Rafael Restaurant, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

For our last day in Peru, we headed to Rafael Osterling's eponymous restaurant in the Miraflores section of Lima, listed on one list, as the #30 best in Latin America. We selected a local white wine to accompany our meal, the Tacama Blanc Blanc ($30). The waiter placed a basket of their homemade bread along with fresh butter topped with sea salt, "pastrami" made from pig's feet and a goat cheese cream with caramelized onions. The bread and accompaniments were so good, we had to stop ourselves from finishing it! The Emperor tacos alone were worth the visit with crisp sea grouper and prawns, shredded cabbage and radishes on small [...]

Other Stops in Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Thought in addition to telling you about the amazing chef-driven meals that I experiences that I'd share about quick meals in Miraflores. That includes breakfast at La Paz Cafe and a sandwich at La Lucha. Our flight from NYC arrived at 6 am,  so we dropped our bags at our hotel and went off to discover Lima. When asked, a hotel staff member suggested breakfast at La Paz Cafe, a small cafe only minutes from the hotel where we could dine outside — a must for East Coasters getting away from the winter chill. I tried the local mashed Andean corn stuffed with pork served with some fresh greens and shredded [...]

Central, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Standing outside Santa Isabel 376 in Miraflores, we met a young man in his 20s who had just flown in from Taiwan to also experience the food of Virgilio Martinez Véliz. I had read and heard about Central as it is on many best restaurant lists. He had too. Few meals I've had rival this one. Backing up. When we made our reservation four months in advance, we had to select our menu — regular or vegetarian? full 17-course tasting menu or abbreviated 11-course one?  Since our dinner was the day we arrived in Lima, we opted for the abbreviated version of the "Mater Ecosystems" (~$115), the inspiration for the menu [...]

LIMO Cocina Peruana & Pisco Bar, Cusco, Peru

One free evening in Cusco, a group of us headed up to the main square where Limo, also part of the Cusco restaurant group, is located. While perusing the menu, our server placed a sampling of three sauces for dipping the french fries they offered as a starter gratis. One sauce was chili peppers with tomato sauce, another pepper with ricotta and mint, the third garlic mayo. All so yummy, I was addicted! My first taste of alpaca (~$20) was Limo's tenderloin, served medium rare with an elderberry sauce, accompanied by cheesy quinoa "risotto." The meat is tender, a bit chewy but not gamey at all. I'd order it again, if [...]

A stop at Chicha in Cusco, Peru while on OAT Trip

I'm just back from my second trip to Peru, with visits to Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and more... My first trip in the 70s was not on a tour; this time I joined one as a friend really wanted to go. I realized Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) trips are not for me; the food served on the two trips I've taken has been mediocre when best. I experienced the only inedible Italian food on my first OAT trip Sicily; the Peruvian food was even worse. What I like the most about the OAT trips are the people who take them — interesting, friendly and fun travelers. With food paramount, the [...]

Inka Grill, Cusco, Peru

While in Cusco, we visited Inka Grill, part of the Cusco restaurant group, for a light bite. The meal wasn't the best place I ate in Cusco but was mighty good compared to what we'd been served at Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) chosen restaurants — the tour I was on. Inka Grill, which is ideally located center of town at the Plaza de Arma, offered free Wifi and had an international menu. The friend I was traveling with was in a burger mood, so we ordered that along with some fries (~$10.75). We shared that and the perfectly cooked langostinos in a white and black quinoa wrapper accompanied by a spicy passion [...]

La Mar, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Before heading to Peru this winter, I — like a typical food professional — researched restaurants where I wanted to dine. Word had it that the country has some of the best in the world. The Latin American's 50 Best Restaurants for 2016 lists Andrés Rodríguez's La Mar as the 12th best, featuring ceviche along with fresh, sustainable Peruvian fare. I went there to lunch one day, going a bit late to try to avoid the crowds since it's a "no res" place. Wrong. There were lines out the door, yet the friendly hostess explained for two, we'd only have a 30 minute wait. With drinks offered while we anticipated [...]

