Tag Archives: Peru

A #Pisco Cocktail for Peruvian Independence Day

27 Jul

Break out the lomo saltado and the bottles of pisco, chicos y chicas: Tomorrow is 28 de julio, or Perú’s Independence Day ! I know I promised you part 3 in the Canadian wine series, but guess who’s up to her eyebrows in deadlines? So in lieu of the final installment in the Canadian wine series, I present you with a re-blog of a post that was a hit about this time last year: Señorita Vino’s very own “Caipirinka” recipe: A Peruvian twist on a Brazilian classic, with pisco (of course!) as the main ingredient. So shout it with me one more time: ¡Que viva el Perú, carajo! 

Variety, chicas y chicos, is the spice of life, so to add a little sabor to your weekend, it is my supreme pleasure to introduce my latest invention…the Caipirinka. It’s a refreshingly  exotic blend of mangoes, lime and pisco.

Yep, it’s like the Brazilian Caipirinha but with a two-fold Peruvian twist: 1). Pisco is the national drink of Perú*, and 2). Mangos grow happily in Perú. And of course, there’s 2a: Señorita Vino’s parents hail from the land of the Incas.

If you’re not familiar with pisco, it’s a clear alcoholic spirit made from grapes. Some say it’s comparable to Italy’s grappa and Greece’s ouzo. And  like grappa and ouzo, pisco can knock you flat on your asti spumante, so be forewarned: un poquito goes a long way.

Adding to the Caipirinka’s uniquely Peruvian flair is the mango. Perú is one of six countries that exports mangos to the U.S.  The mangos I used to make the Caipirinka were generously provided by the Mango Board, which probably had no idea I’d use them to make an alcoholic beverage.
In case anyone’s keeping track, this is arguably the world’s most nutrient-rich cocktail. Mangos contain more than 20 different types of nutrients and vitamins, and just one cup of mangos is 100 calories and provides 100% of your recommended vitamin C allowance. See? Señorita Vino cares muchísimo about the health (and girlish figures) of her readers.

I used fresh, pureed ataulfo mangos, the oblong, bright yellow fruit in the photo above. ¿Porqué ataulfo? Because this variety has no fibers and is as smooth as butter, making it a great option to blend in cocktails or fruit smoothies. Not only that, but the flesh is gloriously golden, calling to mind the gold treasure of the Inca empire. Now there’s a culture that literally worshipped its bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So without further ado, here’s how you can add a little Inca gold to your Peruvian Independence Day celebration. Because we all have different palates (See “Vino 101”), you may want to adjust the amount of sugar, lime or pisco. If you do up the pisco content, Señorita Vino takes no responsabilidad if you wake up in an exotic land, covered in gold sequins and tropical bird feathers. ¡Salud!

*There is some debate between Perú and Chile as to which country ‘invented’ pisco. It was Perú, of course (see 2a above).

Señorita Vino’s Caipirinka 

(Serves 4)


1 cup of ripe Ataulfo mangos (about 2), cubed

6 tablespoons of  sugar syrup (make ahead: Dissolve 8 tablespoons of baker’s sugar into 8 tablespoons of water in a pan over low heat. Bring to a boil, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge).

8 ice cubes, cracked

4 key limes (or 2 regular limes), cut into small wedges. Save a few slices as a garnish, if desired.

4 teaspoons raw cane sugar, divided

4 ounces of pisco

3 additional ice cubes, cracked

In a blender, place the 8 cracked ice cubes, the mango and the sugar syrup. Blend until the mango is completely liquefied. Set aside. Place an equal amount of lime wedges into four small glasses. Add a teaspoon of raw cane sugar to each glass. With a muddler (see photo) or wooden spoon, crush the lime and sugar until it forms a paste.

Place the remaining three cracked cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add 2/3 cup of the mango puree and the pisco and shake until condensation forms on the shaker.

Shake it, chica!

Pour immediately into the cocktail glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.

Put a Little Passion in Your Pisco

12 Apr

I’m baaaaaaaack! From vacation, that is.

Two weeks in Perú have left me jonesin’ for the latest spin on the Andean nation’s  cocktail of choice, the Pisco Sour. This popular new version features an intoxicating splash of passionfruit for an exotically fruity twist and can be found in trendy restaurants or bars from Lima to Cuzco and points beyond.

Passionfruit Pisco Sours, as enjoyed at Ache restaurant in Lima's Miraflores neighborhood.

