Posts tagged food

Peru’s Famous Food Festival

The largest food festival in Latin America kicks off today in Lima, Peru. Mistura, which translates to mixture, is an appropriate name for the food fair which blends the country’s regional flavors in a ten-day gastronomic extravaganza.

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Over 200 restaurants will be serving iconic dishes and famous street-snacks like ceviche, tamales, anticuchos, picarones and chicharrones with a plenitude of Pisco to wash it all down. Native and international celebrity chefs will be firing up their signature dishes and hosting master classes, as well as Q&A forums.

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The heart of the fair is Mistura’s colorful market, whose producers travel from all over Peru to exhibit their regional ingredients.

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Half a million foodies are expected to attend, which means long lines, but the mouthwatering dishes are fairly priced and well worth the wait.

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Food isn’t the only attraction at the festival—there are folkloric dancers to be seen, traditional music to be heard, parades to be enjoyed, and celebrities to spot.

Buen provecho!

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Details:

  • Where: Magdalena’s Costa Verde, Lima, Peru
  • When: September 5-14, 2014. The fair is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Cost: Entrance fee for adults $8.00 USD, children $4.00 USD. Dishes are sold separately. 
  • More info: http://mistura.pe/

Photos courtesy of Mistura

Argentina Launches Travel Magazine

Argentina’s tourism board recently launched a glossy publication called Che. No, it’s not a tome dedicated to the country’s famous revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

It is a cultural magazine titled after the Argentine colloquial term “che” (which loosely translates to “hey”) commonly used in Latin America to refer to all things Argentine. Its pages feature the best art, music, gastronomy, events, and travel experiences from the country’s 24 provinces.

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Through colorful photography and engaging storytelling, Che inspires visitors to journey beyond the borders of Buenos Aires and discover a country that’s richly diverse in landscapes, customs and cuisine.

The bimonthly magazine is published in English, Spanish and Portuguese and travelers can download issues to their tablets by visiting Argentina.travel or getting the free app at Android and Apple stores.

Written for Travel + Leisure

Photo courtesy of INPROTUR

Adjusting to Mendoza

People keep asking me how I am adjusting to Mendoza. I have been living here for six months now and I can undoubtedly say the most difficult adjustment has been adapting to the food.

In New York City I was so accustomed to variety, delivery and dining out. I used to pick up fresh salads for lunch on a daily basis. In the evening, my husband and I would order from one our favorite restaurants for seafood, burgers, sushi, Pad Thai, ramen, thin crust pizza, burritos…you get the point.

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Or we would choose a restaurant from my laundry list of notable eateries for a date night of delicious dining. Cooking a wholesome dinner was somewhat of a rarity in our home.

The truth is, I’m the type of girl who bypasses Barneys to shop at H&M, but will regularly shell out hard-earned cash for chef’s cuisine, mostly because I like to eat well without sweating over an oven to do so.

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Also, for many years I’ve loosely followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet due to an inflammatory digestive tract, which basically eliminates all the foods I crave—starches, grains, sugar, and dairy. With so many dining options in NYC, these restrictions were relatively easy to follow when necessary.

Not so much in Mendoza. If you’re not interested in eating meat, pizza, pasta, empanadas or milanesas, generally you’re out of luck. This drastic change in diet has taken a serious toll on my overall health. I have been catching colds or the flu almost every month and my digestion has been subpar.

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So I decided to take the bull by the horns and tackle my nutrition (and the kitchen) head on. Ironically, all that I am learning about nutritional health is pushing me towards a vegetarian diet in the beef capital of the world. I’m avoiding processed foods and dairy whenever possible. I am also making a concerted effort to balance out my pH with as many alkaline rich foods as I can, which means lots more veggies.

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Thus, I’m cooking everyday (much to my husband’s delight). I buy colorful fruits and vegetables at a local produce shop to make fresh salads, soups, stews, stir-fry, and my favorite Argentine dish—the tarta, which is similar to a quiche minus the butter and cream.

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I’ve even been flavoring meals with herbs and chilies from my little home garden. (It’s the first time I have grown anything in my entire life!)

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My favorite natural market, Indigo, also has a variety of hard to find organic nuts, seeds, dried fruit, beans and mineral salts. I even learned how to make my own nut milk there. (More on that in another post.)

