If you want to binge on watching videos about Italy, here are some I’ve found. Mostly on food. Mostly about Rome. I will not list all of them as there are too many, but a few that will give you some leads to follow.
Rick Stein is one of my favorite TV chef presenters. The thinking chef’s chef. Here in Corsica and Sardinia.
Floyd was a chef who had a good time, this time in Liguria.
If you want months worth of binge watching, Rick Steves provides! Rick Steves has eight hours of free TV shows on Italy alone! He also has free audio tours, apps, books, etc. He is much raunchier on his audio tours! If you want a private guide in your ear, he has those! If you just want to watch him give good advice, watch him here.
Six months ago, I posted my top ten restaurants in Lima (that one was based mainly on the insider knowledge. Shout-out to her!), but as I’ve been going to other restaurants on my own, here is an updated list. It is still based on the following: good food, good service–every time, all the time. I’m highly allergic to places that are so famous that it’s impossible to get a reservation (or use a reservation system that puts me right off my dinner). My list is of places that serve Peruvian and “international standard” food (as in, everyone serves a green salad). So, to the list!
El Pan de la Chola (in the “international standard” cafe/bakery category): Still at number one, despite being a “bakery and sandwich shop.” Consistently delicious. Good service. Every time. They now have salad, and they have wine and beer. Try it for nighttime and enjoy the completely hipster vibe.
Cosmé (also in the “international standard” but they also serve ceviche and other Peruvian dishes, and at night!): Still the unknown place I take out-of-town visitors. Still love the red cabbage salad. Best “secret” place as they seem to do zero publicity. Open at 6 p.m.
Jeronimo (In the “international standard” category and world class): Yes, they use an annoying reservation system, but, go right when they open up at lunch, or sit at the bar. This was the first restaurant opened by Moma Adrianzen, who has since brought Chinga Tu Taco and Frida to the Lima food scene. Jeronimo is a world-class restaurant of the caliber that you would find in London, San Francisco, New York, Melbourne, etc.
BEST NEWCOMER: Mérito (Venezuelan chefs making fusion Venezuelan-Peruvian): Straight in at number four. They have only been open for six months (it’s been an active six months) and their menu is fairly small. Delicious food. Great service. Only one dish was not perfection. The longest yuca fries I’ve seen in a long time. Lots of pea shoots pepper almost all the dishes.
La Preferida (a classic Peruvian-Italian bodega, with game!): It would probably be number one but it’s not open for dinner.
La Mar (Gaston Acurio’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch, till 5 p.m.
El Mercado (Rafael Osterling’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Go at 12:15 p.m. and wait in line. The shrimp mini burger is superb.
La Picanteria (a cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Located in the “some day I’ll be the hip area of town” Surquillo, just two blocks behind the central market.
Osso: (Also, “international standard”, and yes, as event though it’s a steakhouse, they have vegetarian options and not just salad.) The location in San Isidro is so large that you will most likely get a table, even at night.
Osaka (a Peruvian-Japanese “Nikkei” place with a uber-hipster locale in San Isidro): The tuna with foie gras keeps Osaka on the list (although I wish they would turn on the light — the mood is clearly wasted on me).
La Isolina (brought to you by the sons of La Red cevicheria): Serves old-fashion home recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
La Red (the cevicheria that started it all): The legend. Only open for lunch.
Taller Razeto (Italian): This would be higher on the list but it is located out in La Punta and it’s a journey to get out there. Still, some of the best pasta and pizza in Greater Lima.
And yes, again, I’ve been to Central, Maido, Rafael, and Astrid y Gaston. If you want to try a up-and-comer a la Central, try Statera. It’s the newest offshoot of Noma/Central style food. Foam, baby, foam!
I eat regularly at a few other places, but as the food is not Peruvian (even if they have adapted some of their dishes to accommodate the tastes of Peruvians), I’m not including them on my list. Yet.
Dhaasu (zero fusion here, but using local ingredients).