Passionfruit Pisco Sours, as enjoyed at Ache restaurant in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood.

Here’s Señorita Vino’s own take on a drink that will leave you longing for Llama Land. This cocktail is the perfect aperitif, or you can do what I’m doing and use it to cure a case of post-vacation blues.

Señorita Vino’s Passionfruit Pisco Sour


2 cups pisco

1 cup sugar

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, no seeds or pulp

1 cup passionfruit juice (you should be able to find this in an ethnic grocery store)

Angostura bitters (just a few drops’ll do ya!)

12 ice cubes, crushed

2 egg whites


Pour pisco, sugar, lime juice, passionfruit juice and a couple of drops of Angostura bitters into a blender and blend on medium speed until thoroughly mixed (two to five minutes). Next, add the crushed ice and the egg whites and blend again for about three minutes. Pour the mixture into small shot glasses and top with a drop of Angostura bitters.


Serves about 8 (or four if no one has to drive!)

Four last-minute holiday gifts for vino lovers

19 Dec

Six days until Christmas! Do you know where your shopping list is?

I promised I’d be back with a few last-minute gift ideas for your favorite wine lover/foodista. Real quick, because I know you’re rushing to the mall, here are four fun ways to say Feliz Navidad:

1. Don’t you hate it when you’re at a party and your wine glass decides to go mingle with 30 other glasses? I’ve tried to identify my wayward glass by the shade of the lipstick stain on the rim, but that never works unless I’m wearing coral or some other funky hue. A cool set of wine tags will solve that dilemma and save you from the Ick Factor of drinking out of someone else’s glass. My husband and I received this set as a wedding present eight years ago. Each tag has the name of a different Latin dance on it. There are lots of fun options available online or at your favorite local wine shop. Cha-cha-cha!

2. Nothing says I love you like stinky cheese. The stinkier the better! Give your favorite foodista a little cheese with their wine with a Cheese-of-the-Month membership. In a perfect world, the nice lady I met at the Mercado San Camilo in Arequipa, Perú  would be able to import her cheeses stateside. But we have plenty of options here, including  Greenwich Village landmark Murray’s Cheese Shop, which offers four-, six- and 12-month packages of 3 cheeses per month.

3. Road trip! Yes, you can give a road trip for Christmas. I’ve gifted my husband with trips to Napa Valley and California’s Central Coast. This is the gift that gives both ways, if you manage to invite yourself along. I know these are tough times, so if the price tag of a wine and food weekend is a bit steep right now, use the power of suggestion by giving a copy of Baja Wine Country or La Ruta del Vino de Baja California. These detailed, colorful and informative guides to Baja California’s Ruta del Vino are a helpful tool to inspire your next wine tasting adventure. Available in Spanish and English, for a mere $12 per book plus shipping, your partner/friend/spouse will be so impressed by your thoughtfulness that they may just invite you on a road trip to el Valle de Guadalupe. ¡Buen viaje!

4. Tired of the same old wine scene? Want to add spice to your life or your BFF’s? Looking for something exotic with a Latin accent that will make your friends stare in wonder and awe when the wrapping comes off? Pisco is the answer. Yes, in homage to the land of the Incas (and mis padres), there’s nothing like Peruvian pisco to add a little variety and excitement to your next cocktail party. This attractive package also looks great under the Christmas tree. Bartender not included.

(El full disclosure: My husband is a great man for tolerating my camera’s roving eye. In fact, putting this photo on my blog was his idea. I swear.)

Feliz Navidad and happy shopping, chicas!

Torrontes and Peruvian Comfort Food

30 Sep

Whoa – storm clouds are gathering outside my window, thunder is pealing, and I feel cheated out of Southern California’s version of an Indian Summer. This calls for comfort food.

In case you missed my Hispanic Heritage Month guest post, here’s the full article and the recipe for Peruvian seco de pollo. Pair this with an Argentinean Torrontes and add a little Southern Hemisphere warmth to a blustery fall day. ¡Provecho!

Seco de Pollo – Peruvian comfort food

Picture Los Angeles, circa 1970. A pale blue ‘64 Chevy Impala is cruising north on L.A.’s I-5 freeway. In the front seat, a striking couple from Perú argues in Spanish about whose family has produced the best cooks. In back, a little girl in a fuzzy white alpaca sweater gazes out the passenger side window. The destination: One of a handful of Peruvian restaurants in Southern California.

