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Cherry Piscotini, Recipe Exclusively From Las Canteras Restaurant

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Cherry Piscotini by Las Canteras (Washington, DC)

Washington-DC based Las Canteras co-owner Gary Lee shares with us another one of his innovative pisco-based drink recipes exclusively with “Connect to Peru” in celebration of “Pisco Day”.

So here is the recipe, and hope you have fun trying it at home!

Cherry Piscotini
Ingredients (1 serving): Two and a half ounces of cherry-infused Pisco, one half ounce of blackberry schnapps, a half ounce of cherry juice, juice from 1/2 lime, a splash of soda, a scoop of ice.

To make the drink, mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well until nicely chilled. Serve in a chilled martini glass.

Optional decoration: sugar around the rim of the glass.Garnish with a cherry.

Enjoy!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce, Exclusively From Taranta

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Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce by Taranta Restaurant (Boston, MA)

Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce by Taranta (Boston, MA)

So today we are kicking off Day 2 of our “Pisco Day” Special Weekend Edition! And it’s great to do it with a wonderful recipe exclusively from Taranta‘s owner Jose Duarte, a Peruvian top chef and one of America’s leaders in “green” restaurants. Taranta is one of the very few restaurants in the U.S. to be a Certified Green Restaurant. In fact, Taranta was recently named among the “50 Best Restaurants in Boston” by Boston Magazine.

And if you are in the Boston, MA area, you might want to stop by Taranta this weekend. Taranta will be offering a Pisco Sour tasting to all its customers in celebration of “Pisco Day”!

So here it is….today, chef Duarte shares with us his recipe for a Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with a Pisco-based sauce….YUM! Thanks to chef Duarte for sharing this great recipe with us!

MACADAMIA CRUSTED SALMON FILET

By: Chef Jose Duarte, Taranta (Boston, MA)

 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

4 pieces of salmon 8 oz each

1/2 cup Crushed macadamia nuts

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 spoon lemon zest

1 cup of Sicilian Blood Orange Juice

1/4 cup of Peruvian Pisco

1/2 cup of heavy cream

Bunch of Asparagus, grilled

2 cups of Arborio Rice

Thyme

 

To make the risotto cake:

Make rice following a standard risotto recipe, expand in a sheet pan and let it cool, place in a mixing bowl and add, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup of cream and sprinkle some thyme, make muffin shape pieces and cook until the sides are crispy.

 

To make the crust:

Mix breadcrumbs with macadamia, lemon zest, add salt and pepper to taste.

 

To make the sauce:

In a medium sautee pan bring the juice o a boling point then add pisco and cook for 2 minutes, reduce flame and gradually add 1/2 cup of heavy cream mixing with a wisk. Salt Pepper to taste.

 

Cooking the Salmon:

Season salmon pieces, then sear on high heat on a large pan, Remove and crust with macadamia mix, place in preheated oven at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes until crust is golden color. Do not overcook the fish otherwise it will dry.

 

Serve by placing the risotto cake on the bottom of the dish, then the asparagus, then the crusted salmon and finalize with the sauce.

 

Bon Apetit!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

The Origins of the Pisco

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piscoInstead of writing a post about pisco and its origins, here is a two-part video named “Pisco, cultural heritage of Peru” that walks you through the origins of pisco, including locations where it is produced in the south coast of Peru, official documents from centuries ago proving pisco is authentic from Peru (and nowhere else — others claimed to be pisco are really a totally different liqueur not 100% from grapes — a key characteristic of the authentic pisco), as well as interesting recipes you can make with pisco. You might also want to take note of the locations mentioned in this video which are great places where you can visit and see how pisco is produced.

Part 1

  • The history
  • The old cellars
  • The name
  • Pisco tourism

Part 2

  • Bar and Kitchen — includes commentary from Peruvian top chefs Isabel Alvarez, Gaston Acurio and Pedro Schiaffino
  • Cultural Heritage

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

Calling Las Vegas, New York and Miami…Gaston Acurio’s Peruvian Cuisine is on the Way!

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Traditional Lomo Saltado

Traditional Lomo Saltado

According to today’s Associated Press story published in today’s Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper, Gaston Acurio – one of Peru’s top chefs and one of the leaders in Peruvian cuisine around the world – announced his empire will be opening more La Mar seafood restaurant locations in Las Vegas, New York and Miami.