Amsterdam Foodie Guide

The Dutch aren’t exactly known for their cuisine. I’ve heard many tourists complain, and have read many articles expressing displeasure in the Amsterdam food scene. Most of these travelers came for a few weeks, stumbled into random cafés, tried a few extreme examples of local foods and left in utter disappointment. When compared to countries like Italy or France, where every café serves phenomenal food ensuring, without a doubt, that you can pick a restaurant at random and avoid disappointment… sure, the Netherlands doesn’t really compare. But there is quality food in Amsterdam! The difference is, you have to know where to go and what to eat. It’s imperative to [...]

Winemaking Cooperative of Carpi and Sorbara, A Visit

Before heading to the winery Cooperative of Carpi and Sorbara, I met with representatives of Lambrusco for a wonderful meal at Clorofilla Wine & Restaurant (via Vittorio Veneto n.2 Carpi, Italy), where we had about a dozen choices of their fizzy wines. The majority of Lambrusco (meaning wild grape) is produced in Italy's culinary mecca, the Emilia Romagna region where I was visiting. Lambrusco can be either a refreshingly fizzy slightly sweet or a dry wine. Because of that fizz and its acidity, Lambrusco is traditionally served with salumi, sausages and rich meat pasta sauces that the region is also famous for. We happily sampled all of those pairs during lunch. [...]

Monari Federzoni, a Visit

Those who've been to Italy know that their balsamic vinegar is not just for dressing salads. This fall I was invited to visit Monari Federzoni in the Emilia-Romagna region. They’re the oldest Italian company making balsamic vinegar, doing so for over 100 years, since 1912. The company says it’s their family’s love for the land and their tradition that are the secrets behind their carefully crafted balsamic vinegar That real balsamico is made only in the Emilia Romagna region around the towns of Modena and Reggio and given an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). That’s the Italian government’s denomination of protected origin. It's a guarantee that what you’re eating is a local Italian specialty; [...]

Corte D’Aibo, Monteveglio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Owner Antonio Capelli greeted me as I arrived in December at Corte D'Aibo, a rustic farmhouse located in Monteveglio not far — a short 30 minute drive — from Bologna. Their rooms (only 12) are quite spacious with views of the organic vineyards and surrounding hills. Each morning Louisa served me breakfast with yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and a tray of homemade cakes. Dinner at Corte D'Aibo was much more extensive with regional specialties and, of course, wine produced directly on the farm. The night we dined together, we began with an aperitivo of fried bites plus sliced meats with some Pignoletto Doc Frizzante. After that a delicate homemade onion soup [...]

La Zaira, Valsamoggia, Italy

Upon arrival in Italy after checking into Corte D'Aibo, Monteveglio, owner-winemaker Antonio Capelli suggested we go out for lunch to an enotoca con cucina La Zaira in Valsamoggia (Emilia Romagna) Italy short drive from the farmhouse. We started with a small salad of streccapogn (wild chicory) with scrambled egg, baby onion, crisp pieces of wild pork cheek drizzled with balsamic vinegar and served with a basket of warm tigella, round flat bread that originated from the Apennines in Emilia Romagna region, Northern Italy).  With that we sipped an Orsi Vigneto San Vito, a pignoletto frizzante.. Since I couldn't decide which pasta to have, owner Belinda Cuniberti offered us smaller portions [...]

Doña Eutimia, La Habana, Cuba

Visiting Havana, Cuba is like riding a time machine back to an era of vintage muscle cars and crumbling colonial buildings, before there were cell phones or Internet. For budget travelers, finding a high-quality paladar (privately-owned restaurant) without overpaying can be a daunting task. Enter Doña Eutimia: a well-known yet authentic restaurant in the heart of Old Havana. Hidden down a cobblestone alley off the regal Plaza de la Catedral, Doña Eutimia boasts consistently-superb Cuban cuisine at surprisingly modest prices. If you can stand the heat, outside seating provides the occasional stray chicken circling your feet while street musicians perform popular Latin tunes. The shrimp appetizer ($5) is simplistically grilled [...]

Pachapapa, Cusco, Peru

If you've ever wondered what upscale Andian cuisine tastes like, Pachapapa — which translates to father earth — is a must try in Cusco, Peru. Not adventurous enough to eat the local specialty of whole guinea pig, we did try the marinated alpaca skewers (26 soles/ $8.21). An interesting texture, the closest comparison is beef, with an earthy flavor. The scent of the wood fire oven prompted us to order the smoked trout pizza (29 soles/ $9.15) with mozzarella, capers, onions and arugula. Being inland, river trout is typically the fish of the day in Cusco, and the mildly sweet tomato sauce contrasting with the salty and savory taste of [...]