That little girl is me, and the lively pair in the front seat are my parents.  Once or twice a month, we’d leave the Orange County suburbs and make the hour-long trip north to Los Angeles in search of anticuchos, picarones, papa a la huancaina and a frosty bottle of Inka Cola. Long-gone hole-in-the-wall restaurants with stately names like El Tumi and Inca Palace were the only places my homesick parents could enjoy Peruvian delicacies featuring ingredients not readily available at the neighborhood chain grocery store.

There was one dish, however, that my father could make at home which didn’t involve an elaborate ingredient scavenger hunt: Seco de pollo, a Peruvian stew with chicken, potatoes and cilantro.

Heavy on the garlic and onions, laden with succulent chicken, and emerald-green from the cilantro, my father’s seco was the menu item of choice when relatives flew in from Lima, or for boyfriends having dinner at our home for the first time. But seco was not just for special occasions.

Weeknights, the herby-garlicky aroma of a hearty seco would waft from the kitchen into my bedroom, signaling a much-needed homework break. During a soggy El Niño year, my high school suspended classes one afternoon because of the deluge. I came home to steamy kitchen windows and a massive, chipped casserole of seco bubbling away on the stove.  Later that evening, perched on our lemon-yellow plastic dinette chairs, my family warmed up with heavenly-hot helpings of seco de pollo while the rain relentlessly pounded the house.

With apologies to my father, once I left home I adapted his seco recipe to accommodate my own style of healthy cooking. The flavor is still authentic, and thanks to globalization and big-box stores, I can use Peruvian beer in the preparation.

Peruvian cuisine is today’s culinary media darling, and the recent surge in trendy Peruvian restaurants has made the family car trip in search of comida peruana a distant memory. Still, nothing beats a homemade seco, chipped casserole and all.

Papi’s Seco de Pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)

Serves 6 to 8


3 lbs. boned and skinned chicken breast


5 large garlic cloves

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ cup red wine or apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


3 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 seeded and minced jalapeño pepper (if you like it spicy, make it 2 jalapeños)

6 small yellow onions, chopped

1 tbsp salt

8 oz. of Cuzqueña beer (or any pale lager if you can’t find Peruvian beer)

2 cups of chicken broth

1 cup of the juice left over after browning chicken

6 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped and tightly packed

½ bag frozen green peas, thawed


  1. Cut the chicken breast to about 2-inch cubes and set aside in a glass bowl.
  2. Peel and crush the garlic with a garlic press. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic, cumin, black pepper and salt to a paste. Mix in the vinegar, then add the olive oil and stir vigorously.
  3. Pour the mixture over the chicken, stirring to make sure each piece is evenly coated. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate for three hours.
  4. In a large casserole, heat the olive oil at high heat, then add the chicken and brown it on all sides (10 – 15 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Reserve residual juice in a measuring cup or bowl.
  5. Using the same casserole, stir in the onions, salt and jalapeño peppers and sauté until the onions are golden (about 15 minutes). Pour in the beer, reduce the heat and cook until the beer has completely evaporated.
  6. Add the browned chicken, the reserved juice and the chicken broth. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
  7. Add the potatoes, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the potatoes are cooked.
  8. Check occasionally and stir. Add more stock if needed.
  9. Add the peas and cilantro. Stir thoroughly and cover and cook for about six minutes.

10. Serve hot with steamed white rice. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro, if desired.

Señorita Vino guest blogs on Flanboyant Eats

7 Sep

Chicas y Chicos!

It’s time to get your Hispanic Heritage Month on. Señorita Vino is a guest blogger on the fabulous  Flanboyant Eats blog today as part of the culinary “All Around Latin America Tour.” Here’s an appetizer:

Seco de Pollo – Peruvian comfort food

Picture Los Angeles, circa 1970. A pale blue ‘64 Chevy Impala is cruising north on L.A.’s I-5 freeway. In the front seat, a striking couple from Perú argues in Spanish about whose family has produced the best cooks. In back, a little girl in a fuzzy white alpaca sweater gazes out the passenger side window. The destination: One of a handful of Peruvian restaurants in Southern California.

(See 9/30/11 post for update)

Fireworks – and kitchen experiments – go better with wine

5 Jul

A Fourth of July meal for free spirits: Grilled raspberry-chipotle chicken with quinoa tomato dill salad. Put out the little chipotle fire with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc.

