Tag Archives: meat

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.

 

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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.

 


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!

 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

So the people at WordPress are promoting a blog photo challenge for the month of March. We thought we would jump in as this week's theme is 'lunchtime'. We had two Argentinian barbecue lunches over the weekend so the timing is perfect!

Lunchtime! An asado at an Argentine restaurant in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

The above is a huge asado, or barbecue, that we stumbled across in La Boca on Sunday. Asados are basically large BBQ meals slow cooked on a grill over coal. You will typically find chorizos (Spanish sausage), morcillas (a blood sausage), pork chops, kidneys, livers, lamb and beef all spread out on the same grill. On this day I went for one chorizo and a morcilla. They were served with bread (breadbaskets are typically free with the meal) and two traditional condiments: a basic onion salsa and chimichurri.

And what is chimichurri? Only the best barbecue sauce I've ever tasted! It is made from parsley, oregano, garlic, oil, vinegar and chilli. It is so damn good I am going out to buy a bottle from the supermarket right now…

¡Hasta luego!

PS I will write more posts on the asados soon.