As the article states,

“Acurio hopes to inundate the U.S. and European markets with his brands, from a mall-friendly stuffed potato franchise to microwavable Peruvian favorites and seasonings for grocers. Acurio says investors have been eager to back his projects.”

Acurio brings the best of Peruvian cuisine to the palate of the international gastronomy fans — also named “neo Peruvian cuisine” which is a bit different from what traditional native Peruvian cuisine is all about. So how do you know which one is which? Might be a bit tough if you are not Peruvian or you don’t have a Peruvian friend at your table. Let’s see…I will show you the difference from visuals that might help for one of Peruvian cuisine’s most traditional dishes, the Lomo Saltado. The photo above is the traditional-styled Lomo Saltado which is more home-y, more rustically served, this is how Peruvians eat it every day. Now check the picture in the AP story and you will see it is a bit more refined and styled up. Neither of them are right or wrong, just two different styles. If you want to have the authentic one, you might want to try the traditional style of course. That is how many Peruvians have enjoyed their cuisine for many generations.

There is no question about how Acurio’s efforts have benefited and promoted tremendously the Peruvian gastronomic art (yes, it is an art) around the world. And if you want to learn more about Gaston Acurio, get a refresher of the postings I did earlier, one on his new La Mar restaurant opening in California, and another posting about its ratings.

Look forward to trying the new locations! And if you are a local in any of these three cities, let us know how was your experience!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

“The Georgetowner” Names Peruvian Pisco Drink as Cocktail of the Week

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gt_coverOne of the many yummi things to try at Peruvian restaurant Las Canteras is its innovative ways of preparing pisco-based drinks. Located in the Adams Morgan area in Washington, DC, Las CanterasSour Haas was named Cocktail of the Week by The Georgetowner, and Gary Lee, one of its restaurant owners and former Washington Post travel writer, shares the recipe!

Gary begins by muddling fresh mint leaves in a glass. Next he carefully slices a portion of ripe avocado, which is added to the crushed mint. The ingredients are rounded out with a dash of simple syrup, pineapple juice and pisco. To properly merge the elements, Gary gives the components a good workout in a cocktail shaker. Because the drink consists of four distinctive ingredients, Gary notes that it is very important to shake it fully to make sure it is well blended. When he pours the combined mixture into the glass, the result is an opaque, pale green beverage.

Go ahead and try making it at home! But if you are in the Washington DC area, you can get a taste from its creator at Las Canteras restaurant located at 2307 18th Street NW, Washington, DC.

As you might recall, its executive chef Eddy Ancasi was our special guest revealing his Peruvian-style Christmas a few weeks ago. But most importantly, stay tuned to my upcoming post as I uncover the story behind Las Canteras and its chef, and other surprises coming up soon!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Where Can I Buy Peruvian Food Supplies in Virginia?

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anticuchos-cow-heartI have been getting questions on where to get Peruvian food supplies in the DC area, and here is the scoop. One of my favorite spots to do my Peruvian grocery shopping is in El Chaparral Meat Market located at 2719 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. It is a small store right across a Wholefoods Market, and carries a pretty decent variety of authentic imported supplies from Peru, including:

  • Aji panca (great to make Lomo Saltado or Anticuchos, for example)
  • Aji amarillo (the “secret” flavor behind the Papa a la Huancaina or Cau Cau)
  • Yuca (comes already peeled, cut into blocks and frozen, great to make the yuca fries with the Huancaina sauce — for first-timers you can get a taste of it at Guarapo a few blocks away)
  • Packaged instant sauces (a big life savior if you cannot find all the Peruvian native ingredients)
  • Paneton (the Italian sweet bread on every Peruvian table around Christmas and New Year’s)
  • Chocolates I used to enjoy when I was a kid, including Cua Cua, Sublime, Princesa, Lentejas, etc.

And as we come closer to Spring and getting ready for BBQ season, El Chaparral is a great spot to get some fresh meat ideally prepared for Anticuchos. The great thing for those who aren’t Peruvian is that its employees are familiar with Anticuchos, and can guide you as to what is the best meat to use.