As a newbie cook, it takes me hours to prepare meals, but this is the novelty of my life in Mendoza—I actually have time.

MENDOZA GREEN MARKET

It was a beautiful early fall day to stroll through the Mendoza Green Market in Gen. San Martin Park. The sun was warm, the stands were buzzing with throngs of organic foodies and a live acoustic duo lulled the crowd. 

It’s the third event Mendoza Green Market has held and it is growing each time. The media has caught on and the area was swarming with long lens cameras and video crews. 

There’s free activities all weekend including yoga, live music, cooking classes and lessons on how to create your own home garden. Everywhere you look there are heaps of colorful veggies and wholesome goodies. 

I’ve become a regular at the vegan stand Manen and I was excited to find out they are finally opening a closed door restaurant later this month in Vistalba. 

In my old age, I’ve traded bar-hopping for juice-hopping, and I sucked down a few vitamin packed liquid delights, two fruit and one veggie, to be precise; I was called to taste the rainbow. 

For each event, I have to bring a limited quantity of money or else I would spend a month’s salary on a trunk full of organic produce, edible plants, loose leaf teas and fresh pressed olive oils. 

I love that the Mendoza Green Market is becoming a regular monthly occurrence. Noshing on a vegan lunch overlooking the lake is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. 

Pascal & Sabine opens in Asbury Park

SMITH brings a touch of worldly European flair to Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park with its new brasserie Pascal & Sabine. This is the fifth downtown Asbury restaurant from SMITH, a design and hospitality collective I covered in an article for Travel + Leisure this past October.

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Reminiscent of another time and place, Pascal & Sabine has touches of Belle Epoque Paris with its copper and brass espresso machine, an Art Deco façade and design influences from French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse’s playful classic, The Red Balloon. The name of the restaurant is inspired by Lamorisse’s children Pascal and Sabine, who played lead roles in the short film.

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The dining room is outfitted with sumptuous leather chairs and banquettes, marble tables, vintage mirrors, and floor-to-ceiling windows with flooding light illuminating the circular lounge bar.

The main bar seats 18 and serves stiff drinks to tipple in the rosy shadows thrown by the antique brass table lamps, while the front lounge is worthy of a Saturday evening Gertrude Stein salon.

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While you’re getting comfortable and possibly a bit nostalgic, Grace Crossman and Paul Holzheimer will wow you back to reality with culinary delicacies like Duck Confit (seared duck breast, swiss chard, fingerling potatoes and duck jus), Bouillabaisse (Provençal fish broth, mixed seafood) and Pork Terrine (potato cake, shaved celery salad, crème fraîche, jus). The menu is simple yet refined, balanced with meat, seafood and vegetables.

The desserts are a sinful finale of Chocolate Mousse (flourless chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, crème anglaise), Tarte Tatin (puff pastry, caramelized apple, vanilla bean crème fraîche) and Poached Pear (cream, spiced port reduction).

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Pascal & Sabine is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, just pop into the restaurant’s backdoor bread shop for a freshly baked baguette to go.

Pascal & Sabine
www.pascalandsabine.com
601 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
732-774-3395
Open 7 days a week; 8am – 12am (Sunday – Thursday); 8am – 2am (Friday and Saturday)

Q&A: Entre Cielos Wine Hotel + Spa

Written for Travel + Leisure on January 2, 2014

Entre Cielos, which translates to “between heavens” and “between skies,” is a holistic hospitality concept nurtured to life by three Swiss friends in the foothills of Mendoza, Argentina.

Daniela Wäger-Spreafico, David Wäger, and Cécile Adam dreamed of a wine hotel and spa where guests could reconnect with themselves, commune with nature, sip wine, and delight in impeccable gastronomic experiences. A worldwide pursuit for the perfect location led the group of three to Vistalba, Mendoza, where they invested their savings to purchase a 20-acre plot of land with sweeping views of the Andes mountains.

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In 2009, they built a modern boutique hotel featuring 16 individually-designed luxury rooms and suites overlooking the mountainous landscape, including a floating wine loft in the vineyard. Entre Cielos also features Latin America’s first authentic six-stage circuit hamam spa, a lush eight-acre vineyard producing a crop of delicious Malbec wines, and a host of traditionally-inspired dining experiences.

