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A guide to Uruguayan Food

The culinary delights of Uruguay have enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Like Argentina, the Uruguayan diet is meat heavy making it a little tricky for vegetarians, but a food paradise for carnivores. Here’s our rundown of the best things to eat during your visit.

Asado

Let’s start with the most famous and most popular. The asado is essentially a barbecue, but will be unlike any you’ve known back at home. Huge cuts of beef, pork and lamb along with sausages and offal are slow cooked over huge charcoal parrillas. Best washed down with plenty of Uruguayan red. Visiting Uruguay without trying an asado is unthinkable.

Asado con cuero

Similar to a normal asado, the only variation being the whole animal, skin and all, is cooked over the flames. Typically, a cow or sheep, the body is spread eagle and then slow cooked for hours. The sheer space required to cook this means you’re more likely to find it in the countryside than the city.

Choripán

Choripán is a favourite of ours. This spicy chorizo sausage is cooked over charcoal and usually served in a bread with lashings of chimichurri sauce. Often one of the first things to come off an asado barbecue.

Empanada

There is nothing quite as iconic as the empanada. Almost every Latin American country has their own variety and Uruguay is no different. Typically filled with minced beef and cheese, these crispy baked pastry morsels are delicious. Just remember to order more than one! For something a little different, try the empanadas Gallegas, a fishy version packed with tuna and peppers.

Morcilla dulce

Black pudding, boiled pork blood sausage, tends to divide people. Some love the earthy flavour and texture, others can’t stand the stuff. In Uruguay, their morcilla comes with added raisons and nuts to give it a slightly sweeter taste than other versions.

Milanesa

A popular dish all over Latin America with roots firmly in Italy. Beef or chicken is flattened before being breaded and fried until golden brown. For something more luxurious, go for a milanesa rellena which includes melted cheese and ham.

Ñoquis

Flickr: Vince Alongi

Also known as gnocchi, this potato based pasta from Italy has long been eaten on the 29th of every month in Uruguay when the average worker gets paid. You can’t beat a bowl of homemade gnocchi which sometimes has a coin or note placed below it which is supposed to attract prosperity.

Pancho

Flickr: Rix Arg

Take a frankfurter and place between a bun called a pan de viena. Add plenty of condiments, and you’ve got the South American version of a hot dog. Great at the end of a heavy night to help soak up the booze.

Pizza por metro

Flickr: Simon Law

Literally meaning ‘pizza by the metre’, here it’s sold in rectangles not circles. Usually cooked in a big wood fired clay oven, you can choose the ingredients you want it topped with.

Dulce de Leche

While not a dessert itself, it’s used in any manner of ways from spreading on toast to eating with your morning medialunas pastries. You won’t go far in Uruguay without seeing sweet, caramel-like dulce de leche.

Alfajores

Like Argentina, Uruguay have somewhat of an obsession with these short bread biscuits filled with sticky dulce de leche. We can see why. They are as delicious as they sound and best eaten with a strong black coffee.

Churros

These long star-shaped cylinders of fried dough covered in icing sugar have their origins in Spain, but they are just as popular in Uruguay. Look out for vendors setting up on street corners in the early evening and buy them as soon as they’ve come out the fryer.

Arroz con leche

Delicious, creamy rice pudding. Who wouldn’t like it.

Bizcochos

Usually served for breakfast, these little pastries of different sizes and shapes are eaten in the morning with strong black coffee. They can come as either sweet or savory, both of which are delicious.

Grappamiel

The national drink of Uruguay, grappamiel is made from distilled spirit mixed with honey. It’s strong, so be careful when you’re drinking it.

Mate

Flickr: kweez mcG

Like the gauchos in Argentina, the yerba herbal drink of mate is consumed in the sort of quantities the British drink tea. Many Uruguyan’s can be seen headed to work carrying a thermos flask of hot water and mate cups.

Want to try the food of Uruguay? Start planning your trip to the country today by calling one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

Peruvian pollo a la brasa recipe

Flickr: inyucho

Peruvian rotisserie chicken, sometimes called blackened chicken, is one of the most popular dishes in the country. The dish originated in Lima in the 1950s and is often eaten on Sundays with family and friends. When it was first created, it was only the very wealthy that ate pollo a la brasa, but the dish has now become cheap enough for the masses. The chicken is typically served with French fries, salad and a variety of mayonnaise-based and chilli sauces.

Serves: 4
Time: 8 hours

Ingredients

2 kilo chicken, cut into quarters
5 garlic cloves
100 ml soy sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tps paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbs oil
1 lime, quartered
Seasoning

French fries

Method

Put the soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, cumin, oregano, paprika, pepper and oil into a blend and wizz up into a paste.

