It came as no surprise to anyone that 34-year-old Rodrigo Oliveira from São Paulo’s Mocotó restaurant was named Chef of the Year in Veja‘s annual Comer & Beber issue for 2014-15, a bit of a gastronomic Bible for foodies in the city. The guy is humble, immediately likable, soft-spoken, good-looking, mild-mannered and knows his way around a kitchen. But what he has pulled off at Mocotó, and the more upscale Esquina Mocotó next door (which took home honors for Best Brazilian Restaurant, incidentally), is truly remarkable.
Buenos Aires’ arts scene suffered a minor hit last week when mayor Mauricio Macri announced the (temporary) closure of twenty of the city’s cultural centers amid public safety concerns. Word is that one of the most popular venues, Ciudad Cultural Konex, has already reopened, but many others remain closed, leaving musicians and performers scrambling and audiences wondering where to go and what to see. Here’s a modified list of the best bets for the end of January leading into February.
Photo: Terra Hall
It´s no secret: Peru is all the rage and Peruvian food, which is quite literally on the tip of everyone´s tongues, has taken center stage. What sets the nation´s dishes apart from the rest of the world is as much the preparation as it is the fresh ingredients. After all, without this special combination, lomo saltado is nothing more than steak and potatoes. One ingredient that really brings even the simplest foods to life is ají, a type of chili pepper endlessly used in everything from chifa to ceviche. It´s been used as long as people have been cooking in the country currently known as Peru (we´re talking about 7,000 years), so the trial by fire (pun intended) period is over. Peruvians have the ají, and how to use it, down to a science.
The wild northern Guajira peninsula is one of the most underdeveloped – and stunningly pristine – parts of Colombia. Tourism is still relatively new in most parts of La Guajira, and visiting requires a certain amount of patience and willingness to try unusual forms of transportation. If you can make it work, though, you’ll be rewarded with a totally unique experience in the northernmost part of South America, where the desert meets the Caribbean and indigenous culture is the law of the land.
Photo: Kevin Raub
First of all, are you crazy? Let’s assume for purposes of this article that you are! And you want to navigate Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo on two wheels. Several banking intuitions, such as Itaú and Bradesco, have made it possible through colorful bike rental programs around both cities.
Cerro San Cristobal, the large hill that overlooks much of Santiago, Chile, is many things to many people. It’s a spot for religious pilgrimage, visiting the 22-meter marble statue of Mary atop the hill, or the small chapel nearby. It’s a proving ground for cyclists and runners, who use the hill’s smooth asphalt to train. And it’s a spot for family outings and photo-ops, atop the hill at Plaza Tupahue, where several vendors sell mote con huesillo, a local (nonalcoholic) drink made of reconstituted peaches and wheat kernels.
How you get up the 300-meter hill is up to you. If you’ve got a bit of time and energy, maybe you’d like to walk. A little less time but more energy, maybe a bike rental is for you. Or if not, there are a couple of motorized options listed below.
LAN Airlines recently received a question from a frequent flyer: “We have five days in Buenos Aires. What are some of the must-see things to do that are not the general tourist activitites?” We thought it made a good topic for the Only in South America blog. My five recommendations follow.
Photo: Troy Tolley, RPP and Toshiyuki IMAI (left to right)
Argentina and Chile are world-renowned for their wine. In Brazil cachaça, made from sugarcane, is king. For Colombia, the liquor of choice is an anise-flavored aguardiente. And in Peru, our national trago is a grape-derived brandy called pisco.
Peruvians often add a little local flair to traditional cocktails by holding the rum (in say a mojito) or forgoing the tequila (in a margarita), opting instead for a pour of pisco. And while this Peruvianizes just about any drink, it’s not nearly as authentic as one of Peru’s favorite cocktails, the chilcano.
It’s summer right now in Colombia, but seasoned residents know that we only have a few more weeks, at best, before the regular rainy schedule returns to the high Andes. With the rain, though, comes the perfect excuse to find the warmest corner of a cozy lunch spot and fill your belly with one of these hearty dishes.
Bringing your kids traveling is a great opportunity to spend some family time together. With schedules changed, the family in (usually) closer proximity, and favorite pastimes left at home, it’s the perfect time to explore the food and culture of a whole new place. And when that place is Santiago, Chile, there are many choices that are great for families. If you want to be nearly assured of a good day, make sure to pack in some kid-specific activities like those listed below.