Eat Local: A Typical Berber Breakfast in a Berber village home, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited i

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited into a family’s home; Morocco

 

From the viewpoint in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, we hiked down to one of Asni’s Berber villages.  On the way into town we saw a little girl, about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her to her home where we were warmly greeted (in the Berber language, translated by our Berber guide from Imlil) by her mother and invited in for a traditional Berber breakfast.  Afterwards we hiked back (about 15 minutes) to our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, and passed a number of women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that were heading south to open public lands where the flocks could graze.  A pretty idyllic scene!

 

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Our hostess -- the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother_s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home -- se

Our hostess — the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home — served us a traditional Berber breakfast; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

“The Amazigh (Berber) cuisine is a traditional cuisine with a varied history and influence of numerous flavours from distinct regions across North Africa. The traditional cuisine draws influences from Morocco’s Atlas mountains and heavily populated Berber cities and regions, as well as Algeria’s Berber cities and regions.” – Wilkipedia

On the breakfast tray were (pictured clockwise, from the lower left) a bowl of nuts and roasted chickpeas (garbonzo beans), amlou (see below), olive oil, green olives, honey, savory crackers, black olives and (center) homemade cheesey butter.  Separately we were served a bread basket with two large rounds of homemade bread (flour and semolina).  And, of course, there was freshly made mint tea, the national drink.

Amlou, a thick brown paste with a texture similar to organic peanut butter, is a Berber recipe that consists of a mixture of argan oil (grown in Morocco) and almonds and honey.  Amlou has been likened to a sort of Moroccan nutella (made from Hazelnuts in the Piedmonte region of northern Italy).

 

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess_ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess’ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Moro

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Eat Local: Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

The restaurant in which we had a wonderful gourmet dinner with friends, Ô Soleil, is located in some of the buildings on the plaza adjacent to Catedral de Santa Ana, Las Palmas de Gran

The restaurant in which we had a wonderful gourmet dinner with friends, Ô Soleil, is located in some of the buildings on the plaza adjacent to Catedral de Santa Ana, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

We were very happy that our friends found a small gourmet restaurant, Ô Soleil, in the old town of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands — Vegueta —  located only a stone’s throw from the Catedral de Santa Ana.  Founded by a female chef in the fall of 2014, it is very popular with locals and lucky visitors (we were the only English-speaking patrons in the restaurant that seats about two dozen diners).  All the ingredients are fresh and local to the extent that’s possible, with each dish home made and hand made daily.  This is the kind of restaurant we love to discover in our travels – local, authentic, representative of the local culture (with some fine chef skills blended in) and quite reasonably priced, given the high quality of the dishes and their beautiful presentation (see photographs, below).

 

Foie Gras and Lentils as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Foie Gras and Lentils as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Espuma de Papas (potato soup) with Roquefort Cheese and Iberian Ham as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Espuma de Papas (potato soup) with Roquefort Cheese and Iberian Ham as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Gambas (prawns) on grilled eggplant topped with Iberian Ham as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Gambas (prawns) on grilled eggplant topped with Iberian Ham as an appetizer, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Grilled Atlantic Salmon as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Grilled Atlantic Salmon as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Local white fish with mushrooms and pancetta as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Local white fish with mushrooms and pancetta as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Grilled Beef Sirloin as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Grilled Beef Sirloin as an entree, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Crepes Breton for dessert, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Crepes Breton for dessert, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

A version of tarte tartin (apple tart) with ice cream and dulce de leche for desset, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

A version of tarte tartin (apple tart) with ice cream and dulce de leche for desset, Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Indian Dinner for Friends, mid-Atlantic Ocean (crossing from Brazil to Africa)

Elephants were the highlight of the décor in our apartment on the ship for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Elephants were the highlight of the décor in our apartment on the ship for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Good friends (four couples) on our ship decided to have a special dinner in an apartment (we used ours, as we have a table that seats eight comfortably) while we were at sea for fours days, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil to the Cape Verde Islands, just off Senegal Africa.  After some discussions with the ship’s food and beverage team, we chose to do an Indian dinner, as we have three Indian chefs on board from different cities in India.  (It was also fitting in that our last two ports in Brazil – Fernando de Noronha and Natal – were used by Portuguese ships hundreds of years ago for refitting on their way to and from Goa, India.)  In order to utilize the skills of the chefs from the different regions, we worked out a menu with the executive chef that enabled each chef to feature his home cuisine in an appetizer and a main course, with a number of canapés, side dishes and breads added.  The pastry chef also worked with the team to create two Indian desserts.  What was especially fun was that none of the dishes have been featured in our Asian restaurant on board.  Thus, the chefs got to prepare some dishes from their home cuisines and we were given a culinary tour of Chennai, Goa and Kerala.  We had beers and white and red wines to match the food, chosen by our well-versed beverage manager.  Our waiter was from India and wore an Indian outfit, including Indian shoes.  The decorations in the living room (canapés) and dining room were elephant-themed and colorful, and we were able to stream Jagit Singh music over the Internet to round out the ambiance.  All-in-all, it was a wonderful “feast” – it almost seemed that each chef was in competition to outdo his peers and create the best dish(es) of the evening.  We all felt like we had jumped on a magic carpet and left the ship for a festive evening in a private home in India.  Our thanks to the whole team involved in creating this wonderful evening!

