Cook Italy – Food Tour in Bologna

Bologna’s streets will make it hard to move on.

Do you know someone who is so extremely picky? As in, never satisfied? Oh, maybe YOU are that friend.

If you are one of those people who has such high standards for everything and never quite finds things up to scratch, then Carmelita of Cook Italy is the guide for you.

She will talk a lot about tortellini.

We booked her for a food tour. I mentioned some of the places earlier. We met at an excellent pastry shop where I am glad that I got a good breakfast.

Carmelita then showed us the formerly great, the famous, the touristy, and the abominably disgraced. She then showed us the still great shops and vendors downtown. Along the way, we had a snack stop and the history of why Bologna, “La Grasso” is translated too literally — the nickname refers to the bounty that is Bologna.

[A note about bologna, boloney — mortadella. It is a whole separate food product in Italy. It can be eaten sliced, cubed, and in a meat pate like a smear. There are required amounts of lardons per product and, of course, there are standards. People eat it like proscuitto. Yes, just like having slices of proscuitto on a charcuterie board… that’s how they eat mortadella.]

Bologna is a bountiful foodie city with warm red brick porticoes, shopping opportunities galore, and enough foodie gems for a month of feasts. One of the best things about the tour was being taken to the “horse” emporium.

This shop is a knife shop but so much more.

Carmelita ended our tour at an enoteca who kindly stored our wine while we went to Carmelita’s newest “project” – a new gelateria called Sablé. Check it out!

The pastry chef who owns Sable.

Carmelita also offers cooking classes. I found her through a friend, even though I see that she is famous on TripAdvisor. For a food tour, this was the least amount of food that we ate but the pace was very nice for the more mature traveler. It was a relaxed tour. Carmelita is very communicative and will send all kinds of recommendations even after the tour. A tour with Cook Italy is a gently paced tour.

But Carmelita’s standards and critique of the gastronomy scene is fierce and pointed. Carmelita is passionate about those she disdains and even more passionate about those whom she admires. If you want that style of guide, then she is for you.

Those hams are all the same because of special selection.

Here are some of Cook Italy’s recommendations:

Best aperitivo

Gamberini via Ugo Bassi
I Conoscenti via Mazzini
Stefano Cardi same street

Best gelato

Sablè  – in a Class of its own
Cremeria Santo Stefano – via Santo Stefano
Cremeria Cavour – in Piazza Cavour

Best little cakes  

Pasticceria mignon

Regina de Quadri – via Castiglione
La Borbonica  – via Riva Reno
Stefano Cardi as before
Gamberini as before

Inside Enoteca Italiana

As my friend commented, we had the least amount of food on this food tour. But, we did stop for a quick snack, and then for the light lunch. Also, a balsamic tasting. For three hours, the tour cost 280 euro for the group.

Carmelita will also come after you after the tour to write reviews. Beware. In the nicest way, but you are forewarned.

The Superstar Chefs of Peru

9nVxnvKLbDIRov1u8TZUQzxuKBsxptQDdb_oyyU7ZLfWF9ovvmG_VQ0c7LHKKORGyHW06ND26tUHTWgc_T7eWcNlmsx-U9K_zCvMyc8AnDbRj8nv4ZJxMoMb4kXO4U5TdgD6fkG319arBzCUitWiG4dcmIzj9NUJ9nkg2dfYRkqCH0DSGg3NTjWOBlLima’s main attraction as a city is food tourism. Otherwise, Lima is a pit stop on the route to Machu Picchu. The main reason for Peru’s rise as a gastronomic powerhouse is Gaston Acurio. He, single-handed, has promoted the gastronomy of Peru on to the world stage.

Zq5S8va0Vj2cM6apCWWsmC22RRlYquXH4VOn--CdWuK5h6w3SXtpihf6H_3CqdzUVmP6m2OxWmqN25abOougMAAUgH-38YBl0DNVVKUZgtLFYNzqA6uSIAPFUfAHg4ImGYsH8B7vTdZFJjiJQD55c2HrM5BP-Rqgt7VZ-yUNVwHhySWNyjyey7ljzwGaston Acurio (La Mar, Astrid y Gaston, Panchita, Tanta, Madam Tusan, etc,) is the businessman of the chef trinity. The others are Virgilio Martinez (Central and Mil) and Rafael Osterling (Rafael, El Mercado, and Felix Brasserie). Virgilio is the genius of the food scene (all photos are from Central) and Rafael is an excellent cook.

iOz60rZKy2XZs0TmBBkarEdcXeYI-dly1xf3aq40czwUnu0jFE59ake4iF_h5BTuSTcyP-FkaXVoX51pDUs-i7SWXqlDubHQWg6mEO27kKbob2dSxg0Dm60ix0-t9kWmCwRvMagLgYhVRRPUXADx8UdMXb-zs4EYL4KLjlQAMgOcQPhHAgOMzBosC8The newest addition is Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura of Maido, currently one of the top restaurants in the world.

