Tag Archives: food

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 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.


Celebrating Four Months in South America

Hola from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, where we have just celebrated four months on the road.

The view coming in.

 

The lake edge near the city centre of Bariloche.

 

We spent last night in our hostel drinking fine wines over a 'home cooked' meal of fish and chips. There was a good group of people in the common room and soon the guitars came out and we rocked the night away. Great fun, doesn't get any better!

 

Local trout with homemade chips.

 

Harry and Mark keeping the crowds happy.

Thanks for following our adventures!

 


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!

 


The Mighty Argentine Asado

We love a good barbeque. We've hosted many a cook up that have left people asleep on our couches and floors with full stomachs. When we were planning our trip many friends mentioned that Argentina was famous for barbeques, so we were determined to try and learn their secrets.

Street food on sale in San Telmo, Buenos Aires.

The Argentine's call their BBQs 'asados', but you will also hear 'parilla', which refers to cooking on a grill. They cook their food over hot coals or embers, which are topped up from a nearby fire. The BBQs are typically cooked in the open, although you may also see pizza ovens used as well.

Restaurant grill in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

They also have slightly different cuts of meat to what we are used to in NZ and Australia, plus there's the blood sausage (morcilla) and the chorizo. All this this is drizzled in generous amounts of chimichurri, the national sauce (its awesome).

A parilla underway at our friend Ana's farm in San Rafael.

The results.

If that gets the taste buds going, the Patagonian style of barbequing lamb, beef and goat takes things to a whole new level. As per the pic below, the animal is butterflied on a vertical rack and slow cooked over a fire. The meat is basted in salt or salt water and rotated to make sure it is cooked on both sides. Mark reckons it is the best meat he has ever tasted (its emotional).

The meat on offer does change based on where you are. As a friend told us, you can get cow (vaca) everywhere, but down south lamb (cordero) is very popular. Goat (chivo) replaces lamb in the Mendoza region and suckling pig (cerdo) can be found in some parts.

Two whole lambs cooked in the traditional Patagonian style.

The parilla is a feature of everyday life in Argentina. The grill is included on family trips and the smell of food cooking wafts across many a park. We love it and have been lucky to have local friends show us how it is done…

A gent in traditional 'gaucho' attire cooks a meal on the 25th of May, Revolution Day.

To be continued.

 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Colour

The weekly wordpress photo challenge is all about colour. We are currently in Brazil, where everything is so vibrant and colourful! So I thought I would put together a photo montage from the favela market we went to yesterday, just for a bit of creative fun!

I love colour!

 


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!