Hot dogs are overrated. This Independence Day, I exercised my right to the pursuit of happiness by watching Perú and Uruguay tie 1-1 in a thrilling* Copa América match, and by happily declaring burgers, frankfurters and beer verboten at this year’s barbecue. Instead, I channeled a little independent thinking ‘round the grill. The result  – a mashup of flavors from around the globe that scored points with my fellow independent thinkers.

On the menu: Grilled raspberry-chipotle chicken, quinoa tomato dill salad, and mango cake for dessert. The wine of choice: St. Supery 2009 Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc.

By-the-book wine lovers might take issue with the pairing of a Sauvignon Blanc and grilled chicken. I found that the mild kick of the chipotle marinade was tamed by the fruitiness of the wine. Go figure.

To come full circle, my pursuit of happiness involves bending a few rules, perhaps making some mistakes along the way, but learning from them. Case in point – I decided to add dill to the quinoa salad because 10 years ago I had a fantastic raspberry-dill salmon salad at a café in Edinburgh, Scotland. I thought the dill in the quinoa salad would mesh with the raspberry in the chicken marinade.  The crowd went wild.

So here’s a toast to independent thinkers, free spirits, loquitas and the occasional culinary/pairing screw-up. Don’t let rules kill your appetite for experimentation.

*El full disclosure: A soccer match thrilling on many levels, not the least of which was watching Uruguay’s Diego Forlan in his resplendent, Greek-god glory AND learning that he broke off his engagement. But seriously, gente, I was rooting for Perú all the way.

Señorita Vino’s Quinoa Tomato Dill Salad

 Serves 8 as a side dish


1 cup dried quinoa

2 cups water

2 tbsps chopped fresh dill

4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

6 seeded and diced roma tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions. Don’t forget to rinse it first! Once it’s cooked, let it stand at room temperature in a large salad bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and dill. Add the olive oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over a leaf of butter lettuce. ¡Buen provecho!

Food and Vino – A Family Affair

19 Jun

Causa, a Peruvian appetizer made of molded potatoes topped with seafood or chicken salad.

Yep, I’m a Daddy’s Girl. And on this Father’s Day, it’s fitting that I pay tribute to the man who cultivated my lifelong passion for breaking bread with family, friends and new acquaintances, and who loves his Valpolicella despite what any wine snob thinks.

I was introduced to wine at an early age thanks to my father’s Italian roots, although I didn’t fully begin appreciating it until college. Now, before you go getting all Child Protective Services on me, let me be clear that my early indoctrination into the world of wine was much like it is in some Mediterranean and Latin American households – a small splash served with a multi-course, midday meal that usually went until 5 or later. A pour that was seldom finished by any of the kids because we had far more important things on our minds, like dessert.

But back to my father. He is in his element in the kitchen, where he’ll pull marathon stints constructing masterpieces from El recetario nicolini, Peru’s own version of “The Joy of Cooking.” Over time, my father’s culinary talents have created a small legion of Peruvian food aficionados among my circle of friends. As for my own Peruvian cooking repertoire, let’s just say I’ve mastered one dish, which leaves me with about 999 to learn.

Yes, mis amigos, the diversity of Peruvian cuisine is 1,000 dishes strong, according to one Peruvian restauranteur. If I were to attempt the Peruvian version of Julie y Julia, I’d be at it for about three years.

Arroz con mariscos, a Peruvian seafood and rice stir-fry influenced by Perú's Asian immigrant population.

My father is no-nonsense when it comes to wine. In other words, whatever is on the counter or in the fridge is what you’ll get with your meal. For those of you who are not quite as free-wheeling, wine pairing with Peruvian food is not as esoteric as it may seem. I recently enjoyed a five-course Peruvian meal with three Argentine wines that blended beautifully with the diversity of the food. A Torrontés paired seamlessly with the seafood dishes, a Malbec complemented a lamb and cilantro stew, and a dry Argentine Sauvignon Blanc with heady white floral notes capped off a dessert of kiwicha (or amaranth) pudding with mazamorra morada, a popular Peruvian treat made from purple corn.

So here’s to my papi. A Father’s Day toast to you and the thousands of hours logged in the kitchen for love of familia, food, and life. ¡Salud! 

Pescado chorrillano, sea bass in an ají amarillo (yellow chili) wine sauce with onions and tomatoes. ¡Delicioso!

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