Dae Jang Geum
I’ve also finally activated an Instagram account for M’s Adventures: madventures.me #madventuresdotme
No that you have done Machu Picchu, you want to do the next big thing… Kuelap, the Gocta Waterfall, and so on. Then, the question is where to stay. The secret, secret, place to stay in Gocta… no, not that one… is… Gocta Natura. But only if you like “natural” and bohemian (and no WIFI). This small organization will give you ALL the FEELS. Warm, fuzzy, friendly. Gocta Natura has five cabins in the woods overlooking the waterfall. The price is per person and they employ a gourmet chef. Like I said, ALL. THE. FEELS. You’re gonna love it. If you like rustic, eco-friendly. If not, stay at the famous Gocta Lodge hotel located up the hill behind Gocta Natura. (Note: I have not stayed at either of the Goctas. This is just based on the rave reviews of someone I know who is “in the know”.). To see the waterfall up close, you can ride a horse for part of the hike, as it may be hot and sweaty. Then, once you have seen “the nature,” you get to go back to your peaceful cabin and enjoy gourmet cuisine.
The closest village to Gocta Waterfall is Cocachimba. It’s got a village green and the village doesn’t seem to consist of more than the buildings surrounding the green. The Gocta Lodge is at the end of the village behind a high wall. To get to the Gocta Natura, you have to walk the path on the way to the waterfall. Cocachimba’s altitude is 4,000 feet above sea level, making this village a better place to sleep if you suffer from altitude sickness. Chachapoyas is at 7,600 feet (2,300 meters) and Kuelap is 10,000 (3,000 meters).
I liked the drive up to the village of Cocachimba. Amazing views and amazing coffee. All along the road, locals were drying their coffee beans on tarps spread out in front of their houses. At one of the village restaurants, I had a delicious mug of coffee. When I asked what brand they had used, they explained that it was their own coffee, from their own beans, from their own tree. They weren’t showing off.
The photo of the fighting cocks was taken at a spot along the road to Cocachimba that had a spectacular view of Gocta waterfall. When I saw the location of the cages, I wondered why the owner of that house didn’t open a B&B in that location. I would think that tourists are a better source of income… and with fewer feathers?
I organized a coffee tasting with the guys from Artidoro Rodriguez coffee. After five hours of learning about coffee and drinking coffee, I was too caffeinated to write this blog posting… I realized how little I know about coffee. For the food geeks, there is a coffee tasting certification class in Lima (one week for eight months–not sure why they don’t do a two month class). Anyway, back to what I didn’t know…. Notice in the photo below that there is some magical ratio of weight of ground coffee to water at a certain temperature (I think this is why the Brits say, “water from a freshly boiled kettle”).
The coffee tasting class cost 100 soles (about $30) per person. It was planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. but we got a five hour class, freebies, coffee (duh!) and so much info that I had a buzz not solely from the coffee! The owners, Felix and Julian, are experts in tasting and roasting respectively. Felix is the grandson of Artidoro Rodriguez so a legend in the making (Juan Valdez was made up by marketeers!). You heard it here!
I set up the class with Julian via email. The class was in Spanish as Felix feels more comfortable in Spanish. Julian’s English is good so he translated when he could. Plus, I had my secret superpower with me (a bilingual friend who is professional level simultaneous translator level, and a subject matter expert to boot!). We tried more than ten brands of coffee and around six methods of making coffee. As it was a tasting, we could choose to not swallow the coffee and spittoons were provided… but I drank the coffee (hence the buzz).
We learned so much that I can’t recall most of it. But, there are two types of coffee beans and Peru has lots of areas where both kinds (robusta and arabica) of beans can be grown to produce gourmet coffee. We learned about weighing our coffee when we make it. We learned that there is a coffee grading scale from zero to 100 points. 80 or above is gourmet. Aridoro Rodriguez is 84 (no shame in that!). Coffee from 60 to 80 is commercial coffee. Below 60… fuggedaboutit. We learned that shiny beans are no good. Shiny beans have been over roasted, one way to compensate for deficiencies. Notice the shiny burned look of the two groups in the photo below. The smallest bunch of beans are roasted correctly. No oily sheen. Just a healthy luster.
We learned that slurping is good when tasting coffee. We looked at runty beans called “snails” and how they are picked out as a specialty. Just smaller, uglier, but with equal potential (some deep zen going on here, amiright?).
We learned that beans need to be separated before roasting so they roast at the same degree. That it’s a matter of seconds from the “first pop” of the first bean roasting to the full on fireworks of popping, and, that in those ten seconds, the coffee roaster can make or destroy a batch of coffee. A roast lasts around eight minutes but I can’t recall the exact details. We also learned that after roasting, coffee grounds should “exhale” for eight hours before being used to brew coffee. We learned about “fragrance” and “aroma” and all the other ways to know one’s coffee. We even learned about coffee “tea” (see raisin-like things next to weak cup of liquid in photo below), and then our minds were blown.
We learned even more. About people, livelihoods, the environment, pride in product, taste, and that Felix and Julian are looking to open up a coffee bar somewhere in Miraflores. We learned of the coffee places approved of by Felix. We sniffed… we sipped… we giggled… we roared with laughter… we… take the class! Learn. Get caffeinated. Get mo’ on joe!
The key point that Felix told us was… no two cups of coffee will be the same… each cup is as individual… as an individual…
O-M-ega. This just got deep.
Drink up, my friends, may your cup runneth over. In the best of company.
Recently, I organized a coffee class tasting at Artidoro Rodriguez (I’ll write about that another time, once the caffeine has worn off. But, if you want a foretaste, read about how gourmet coffee is a hot item (!!!) in Peru.). Felix of Artidoro Rodriguez is an expert coffee taster (a different skill from being an expert roaster). Naturally, we asked Felix where he drinks coffee in Lima, and he told us his list of where to drink gourmet coffee (gourmet coffee is coffee with a grade of more than 80 on the 100 point scale. Don’t ask about coffee below 60 — okay, okay, more about that another time). Now, I need a cup of Joe. Gourmet Joe!
La Teoría de 6 Cafés, Calle Gral Mendiburu 890, Miraflores: They have cold brewed coffee as well (there is more caffeine in cold brew). Felix, the coffee roaster of Artidoro Rodriguez coffee (and grandson of Artidoro), may be biased as he is friends with the folks at this cafe (or did they become friends over a cup of coffee?). Note in the photo below that this cafe serves cold brew with orange juice along with other hipster coffee trends.
Milimétrica Espresso Bar, Av. la Paz 580, Miraflores: The link from Beanhunters provides lists of where to drink gourmet coffee around the world.
Colonia & Co, Av San Martin 131, Barranco: From the photos, it looks like they even have a real hipster with a manbun working here.
Caleta Dolsa, Av San Martin 223, Barranco (couldn’t find a link on the cafe so inside I include one of the area including a tip on a hotel to stay in): this place is only a few months old. It’s located in a sunken (basement) space.
I can’t leave Bogota without mentioning coffee. Coffee shops are very popular here. Some of the famous brands of coffee are Juan Valdez, Oma, Amor Perfecto, and lesser know is Bourbon, but it gets confusing because some of the coffee shops use other brands but make the coffee so well that your experience will be changed! One of those places is in the Hilton on 7th Avenue. The barista certainly takes a long time to make your coffee (including asking you how you want it – percolated, drip, etc. etc.) and it is nice. But not good if you actually just need a cup of coffee. The cafe looks like a 1920s location so the decor is appealing as well. I like Bourbon, both for their coffee and their cafe. And the fact that they make coffee with almond milk, for those who care about that sort of thing.
But, the best bakery is Arbol del Pan (Calle 66 Bis, #4-63: they are located up near Gordo and La Fama, on a street parallel to La Fama). Their coffee is okay but it’s their breads that are the best. Plus, they are open for breakfast. They make a poached egg, asparagus and prosciutto croissant that is delectable. This is not to say that I don’t still enjoy Eric Kaiser and Masa’s products. But, I think I like Arbol’s almond croissant best. On top of which, the staff speak English and the owner has one of those great back stories (architect decides to become baker… and it’s a woman-owned business, for those who care about that sort of thing!).
Lima, Lima, Lima! My friends are probably tired of hearing me rave about the food in Lima… turn away now then.
Yet another delicious place to eat in Miraflores is El Pan de la Chola. The atmosphere is a bit like being in San Francisco. Just not quite as expensive. The baker is a young man who started by selling bread on the beach. Now he teaches children to bake in the open-air bakery at the back of the restaurant.
The cheese used in the melted cheese sandwich is so locally sourced that it doesn’t even have a name! The juice drinks are refreshing, the yogurt home-made, and simple dish of “palta fuerte” avocado, oil, and bread is simplicity itself.
Even the cafe con leche is one of the best cups of coffee that I’ve had (the coffee is one found by the “coffee hunter” of TV fame).
Never mind the hype. Go for the melted cheese sandwich.
When I tell people that I’m moving to Colombia, I usually get one of two reactions. Excitement. Or excitement. Excitement about how lovely Colombia and Colombians are. Or, usually, excitement about the possible dangers. Here are the ten most common assumptions I hear about Colombia.
1. Aren’t you worried about getting kidnapped? (I wouldn’t go to Colombia if kidnapping was a guarantee. Duh!)
2. It’s dangerous. You will get mugged. Or worse. (Bogota, with seven million inhabitants, has all the usual dangers of a large city so I think my chances are equal those if I lived in New York or Bangkok)
3. Will you become a drug dealer? Or an emerald smuggler? (Why would you ask me that? Is it a conversation starter?)
4. I hear that plastic surgery is really cheap and of high quality there. Are you going to get plastic surgery? (Thanks for the suggestion?)
5. Colombian women are the hottest in the world. You will get divorced there. (Colombia ranks first in bird bio-diversity…)
6. You will get married there. (If I go to a wedding, I’ll blog about it for sure!)
7. Oh, you’ll be having a lot of romantic assignations (Okay, they put it more crassly.)
8. You will enjoy the steamy hot weather (Not in Bogota. The daily average temperature is 48-68 F, or 9-20 C)
9. Hope you like salsa because there will be lots of it. Any opportunity and Colombians start dancing! (Yup, bring on the vallenato, cumbia, hard salsa, salsa romantica, porro, and so on. More later.)
10. You will never want to leave. (The Colombian public relations slogan says, “the only danger is wanting to stay” so maybe they are right?)
Colombians and Colombia have been through violent times, but according to recent articles, times are changing in Colombia. Medellin, previously infamous, is cited as a model success story of urbanization; Cartagena is a popular tourist destination; most of the world’s cut flowers are grown in Colombia; and the culinary scene is growing. Even with all of this, people still equate Colombia with cocaine, kidnapping, and coffee.
Speaking of coffee, apparently most Colombians drink instant coffee, like Nescafe. With Starbucks’s launch, this week, of their first cafe in Colombia, it will be interesting to see how they change the cafe culture. Will Juan Valdez match the mighty marketing machine that is Starbucks? I will try them both in between my forays into new fruits.
80 down… here are 61-80. Read roundup part one, part two, part three, and part four to read about the previous 60 eateries I’ve tried in Dhaka. Other than word of mouth (!), read about where I find the restaurants to try. I also scout for new places when I’m out and about and I welcome recommendations.
Orange and a Half cafe (7/13): New place! Cafe with coffee, shakes, desserts, and sandwiches. Located in Tejgaon, the industrial zone. The cafe is hip looking and located in the Shanta Western building. The owners want a “western” level place. Let’s see if they can reach it. For not, it’s coffee is okay, some of the sandwiches and cakes are okay… let’s see how they do once they have been open for a while. Their goal is to match Gloria Jean’s.
Ideas Manzil (11/13): International guest house with private set menus – Bangladeshi, Indian, Thai, European, and seafood. All the food was fresh. The antique shopping was also fun. Unique location much like a secret garden in Dhaka. You must contact them ahead of time to arrange the menu. Owned by an expat.
Mallika Snacks (8/13): Phoughka. It’s a local place and it’s more a snack place. Best phoughka in the Gulshan area. Very local place.
KFChicken (9/13) on Road 13: Batter fried chicken. The best fried chicken in Dhaka.
Sakura Golden Rice (5/13) near road 118: Chinese/Japanese/Bangladeshi. Reopened and still mediocre watered down food.
Istanbul (12/13): Turkish. Road 118. You can’t even tell you’re in Dhaka. It’s a massive multi-world restaurant with wood fire oven, Las Vegas painted sky ceiling, and a two level castle for children. They have a creamery on location and sell fresh cheese and bread. Soon will have a level with hookah/nargile/water pipe.
Topkapi (6/13): Buffet. Mostly Bangladeshi and Thai food. The papaya salad was not bad and it was spicy!
Emerald Thai (8/13): Thai. Located in Uttara near the flagship Arong store but very hard to find… interior decor is elegant but the food is not Thai spicy. Made for the Bangladeshi palate.
New Cathay (10/13): Chinese. This new location in Banani, on Road 11, is modern looking but the food and the waiters are as good as they have been for 25 years.
Gloria Jean’s (7/13): Cafe with food. Nice enough atmosphere inside and a place to hang out and grab a light bite to eat. Wi-fi and perky staff seem to be some of the reasons there’s hype about this place. I’m not really into it but then I don’t need a cafe to work from.
Nagasaki (7/13): Japanese. This place is like stepping back in time 50 years… there are holes under the tables so that you sit Japanese style but don’t have to sit on the floor if you are out of practice. Soggy rice. Not fresh sashimi. Located out in Uttara.
Just Juice (4/13): Juice and sandwiches. Has a few seats out in front and is otherwise a very small shop.
Attin (9/13): Arabic. Located on Road 27 in Gulshan, this is a hipster sort of place with a rustic loft feel. The middle eastern appetizers are not bad and the waiters are talkative.
Cuppa Coffee Cafe (7/13): Continental/Bangla-Asian. Located with a great view of Gulshan II circle, the people watching is the best thing about this place. Usual hit or miss with dishes covered in mystery white “special sauce” or red ketchup chili.
Baristo (8/13) – Road 6, Banani: Cafe/Italian/Smokers Lounge/Lounge. Opened in February 2013. Have the coffee while sitting in a car… this is a large place suited for large groups. Will soon have hookah/nargile/water pipe.
American Burger (7/13) – Road 11, Banani: Burgers and fries. Okay fries. Burger was okay. Small, take out sort of place with three tables.
Rush Tex Mex (7/13) – Road 6, Banani: Burgers and fries. The advertised Mexican dishes were mysteriously not available… small place with two booths. Fries were okay.
Spicy Restaurant (4/13) on Kemal Attaturk: Opened March 15, 2013. Usual burgers, kababs, banglese (bangla/chinese) stuff. Also has Wifi, I think. Has four booths (or half of the table is booth and the other side is chairs) and a table for six.
Atrium (7/13): Chinesey Bangla food. Some Indian. The lunch buffet for under 600 taka is okay. The exterior Japanesey garden and tables could be nice if it weren’t right on one of the busiest roads in the area.
Quesadilla (5/13); The quesadilla was actually okay. Not greasy and edible. The “Mexican pizza” was like a basic frozen pizza with some charred crumbled beefish added plus a few loops of green pepper. The nachos were a plate of fried wonton skins covered in brown beans, cheese, and decorated with swirls of “mexican” sauce — a slightly sweet pink sauce. The garlic bread with melted cheese was so tasteless as to be useless.
I’m encouraged by the emergence of new places. I’ll blog another time about the best places where I go more than once. Go out and explore!