Put the chicken into a large mixing bowl and cover in the marinade, rubbing well into every part. Place into the fridge and leave for at least 8 hours, taking it out every half an hour to baste and rub the marinade. If you have the time, 24 hours is even better.

Though this dish can be made in the oven (200°C for one hour), it tastes a lot better by barbecue. Light the barbecue and wait into the flames have disappeared and the coals are grey. Move the coals cover the edge of the barbecue so there is no direct heat on the meat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cover with the lid. Turn every five minutes or so and baste with the remaining marinade. The chicken should be down in around 45 minutes.

Serve in the centre of the table with French fries, a salad, spicy sauces and lime wedges.

Garnish with lime wedges.

10 things you should eat in Belize

Flickr: regan76

Flickr: regan76

Belizean cuisine has not quite made it (yet!) onto the international food scene. This is surprising. Belizean food is a fusion of Caribbean, Spanish, Mexican, African, and native Mayan. Along the coast and on the islands, be sure to steer towards the catch of the day. In land, mouth-watering chicken and beef stews thick with dark spices are common in most restaurants. Here’s 10 dishes you simply can’t leave Belize without trying.

Salbutes

Flickr: Krista

Flickr: Krista

A seriously popular street food, these tasty little morsels are made with fried tortillas packed with cabbage, tomatoes, avocados and chicken. Depending on how spicy you like your food, try topping with plenty of Marie Sharp’s pepper sauce (you’ll see it on every table in the country).

Grilled lobster

Flickr: A Cromwell

Flickr: A Cromwell

The importance of lobster to Belize’s economy cannot be overstated. In season, spiny lobsters (a smaller cousin to the Atlantic lobster found off Canada and the US), are in abundance. Along the shores of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, lobsters can be seen grilling on drum barbecues and are seriously good value. Grab a cold beer, stick your feet in the sand and tuck into a lobster covered in lemon garlic butter. Bliss. For the last ten years, the San Pedro Lobster Festival on Ambergris Caye kicks off lobster season and has been voted Belize’s best festival.

Boil ups

Flickr: Bernt Rostad

Flickr: Bernt Rostad

Boil ups are exactly what they say they are. Everything the cook has in from vegetables, fish, eggs and more are thrown into boiling chicken stock and served with bread dumplings. Simple, but really, really good.

Cochinita pibil

Flickr: Noonch

Flickr: Noonch

This ancient dish hasn’t changed much since the Mayans created it over a thousand years ago. Found on restaurant menus throughout the country, it’s made from marinated, slow-cooked pork and served with corn tortillas.

Fry jacks

Thiese puffed-up dough balls resemble something like a doughnut, albeit they are usually served as a savoury accompaniment to eggs and refried beans in the morning. Be sure to look out for stands selling stuffed fried jacks. These pockets of crispy good stuff are filled with everything from chicken, cheese, ham, eggs and beans, and at around US$2 make for a good value and filling breakfast.

Conch fritters

Flickr: Steve Grant

Flickr: Steve Grant

Another coastal favourite. Conch is roughly chopped and mixed with flour, pepper, onion, garlic, Habanero peppers. It’s then formed into little patties and fried until golden brown. Best eaten with Belize’s famous hot sauce.

Ceviche

Flickr: regan76

Flickr: regan76

Ceviche may be from Peru, but the Belizeans have taken it as their own. It also differs from its Peruvian counterpart. Almost like a chunky salsa – tomatoes, onions, sliced cucumber, coriander, lime juice and habanero peppers are mixed with par-boiled conch, shrimp, octopus or white fish, cooled and served with nachos. Though it can be found inland, it’s obviously best eaten near the sea on a sunny afternoon.

Johnny cakes

Flickr: stevemonty

Flickr: stevemonty

Johnny cakes are a stable of Belizean cuisine. These small savoury baked bread cakes made from flour and coconut milk are cut in half and filled with beans, eggs and cheese for breakfast. For a more filling lunch, try adding some chicken or beef. Though they are best eaten right out of the oven, they do last for several days giving them their other name, ‘Journey Cakes’.

Grilled fish

Flickr: Narisa

Flickr: Narisa

Belizeans know how to cook fish. It would be impossible to name every grilled fish eaten in Belize. Some to look out for include barracuda, snapper, grouper and lion fish. Depending on size, it’s usually served whole and accompanied by coleslaw, veg and rice and beans. On Caye Caulker, try Maggies, a tiny home restaurant near the northern Split.

Chimole

Chimole is also known as ‘Black Dinner’ due to its dark appearance. It’s a common homemade chicken stew made using spices and some black achiote paste.  It’s usually served with tortillas and boiled eggs.

Meat pies

Wiki: Alpha

Wiki: Alpha

Meat pies are a throwback to when Belize was a British colony. Light flaky pastry is filled with minced beef and gravy. Most top it with some of Belize’s famous hot sauce. They’re perfectly sized for mid-meal snack and can often be found on the carts of mobile street vendors.

Tamales

Flickr: ohocheese

Flickr: ohocheese

Tamales differ somewhat from their Mexican counterparts. Here, plantain leaves are used instead of traditional corn husks. Recipes vary depending on what part of the country you’re in, but are often served with cull, a thick gravy made from chicken stock. Mostly found inland, though they are occasionally found on the islands.

Want to try Belize food for real? Get in touch with our Belize travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

10 prawn dishes you have to try on the Riviera Nayarit

The Riviera Nayarit lies along the western coast of Mexico. The beautiful region is known for its white sandy palm fringed beaches, laid back locals, luxurious hotels and most importantly, fresh seafood. It’s no surprise then that there are plenty of seafood dishes to try. If you love prawns, there’s simply no better place to eat. Here’s 10 prawn based dishes to try when you visit.

Tortitas de Camarón

Popular during Holy Week and Easter, this traditional dish of prawn patties cooked in a fresh spicy sauce made from chipotle chilies, tomatoes, garlic, onions and nopal cactus is delicious.

Empanadas de Camarón

Empanadas are popular throughout Latin America, the recipe and filling changing depending on the region visited. Similar to a Cornish pasty, these pockets of pastry are filled with prawns and cheese or a spicy casserole of prawns, tomatoes, onions and chili.

Camarones Zarandeados

This is a true Nayarit seafood classic. Prawns are cut in half and smoked using a secret recipe. It’s also common to find smoked octopus and other smoked fish.

Tamales de Camarón

Though tamales are sold on almost every street corner in Nayarit, head to the central coast of northern region of the state for the best.

Camarones a la Diabla

These deviled prawns are one of the simplest dishes, but pack a punch. Prawns are fried in butter and seasoning and then doused in ketchup and a spicy sauce. Perfect with a cold beer.

Coctel de Camarón

Most will have tried a prawn cocktail before, but in Nayarit its served spicy and hot. The prawn heads are ground down and added for extra flavor along with onions, tomatoes, cucumber and chilies.

Camarones a la Cucaracha

Though the name is unappealing (it translates to cockroach prawn), it’s got nothing to do with roaches! Prawns are coasted in seasoned flavor and fried until golden brown.

Ceviche de Camarón

A classic Latin American dish. Although this is not native to Nayarit, it’s one of the best places to try the dish. Raw prawns are marinated in lime juice, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and chili. Best served on a sunny afternoon near the beach.

Taxtihuil

This corn, prawn and chili stew is ancient. Originating from the Isla de Mexcanltitan, it’s been eaten in the region since pre-Hispanic times. It’s as popular now as it was then.

Aguachile

The origins of Aguachile is disputed between Nayarit and neighboring Sinaloa. A regional favourite, this recipe is created with lime, chili, garlic and seasoning which is poured over prawns, onions and cucumber.

If that’s not enough, we’ve got one more for you. We couldn’t create this list without mentioning tacos de camarón. There are plenty of varieties, but they all include tortillas heaped with prawns, mulata sauce, coriander, lime and habanero chilies.

Want to try any of these prawn dishes in the Riviera Nayarit? Get in touch with our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

With thanks to Riviera Nayarit.

Brazilian acarajé recipe

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Flickr: ManoelNetto

These fried pea balls are commonly found on the streets of Brazil’s northern Bahia state. They are also used in religious offerings to the gods in the Candomblé religion. Though these are now thought of as typically Brazilian, they dish was brought by the slaves of West Africa. Still to these day, similar snacks are found in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Gambia, Togo and Sierra Leone.

Serves: 20 acarajé
Time: 1 hour
Ingredients

Acarajé balls

½ kg onions
½ kg black eyed peas, drained from can
Vegetable oil for frying
Seasoning

Filling

100g cashews
100g peanuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
250g dried prawns
½ kg bread, day old stale bread works best
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger, finely chopped
1 ltr coconut milk
1 tomato, chopped
1 handful of coriander, finely chopped
Vegetable oil
Seasoning

Method

Take the dried shrimps and soak them in water.

Add the peas, onions and seasoning and blend into a rough paste. Remove and set aside.

Add the shrimps to the blender along with the nuts and bread and wizz for a minute or so.

Heat a little oil in a saucepan and cook off the ginger, garlic, onions until soft, usually around five minutes or so. Add the rest of the ingredient except the coriander and cook for about half an hour, seasoning to taste. At the end, mix in the chopped coriander.

Take a very large saucepan (or turn on a fryer if you have one) and heat oil. Take the pea and onion mix and form into balls. Drop these into the hot oil in batches, cooking for about 5 minutes. Once they are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on kitchen towel to soak up excess grease and cool a little.

Cut across the centre of each cooked ball and fill with the vatapá mix, some extra chopped tomatoes, some spicy sauce if you have it and coriander. Serve immediately.

The messy completo is Chile’s finest fast food

Flickr: James

Flickr: James

Everyone knows the American hotdog. New York’s full of vendors plying the streets with the cheap snack, but did you know that the Chileans do a hot dog, and it’s a whole lot better.

If you spend any length of time in Santiago it’s impossible not to try the completo. Like their American cousin it begins with the basic hotdog between bun, but that’s all they share in common. It’s then loaded up with chopped tomato, mayonnaise and salsa.

There are plenty of variants on the basic recipe. You’ll commonly find the Italiano that includes mash avocado which along with tomatoes and mayonnaise looks like the Italian flag. If the inclusion of all that avocado and tomato seems to healthy, you can have them loaded with French fries, strips of beef and fried eggs. There is a growing number of gourmet completo joints including organic ingredients and German bratwurst sausages which are more expensive, but worth the extra.

Although the completo can be enjoyed any time of day, it’s best enjoyed after a few cold beers or a night of pisco sours, limited any potential hangover the following day. It’s also incredibly good value, starting at around $2.

They are loaded so high that tackling your first completo can be a daunting prospect. Don’t let this put you off, just embrace the mess. Once started you’ll soon forget you’re ruined your t-shirt and jeans and most has been lost to the table and floor. Order a second.

It isn’t hard to find a complete kiosk, but some of the best include Hogs on Merced 299 which offer upmarket completes or the stalls around Pio Nono and Bellavista where the hot dogs are cheap and plentiful.

To try a completo for yourself start planning your trip to Chile today.

Picante de Pollo Recipe

This spicy chicken recipe from Bolivia is perfect for the long winter evenings. This one pot dish is healthy and quick to prepare.

Serves: 6
Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

1 chicken, cut into chunks
1.5 kilos of potatoes
250 grams of peas
2 medium onions
2 tbs of chilli powder
1 tbs of paprika
5 spring onions
1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped
½ handful of coriander, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of oil
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
1 pepper, sliced thinly

Serve with rice

Method

Put a large saucepan of water on to a high heat and add the chicken, coriander, spring onions and salt and boil for around 1 hour. In the meantime boil the potatoes separately. Two minutes before the potatoes have finished add the peas. Once cooked drain. 

In a frying pan add a little oil and fry the onions gently. Once these have been soft add the chilli, paprika, salt and parsley and cook for a few more minutes. Take two ladles of the chicken stock and add to the san. Simmer for around 15 minutes. Add the peas, chicken and potatoes and cook for another five minutes. Add the coriander right at the end and serve with rice and the sliced peppers.

Join the Fiesta de la Tradicion in Argentina

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A couple of hours east of Buenos Aires in the heart of the Pampas is the town of San Antonio de Areco. Since 1939 the town has played host to the Fiesta de la Tradicion, the oldest Gaucho festival in Argentina. Celebrated in November, this is one of the liveliest festivals in the country. Traditional dancing and music play a big part throughout the week, but most visit to see the impressive gaucho demonstrations and bronco riding. The parade attended by gauchos dressed in bombachas is a must. If this doesn’t sound quite like your thing, it’s worth visiting for the food alone. Huge asado barbeques cooking beef in the traditional way over fire takes place at the Parque Criollo each day.

Set in the peaceful countryside outside of San Antonio de Areco, the charming six room La Sofia Estancia is the perfect place to stay during your visit. It’s the personal touches like one to one polo lessons, beautiful food and wine that make this Estancia so special. Spanish colonial elegance and traditional style accommodation are the hall marks of the Estancia.

Select Latin America are running a package between the 6th and 8th November 2015 combining at stay at La Sofia Estancia with visits to the Fiesta de la Tradicion. During this two night package you can get involved in the activities of the festival, watching the gaucho demonstrations and parade, whilst also spending some private time away from the crowds, walking in the countryside, learning gaucho riding techniques and polo.

For more information about the festival, Estancia or package get in touch with us.

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6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

Much of the Mexican food one eats outside the country is a mixture of the many dishes that make up this rich culinary landscape. More often than not, it’s not even close replica of what you’ll find in Mexico.

