Category Archive: Food and drink

Sep 12

Osso: Meat Mecca in Lima

Osso-lima

 

My recent trip to Lima only lasted 5 days, yet it was so full of highlights that it felt like I was away for a month. Within minutes of arriving, I had dumped my bags at the hotel and was heading to Mistura for a day of serious eating with Mijune (aka Follow Me Foodie) and David (one of the head honchos at Chowzter). Over the following days we attended the Chowzter Latin America Awards, were treated to a personal chat with king of Peruvian food, Gastón Acurio, and ate and drank our way across some of the city’s finest restaurants, bars, street food stands and markets. Lima really is a food-lover’s paradise and not to be missed if you get the chance.

I am always mesmerised by all the amazing seafood in Lima, but on this occasion the two high-points of the trip centred on meat. Today I’ll tell you about my trip to Osso.

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Sep 05

Mistura 2014 & the Chowzter Latin America Awards

sandwich-chicharron-el-chinito

Chicharron sandwich from Lima restaurant El Chinito. Pork, sweet potato and ceviche-style red onions. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter.

 

Hola from Lima everyone! I jetted in yesterday on a very unglamorous 4am flight from Rio and stopped in my hotel just long enough to dump my bags before heading off the Mistura, Latin America’s biggest and best food festival. Yesterday I overheard a first time visitor to Mistura saying “This place is just amazing. I didn’t realise it was on my bucket list until I got here!”. I know exactly what they mean – if you’re looking for a huge, rich, delicious, fascinating food experience, Mistura should be on your list too.

This is my second visit and it is proving to be just as enjoyable and interesting as last time. In just a few hours I ate and drank my way through upwards of 35 dishes yesterday. I know that sounds shameful/gluttonous/amazing (depending on how you feel about excess), but I should quickly point out that many of those 35 ‘dishes’ were in fact small tastes of something delicious, rather than full-blown plates of food.

I don’t want to be down on Rio, but the recent Rio Gastronomia event has a long way to go before it approaches the heights of Mistura. I have a hard drive full of mouthwatering photos, but not enough time to show you everything, so I’ll just give you a little amuse bouche for now.

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Sep 03

Proof that British food isn’t terrible

British-cheese

 

A little while back, Jamie Oliver stirred up a whole lot of trouble (while hungover) by describing brigadeiro and quindim (Brazilian sweets) as “a load of old shit” on Brazilian TV. A little while later, Andrew Creelman over at “What About São Paulo?” asked the question Why do some Brazilians think British food is shit? Andrew’s question was partly prompted by Jamie’s ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment and partly because plenty of Brazilians (and other nationalities) have a poor view of British food.

It’s interesting how personally we take criticism of our food, regardless of where we’re from – when I read comments like “Sorry, but British food is disgusting” I can’t help but feel a pang of indignation, just the same as Brazilians felt miffed that Jamie dissed their sweets.

Quindim

Quindim – not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

In case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a fan of Brazilian food, but in the case of brigadeiro and quindim (a mix of egg yolks, sugar and coconut) I have some sympathy for Jamie. I know there are some foreigners who like those sweets, but to most untrained palettes they taste bland and sickly-sweet. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to like Marmite if they hadn’t grown up with the stuff. So if anyone feels like saying that Marmite is a load of old shit, be my guest (all the more for me!).

But sweeping statements like “British food is terrible” (or “Brazilian food is terrible” for that matter) are generally made by mischievous people who are looking for a rise, or who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the best the country has to offer. I’ve defended Brazilian food in the past, so today I’m just going to put forward 2 examples in support of British food.

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Aug 29

Amazon Beer taste test

Amazon-beer

 

In the previous post we established that there are a growing number of places that stock decent beer in Rio, but what should you order when you get there? Most of the Carioca beer enthusiasts I’ve met seem obsessed with Belgian ales, particularly those with heavy flavours and high alcohol contents. I suppose that if you’re going to spend R$30 ($13) on 330ml of beer, it’s nice to feel that you’re getting some bang for your buck.

When I take guests out on food tours, we taste a few different Brazilian beers including some from the state of Rio and others from further afield, but my favourite by far are the Amazon Beers. Amazon Beer (Cervejaria Amazon) is a brewer located in Belém in the northern state of Pará. They produce a range of 7 beers and a few days ago I decided to taste 3 of them:

Amazon-beer

From left to right – Açaí Stout, Cumaru IPA, Bacuri Forest.