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Andre Patsias is next…

Poke – When Will It Join the Peruvian Food Scene?

tjy4-VE28VYZMiqqr9i6b1fSUYd_UkWq-zefP_sBnVaVmDbqcUT2OIM_Ov8cR_8vrFb_u1Zn5op_v9CUm-7YWov4LTeJ-UYrOtMVpPNlaKNwWsWlrcN7Zidr3JWAfy12tD5PuYOJXn113Ziz_nOYNJD1fkBVIKyXsVkYIlXl6t4R6AmjLx3FdS6SiOPoke, pronounced “poh-key”, is a Hawaiian raw fish salad, usually made with tuna. In Hawaii, this salad is made with raw tuna cubes, soy sauce, onion, garlic, sesame seed oil, and chili flakes. With endless variations.

rV-_UMIjJp_F6ZstSBqeIHcWXao9gE8TV2eVbTNfqMEutC_-fKp7lVcRoVqN1BVItiDBpa5zDoekZ3U1cIws04W9VOsGPs2kijIf12B6358Xmiv-hihKhMR40_MIDjtRWR2LMeZjm0h3Lwj9vUY1yjTgQelTlmCI8n1R1ywhD2X3puxKCUhNTH-otkPoke is similar to carpaccio (Peruvian style from Santo Domingo above), tartare salad (the one in the photo has a poached egg on top), or donburi (similar to donburi, poke is served with rice — and in Hawaii with a side of crisp iceberg salad and Korean bulgogi).

eoQRVogu0AlBd7rD15Sry4IZ7ZG86d9C2vR8xwKdRQXWKBHGKlpct8O7I-bbp5TwcNTSNmNIBFKmeWPaxRTI1Ru8etEW294PsshsJulxFYnmgsNbqNZXSngVKry34HbHsPLEGLHZYAFDJnoXDvyqy971LQOSoEWofWvsHVMOLSdjPHRSayYsgwiPpDHere in Peru, I’ve had poke in Jeronimo’s (see photo above)and I expect to see the appearance on many more menus in the future. Lima has all the necessary ingredients: fresh fish, Japanese cultural influence,  and a flourishing gastronomic scene.

Food in Lima – A Tribute

Food in Lima. I finally created a book with some of the foods I’ve tried on my many visits to Lima these past few years. Buy it here, on Lulu, if you wish. It’s just a little book, 7×9 inches, so it will fit in a bag easily (that way I can carry it around with me).

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In reality, since my first visit, when I first had the classic ceviche as seen in the photo, all of my visits to Lima have been “food tours.” Some day, I’ll even get to Mistura, the food festival. I will, I will!

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Peruvian Food Tour in Lima

The modern version of ceviche at Brujas.
The modern version of ceviche at Brujas.

**** March 2015 — this blog posting got translated and re-blogged on a luxury tour site: in Spanish and in Portuguese. Thanks to Intiways for finding my blog and teaching me the correct Spanish translations! ****

Peru’s cuisine is the megastar on the international food scene. Lucky for me, I have a friend in Lima who took me on a personal food tour. Here are the highlights of a weekend eating tour of Lima. Buen provecho!

The witches.
The witches.

Friday night: Eat at Brujas de Cachiche. It might be my new favorite restaurant (their franchise, the Brujas de Cartagena is not a good copy — go to the original). Brujas have a white table cloth area for more formal dining or dates, a lounge with low slung comfy chairs for chatting with friends, a nightclub area upstairs, and a wine cellar for private dining amongst the amphorae. The menu is huge and includes an array of Peruvian cuisine, both traditional, and presented as “taster” platters. The decor is festive and because Limenos eat dinner late, you can eat a full dinner at 11:30 at night.

Lomo saltado. Shaken beef=stir fried beef.
Lomo saltado. Shaken beef=stir fried beef.

Try the pisco sour and the pisco maracuya (passion fruit). The “ceviche asiatico” with seafood is a visual and gustatory blend of the traditional Peruvian ceviche and Japanese (from the Peruvian Japanese community) sashimi. From the Peruvian Chinese community, you could try the “lomo saltado” or stir-fried beef which includes French fries as one of the stir-fried vegetables (of course, the potato is from here so meals include both rice and potatoes!). Try “picarones” for dessert. They are donuts.

The wine "cellar" at Brujas.
The wine “cellar” at Brujas.

Causa, a savory cake of potatoes.
Causa, a savory mash of potatoes.