With influences from the ancient civilizations including the Maya and Aztecs as well as the Spanish who brought the recipes and blended them with the exotic ingredients – tomatoes, avocados and cacao. Believe it or not, Mexico gastronomy has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage due to the preservation of the recipes and diversity of cooking techniques.

There are many ways to experience the gastronomy of Mexico. Just head out onto the streets of any town or city and you’ll find plenty of great food to explore. Here are six amazing food and drink experiences that shouldn’t be missed.

Agave

Flickr: jay8085

Taste tequila in tequila

Tequila has become phenomenally popular over the last few years, but nearly all the distillation of this spirit comes from the town of Tequila and the surrounding Jalisco state. The agricultural land that grows the agave plant that is used to create the drink is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The easiest way to see the region is by taking the Tequila Express, a train that runs passengers through the countryside (complete with mariachi bands). Of course, in Tequila you can visit some of the world’s best known Tequila brands to sample the drink and learn about its production.

Flickr: Joe Driscoll

Flickr: Joe Driscoll

Coffee tasting in Chiapas

When most think of coffee Mexico is not usual a country which is associated with the drink. But Mexico has a rich coffee growing heritage which can be seen in the state of Chiapas. After leaving the town of San Cristóbal de las Casas the lush green surrounding countryside has many local family run coffee plantations to explore. Mexican coffee tends to be medium body and milder than its counterparts. Learn about the production from harvest to cup and sample a few really good brews.

Oaxaca

Flickr: Karen

Street food in Oaxaca

Although street food is food throughout the country, most agree that the finest comes from the city of Oaxaca. This is a city that is obsessed with food. Taking a tour with an expert local foodie is the best way to try the food, but if you decide to go it alone you won’t be disappointed. As well as the usual suspects – tacos and tamales (which are excellent here), a few things to look out for include tlayudas (sometimes nicknamed Oaxacan pizza), enfrijoladas and the meat barbeques. Oaxaca is known as the land of the seven moles.

Flickr: Everjean

Flickr: Everjean

Eat the sacred Cacao

Mexico has a rich history of cacao production which goes as far back as 1900 BC. It was originally served as a hot bitter drink mixed with spices and corn puree. Sugar wasn’t added until the Europeans arrived in the 16th century. Around Tabasco there are many small cacao farms settled deep in the forest area. Here you can learn about the chocolate making process. After the green grains are fermented they are washed, toasted and the shell removed before being ground slowly into a smooth paste. This is then mixed with other ingredients like sugar before being molded. As well as trying your hand at making chocolate there will be plenty of samples to try.

Wine tasting 

Many don’t know that Mexico produces wine. Although it isn’t considered as a top producing nation, the country still produces a small amount of very drinkable wine. There are three different wine producing regions, but 90% comes from the peninsula of Baja California. Mexican wine began with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century who brought vines from Europe. One of the most important wineries is Casa Madero founded in 1597 and has varietals including chardonnay, syrah and chenin blanc.

Eat seafood in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is located on the Western Pacific coast. It is arguably one of the best places to eat seafood in the country. Lined all the way along the beach are fish stalls selling very cheap barbequed seafood. Shrimps and fish marinated in Mexican spices and cooked over an open grill are extraordinarily delicious, and the setting looking over the Pacific Ocean is fantastic. Walk along the Playa los Muertos until you see the small concrete pier. Below this you will find three shellfish vendors, there table stacked full of oysters and clams. Incredibly fresh and served with plenty of chili sauces and lime, this is an experience not to be missed.

To start your gastronomic journey through Mexico, get in touch.

Mistura Food Festival in Lima

Mistura

If you happen to be travelling in Peru in September we highly recommend the 8th edition of the ten-day Mistura Food Festival in Lima and the biggest food festival in South America. A wonderful mistura of Peru’s diverse culinary landscape, highlighting what is one of the world’s great but largely undiscovered cuisines. If you consider yourself a foodie, this is the place to be.

Peru can be roughly split into three different culinary areas – the highlands and Andes, the coastal region and the Amazon. Each has its own distinct set of flavours only made more varied by the introduction of Japanese, Chinese, African and other communities that have played their part in the evolution of Peruvian cuisine. If this is your first time to Peru, there is no better a starting point to get a good hold over the different food the country has to offer. On top of the more common (but nonetheless delicious) ceviches and pisco sours, there is plenty more to get your teeth stuck into.

Held in Exposition Park, the festival is expecting around a half a million people to visit including many top chefs from around the world. It is open each day from 9am until 11pm. This year it runs from the 4-13 September 2015. For more information visit mistura.pe.

To begin your gastronomic tour of Peru get in touch.

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