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Aug 27

Where to drink beer in Rio

Amazon-beer

 

 

Beer drinkers coming to Rio may be disappointed at first – many bars and restaurants only serve the lightest of beers such as Brahma, Skol and Antarctica. The near absence of flavour in these beers is primarily due to the use of up to 45% unmalted cereals, primarily corn and rice. This lack of flavour is why Mrs Eat Rio refers to these as ‘beer soda’; some people even debate whether you can honestly call these beverages ‘beer’ at all.

Moving up the food chain a little, the fancier beach kiosks and even some beach vendors are starting to stock Heineken. It might not be a wonder-beer exactly, but it has significantly more flavour and bite than the bog-standard beer sodas.

 

Carioca Beer Enthusiasts

With this background of terrible beer, you might be surprised to hear that during my time in Rio I have met more beer enthusiasts then in any other city. My theory is that if you spend your early drinking years indulging in tasteless budget beers like Itaipava and Nova Schin, then when you finally taste something decent, it blows your mind. I picture an 18 year old Brazilian tasting his/her first Guinness or Duvel, realising that real beer has real depth of flavour and embarking on a journey of beer discovery.

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Aug 15

Brazilian Chillies

Brazilian-chillis

 

Before I get going, I guess I should address the question of spelling. You know those super spicy peppers that make curries hot? Well there are a bunch of different spellings: chili, chile, chilli. According to Wikipedia, the word originates from the Nahuatl word “chīlli”, so I’m going with the chilli / chillies form.

Anyway, a little while back, my friend Patrick from Como Sur put me on to a pretty cool article at the Saveur website – a Chilli Pepper Guide listing more than 40 varieties. It’s pretty cool, with nice pictures and descriptions, but I noticed that only a couple of Brazilian varieties were on the list. Well, in the interests of filling in the blanks, I thought I’d give you my thoughts on a few of those fiery beauties that grace the pimenta stalls of Rio’s street markets.

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Aug 12

Guelaguetza: dancing with turkeys and fun with hats

Oaxaca-Guelaguetza-crowds

 

We arrived in Oaxaca with very little idea of what this ‘Guelaguetza’ thing was. All we knew was that it was an annual cultural event and we had tickets. The town was abuzz with visitors and colourful flags celebrating the event, but as we approached the venue, we were still guessing exactly what we were going to see.

We stepped out of a taxi outside a stadium-like structure which was perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. As we passed through the turnstiles we were handed what turned out to be a standard party-pack:

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Aug 11

Micheladas and Cubanas

michelada-with-cucumber

 

Well, time got away from me today – I was going to publish my final post on our trip to Mexico at around lunchtime, but then a bunch of other things came up and now the clock is striking 6pm. That final post will have to wait until tomorrow, but I’m still going to throw in a mini-post about one of my favourite Mexican treats: Micheladas and even better, Cubanas.

According to Wikipedia, the exact ingredients and definitions of a Michelada vary according to your location in Mexico, but in general we are talking about a beer mixed with lime juice, served in a salt/chilli-rimmed glass. Then a bunch of other extras are optionally added such as clamato (tomato juice with clam broth), chilli powder, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce. The Cubana variation (which ended up being our favourite) tended to have loads of extra chilli sauce and extra spices and seasoning.

All this backs up the point I made in the previous post about peanuts – why have a boring old beer when you can have a spicy, sour, salty beer instead? Here were a few of our Michelada / Cubana highlights:

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Aug 08

Eating Oaxaca

oaxaca

 

After 6 days in Mexico City (aka DF), we decided it was time to get out of the big city and see a bit more of Mexico. We had heard that there was some big annual cultural event going on in Oaxaca (a city located in the state of the same name, around 500km southeast of DF), so we hopped on an overnight bus and rolled into town at 6.30am.

Feeling shattered from a bad night’s sleep on the bus, we stumbled into our hostel and asked if we could check in early – we were desperate for a shower and bed. The woman at reception looked as us impassively and said check-in was at 3pm. Urgh! Six and a half hours to kill!

We dumped our bags and sloped off into town to see if we could find breakfast. What we found was a city with almost no buildings higher than 2 stories, full of markets, crafts and street food. We wandered into the first market we found and had what turned out to be a very traditional Oaxacan breakfast.

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Jul 31

Eating out in Mexico City

The-angel-of-independence-mexico

 

We ate a LOT in Mexico City! In fact we ate so much good food in that pretty much every day involved the same conversation at some point: “Man, when we get back to Rio, we’re going to have to get in shape”.

Yeah, “when we get back to Rio” …but in the meantime:

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