Writing this post is making me hungry and now craving for a Papa a la Huancaina. Getting a couple of potatoes and the Huancaina packaged sauce is a quick way to get my craving satisfied right away. Yum!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

Peruvian Jose Duarte’s “Taranta” Ranked Among Top 50 Restaurants by Boston Magazine

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boston_printIt is always great to hear whenever a Peruvian succeeds abroad. Boston Magazine’s latest Dining Features Article names Jose Duarte’s restaurant Taranta among the “50 Best Restaurants” in Boston!

If you have been following my postings, I am sure you might recall the note I did on Jose’s innovative efforts on implementing “green” initiatives in the restaurant business. Click here to read my post if you missed it.

Here is how Boston Magazine’s ranking worked:

What we’ve come up with is an unprecedented ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the city, as collectively judged by the Globe, the Herald, the Phoenix, Zagat, Yelp, the Phantom Gourmet, and select posters from the Boston board on Chowhound. And, of course, ourselves, in the persons of food editor Amy Traverso and features editor Jolyon Helterman (a Cook’s Illustrated alum), with help from our critic, Corby Kummer. We reviewed the reviews, standardized the scores, and, using a little statistical wizardry, calculated a hierarchy of culinary excellence.

Listed under # 34, Taranta is described as:

Peruvian cuisine is a dizzying fusion of Spanish, African, Asian, Italian, and French influences. At this North End spot, Peruvian meets southern Italian for an even headier mix. ORDER THIS: Pork chop with sugar cane–rocoto pepper glaze.

Congratulations to Jose, and keep up with the success!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Boston: Two Traditional Peruvian Restaurants Just Across the Street From Each Other

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polloWhile in Boston, one of my last stops wondering around the city to search for Peruvian restaurants was at Machu Picchu restaurant. Located in Sommerville, MA, close by to the Cambridge neighborhood and accessible via bus (look for # 86 bus route), the restaurant ended up being a great option if you are looking for authentic Peruvian food. As soon as you arrive you are welcomed with toasted corn (Peruvians call it “cancha“) which is originally from the Andes region in Peru. Here is an overview of my experience.

As a good Peruvian, the dinner kicked-off with a Pisco Sour — wouldn’t recommend it at this restaurant. You could actually feel you were drinking alcohol versus tasting the mix of its ingredients.

For an appetizer, I enjoyed a Causa de Pollo which is a mashed potato-type of cake filled with layers of onions and chicken. It was good, but tried better ones. As an entree I liked the Aji de Gallina, a traditional entree with boiled potatoes, shredded chicken on a creamy sauce made with the Peruvian yellow aji (chili). For dessert I had the Combinado, a two-in-one serving consisting of Arroz con Leche (similar to a rice pudding) and Mazamorra Morada, a purple corn-based compote with pieces of fruit.

To get a glance of Machu Picchu restaurant’s menu, click here.

Although the restaurant is not at a fancy, downtown-ish location as Taranta (a great green-certified location to enjoy Italian food with a wonderful Peruvian kick) or Orinoco (for the best pisco sour I had in Boston), it is a good option to enjoy traditional Peruvian dishes if you are driving or don’t mind walking in the suburbs of Boston.

And the latest about this Machu Picchu restaurant…the spin-off of its Peruvian rottiserie chicken right across the street! This just-opened restaurant is named “Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill”. The menu looked pretty interesting, and the chicken looks pretty good and authentic. This type of chicken is perhaps Peru’s second flagship dish after the Ceviche. What is unique about this restaurant was the Quinoa side, as well as Peruvian-style beef kabobs we call “anticuchos”. Quinoa is originally from the Andes mountains of South America, with Peru at the center of the Inca Empire, and is a great source of protein that many generations have enjoyed. So if you are hungry, perhaps you might want to save some room after your meal at Machu Picchu to get some rottiserie chicken, or better yet anticuchos as an appetizer.

To get a glance of Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill restaurant’s menu, click here

TIP: And if you are a big beer fan, you might want to try the local Peruvian beers available at both restaurants, including Cuzquena (my favorite) and Cristal.

Machu Picchu Restaurant is located at 307 Somerville Avenue, Somerville,  Massachusetts 02143.

Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill is located at 25 Union SQ, Sommerville, Massachusetts 02143.