 

The table setting for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

The table setting for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A place setting with elephant-design menu, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A place setting with elephant-design menu, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The menu for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

The menu for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The first of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were several bowls of Roasted Chickpeas (garbanzo beans in America), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atl

The first of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were several bowls of Roasted Chickpeas (garbanzo beans in America), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The second of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were Prawn and Vegetable-filled Samosas with a mint sauce, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Oce

The second of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were Prawn and Vegetable-filled Samosas with a mint sauce, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Goan Rissóis de Camarão (from Goa, India), prawn, cheese, onion, spice and garlic; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic

An appetizer of Goan Rissóis de Camarão (from Goa, India), prawn, cheese, onion, spice and garlic; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Thattukada Fried Chicken (from Kerala, India), chicken, coconut, tomato, curry leaf, and spices; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

An appetizer of Thattukada Fried Chicken (from Kerala, India), chicken, coconut, tomato, curry leaf, and spices; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Masala Vada (from Chennai, India), savory fragrant split pea fritter; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

An appetizer of Masala Vada (from Chennai, India), savory fragrant split pea fritter; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Freshly made Indian Poppadum with (not pictured) mango chutney, tamarind chutney and raita (cucumber and vegetable yogurt), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocea

Freshly made Indian Poppadum with (not pictured) mango chutney, tamarind chutney and raita (cucumber and vegetable yogurt), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Lamb Varattiyathu (from Kerala, India), lamb knuckle, coconut, ginger, garlic, and spice – one of the most flavorful dishes of the evening! -- Indian Dinner for Friend

A main course of Lamb Varattiyathu (from Kerala, India), lamb knuckle, coconut, ginger, garlic, and spice – one of the most flavorful dishes of the evening! — Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A side dish of Palak Dal, lentils, spinach, turmeric, garlic and chili; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A side dish of Palak Dal, lentils, spinach, turmeric, garlic and chili; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A side dish of Vegetable Dum Biryani, spice, vegetables, saffron and basmati rice (with raita); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Chettinad Prawn Massala (from Chennai, India), prawn, spice, curry leaf, and coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Chettinad Prawn Massala (from Chennai, India), prawn, spice, curry leaf, and coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Our first dessert was South Indian Style Pineapple Kesari, semolina, saffron, cardamom and pineapple chunks; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Our first dessert was South Indian Style Pineapple Kesari, semolina, saffron, cardamom and pineapple chunks; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Our second dessert was Indian-style Ice Cream, rose, cardamom, and pistachio (blended together with cream); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Our second dessert was Indian-style Ice Cream, rose, cardamom, and pistachio (blended together with cream); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil, is located up on a hill in the central district of the town, providing an excellent view of Búzios Bay

Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil, is located up on a hill in the central district of the town, providing an excellent view of Búzios Bay

 

Up on a hill overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant serves creative, fresh, local seafood in a dining room and on their verandah.  We enjoyed an excellent luncheon after wandering from the pier to central Búzios and exploring the boutiques and cafes [see our previous post, “Búzios, Brazil”.]  Unlike many of the dining establishments along the waterfront and in the central district – by nature of its location up a hill – Mistico was not crowded for lunch, even with a very large cruise ship in port with us.  Our service was quite good with a friendly waiter who spoke excellent English.  As shown in the photographs, their cuisine is very creative and all dishes were well prepared and quite tasty.  Very highly recommended!

 

The restaurant_s verandah features a “bird of paradise” overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

The restaurant’s verandah features a “bird of paradise” overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

 

Our amuse bouche was cheese with mango puree and roasted almonds, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

Our amuse bouche was cheese with mango puree and roasted almonds, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

A mixed seafood appetizer

A mixed seafood appetizer with octopus, a lobster mini-taco, salmon, a bacalau fritter (a local Brazilian specialty, bolinho de bacalhau), seared tuna, and a cucumber salad; Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

Lobster mini-tacos, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

Lobster mini-tacos, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

An entrée (shared) of squid-ink gnocci with fried local calamari and vegetables in a delicious seafood sauce, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

An entrée (shared) of squid-ink gnocci with fried local calamari and vegetables in a delicious seafood sauce, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

One of the hotel_s rooms on the hill, adjacent to the hotel_s restaurant, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

One of the hotel’s rooms on the hill, adjacent to the hotel’s restaurant, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Oasis (Churrascaria), São Conrado, Brazil

When we sat down at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil, we were immediately presented with a number of snacks and meat accompaniments, the first being some Portuguese empanadas

When we sat down at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil, we were immediately presented with a number of snacks and meat accompaniments, the first being some Portuguese empanadas filled with cheese

 

On our afternoon visit to the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of São Conrado, we had a late lunch at a Brazilian-style Churrascaria restaurant, Oasis, where meat is cooked over coals on skewers which are brought by waiters to each table and carved to order for each person.  While many Rio Churrascaria restaurants have moved away from charcoal burning ovens, Oasis has maintained the same cooking style (see end photographs) for 40 years.  The variety of meats (and salads at the salad bar) was nearly overwhelming, and everything was delicious.  Our favorite was the local picanha (beef top sirloin).  Needless to say, we left very late in the afternoon completely stuffed (and we skipped supper that night).

 

We saved the sautéed bananas for desert, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

We saved the sautéed bananas for desert, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Fried manioc (cassava) – from a shrub that is native to, and widely cultivated in South America for its edible starcht tuberous root, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Fried manioc (cassava) – from a shrub that is native to, and widely cultivated in South America for its edible starchy tuberous root, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

The first skewers presented by the passadores (meat waiters) were sausage and chicken, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

The first skewers presented by the passadores (meat waiters) were sausage and chicken, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

“A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style, which translates roughly from the Portugurese word for ‘barbeque’…  In modern restaurants rodízio service is typically offered.  Passadores (meat waiters) come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, be it beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, duck, ham (with pineapple), sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat.  A common cut of beef top sirloin cap is known as picanha…  In most parts of Brazil, the churrasco is roasted with charcoal.  In the south of Brazil, however, mostly close to the borders of Argentina and Uruguay, embers of wood are also used.” — Wikipedia

 

As we started our luncheon, our drinks arrived – shown here is a local favorite (Brazil_s national cocktail), a caipirinha – traditionally mixed with lime, and now made with a whol

As we started our luncheon, our drinks arrived – shown here is a local favorite (Brazil’s national cocktail), a caipirinha – traditionally mixed with lime, and now made with a whole array of fruits, from strawberry to kiwi; Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Another starter, freshly cooked, home-made potato chips, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Another starter, freshly cooked, home-made potato chips, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

The salad bar featured many foods for non-meat eaters, including this section of sushi and (not pictured) hot stations with sautéed fish, fried calamari and a shrimp sauté, Oasis res

The salad bar featured many foods for non-meat eaters, including this section of sushi and (not pictured) hot stations with sautéed fish, fried calamari and a shrimp sauté, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Fresh vegetables at the salad bar, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Fresh vegetables at the salad bar, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Tomatoes and a local specialty, fresh hearts of palm, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Tomatoes and a local specialty, fresh hearts of palm, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Dips and salads, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Dips and salads, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Very tasty steak that is very similar to American flank steak (but more tender), sliced at the table (the diner uses tongs to hold the top of the slice as the passador continues to slice

Very tasty steak that is very similar to American flank steak (but more tender), sliced at the table (the diner uses tongs to hold the top of the slice as the passador continues to slice the meat), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Our favorite (we had several servings…) was the local picanha (beef top sirloin), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Our favorite (we had several servings…) was the local picanha (beef top sirloin), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Charcoal grilled leg of lamb, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Charcoal grilleded leg of lamb, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Cheese covered fillet mignon (Chateaubriand) that was sliced by the passador tableside, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Cheese-covered fillet mignon (Chateaubriand) that was sliced by the passador tableside, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Lamb chops, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Lamb chops, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

At the end of the meal one of the restaurant owners took us into the kitchen and showed us the charcoal-fired churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazi

At the end of the meal one of the restaurant owners took us into the kitchen and showed us the charcoal-fired churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Close-up of meat on skewers on the churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Close-up of meat on skewers on the churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Pâté Of Louisiana Rabbit & Chicken Livers, perfumed with truffles, country bread croutons, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Pâté Of Louisiana Rabbit & Chicken Livers, perfumed with truffles, country bread croutons, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

After a morning walk of more than 10,000 steps in the French Quarter (see our previous blog post “New Orleans, Louisiana, USA”), we then headed off to eat brunch at Luke (restaurant), just west of the Quarter. We were very glad we had made a reservation, as the restaurant is very popular with the locals and many were enjoying brunch before they headed to the New Orleans Saints NFL playoffs football game later that afternoon.

