Sunday, June 29, 2014

Travel Food Porn: Ecuador (Part 1)...No Rubber Chicken to be had at this Wedding!

After a month-long hiatus from blogging, I'm finally ready to delve back in to all the food talkin', and bloggin', and sharin' great recipes. As I mentioned in my last post, pre-break, I was set to travel to Ecuador and Peru for two weeks. I had been told that I would fall in the love with the food there. And for the most part, I did. I can't simply write about the food of this region in just one post, so I'm going to split it into several posts.

My first post I dedicate to the reason I went on this trip in the first place...Beth and Renato, who got married in Quito, Ecuador. I've been calling this one of the most redonkulous weddings I've ever been to, and with good reason. While I could go on and on about the beautiful bride and groom, the gracious hosts on both sides of the aisle, and the amazing music (no less a pop/rap star performance AND fireworks!?!?), this blog is about food, and there is plenty to write about the food at this wedding. Though I could probably summarize it in three simple words: No Rubber Chicken.

The setting for this wedding was simply beautiful. Quito is a lovely city, and the wedding reception was held about 30 minutes outside of the city in a very picturesque backdrop. The party started with a cocktail reception with all sorts of great appetizers around 2 p.m. I was too busy enjoying my champagne cocktails to properly take photos of the food...but there were shrimps, and caviar, and all sorts of great nibbles.

Following a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, it was time to eat the main meal. This lunch was served around 3:30 p.m. Even though we had been promised snack foods later (including a 10 p.m. quinoa soup which seemed odd at the time, but turned out to be a delight), I felt it was important to savor as much as I could of this great meal. Because we'd been warned that this wedding reception was a marathon, not a sprint. And if the Americans were to survive the Latin American drinking traditions, we'd have to line our stomachs first. Challenge accepted!

If you don't know the couple, Beth is Chinese-American and Renato's family is from Ecuador. What was so cool about this wedding was that they infused both types of cuisines into the meal. The first course was Chinese dim sum with three types of sauces. It was served in the traditional style and included a variety of flavors, none of which I could quite identify, but each unique in their own way. This was followed by a sorbet served in a beautiful ice cup that was infused with flower petals. Simply gorgeous.

The main dish included langostinos, in other words, very large shrimps with a shitake mushroom sauce; duck breast with a hoisin sauce, and two sides which included a grain pilaf of sorts and a vegetable medley. These two dishes were served tableside and I still regret not taking just one additional shrimp. I've been to a lot of weddings, but I've never had a main dish that was this flavorful, unique and tasty. No Rubber Chicken indeed.

The dessert course continued the tradition I had been seeing in fine dining in Ecuador where there are three dessert options, one of which is always served in a shooter. These included a mango mousse, a green tea crème brulee, and a passion fruit ice cream truffle sprinkled with raw cocoa. Amazing.

But the food didn't stop there. There was a great coffee and chocolate bar, stocked with truffles and chocolate covered espresso beans, and all sorts of other tasty treats to keep the party going. And it sure did...all the way to 2 a.m.

Well done, Liu, well done.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Food and Amazing Combination

So...I've been a bit of a slacker lately in the cooking and blogging department. But those of you who regularly stalk me on Facebook know that a large part of that is due to my impending vacation. Which starts...tomorrow.

But before I get in to the specifics of where I'm going, I did want to talk a bit about the way I like to travel. I've been asked before how I go about picking my destinations. Sometimes they just fall in my lap. Other times, it's to check something off my list that I've been wanting to see for a while. My upcoming trip is just that. I'm going to a friend's wedding in Ecuador and am following it up with a trip to Peru to see Macchu Picchu which has been on my list for a while.

But one thing that often is a driving force in my destinations is food. I want to explore the culinary scene of any place I'm traveling to. From street food to fine dining, I want to try it all. I've also had the pleasure of taking cooking classes in country, which is hands down an amazing experience. I've done it in both Barcelona, where I took a tapas class, and in Thailand, where I took a Thai food cooking class. Peru will be no exception as I have signed up for a class to learn all about how to make chocolate, as well as make some of my own. If you're planning a vacation and interested in booking a cooking class or some other type of educational excursion, I recommend

Plus, I'm told that I should be prepared to be amazed at all the food in South America. From ceviche to pupusas to the illustrious guinea pig (no joke), I'm looking forward to reporting back on all my adventures.

So until then, I must say "adios" until later in June, when I will pick back up on the cooking and the blogging.

Hasta luego!