Happy Memorial Day: Peruvian Ceviche for The Tribe

Shellfish Ceviche


In New York, we seemed to have skipped spring altogether and been forced to dust off the cut-offs and tanks to survive the blistering temperatures. I’ve been counting on my neighborhood ice-cream trucks to keep me cool and definitely NOT complaining! So today I’m bringing back one of my favorite ceviche recipes perfect for a weekend that promises to be filled with sunshine and playtime.

Whether you’ll be at the beach, in a park, or staycationing at home, just remember to pop a little sparkling rosé and gather your friends around this cool, clean dish bursting with tender bits of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and baby clams. I serve this simple citrusy ceviche with chifles, plantain chips as they’re known in Peru, some crusty French bread, and avocado. Happy Summer!

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Mistura 2013: How I Got to Know Peru

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 »

Mofongo in Chowzter’s Tastiest Fast Feasts 2013 Awards

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.

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Alfajores: The King of Cookies

Alfajores with Raspberry Glaze

I still remember the first time I tried a Havanna Alfajor. I was a newly minted college graduate who moved down to Miami to be closer to home. In this sunny strip of paradise, I landed my first job as a fund trader at a Spanish bank. I worked with a ton of private bankers from all over South America and Spain, a group of movers and shakers with monogrammed shirts continuously nostalgic about the worlds they had left behind.

Those who were lucky enough to fly home for work always returned with a box of Havanna Alfajores stocked with gold and silver pucks of dulce de leche treasures. The golden wrappers indicated a dark chocolate covered Alfajor, while the silver wrapper meant a cookie dressed in a thin veil of white chocolate. I loved the golden wrappers and the dense and crumbly cookies they protected, which had been dipped in milk chocolate and filled with a tangy dulce de leche. They were the most beautiful way to sweeten an afternoon cup of tea. For me and all my friends who worked with me, they meant sustained sugar-fueled giddiness for hours. more »

It’s Ceviche Time!

Succulent shrimp and fresh avocados

It was time for Sunday supper in NYC.

The seafood had been chilling in the fridge, soaking up the flavors of a clear, citrus broth. This was my first attempt at preparing ceviche, the classic dish of cured seafood from the kitchens of Peru and Ecuador, and judging from the delicate flavors and textures it yielded, it would definitely not be my last. I caught the last wave of local tomatoes, dicing their bright red flesh and piling them over the succulent seafood that had been marinating for a couple of hours. On top of those juicy cubes, I added crunchy bits of green pepper, finely chopped slivers of white onion, and fragrant cilantro and parsley that turned out to look a lot like kitchen confetti.

We laid out small bowls throughout the dining table, each one filled with thinly sliced plantains, airy popcorn and chunks of crusty French bread. All these garnishes would create a symphony of textures to accompany the cool, clean dish. We bit into the plump pink shrimp, nibbled delicately on the silky mussels and popped the morsels of scallops and miniature clams into our mouths. We sipped on cold white wine, while talking and laughing.

That afternoon I had visited the food markets of the Upper West Side, and after getting home, I turned to The South American Table cookbook for guidance.  The result was a light and flavorful meal: the orange and mustard in the marinade gave the seafood a sweet and tangy note, the toppings gave it crunch and a lemony freshness. The different garnishes added an interactive component that was a hit.

This weekend, a hint of Spring was in the air. It was time to venture into something new.

Shellfish Ceviche Serves 6 (I served it as a meal, but you can also make it as an appetizer at your next dinner party)

4 cups water

1 scallion, sliced

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ lb. bay scallops

¼ cup dry white wine

1 lb. mussels, scrubbed and deveined

16 baby clams


1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup lime juice

2/3 cup orange juice

½ cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Hot sauce


1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped, rinsed with hot water and drained

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh parsley


Popcorn, plantain chips (chifles), French bread, ripe avocado


In a large saucepan, bring water and scallions to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, remove from heat and let stand for a few seconds until the shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp and rinse under cold water.

Add scallops to the cooking liquid and bring back to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 3 minutes. Once scallops are cooked through (their center should be white), drain and rinse under cold water.

Place wine, mussels and clams in large skillet and bring to boil. Cover and continue to boil until shells are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove clams ad mussels from their shells.

Make marinade by combining all the ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, taste for salt, sugar and spice. Serve with garnishes and side dishes.

Bottled Jewels

Latin American soft drinks

Did you know that there are soft drinks produced all over Latin America, and that you can get a taste of a country’s local flavor just by flipping open one of these bottles? In the Dominican Republic, for example, two of the most popular drinks are Merengue and Refresco Rojo, and are available at Dominican restaurants and bodegas around NYC. In Peru, the local palate lusts for Inca Cola, Cola Real and Chicha Morada. I know, I know, when the temperature starts to drop, it’s more fitting to talk about chocolate caliente and atole? But even though the city seems to have changed from green to fall yellow overnight, my memories of summer are still alive.

I was walking to work one day when I stepped into my corner deli to pick up a bottle of water and some flowers for the week. As I paced through the store browsing the cold drinks stocking the fridge something surprised me. An entire shelf was stocked with a line of the quintessential Mexican soft drink Jarritos. Captivated by the bejeweled bottles, I stared at the luminous rainbow of flavors: tamarind, pineapple, jamaica, mandarin, grapefruit, lime.

Not long ago, lime soda became my summer drink of choice. Along with boogie boarding Saturdays. G and I would wake up, pack PBJ’s and rush out of the house to squeeze every moment of our long warm days, returning time and time again to our favorite spot on the Jersey Shore.  After an invigorating day of playing with the waves, we would drive home when the last hint of light covered the sky, picking up burritos at our favorite tex-mex joint in Hell’s Kitchen. With salt on my skin and leftover sand between my toes, I would order a bottle of the lime green, psychedelic-looking soda, straight out of the pages of Dr. Seuss.

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