Cooking with Gastón Acurio and Micha Tsumura

In a previous post, reviewing the restaurant Maido, we mentioned that we had caught up with its owner Micha, in southern Peru. Now we can reveal that we cooked with Micha Tsumura and Gastón Acurio in Pisco. Well, to be honest, we only watched them cook. It was by chance that the production company that was searching for locations to film some commercials for a bank, ventured into my wife´s family house just outside Pisco and asked whether they could film there. We were witness to the cooking of scallops with dates and passion fruit, which we also tasted and enjoyed. You can watch the last episode of the commercial at Cocinero Todo Terreno.

My wife, Diana, and I with Micha Tsumura and Gastón Acurio


New York, London, Milan, Paris and now...Gamarra Fashion Week

You may have never heard of the place but it has a thriving textile industry. Located in the district of La Victoria in Lima (Peru), it has around 20.000 businesses and its very own Fashion Week. Maybe not as glamorous as New York, London, Milan or Paris...but you never know!

Gamarra Fashion Week




Micha welcomes at Maido

Maido means welcome in Japanese and Mitsuharu Tsumura (Micha) welcomes you to his Lima based restaurant Maido, where he serves what is considered the best Nikkei (fusion of Japanese and Peruvian) cuisine in Peru. Maido was voted 7th in the Latin America´s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and the award is well deserved. A must in your next visit to Lima.
More on how Special Baggage met up with Micha in southern Peru soon...


Dessert Maido


All the world's a stage...

So begins the famous monologue of the melancholy Jacques in Shakespeare´s play "As you like it". Coincidentally, the Latin motto of the Globe Theatre, of which Shakespeare was a shareholder, was: "All the world is a playground". The original Globe was built in 1599 and destroyed by fire in 1613. It was rebuilt a year later, closed by the Puritans in 1642 and pulled down around 1644. The Globe that we can visit today, is a modern reconstruction about 100 metres from the original theatre, founded by the American actor Sam Wanamaker and opened in 1997. Shakespeare´s Globe, as the theatre was named, was built, as far as possible, using the same materials and techqniques of the original Globe, The theatre was partly open air with the audience divided between the pit where, for one penny, they would stand to watch the performance. Above the pit, there were three levels of galleries with wooden benches, some with cushions, which were more expensive, The upper gallery was reserved for the rich and the nobility - the Lord´s and the Gentlemen´s rooms. The money was put in a box held by collectors and, once full, taken to the box office (thus, the name used nowadays to describe a ticket office). Theatre-going was very much a social event and people would eat and drink whilst watching the play. Playhouses were also known to have areas where courtesans and gamblers would carry out their trade, which would explain, in part, why the Puritans closed down the original Globe. The modern Globe, stages plays and events and you can even become a donor and have your name engraved in the "Supporting Wall" or on a tile at the entrance.

Shakespeare´s Globe


Paradise on Earth

I haven´t found the exact quote but apparently George Bernard Shaw, described Dubrovnik in 1929 as "Paradise on Earth". This ancient city on the Adriatic Sea, is beautiful. I should point out that my visit was before the tragic wars that ravaged the former Yugoslavia. I was looking through my files and found a couple of pictures, so I decided to write this brief post, though the trip was made some time ago. When I visited, although it was a popular tourist destination, the numbers were manageable. I understand that, nowadays, there are quite a few cruise ships stopping there and, thus, a lot of tourists visiting the city. Also, when I visited, Yugoslavia, as it was then, was still a Socialist country, but to my surprise, the city felt like any other European seaside city. The particular brand of socialism imposed by Tito appeared to be quite distinct from other socialist countries.
Although Dubrovnik suffered severe damage during the war, it appears to have been restored to its former glory. Walk around the walls of the city, admire its Cathedral, its Rennaissance buildings and do as the locals do and walk up and down the Stradun or Placa, before or after indulging yourselves in one of the many good restaurants the city has (or so I remember).
Not far from Dubrovnik, but now in a different country - Bosnia and Herzegovina - is the town of Mostar, which was also heavily damaged during the war but has now been rebuilt. One of the main attractions was (and is) the Stari Most  or Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. In fact, the town takes its name from the bridge keepers or mostari.



Rhapsody in Blue

When I began to write this post, the first two things that came to mind were Woody Allen and Gershwin´s Rhapsody in Blue. The same happened to me the first time I travelled to New York - in fact, just Manhattan. We have seen the city so many times in films and television series that it feels odly familiar - for the good and the bad. I couldn't help but remember Jack Lemon in the film "The Out-of-Towners" (I won´t say more about the film, in case you have not seen it and decide to do so and, if you already have, you know what I mean). Chinatown, SoHo, Central Park, the MoMa, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and much, much more. I leave you with Gershwin - enjoy!.


A part of Africa in Peru

Peru is a a multiethnic country. Besides descendants of the original Amerindian inhabitants, there are descendants from all the different ethnic groups, mainly European, Asian and African, that have arrived since the colonisation by Spain in the 16th century. In the case of Africans, their arrival in Peru began in the colonial period when, tragically, they were brought as slaves. Today, the Afro-Peruvians are still very much concentrated in some coastal areas south of Lima, specifically in the region of Ica and the city of Chincha. Over the centuries they have contributed to what is today, the common culture of Peru and their influence can be found in, say, music, dance and cooking. El Carmen is a small village, 10 Kms. from Chincha, mainly inhabited by Afro-Peruvians, where every year they hold dance and religious festivals that fuse African, Inca and European traditions. A visit to El Carmen has to include lunch at Mamainé, where "mother Inés" cooks the best carapulcra in Peru. Carapulcra is a stew made with pork and dehydrated potatoes, accompanied by sopa seca (noodles)  - literally, dry soup. Not far from here, is Casa Hacienda San José. The main house of this estate, which is now a hotel, was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and later sold to a local landowner. At it´s height, up to 1000 slaves worked in its fields, producing sugar cane and cotton. Underneath the estate, there are a number of passages, which appear to have been constructed to smuggle the slaves in from the coast, in order to avoid paying taxes. A tragic episode, which we can set aside, though never forget, digging into a plate of carapulcra, washed down by a glass of tutuma liquor and maybe an impromptu show of music and dance at Mamainé.



A place to die for...literally

Imagine yourself laying down in a beautiful garden, with all the time in the world, where some of your neighbours are famous artists, philosophers, writes and poets. Does such a place exist, you ask? It does, but alas, to live there you have to, well, stop living.
I am referring to Highgate Cemetery in North London. Established in 1839, it is the final resting place of, amongst others, Karl Marx, the historian Eric Hobsbawm, actor Corin Redgrave, philosopher Herbert Spencer, and writer Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All these are buried in the East Cemetery, where visitors can wander around freely, whereas the West Cemetery may only be visited with a guided tour. The East Cemetary used to be free to visit a few years ago but they now charge an entrance fee of £4 which goes towards it´s maintenance. If you decide to travel by tube, I would recommend taking the Northern Line (otherwise known to locals as the misery line) to Highgate. Archway station is closer but I think the walk from Highgate tube, through Highgate Village and Waterlow Park is nicer.


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