(PS – Although it doesn’t matter if you have in mind enjoying a great Peruvian meal, the one thing I was “nervous” about was the many typos the menu and marketing materials had. Sorry, must be the PR girl in me! Hahaha.)

Written by Catherine Castro

January 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm

How Are Peruvians Welcoming 2009?

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playa1So how do Peruvians plan to celebrate the New Year’s? An article in RPP Noticias, the leading news radio and online site, states the options are either camping at a beach, at a friends’ or family’s place, or at a public venue for the long weekend that began yesterday for most.

For the New Year’s Eve, traditionally there are superstitions on receiving the New Year with a positive attitude and good luck, including wearing a yellow underwear (typically bought by someone else to bring more luck), eating 12 grapes at midnight, having yellow flowers, among many others. And regardless of where they will be, people plan ahead to stock up on alcohol and beers, bottled water, as well as canned food if you will be away from home.

According to the article, this is how the New Year’s Eve is looking like in Peru, particularly in the Coast region:

Campers along the beaches have already began to travel mostly by car to their preferred beach or to their friends’ or family’s beach house since the past days according to their vacation schedules. The main inter-department highway along the Coast called “Panamericana” (similar to the I-95 along the East Coast) is already busy with thousands of cars and SUVs with families or groups of friends going north or south from Lima, the capital city. Several police cars are along the highway to address any potential jams, and giving away brochures with safety and driving recommendations. To help the flow of drivers from Lima to the south of Peru, the highway has been opened today to be all southbound, and will change on January 4 when all drivers plan to come back to the city to start work on Monday.

Hundreds of people are also along the highway selling goods for those last-minute needs, including yellow flowers, balloons, bottled water, and other yellow goods to bring up good luck at midnight.

And for those who decide to stay at home or at a friends’ or family member’s place, a dinner similar to what they had for Christmas (a big meal similar to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinner) will be served tonight. The main course could be chicken, turkey, or pork, accompanied by paneton (an Italian-style sweet bread), salads, and several sides such as mashed potatoes and white rice. And to drink, there will be champagne or sparkling wine.

And once the clock hits midnight, fireworks all around the country will be heard. This replaces the typical “ball drop” Americans have.

Happy New Year to everyone, regardless of where in the world you will be!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Merry Christmas a la Peruvian, by Las Canteras’ Executive Chef Eddy Ancasi

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eddy-ancasiLocated in the Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area, Las Canteras Restaurant & Bar is one of Washington DC’s Peruvian food hot spots where you can get several authentic dishes and of course Pisco Sours. For today’s Christmas post, its executive chef Eddy Ancasi – a native Peruvian from Arequipa, a department located in the South West of Peru – is our special guest!

A typical Peruvian Christmas starts with a big dinner on the 24th with a table full of dishes similar to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is the typical main dish, although lately there have been variations of pork or chicken; side dishes include potatoes or white rice; as well as traditional homemade hot chocolate, and paneton (an Italian sweet bread). At midnight, everyone hugs and grabs their presents from underneath the Christmas tree and opens them, while fireworks start going on everywhere. After a few hours of kids enjoying their presents, everyone goes to sleep after much chit chat. The next morning, the family gathers again for lunch to eat leftovers or they all go to a nice family restaurant and continue the celebration. If you are married, having a two-day celebration gives you the chance to spend at each other’s families.

And, here is how chef Eddy Ancasi remembers his own Christmas family gatherings:

Over the years, the celebration of Christmas has evolved. In my childhood — in the mountain town of Chuchibamba — Christmas was a mostly Catholic affair. It centered around singing — carols and folk holiday songs called villancicos. And there was always hot beverages made from dark Peruvian chocolate and paneton. Later, when I moved to Arequipa, Christmas eve was a time of family reunion. All my relatives gathered around a long table laden with turkey, mashed potatoes and different kinds of salads — Russian salad, potato salad and so on. Still later, when I moved to the Washington D.C. area, Christmas became a time for gift giving, seeing friends, and of course, gorging on “Causa de Pollo” and other classic Peruvian dishes.

I guess to nobody’s surprise Peruvian food is the main guest of the party regardless of where in Peru you are from. No wonder the expression “love grows through the stomach”.

Have a wonderful Christmas Day!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm