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Monday, March 28, 2011

Where to eat in Lima airport

Ceviche de Corvina y Langostinos (Seabass and shrimp marinated in lime juice
topped with chilli and onion and served with sweet potato and giant corn)
Sopa a la Criolla 
(Peruvian "creole soup" with Beef, vermicelli noodles, fried egg and milk)
Pineapple juice
View to runway
LOCATION: Manacaru Cafe - Restaurante, Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez (international terminal), Lima, Perú
CATEGORY: Peruvian, layover food
DRINK: Pineapple juice
WE THINK: Having developed into something of a South American hub, Lima's Jorge Chávez International Airport is likely to feature on your itinerary if you are flying through this part of the world. If your layover permits, we would recommend re-fuelling at Manacaru and suggest you order the Sopa a la Criolla, which is so mouthwateringly delicious that we have eaten it every time we've passed through here. If the soup is not enough, order another bowl or perhaps one of the ceviches which are pretty decent.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mojito inferno in Bogotá

Entering the funhouse
Andrés D.C. staff in shades and tophats greeting guests
The extensive hand-wound menu at Andrés D.C.
Lethal mojito served in gourd
Fried yucca
Andrés D.C.'s brass band throwing confetti and being loud 
2 Andrés D.C. actresses 
Dante's Inferno
Arepas being prepared in the kitchen
Why not?
Hammock, Jesus, waiter 
Fish ceviche (right), Uchuva berries (left) and
"Patacones con queso" (green plantain cakes with cheese)
Arepas with hot salsa
"Ajiaco con pollo" (Columbian chicken stew) with avocado, capers, rice and cream 
"Pinchot de Andrés" (tenderloin, chicken and prawn skewers)
LOCATION: Andrés D.C., Calle 82, No. 12-21, C.C. El Retiro, Zona Rosa, Bogotá
CATEGORY: Eating and dancing
DRINK:  Killer mojito
WE THINK: Hand over the $10 cover charge to the women dressed like Botero's colonial ladies - complete with fake busts and fat upper arms - and enter the madhouse that is Andrés D.C., the Bogota-based sister restaurant of Andrés Jaramillo's famous Andrés Carne de Rés in Chia. Spanning 4 floors that are each decorated with an unfathomable amount of kitsch paraphernalia to resemble a journey through Dante's Divine Comedy, Andrés D.C. is likely to be the weirdest restaurant you ever enter. After spending 20 minutes working your way through the heavy, hand-wound boxed menu, you will scream your order to the waiter. Probably several times to make it heard through the pounding music, occasional performances by the resident brass band and drunken customers breaking into song. It is customary to get up and dance during your meal. This, along with so many other fantastic distractions (a real one being the lethal mojitos), makes it easier to forgive that you never got the octopus ceviche you ordered and that the bill is somewhat incorrect when it finally arrives. Although the food is secondary at Andrés D.C., it is actually very good and worth a visit in its own right. The skewers were well-cooked and the regional specialties, such as the arepas, ajiaco and ceviche, quite delicious. The mojitos should be treated with a degree of care.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Simple lunch in San Telmo

LOCATION: Cafe Rivas, Estados Unidos 302 (Balcarce), Buenos Aires
CATEGORY: Argentinian, lunch
DRINK: Sparkling water
WE THINK: Keeping it simple. Fine spot for a cheap prix fixe lunch in San Telmo, our other favourite neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Pretty decor, pretty wait staff, pretty music and pretty decent food. The giant prawns were fresh, juicy and well-seasoned. The steak was average as far as Argentinian steaks go, but quite delicious. Forget the pork. Apple cake was A-OK. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Palermo Soho Pit Stop

Crocante de langostinos
(battered prawns with tomato pearls, ginger, coriander, avocado)
Bomba de arroz, camaron, lima y salsa tonkatsu
(rice ball with shrimp, lima and tonkatsu sauce)
Mollejas, habas y guisantes
(sweetbreads, beans and peas with herb salad, crispy potatoes,
micro leaves and pickled garlic)
Outdoor seating
Indoor seating and bar
Page from the illustrated menu - prawn skewers...
...and sweetbreads
LOCATION: Freud y Fahler, Gurruchaga 1750 (between El Salvador and Costa Rica), Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires
CATEGORY: Modern Argentinian, fusion
DRINK: Alma Negra (2007) "Misterio 1" (red)
WE THINK: Great little spot in hip and leafy Palermo Soho. Perfect for a shopping time-out or a late-night snack with options that go beyond steak and empanadas. If the weather permits, sit outside and order a couple of tasty starters (like we did) or some of the good-looking mains (like those next to us did) - all artistically illustrated in the ring-bound menu. We enjoyed our prawn skewers and rice balls the most, but were also fortunate to try our friend's rōsti starter and tasty lamb main course. The sweetbreads were well-cooked but the seasoning and garnish a bit too bland to give the dish flavour.
OUR TIP: Check the address before you go as we were told the restaurant will soon move to a new location a few blocks away. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eating piranhas and things like that

(crab meat sautéed with herbs, served with white corn meal and garlic farofa)
Bolinho de bacalhau
(traditional Portuguese cod fish fritters served with hot sauce)
(herbed shrimp pastels served with hot pepper sauce)
Trouxinhas de Axé
(steamed collard green leaves with Bahian shrimp stuffing)
Mujica de piranha
(Piranha stew made from piranhas, thickened with manioc)
Tilápia no pacotinho 
(tilapia filet stuffed with palm hearts and wrapped in steamed collard leaves
served with fried banana and a cream of banana and Amazonian ginger)...
...and cut open
Moqueca de banana
(vegetarian version of the classic Brazilian stew made with semi-sweet bananas
cooked in sauce of coconut and herbs)
Pará de Minas 
(green salad with crunchy Brazil nuts, macadamias and a passion fruit vinaigrette)
LOCATION: Espírito Santa, Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 264 - casa - Largo dos Guimarães - Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
CATEGORY: Amazonian, Brazilian
DRINK: Lots of tropical caipirinhas. In addition to the classic lime-based caipirinha, we tasted the following variations: pineapple, strawberry and jambu root, cupuaçu fruit, graviola fruit and taperebá fruit.
WE THINK: Easily the tastiest and most interesting meal we've had in Rio. Espírito Santa sits pretty in the hills of Santa Teresa and is accessible by the cute little 'bondinho' trolley which stop right outside the restaurant (or you can just take a car). The food is Brazilian and the ingredients exotic and exciting. Get a table outside on the lovely patio, order a healthy amount of Amazonian fruit caipirinhas and you're all set for an awesome dining experience. To be honest, we could've just eaten the delicious bolinho de bacalhau all night, but were happy to have also ordered many other dishes from the extensive menu (we were so overwhelmed by delicious-sounding choices on the first few pages of the menu that we never made it to the meat dishes. Or the desserts). The piranha stew and the tilapia parcel were particularly exciting.
OUR TIP: If you ever wonder what to do with lettuce, go buy some macadamia and brazil nuts, make a passion fruit vinaigrette and toss together a Pará de Minas salad - simple, refreshing and insanely delicious. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Getting fishy in Santiago

Centolla al pil pil (Chilean king crab in chilli and garlic)
Seafood paella with prawns, mussels, scallops and barnacles
Calamares al pil pil (squid in chilli and garlic)
Corvina con salsa Margarita
(Chilean sea bass topped with a creamy scallop and mussel chowder)
Main dining area in Mercado Central
LOCATION: Mercado Central, Avenida Jose Miguel Claro 89, Santiago, Chile
CATEGORY: Seafood, Chilean
DRINK: Miguel Torres (2008) Tormenta Viognier, organic white from Chile
WE THINK: Enter the touristy and crowded Mercado Central seafood market in Santiago. Expect loud and pushy touting by waiters from competing restaurants. Expect to get annoyed and very quickly lose the will to dine at any of them. Reason that you've come all this way, that you're hungry, and that you might as well eat here. Then decide on the restaurant with the least irritating waiters, sit back, relax and order a bottle of chilled white wine (we recommend the one we had). Things are already much better and you can start enjoying well-cooked, reasonably priced seafood. We experienced the rare case of our food tasting quite a bit nicer than it looked and were pleasantly surprised by the paella (normally a very hit-or-miss, mostly miss, thing to order) which was generously composed of 7 parts delicious seafood and 3 parts well-cooked rice. If in season, make sure to order the yummy squid and Chilean king crab 'al pil pil' (we also had the razor clams which were not particularly fresh) and if you're feeling brave, try the not so aesthetically pleasing but nice corvina in margarita sauce though it's likely to temporarily do some damage to your intestinal system.
OUR TIP: Ask your waiter for the freshest seafood on the menu. Not everything served in the market is super fresh, as evidenced by the occasional funky odours in the corridors.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Snacking in Sao Paulo

Unwrapped deliciousness
(leave the wrapper on for a few more minutes and it'll turn translucent)
Pastel de bacalhau with very important chilli sauce in background
(Salt cod pasty/turnover with chopped olives, parsley and olive oil)
The stall we dined at - 1 of around 20 selling the exact same food
View of market's butcher shops and the mezzanine level in the background

LOCATION: Mercado Municipal, Rua da Cantareira, 306, near Rua 25 de Março and Parque Dom Pedro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
CATEGORY: Brazilian, Fast food, food market
DRINK: Fresh-squeezed pineapple, lime and mint juice from a juice stall
WE THINK: The Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo is famous for 2 things: Pastel de Bacalhau (salt cod turnover) and mortadella sandwiches, and apart from fruit stalls and butcher shops, the majority of vendors in the main market sell primarily those 2 things (though there are a number of restaurants, including the famous Hocca Bar, on the mezzanine level where full sit-down meals and a wider menu are available). We opted for a pastel de bacalhau, expecting it would be a tasty, handy mid-afternoon snack. 'Snack' it hardly was, as one pastel easily amounts to half a pound of shredded codfish (seasoned with chopped olives and parsley) and deep-fried batter. 'Handy' not so much either as the liquid from the cooked olive-oil infused codfish gathers as a hot surprise in the bottom and spills all over the uninitiated tourist creating quite a mess. 'Tasty'? Absolutely yes! We advise sprinkling generous amounts of chilli for a full taste sensation.
OUR TIP: Walk up to the many fruit stalls and admire the crazy-looking Amazonian fruits. Most stall keepers are very friendly and will let you taste for free.