Archive for the 'Travel/Viaje' Category

Cooking With Daisy… on Whitehead Island!

This past August 21-26, I had the pleasure of being invited to the Whitehead Light Station to cook with a group of students who had signed up to spend time cooking in the kitchen with me! Can you imagine? Well, I was geared up to have a great time, but nothing prepared me for the truckload of fun and laughs we had the days that we spent there. I will be covering the trip, day by day with pics and recipes in a few posts, so check back often for frequent updates. The recipes for today’s menu are featured as the monthly recipes at so stop by and take a look!

I arrived on Whitehead a day early to scope out the brand new kitchen, and get a feeling for the lay of the land, so to speak. The students were to arrive on Friday the 21st, and I wanted to visit the local farmer’s market to see if I could help stock the larder, although native chef and caterer Anne Stires and her husband Jon, had done an incredible job of preparing the space for my arrival. Angela and Carolina accompanied me (Angela to be a guest of the Swans at their compound, and Caro as my indispensible right hand!), and as we cleared the woods after walking from the dock, this is the first thing we saw:

the Guesthouse and Lighthouse on Whitehead Isand, a sight that took my breath away!

After a quick perusal of the facilities, it was off the local Farmer’s Market in the nearby town of Rockland. Caro, Anne and I were taken back to the mainland by Captain Jon (or Tom, as I decided to rename him!), and away we went. Anne cooks seasonally, locally (whenever possible), and organically, and was waxing poetic about the fare at the market. I couldn’t wait.

Daisy and Ann Stires discuss menu options on the way to the Farmer’s Market in Rockland.

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Jason goes to Puerto Rico: Guavate, Thanksgiving-Land

jason-small by you. As Ricardo Montalban in his famous role as Mr. Roarke used to say, SMILES everyone, SMILES!, it’s Daisy’s buddy Jason Perlow again, and you know what that means — welcome back to Boriqua Island. Sorry, no Tattoo.

Last post, we talked about seafood and all the myriad of ways Puerto Ricans like to eat them. But I would be amiss if I didn’t talk about a very special place on the Island — a land where it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas 365 days a year. The place I’m talking about is GUAVATE.

Guavate, Puerto Rico by you.

A view of the Guavate mountain and forest region in Puerto Rico from a popular Lechonera.

Guavate is an area that is designated as a district as part of the larger town of Cayey, which is in South-Central Puerto Rico. It’s a mountainous, forested area that has become known over the years as a favorite recreational spot for Puerto Ricans — and as a result, has created an entire culture dedicated to eating traditional holiday foods, such as Lechon (Roast Pork) and Pavochon (Roast Turkey — see Daisy’s Recipe).

A single road which passes through the town, Highway PR-184, also known as as the “Pork Highway” has many restaurants which specialize in these two dishes and all their accompaniments. Which one is the best? It’s hard to say, but Rachel and I visited two of them and if we picked the two worst ones, then I can’t imagine what the two best taste like. Our best bet — and our overall strategy — was to see which parking lots were the busiest and had the most amount of people eating there.

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Jason goes to Puerto Rico: The magic word is MARISCOS!

jason-small by you. Hola amigos y amigas, it’s Daisy’s buddy Jason Perlow again, and you know what that means — another juicy installment of food in Puerto Rico.

In my first post, I talked a bit about the basics of Puerto Rican and Caribbean Latino cuisine, and focused particularly on the platano — the plantain fruit, and tostones, one of the most common but tasty staples you will see while while visiting the island. Today, we’re going to talk about seafood — or as Puerto Ricans like to say, MARISCOS!

Palmas del Mar, Humacao PR by you.

Fisherman’s dock, Las Palmas, Humacao, Puerto Rico.

In the States, you don’t normally think of seafood being an integral part of Latino cuisine, but in Puerto Rico, being an island and smack right in the middle of the Caribbean, seafood and shellfish are extremely common and are amongst the most loved things to eat, although much of it unfortunately has to be imported from other countries, such as the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. A small amount of fish and other creatures are caught locally, but the Puerto Rican fishing industry is relatively small nowadays. Still, this doesn’t stop a huge amount of the stuff from being consumed on the island itself.

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Jason goes to Puerto Rico: You WILL eat Tostones. And LIKE it.

jason-small by you. Greetings, Daisy’s webmaster and good friend Jason Perlow here. I know Boriqua Blog is a site for all things Daisy, but trust me, you’re really gonna like this series of posts. I can’t promise to have Daisy’s sense of humor and bubblicity, but I can definitely show you some good food.

Some of you may know me from my food blog, Off The Broiler, and the culinary food discussion site eGullet which I co-founded in 2001. Daisy and I met three years ago when she did a podcast for my blog which if you’re a big Daisy fan I encourage you to listen to. At the time we did that podcast, I was a big fan of her show, Daisy Cooks! on PBS. We became great friends, and eventually, I helped her build and Boriqua Blog.

I’m sure of you many of you are aware that Daisy is of Puerto Rican heritage. I, on the other hand, am an estadounidense — an American, and specifically Jewish and of Eastern-European descent. While I can speak Spanish semi-fluently — I studied it in college and I grew up learning it in my household because my mother has a masters degree in Spanish, I never truly understood what it meant to be a Latino. Sure, I’ve travelled to several Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Panama, but in those trips, I’ve never truly “gone native”. Even in my previous travel to Puerto Rico, I stayed within the confines of the Caribe Hilton and the tourist areas of San Juan, and never ventured out to see what America’s foremost tropical island was really all about. The next time I went, I vowed that it would be different.

Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico by you.

Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico.

I recently returned from a trip to Puerto Rico with my wife, Rachel, and we stayed in the Palmas del Mar resort near Humacao, which is on the Southeast side of the Island. The majority of the places we visited were along the Southern and Eastern side of the island, so if my report looks a little skewed for not featuring cuisine and culture on the West and Northern parts, you’ll understand.

While not as large in terms of landmass as the two other Caribbean islands such as Cuba and Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico is still pretty big and is really too large to try to get a full sense of in just one week — it’s still the size of Connecticut, and despite having several autopistas it still has a lot of one lane roads which prevent fast cross-country travel. A trip from Humacao in the east to Rincon or Aguadilla in the western part of the island can easily take more than 3 hours, particularly if you need to go thru mountain roads for part of the trip.

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Jose Can You See…Me Gasping With Anticipation?

I spent this past weekend visiting a friend, Barbara, in Washington, D.C. with my friend and partner in crime, Loni. I was hoping to visit some of the local eateries, and between Barbara”s suggestions and Chris Styler’s intercedence, I was all set up to visit two of Jose Andres’ restaurants; I would visit Oyamel on Saturday night, and Cafe Atlantico on Sunday afternoon for their Latino Dim Sum.

Barbara, Loni, and I arrived at Oyamel around 7:30 in the evening, to be whisked off to our table. Almost at once, as if by magic, we were served an Oyamel margarita, Jose’s favorite margarita, made with “salt air” instead of a salted glass. It was absolutely divine; the margarita itself was the perfect balance of sweet-tart, and the “salt air” gave you just enough salt to make it interesting…and it was pretty!

Oyamel Margarita

We had barely had a couple of sips, enjoying the decor, when our waiter appeared table side to make  our guacamole , served with warm corn tortillas and crispy tortilla chips. I was loving this place already!

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El Bistro Faena: Fantastical!

Usually, when I travel I like to go to spots that are homey and off the beaten track…I like to eat where the locals eat, in other words. However, I was hosted by friends who live part time in Buenos Aires, and El Bistro in Faena Universe happens to be located in the same building they have their apartment. The space itself it absolutely gorgeous, and a little bit like something out of a Guillermo del Toro movie…it has a “fantasy” feel about it, almost like you’re in another astral plane. My friends had assured me that the food was as magical as the decor, and had arranged for me to meet the executive chef of this enchanted restaurant, a young artist by the name of Mariano Cid de la Paz. The space is elegantly portrayed in white as the main color scheme, gorgeous chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and the walls are appointed with white unicorn heads, mounted along the stretch of the restaurant.

Faena Bistro Dining Room (*This pic is not mine, but comes from the Faena Universe site. My picture was no where near as flattering as this one, and I want to make sure you see how dramatic the space really is)

The minute we were seated, and our drink orders taken, we were presented with a variety of equally whimsical amuse bouche. First, a pretty platter of Polenta Crisps with Sweet Pimenton, followed by Parmesan Puffs with Lemon Relish made their appearance, to be followed by “Burbujas de Aceituna” or Olive Bubbles! I immediately started channeling Ferran Adria! We also sampled Chef Mariano’s signature “Fried Sushi” and Soy Marinated Salmon Bites that wereso delicious and exciting, I didn’t manage to get a good picture. Take my word for it: they were delicious!

Polenta Crisps (left) and Parmensan Puffs (right)

Burbujas de Aceituna

By this point I was very excited, because if the amuse were a sign of what was yet to come, we were looking forward to a very delicious evening! As if on cue, Chef Mariano made his way to our table, where he greeted us warmly and chatted for a few minutes before heading back to his alter kitchen. In the few minutes that we managed to chat, he revealed that he had indeed, studied with His Holiness Ferran Adria in Barcelona for two years, before finding his way to Buenos Aires…lucky Buenos Aires! The evidence of his passion is clearly placed before us with every course (and he’s not too hard on the eyes, either!).

Executive Chef Mariano Cid de la Paz greets Daisy at El Bistro in Faena Universe

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Heaven on Earth….Social Paraiso, Buenos Aires

Remember that ’80’s show with the theme song about going “where everybody knows your name”? That was definitely the feeling I experienced when visiting this lovely restaurant, Social Paraiso. The feeling is homey and warm, and we were shown to an adorable table in their tiny courtyard. Perfect for basking in the sun, while enjoying a delicious almuerzo with family and friends.

The courtyard table at Social Paraiso

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Asado, Anyone?

When I first planned my trip to Argentina, I prepared myself for the meat-fest that I knew awaited me, but never in my wildest dreams could I have come close to the actual experience of an Argentine asado, or grill. These Latinos are serious when it comes to their meat, and they have the grills to prove it, as I will be more than happy to show you in this and future entries.

Our little troop scheduled a Christmas Day dinner in Cabanas Las Lilas in Puerto Madero, not far from where the Scharffs have their apartment. As you approach the restaurant, you are seduced by the aroma of meat on the grill. We were definitely off to a very good start, as my clan are well documented carnivores.

Grill Masters at Cabanas Las Lilas

We ordered the Picadera Platter to help us get in the mood. It included Grilled Eggplant with Black Olives, Roasted Tomato with Olive Oil and Oregano and Baby Mozzerella, Roasted Sweet Red Peppers, Jamon Serrano with Chimichurri, and Tortilla Espanola (I really wish I could insert my tilde *~* over my “n”), and these deliciously addictive little breads made with yucca.

            Picadera Platter

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Buenos Aires, Here I Come!

     In a few minutes, I’ll be leaving for the airport for our annual Christmas family trip, albeit a few short. For the first time, Jerry and Erik will not be traveling with our family for our Christmas trip, because of business obligations (and Erik is interviewing at several medical schools!).  Our trip will take us to Buenos Aires in Argentina, and we are all very excited, as we are meeting our good friends, Paul and Paula Scharff, who are there already (Paula’s family lives in Buenos Aires), but before I go, I’d like to take a few minutes to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health, happiness,  and prosperity. I will be sure to sample a lot of great food, and take a million pictures to share with you when I get back.  Until then, Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year!

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in to “All Things Considered” on Christmas Day on your NPR station!

Rockin’ the Big E!

I had so much fun this past weekend. I was invited to be a part of the Eastern States Exposition, or as it is more affectionately known, The Big E! To call this venue “big” is the understatement of the century. It is the largest state fair in the northeast, boasting an attendance of 72,126 on Sunday alone, and the party lasts for 17 days!

We arrived to sunny skies and cool temperatures, ready to rock. After a brief “catch up’ with my comrade in crime for the day, Chef Jack, and Event Coordinator Howard Cowdrick. Wayne McCary, President of The Big E! came down to the beautiful set kitchen they had prepared for my visit for a personal hello.

Mr. Wayne McCary, President of The Big E! and Daisy

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