brazilian feast

We spent about a week in Sao Paulo with the lovely Miranda, who Mark met at university in Australia last year. She took us to stay at her parent's house in Botucatu for a few days, and then we all stayed with her grandparent's while we explored the mega-city that is Sao Paulo.

It was so nice to be with Brazilian people, and to experience the Brazilian way of life. We are still not quite used to the huge lunches, and eating dinner at 10pm, but we had a great time!

Miranda's grandmother wanted to cook us a traditional Brazilian meal called feijoada. It's basically a stew made from black beans and different cuts of meat (pig or cow), with all the trimmings, including entrails, ears and feet. It also has a few different types of sausages, and it is served with rice. Miranda and I had the vegetarian option, but Mark was in heaven!

Lourdes with her feijoada, and Orlando sharing shots of cachaca with Mark.

To accompany our meal we were given freshly made caipirinhas, and shots of cachaça!! Amazing!

For dessert we had this 'pudim', which is apparently another Brazilian favourite. It was really simple, and tasted really good, so I wrote down the recipe incase I get inspired sometime in the future.

Pudim

Ingredients: 1 can of condensed milk; 1 can of milk; one egg.

To make this dessert, you just mix all the ingredients for around 10 min in a food processor. You then caramelise sugar in a cake tin and spread it around the base and sides of the tin. Place the mix in the cake tin. Take that tin and place on top of a pot of boiling water.

The pudim is cooked with the heat from the water in the second pan.

Delicious!!

 

Miranda also gave us an education in exotic Brazilian fruit, which were all incredible! Some of them we had tasted before, but never fresh. The giant passionfruit (maracuja) was a favourite, but there was also guava, pomegranite, star apples, and something else (can't remember the name of it) that tasted like a sweet cucumber.

Brazilian fruit

Our time in Sao Paolo would not have been the same it were not for Miranda, who was such an amazing host, translator and tour guide! Hopefully one day we can return the favour!