Pauly Saal, Mitte, Berlin, Germany

While visiting Berlin earlier this year, I made a late lunch reservation at the 1-star Pauly Saal, a restaurant that I had both read and heard about. My expectations were high.With a Michelin star, I expected both impeccable service and remarkable food. I was seated outside in the restaurant garden at a white cloth-covered table under a giant umbrella. My choices included either the 3-course prix-fixe lunch for a reasonable 49 Euros (~$55) or a la carte. The 34 Euro 2-course option that I had read about and had seen on their website was not available. I selected my courses, asking my server to recommend German wine pairings. Oddly there were [...]

La Cocina Pepina, Cartegena, Colombia

La Cocina Pepina, Cartagena's hard-to-find Carib-Colombian restaurant in the lively and funky Getsemani neighborhood, is worth the hunt. Blending in to the colorful street with a bright yellow facade, the restaurant's interior is relaxed with rustic and traditional decor. Cartagena is known to have a booming culinary scene with Caribbean and international fare that can rival any American metropolis. This restaurant is no exception. The outstanding appetizer of camarones en aguacate (22,000 pesos/$8.52) is a flavorful and fresh medley of sautéed shrimp, avocado, tomato, red and green pepper, finely chopped onion, cilantro and lime. The perfect starter on a hot afternoon. The dorado asado (29,000 pesos/$11.24) is the dish I [...]

By |2017-10-24T07:37:56+00:00July 11th, 2015|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Restaurant Volt, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

"Berlin?" asked the helpful American Air Lines person I was speaking to, offering another city I might fly to after I had dismissed Paris, Rome and Lisbon because I'd been before. I wanted to fly comfortably in style to my son's wedding in Europe last month, but didn't want to use all my miles. If I wanted to choose the days, it could have cost me up to 65K miles each way for Business Class seats; yet only 20K for off-peak low fares if I could find one. I paid the extra 25 bucks to speak to that amazingly helpful human. Once she learned that I was completely flexible about [...]

By |2017-09-05T09:47:33+00:00June 22nd, 2015|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

La Bodega, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

While the touristy beach town of Tamarindo offers a plethora of international options from Mexican to Israeli, it's La Bodega, the small and unassuming cafe off the main road that packs some of the most impressive flavors in town. The friendly service and relaxed atmosphere are an added bonus to the daily specials (all local and organic) like Greek chicken salad, fresh fruit smoothies and tasty breakfast dishes. The omelet filled with fluffy eggs, queso fresco, bacon, onions, tomato, green peppers and basil (2500 col/$4.70) is flavorful perfection. The iced coffee from Terrazu, known as the Napa valley of Costa Rican coffee is top notch and refreshing. There's even an [...]

By |2017-10-24T07:37:42+00:00June 20th, 2015|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|1 Comment

Il Timoniere, Rome, Italy

Tucked back in a corner of a residential area of Rome, we entered the cozy family run Il Timoniere, a restaurant known for classic Roman cooking. We were immediately greeted and "warmed" not only by the heat, but also by the sweet older couple who run the restaurant. We started with an assortment of appetizers, beginning with an in-season bruschetta of asparagus and garlic, then crostini topped with zucchini flowers and a honey drizzle. Our final starter was a rich and creamy, yet light, artichoke heart, potato, cheese dish. We knew we hadn't overindulged. Our pasta dishes included the amatriciana ($10), a tomato sauce cooked with guanciale (smoked/cured pork cheek), [...]

BestWorldYet, Tapas at el Atril

Living in Barcelona, we eat tapas almost daily. They’re offered at least on every corner; some are good, some okay and just a few are truly exceptional like those at el Atril (Carrer dels Carders, 23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain). Their pan con tomate is the best in this city. It’s a tapas always served whether or not it's on the menu. The tomato is not chopped or sliced; instead it’s cut in half and rubbed onto the bread (along with garlic and other spices) creating a light, saucy piece of toast. When done right, pan con tomate is a divine addition to every meal. NOTE: this is coming from a [...]

By |2017-10-24T07:45:28+00:00February 11th, 2015|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments