Grabbed one of these snacks on the side of the street this afternoon, in Baños. It's fairly simple — a deep-fried banana, with a slit cut down the middle, and some highland cheese stuffed inside — but it tastes great. You really can do anything with bananas — batter them, fry them, boil them, bake them, grill them, or whatever else — and they're still sensational pieces of fruit. Recommended if you're ever somewhere in Ecuador, and craving something light yet filling for an afternoon feed.
Saw this very cute-looking (although just a little racially offensive) ice-cream on the menu at D'onofrio's, last time I was in Lima. Tonight, I decided to order a "Chinito". Big ball of maracuya (passion fruit) flavoured ice-cream for the head; licorice sticks for the eyes and moustache; red chewy lollie for the mouth; bed of almond nut mix; and topped with a chocolate wafer, and a paper umbrella. Next time you're near Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, head in to D'onofrio's and order one: is verree niice!
Last time that I tried Peru's famous ceviche (raw fish / raw seafood) cuisine, I wasn't too hot on it. But clearly, I just didn't go to the right place for it. Punto Azul, a restaurant in Miraflores, does some amazing ceviche. Went there for lunch today, in a big group, and we had one hell of a feed. Had some of the traditional ceviche dishes (i.e. fish and seafood soaked in lemon juice), as well as some with a more spicy sauce, and some that came in a big risotto. I'm totally converted.
There's a great restaurant in Arequipa, called Zig Zag (in Calle Zela, near the monastery), that's famous for doing ostrich steak. It's not cheap, but if you're up for a delicious and carnivorous meal, then it's more than worth it. Beautifully grilled, and served with salad, and chips / baked potato (plus about five different sauces). This was my first time having ostrich: it has quite a strong and tangy taste; but the meat is tender and delicious. Great feed.
Gopal is a little café in Arequipa, on the corner of calles Melgar and Jerusalén, that does vegetarian and other healthy cuisine. Went there for breakfast this morning, and had the most amazing desayuno ever! An absolutely massive bowl of muesli, fresh chopped-up fruits (banana, papaya, kiwifruit, strawberry, apple, and others), and lovely cool yoghurt. Served with tea/coffee, fresh orange juice, and whole wheat bread. Really kicks you off for the day, and tastes delicious.
When we arrived in Sunny Days hostel this evening, Chris and I decided to immediately take advantage of the great kitchen on offer there, and to cook something up for dinner. Somehow, when we actually started cooking, I ended up being in charge of it. We ended up with a weird kind of risotto slash omelette slash stir-fry thing, of fried rice, fried chicken, fried egg, and fried carrot and onion. All fried together. Looked like prison food. Smelled a bit burnt. But tasted good: at least, I thought so! Anyway, we're still in Chile, so at least the ingredients didn't give me food poisoning.
Bought this bar of "cacao puro" chocolate at a little market in Potosí, and I decided to crack it open this morning, and to give it a try. Most disgusting chocolate I've ever had. I don't think there's much in it, except raw cacao ground into a powder, and lots of rough sugar. Everyone in the group tried it, and found it equally sickening. We couldn't finish it, so we gave the rest of it to our guide. Keep away from traditional Bolivian chocolate!
Bolivia is an amazing country; but sadly, this is despite its culinary offerings. Fortunately, there are plenty of exotic gringo restaurants in La Paz, offering many of the fine foods that we crave from back home, and that give us a break from the positively ordinary local food of Bolivia. Last Thursday night, I dined on some delicious Beef Vindaloo at the Star of India restaurant. And today, I had some great Red Curry Thai Chicken at Maphro On.
I was a bit desperate for lunch today, so I wandered into the first local-looking restaurant that I stumbled across. It was a bit late — about 3pm — and when I asked them what they had on offer, they said that all they could give me was Jolke. I had no idea what Jolke was, but I was starving, so I said bring it on. Big mistake. Disgusting brown soup with horrible meat and various spices. Basically looks and tastes like a bowl of $—%#. Try and keep away from it during your next visit to Bolivia.
For our first dinner tonight in La Paz, Chris, Pascale and myself found a great local joint, that gave us soup, juice, and a plate of steak and rice, all for just Bs. 3.50 (about $AUD0.50)! Not bad tasting, either (and we didn't get sick from it, as a further bonus). As Chris said: "I think that this is the cheapest meal I've had. Ever. In my whole life." I can probably say the same for myself. Apart from the weird payment system, it was one hell of a cheap and awesome dinner.