Photo: Kevin Raub
As recently as just three years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a beer in Brazil that wasn’t watered-down lager serving a single purpose: Beat the tropical heat with a buzz. Brazil’s most common beers (Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, Nova Shin) are all about as interesting as television static, despite being drunk in copious amounts by millions of Brazilians on a daily basis; in bars, at the beach, at barbeques – wherever you are in Brazil – you’ll find the majority of Brazilians quite happily content with more or less tasteless lagers, served on draft in small cups at least half full or more of foam (the entire country has been duped into believing a massive head keeps the beer cold longer - it doesn’t; it’s a lie perpetuated by Brazil’s biggest breweries and immortalized by bars the country over so they may serve the population half a beer for the price of a whole one!). For a beer country, it was all so distinctly average.
Learning about Malbec grapes – and the importance of creativity, tradition, pleasure, and family – in Argentina’s wine capital.
When an opportunity arises to visit Argentina’s most famous wine region during harvest, there’s only one thing to do: pack your bags. But you don’t want to show up in Mendoza without a plan. There’s so much to do – wineries, mountains to climb, rivers to raft, a landscape so vast that you need to have a few priorities in mind.
Sushi is everywhere in Brazil’s biggest city. As I’m sure you’ve no doubt read, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, centered in and around the fascinating neighborhood of Liberdade (we’re not even sure if that fact has ever been substantiated but there you go). The problem is, the majority of it is unimpressive, sold as all-you-can-eat extravaganzas from bad buffet restaurants whose fish selection rarely extends beyond imported farmed salmon six different ways. Não, obrigado.
Why subject yourself to a bad Brazilian experience when you can have an authentic Japanese one in Brazil? There are some serious, serious sushi joints in São Paulo. If you know the right places to go, you’ll do a double-take and check your passport as you enter.
Photo: Eileen Smith
For the fourth year in a row, the food summit ñam (say: nyam) will take place in Santiago Chile. This event, the name of which means, simply “yum” in Spanish, pulls together some of Latin America (and Spain)’s best chefs. The chefs will give workshops, talks, demonstrations, and of course, prepare food that participants can taste. In attendance there will be chefs from Chile, as well as visiting chefs from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Guatemala, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico.
Photo: Terra Hall
The Spanish may have been the first to emigrate to Peru, but they certainly weren’t the last. Perhaps it’s the eternal spring along the coast, or maybe its the rich history and culture that draw the international crowd. Whatever it is, people from all over the globe have been leaving their native lands and calling Peru home for more than half a millennium and with each group comes their traditions, their culture and, of course, their food.
Wander into any market or fruit stand in Colombia, and you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into an alternate universe or been whisked away to some alien planet. The containers spill over with all manner of brightly hued shapes – some with strange spines, otherworldly colors or scaly skin that looks more dangerous than edible. Rest assured, though, under all those alarming layers, there’s a whole delicious world waiting to be unpeeled.
Every day of travel brings something new. But most people like to try to fit in a bit of food, drink, activity, culture and shopping in there somewhere. The problem is planning on getting to the places where these things can be had at exactly the right time.
Enter Santiago’s quirky Bellavista neighborhood. Sandwiched between the Mapocho River to the south, and the towering Cerro San Cristobal to the north, this area has something to offer in all of the above categories with something to suit every budget and taste, from backpacker to luxury.
In my estimation, nearly everything that’s charming about Buenos Aires is on display at a singular destination: the bar notable, or historic café. The city has 73 of them, largely populated by older gentlemen reading the paper at rustic wooden tables, old-fashioned waiters serving cortados and medialunas, a little tango music on the radio, towering shelves stacked with bottles of wine and jars of olives.
When you think of ethnic food in Santiago, you might think of food from other Latin American nations. We have our share of Peruvian restaurants, and a few Brazilian and Colombian places, including some new eateries serving arepas and tropical juices. And of course, there are also a couple of well-reviewed Argentine steakhouses.
But what might surprise you is that in recent years, as the face of immigration to this sizeable city changes, and the Chilean palate opens to new experiences, we’re also seeing a large culinary expansion into Asian food.
There are plenty of places in Buenos Aires where you can get a good steak. There are not, however, plenty of places in Buenos Aires where you can get a good steak and also learn how to properly fold an empanada, serve mate, and communicate with your taxi driver using only hand gestures.
To acquire this particular skill set, you’ll need some porteño friends – or you can just sign up to spend an evening at the Argentine Experience. Despite its gleaming storefront in Palermo Hollywood, it’s not exactly a restaurant; regardless of the checkered aprons and empanada diagrams, it’s not a cooking class, either. It’s a ‘culinary experience’ run by an enthusiastic multinational team – Argentine, English, Brazilian – dedicated to introducing tourists to national traditions with a gourmet twist. I heard they happen to serve one of the finest steaks in town, so this past weekend, I went to check it out for myself.