Cuba on My Mind05.18.16
The lights dimmed, the curtains parted. Six sinewy bodies crouched on stage carved by light, and glided towards what appeared to be small blue islands. They slid like honey across the floor, putting on fragments of ruffles – white skirts, arm bands, headdresses – ready to become somebody else.
DanzAbierta, a contemporary dance contemporary, debuting at the Joyce Theatre for its Cuba Festival, tells the story of a country at the crux of rapid transformation. During a short but heart-racing performance last night, they tore vigorously through the stage with raw, vibrant soul, and took my breath away. more »
If there’s been one thing I’ve always struggled with, it’s Focus. Or lack thereof. It’s my Achilles’ heel that appears Every. Single. Day. It sneaks its sly little head in while I’m playing with my daughter, offering to mold unicorns out of play dough one minute and making paper masks the next. It plagues me as I research the internet, making me forget what I was looking for in the first place: was it a slow cooker or new baby sneakers? Then, it sucks me into another rabbit hole, one filled with luscious images of interior design blogs.
I’ve always been an avid multi-tasker (yes, one of those people with ten tabs open on her browser!), but motherhood has aggravated my secret ADD ways. Although they do come in handy when you’re trying to balance a creative life and parenthood, and become especially useful when you have to get a toddler out of the house. However, my multitasking efforts often come with a price, Focus. Right now, I’m desperately seeking it in hopes that it’ll make me a better writer, a better mom, a better partner, and a better human overall.
It’s hard to believe that a week ago I was flying home from one of the most exhilarating food journeys of my life. I was at Mistura, the largest culinary festival in Latin America held in the culturally rich and historically fascinating country that is Peru.
This year the festival took place beneath a flurry of white tents in Costa Verde, a stretch of land bordering the Pacific Ocean and the dusty side of a hill that leads to the Magdalena district of Lima. Weaving through the countless stands, markets, and fascinating talks hosted by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, I was (almost) able to grasp the dizzying diversity of Peru’s cuisine. Of the country’s 700 native dishes, I dove into luscious ceviches and light-as-air tamales from the capital of Lima, but also studied more obscure plates from other regions of the country, like seco de cabrito or stewed goat served with rice and beans and champús, a warming dessert made with soursoup and pineapple.
There was the vibrant and welcoming Gran Mercado, or grand market, with its endless varieties of potatoes (over three thousand in Peru), quinoa grains of every shade and size, olives as plump and briny as Greek kalamatas, Amazonian fruit whose twisty names tripped up my tongue, medicinal herbs, and more keepsakes to tuck away in my trunk of sensory treasures. more »
Last Saturday night, top bloggers from all over Latin America gathered together at La Mar Cebichería in Lima, Peru to celebrate Chowzter’s annual Latin American 50 Tastiest Fast Feasts. I had my first Pisco Sour in Lima that night (which was much stronger and sweeter than I had anticipated) and met international food personalities and bloggers from Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and London. The night was chilly and drizzly, but inside the restaurant was as warm as the pisco in my belly. Imagine being in the company of a room full of kindred spirits – everywhere I turned to, people spoke in the universal language of food. We washed down classic Peruvian dishes like ceviche, tiradito, and papa a la huancaína with pisco sours and white wine. I thought to myself, it can’t get any better than this, until my name was called to speak about a Dominican dish that was chosen as a runner up.
A Chance to Savor Dallas04.17.12
Last month, I had the chance to visit Dallas for the first time to attend Savor Dallas, the city’s food and wine festival. Not only did I witness southern hospitality at its finest, but I had a chance to meet a ton of wonderful people and taste a lot of yummy food, including sublime beignets, whiskey cake, Thai ceviche, and rustic taquitos.
Want to see what’s happening in the Dallas food world? Take a look at the new video! more »
This month, I had the chance to shoot and produce my first video, and cover a Book Launch and Tasting Event at NYC’s mouth-watering Chelsea Market. Twenty-five chefs from all over New York City came together to show off their stuff, choosing one recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser that hit bookstores, and giving each recipe their own unique twist. The event was a blast! The chefs were incredibly warm and passionate about their creations, while the guests were devoted followers of the gastro scene in NYC.
I also had a chance to speak to Sisha Ortuzar, a young talented chef from Chile who heads the kitchen in New York’s Riverpark. He talked to me about the spicy shrimp dish he served that night: a take on a classic Pickled Shrimp recipe that he pickled in spice and topped with a brittle made from the same spices he used in the pickling process–coriander, caraway and fennel seeds.
Latin flavors dominate the scene10.22.10
The Culinary Institute of America held a seminar about Latin American food called “Latin Flavors, American Kitchens” in its San Antonio campus, with guest chefs including Rick Bayless and Maricel Presilla, two established chefs and ambassadors to Latin American cuisine in the U.S. More and more, Latin American food appears to be influencing restaurant menus throughout the country. Check out the latest newcomer to the Nuevo-Latino food scene in NYC, Nuela. Also, eaters are moving away from fine dining to more casual establishments, which has given opportunities for more Latin American restaurants to break through the market. That is some excellent news, can’t wait to see what the next knock out will be!
Read more about what happened at CIA here.
What better way to welcome a hot summer Sunday than with a Latin-style brunch? With the Gourmet Latino Festival kicking off June 4th at the Astor Center in Manhattan, I was able to savor some of the flavorful innovations that are happening in Latin American cuisine right now throughout the city. Led by chef Aaron
Sanchez and other popular names in the world of mixology, I picked up some ideas in the Mexican kitchen (ei. use an onion studded with cloves when you make home-made chicken stock ) and witnessed the creation of original cocktails inspired from traditional Latin ingredients.
The session I attended was a “Levanta Muertos” brunch seminar, a phrase ubiquitous in Latin America, that alludes to a dish or a drink that’s supposed to “wake you up from the dead” and help with your hangover. As the first year of the festival, the turnout of people was impressive. There was not a single seat available at the long tables set up for the diners throughout the space. The event was well organized, although the setup of the space was a bit funky: I was limited to seeing the mixologists in action, but couldn’t really see the chef at work.
After a cheesy introduction that had the two hosts (Sanchez and Olson) playing a pair of drunkards at a bar, the event thankfully picked up. The first creation was a Maria Sangriente, or a Mexican version of the Bloody Mary. This drink was prepared by mixologist Steve Olson and had Mezcal, Tequila, hot chiles, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper as its principal ingredients. The drink was beautifully served in a tall glass with a half chile. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate. After my first swig, its lingering heat and balanced flavors made even a spice-adversed palate like my own second-guess itself. One thing Olson repeated throughout the class was that the key to making a levanta muertos successful is that you should use the same liquor you drank the night before. This he kept referring to as using the “hair of the dog” of the dog that bit you! Kind of weird, but probably true. To nibble on, the chef prepared a huitlacoche tamal with a saffron corn sauce. The tamal took the color of the huitlacoche ( it’s corn fungus), so its masa was a dark almost black color, but tasted heavenly, with a fluffy texture and sauce that was smokey and complex.
The courses that followed all had the colors, textures and heat of traditional Mexican cooking but with a refined twist. There was a Pepita Crusted Salmon in a Papalo Coconut Broth, which was paired with a drink from Phil Ward from Mayahuel restaurant in Manhattan. The drink echoed the colors of the dish as a clear peach elixir, prepared by mixing mezcal, Aperol, Maraschino and lime. The final tasting course was a Stuffed Sweet Plantain with Smoked Black Beans, Epazote and Crema Fresca. This was accompanied by a drink called the Marajoara Magic, by Danny Valdez, the most charismatic of the guests, who prepared a drink with Brazilian cachaca, Carpano Antina, Habanero peppers and Lime oil.
The session was educational and fun, but most of all, I walked out feeling not only impressed at how Latin American flavors can be, but most of all, very proud.
(I took the photos with my phone, the colors were vibrant in real life)