Saturday noonish: After some coffee or espresso (lots of Peruvian Italians here too), make your way to the Plaza Mayor or main square. It’s very attractive and perhaps you’ll catch the changing of the guards at noon at the presidential palace. From there, wander over to Cordano’s a restaurant frequented by civil servants, inexpensive and with the feel of an Italian bistro. Try the “causa” which is a mashed potato lasagna or mash with many layers. Don’t be put off by my literal translation. The potatoes used are special yellow potatoes and they are mashed and flavored. It reminds me a bit of the Turkish meze, Jordanian mezze, or Bangladeshi bhorta. Perhaps, have a pisco sour at the place where it was invented? It was invented at the Hotel Maury.

Family room.
Family room.

Saturday lunch: After visiting the Church of San Francisco and the Palace of Torre Tagle (with the famous overhanging balconies), head over to the Museum of Food which is housed in the Old Post Office. While this museum could do with a Gaston and Astrid (the internationally acclaimed chef pair) restaurant and shop, the displays are interesting. In the museum, you will learn about “pollo a la brasa” or rotisserie chicken, and the cultures that influenced Peruvian cuisine including “Oriental, European, African, and Moorish” (Japanese/Chinese, Spanish/Italian, African, and Arab/Middle Eastern).

The original cevicheria.
The original cevicheria.

Then, with whetted appetite, grab a cab (yup, there’s an app for that) and head to La Red for lunch. This restaurant was started by a lady who wanted to serve ceviche to the mechanics who worked in the garages located in this part of town. Now, of course, the area is gentrified and the restaurant is run by the lady’s sons. Try “chicha,” a corn drink which tastes like mulled wine without the alcohol. Try the “ceviche classico” here. At 32 soles ($12), I would eat this every day if I lived nearby.

Classic ceviche.
Classic ceviche.

Ocope.
Ocope.

Also, try the “ocope” which is like “papas a la huancahina” which is one of my favorite potato dishes (it’s a spicy deconstructed potato salad which is served with hard boiled eggs and olives). The ocope sauce has vanilla and peanuts in it which makes it a utterly new sort of flavor in a savory dish. Also, try the “chupe de camarones” which is a hearty seafood soup served with a fried egg on top. I really liked the “tiradito” which is a modern ceviche with sliced fish and Peruvian sauces on top. I also had juice of the “aguaymanto” fruit. Pricy but nice.

Chicha and a juice.
Chicha and, of course, a fruit juice.

Where the students are...
Where the students are…

Saturday early evening: After a siesta, go to Parque de Miraflores for street food. I had, I think, “mazamone morade” which is sort of like a warm tapioca pudding. Like warm jam.

Clean food stall.
Clean food stall.

Try a “sanguche de chicharron” and a “sanguche de jamon del pais” both of which are pork sandwiches (sanguche is how they’ve peru-sonalized the word sandwich) from the famous “sanguche” chain. Also try their french fries called “papas huayco” which are a specific type of thick cut fry (recall that the potato was invented in Peru). Having such a specialty fry is like Five Guys in the U.S. where each store tells you, daily, the provenance of the spuds being fried.

A pork sandwich with yam. And fries.
A pork sandwich with yam. And fries.

After gawking at a wedding in the cathedral (they have weddings every hour to make sure that the audience can catch at least one on their way to dinner), have a juice of the “lucuma” fruit which is one of those divine juices that reminds you of why fruit is nectar.

Fusion ceviche. Sashimi style fish with Peruvian sauces. At La Red.
Fusion ceviche. Sashimi style fish with Peruvian sauces. At La Red.

At the Larcomar mall (a modern, clean, and safe hanging garden style mall built on the rock face of Lima’s coast), I tried some of the galactically famous Gaston y Astrid’s desserts. I tried the national dessert (well, one of them), “suspiro limeno” which is like a “fool” in England or a mousse of dulce de leche (caramel). I also tried a chocolate mousse with maracuya fruit on it (the tartness of passionfruit goes well with chocolate).

Dessert with a side of dessert.
Dessert with a side of dessert.

I rounded off the evening with a “cafe tapade” which is sort of watered down teensy coffee served in a teensy cup. Very wee. In my notes, I also wrote that I had a “palta fuerte” but I have no idea what that was. Good, whatever it was.

Sunday: Eat pollo a la brassa, or rotisserie chicken, at one of the famous restaurants (can’t recall right now, had the word chicken in it), and enjoy a full meal for four people, giant bowl of fries, sauces, and a heavy-weight salad with beets, carrots, and avocados, for around 100 U.S. dollars.

There is so much more, but perhaps I’ll mention them another time. Enjoy!

Larcomar mall and the coast of Lima.
Larcomar mall and the coast of Lima.