I caught up with Entre Cielos Vice President and Founder Cécile Adam, who spends her time on-property greeting guests and fulfilling the hotel’s promise of quality and personalized service.

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Q: Why did you choose Mendoza, Argentina as the location for Entre Cielos?

A: We started with a handful of destinations on the list, but narrowed down the options to France and Argentina. Argentina won because it was very welcoming to outside investment and has a strong European influence. Mendoza beat out Buenos Aires and Cordoba because of its burgeoning wine scene, growing tourism industry, sunny climate, and impressive view of the Andes. It’s also close to Chile’s Santiago Airport, making it easily accessible for international travelers. Additionally, Mendoza scored high on the criteria we used to evaluate potential destinations including quality of life, education, business opportunities, health programs, security, environment, outdoor activities, and approachable culture. Meeting these conditions was crucial to inspiring friends and family to join us on this journey.

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Q: How did you get into winemaking?

A: The three of us are big wine aficionados and part of our dream was to learn how to make wine. The land we purchased for Entre Cielos had a large vineyard with unsalvageable 80-year old Malbec grape plants. The first thing we did was to soil, plough, and plant new grapes. Later, we got connected with a Swiss enologist living in Argentina named Hubert Weber who took on the project of helping us make wine.

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Today, we have our own wine label, Marantal, named after a bright star in the Orion constellation that can be seen from the hotel. We offer several wine categories that feature a rose Malbec, a classic Malbec and a Gran Reserva Malbec and Pinot Noir. We make wine that can age for a long time, and we also use larger barrels, which minimizes the young oaky aroma. Marantal tends to have a less fruity flavor than most Argentine wines, but far more than European wines. At the moment, we sell Marantal at the hotel and in Switzerland, but soon we will be exporting our wines to Brazil and the United States.

Q: What made you decide to build a hamam and spa?

A: In recent years, the Swiss have been reinventing the hamam experience, which is a thousand-year-old bathing custom and consists of a six-stage treatment circuit that uses heat and water to rid the body of accumulated toxins. We all frequented hamams in Switzerland and love that it is an experience you can share with friends or significant others. Most importantly, the hamam practice is in line with Entre Cielos’ holistic lifestyle approach by nurturing the mind, body, and soul through rituals like herbal steam baths, relaxation pools, and nourishing body treatments.

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Also, there are no other traditional six-stage circuit hamams existing in Latin America, so we knew it would be a differentiator for the hotel. We flew in experts to create a truly authentic hamam experience at Entre Cielos. A stand-alone spa structure was built because we wanted it to be a sanctuary enjoyed not only by our guests, but by all travelers visiting Mendoza and the local community as well. We weren’t sure how Argentines would react to a communal spa experience. There was some hesitancy at first, but eventually they really embraced the hamam culture and now Mendoza residents make up half of our spa business.

Q: What is the culinary scene like at Entre Cielos?

A: Of the three of us, Daniela is the one with a culinary background. Our main restaurant, Katharina, is named after her grandmother and offers an elaborate selection of à-la-carte plates from talented Mendocenean chefs who use local produce and meats to create a fresh brand of regional haute cuisine. The seasonal Beef Club & Wine House is a casual setting where guests can mingle with locals over an authentic outdoor Argentine asado, or barbecue, of juicy meats and vegetables. The wine list features over 100 labels and is curated by our in-house sommelier who also leads exciting wine tastings for guests. This year, we are opening a high-quality fast food gastro-market in the garden, which will offer simple but delicious food, specialty fish, a cooking school, and a new bar.

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Q: Entre Cielos has won numerous design awards. What makes it distinctive?

A: Our original vision was to refurbish an existing estancia, but when we bought the land we had to construct Entre Cielos from scratch. We wanted the design for our luxury retreat to encourage guests to relax, renew and reflect. A4 Estudio, our principal architects, accomplished this goal. They also did an excellent job of translating international influences into the design. Inspired by prominent architects Le Corbusier and Oscar Neimeyer, A4 Estudio created contemporary spaces using exposed concrete forms and textures. Each structure was designed to integrate with the existing landscape, so guests could always feel the freedom of open space and enjoy the soaring mountain view. At the moment, we are toying with the idea of adding a sixth room category in the vineyard. Nothing is finalized, but we are excited about the possibility. It is impossible for us to stand still.

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Feria de las naciones is an annual cultural festival in Mendoza that unites all the countries represented in the city to showcase their heritage with typical foods and folkloric performances.

El Mercadito is my favorite restaurant in Mendoza thus far. It’s the one place that I can find delicious green juice and a variety of gourmet salads. Most restaurants in Mendoza offer a menu of milanesas, empanadas, pizza, pastas and beef; anything leafy and green is a novelty. I also love the antique-garage decor and its outdoor patio. It’s not cheap, but it lives up to its value proposition of “friendly & fresh”. Arístides 521, Tel. 4638847

Q+A: Argentina's First Woman of Wine

Check out my Travel + Leisure interview with Mendoza’s celebrated winemaker Susana Balbo. 

An Argentine lunch - pizza and empanadas.

An Argentine lunch - pizza and empanadas.

How to Make Homemade Empanadas

My love affair with empanadas started back in 2005. I was backpacking through Argentina and was on a tight budget. They were sold on every street corner, and were as delicious as they were cheap.  

I ate empanadas for breakfast, lunch and dinner with varying ingredients: choclo (corn), queso (cheese), pollo (chicken) and my undisputed favorite—carne mollida (ground beef).  

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Empanadas are as ubiquitous in Argentina as hamburgers are in the United States, although, they have a much more colorful history. Their origins trace back centuries to the Persian Empire. During the Middle Ages, the Moorish Invasion of Iberia brought them to present day Spain and Portugal.  From Europe, the tasty staple was introduced to Latin America via Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors, where the recipe was adopted and regionalized.

From country to country and province to province, the preparation and ingredients vary. Some cultures bake their empanadas, while others fry them.  Argentina’s Patagonia region typically fills their empanadas with lamb, while Jujuy favors goat meat.

With respect to all preparations, I highly recommend the widely popular Empanada Criolla, which is a mixture of ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, olives and sometimes raisins.

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Even if you have never been to Latin America to indulge in this traditional treat, the good news is, empanadas are not difficult to make at home. 

I recently received a gracious tutorial on how to make authentic, homemade empanadas from my husband’s mother, while staying with his family in Mendoza. 

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Here is a recipe to sample one of Argentina’s most signature snacks wherever you are in the world. (This recipe makes one-dozen empanadas.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • green olives, pitted, 1 per empanada
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into rounds
  • 24 raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 12 empanada rounds (tapas)
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing
  • 1 glass water, to seal edges

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Put the onions, sliced finely in rounds, in a frying pan and salt them. Sauté until they start to become translucent, then add in the beef. Cook the ground beef, chopping as it cooks with a flat spatula to maintain ground beef texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the beef has cooked through, then taste for salt and pepper, and stir in the paprika, cumin, and crushed red pepper and mix well. Note: The meat can be made a day in advance.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the tapas on a clean lightly-floured work surface.

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Add an olive, two raisins and a piece of the hard boiled egg to each round.

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With a tablespoon, add the meat filling in the center of the dough round.

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For sealing, you’ll need a small glass of water. Moisten the edge on the top half of the round with a little water on your finger. Fold the bottom half of the dough up until the edges meet and seal with your fingers by pressing down. The empanada should have a half-moon shape.

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Use the palms of the hands to pack the filling firmly in the center. Next, fold the edges with the Repulgue: using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, pressing down firmly. Go to the edge again and repeat, pressing firmly each time. Go around the edge of the empanada and you’ll get a spiral pattern. You can also use a fork-seal, instead.

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Beat an egg in a cup with salt and paint the top of each sealed empanada so that when they bake, they have a shiny, golden shell. Spread flour lightly over several cookie sheets, and place the finished empanadas on top. Poke each twice with fork to let steam escape.

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Put the empanadas in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit to bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They should be sizzling and very golden brown on top.

Take out and eat very carefully while hot

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Buen provecho!

The Elgueta garden is bearing fruit!

The Elgueta garden is bearing fruit!

A winter-style asado (barbecue) in Mendoza, Argentina. Delicious vino y vaca, what more could you ask for?

Savory Amuse Bouche @siriony #food #restaurant #italian

Savory Amuse Bouche @siriony #food #restaurant #italian

Mossuto’s Market, the @eataly of the #JerseyShore. #italian #food

Mossuto’s Market, the @eataly of the #JerseyShore. #italian #food