 

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana--

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

“Luke is a Creole-inspired Brasserie located in the heart of New Orleans’ Central Business District on world-famous St. Charles Avenue, steps from the French Quarter neighborhood.  A lively atmosphere surrounds the raw bar offering the freshest seafood and oysters procured daily from the Gulf of Mexico.  Chef Erick Loos is at the helm of the kitchen featuring dishes that highlight local purveyors and farmers’ market ingredients. Behind the bar, a selection of bartender-created specialty cocktails are offered among a carefully-curated list of wines from throughout the world and locally crafted brews… Erik Loos IV is currently the Executive Chef of Luke Restaurant showing homage to the grand old Franco-German brasseries that once reigned in New Orleans.  Since opening in 2007, Luke has been hailed by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Times Picayune, which applauded Luke for its “disarmingly home-spun culinary touches and broad-shouldered dishes that satisfy something more than just an appetite.” – www.lukeneworleans.com

 

Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp "En Cocotte", roasted jalapeño cheese grits, andouille & green onion sausage, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp “En Cocotte”, roasted jalapeño cheese grits, andouille & green onion sausage, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Stuffed P&J Oysters, gulf shrimp and blue crab, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Stuffed P&J Oysters, gulf shrimp and blue crab, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: El Lagarto (a paladar), Cienfuegos, Cuba

The entrance to El Lagarto, a paladar (privately owned restaurant) in ground level rooms of a private home overlooking the bay in the Punta Gorda district of Cienfuegos, Cuba

The entrance to El Lagarto, a paladar (privately owned restaurant) in ground level rooms of a private home overlooking the bay in the Punta Gorda district of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Until a few years ago, restaurants in Cuba were government owned.  That changed with the opening up of some (licensed) private enterprises, including restaurants, repair shops, taxi services (using restored Classic Cars), etc.  The privately run restaurants – often in a room or several rooms of a private house –called paladares, are generally regarded as far superior to the government run restaurants and are eagerly sought out by tourist visitors.  The main staples of the Cuban diet, which comprise the main fare in many of the paladares, are rice and beans (“Christians and Moors”), rice, pork, chicken, plantains (especially fried plantain chips), and beer.  Upscale paladares are now exploring fusion Cuban cuisine with much creativity coming forth in the past few years

 

The main dining room at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba, was built on a covered patio, overlooking the bay

The main dining room at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba, was built on a covered patio, overlooking the bay

 

In Cienfuegos we enjoyed a very good luncheon overlooking the bay from our table at El Lagarto, a family run establishment that was several years old and very popular in the Punta Gorda district.  (A note from Wikipedia: “Paladar is a term that in Spanish translates literally to “Palatal” and used with that meaning in the Spanish speaking world, however in Cuba is used exclusively to refer to restaurants run by self-employers.”)

 

Our “starters” began with fried slices of local plantains, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Our “starters” began with fried slices of local plantains, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Our “starters” continued with a nice selection of fresh fruit, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Our “starters” continued with a nice selection of fresh fruit, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

With a thunderstorm approaching, the brightly painted “Adirondack-style” chairs on the dock adjacent to the restaurant were empty, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

With a thunderstorm approaching, the brightly painted “Adirondack-style” chairs on the dock adjacent to the restaurant were empty, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

For a starter we enjoyed fried eggplant topped with melted cheese and salad, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

For a starter we enjoyed fried eggplant topped with melted cheese and salad, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

One main dish was a mixed grill (chicken, pork and lamb) with the traditional side dishes of rice and beans and yucca and squash, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

One main dish was a mixed grill (chicken, pork and lamb) with the traditional side dishes of rice and beans and yucca and squash, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

A second (and outstanding) main dish was sliced pork from a whole barbequed pork leg with the traditional side dishes, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba; for dessert we enjoyed a

A second (and outstanding) main dish was sliced pork from a whole barbequed pork leg with the traditional side dishes, luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba; for dessert we enjoyed a traditional flan (not pictured)

 

Walking back through the city after our enjoyable and filling luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Walking back through the city after our enjoyable and filling luncheon at El Lagarto, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.