La Mar by Gaston Acurio – Miami

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La Mar by Gaston Acurio

(1) 305 913-8358
Mandarin Oriental, Miami,
500 Brickell Key Dr,
Miami, FL 33131

Open Hours:
11:00 – 15:00    Lunch
18:00 – 23:00   Diner

To many the name “Gaston Acurio” might not mean much, but to those who follow the culinary industry like sport, he is a destined hall-of-famer!

After classic training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Gaston returned to his native city of Lima and transformed Peruvian food into the world-wide power-hitter it is today.  Gaston Combined his classic techniques,  Peru’s unique pre-Columbian  ingredients & traditions and the strong local influence of Japanese cuisine (Nikkei) to create the Peruvian food now trendy the world over.

The 3-Star restaurant “Astrid y Gaston” is in Lima and we are planning a trip just to go! (It currently sits at number 18 on San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants).  So we did consider ourselves lucky to have access to a sample of his food in downtown Miami at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.  There  one finds his delicious restaurant La Mar.  We went for a late lunch and opted to sit in the terrace over the water and enjoy our meal in views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline.

The overall experience was a lovely melange of high-end dining and latin ease.  Unfortunately we arrived over 30 minutes late to our reservation and on the edge of  the kitchen’s last call (an epic über debacle!).  We arrived flustered and nervous as this was our only chance!  We were greeted, seated and eased out of our anxiety by the lovely hosts and our charming and very knowledgeable waiter.  And thus began our culinary delights ….

First off it is good to know that portions, are LARGE!  We ordered too much, ate way too much … but enjoyed it all and left feeling surprisingly light for all the calories consumed!

We started with a Ceviche sampler – going for the classics first.  It was a lovely mix of flavours with The Clásico (Fluke, cilantro, ají limo pepper, red onions, choclo corn, classic leche de tigre) being  the most refreshing.  It’s ‘the classic’ for a reason.

The Causa – a traditional potato based dish from Peru with raw fish and spices (see photo below) – has an amazing  combination of flavours and textures, but really it is all about the rocoto pepper sauce.

The following dish was the Grilled black grouper ‘Kama anticucho’ and its  bizarre shape and presentation.  This dish changed the way I think about fish; and I believe it is exactly what earned the Chef such a following.  It is fish for meat-lovers.  When the plate arrives, you are wondering what is in front of you, and as you have your first bit, all you are is happy!

The octopus was our least favourite of the day, it was a bit rubbery and makes you realize how temperamental a dish it is.  The potato on which it was plated however was jaw-dropping and I wish I had a serving in front of me as I type :)

This was followed by the Tiradito  Nikkei,  a lightly seared  tuna,over a marble of passion fruit leche de tigre and honey sesame reduction topped with scallions and sesame seeds.  I think that description says enough, and the photo the rest.  If you need more, well I suggest a trip to Miami!!

Even though we usually pass on dessert, we had to try the “Chocolate en texturas” .  A dish incorporating  a chocolate brownie, chocolate foam, chocolate ice cream (with 60% peruvian chocolate) and crystallized manjar drops with chocolate meringues.  I’m glad we broke tradition.

 Suffice to say, that if you find yourself in Miami a trip to La Mar should be high on your list.  Not to be a salesperson, but,  even the prices are quite decent.  We could have had a fried lunch on Miami Beach for close to the same cost; but no where near the flavour or happiness!

 LA MAR 003 copyCebiche Sampler
Chifa: salmon, with , ginger, cilantro, pickled vegetables in sesame leche de tigre topped with peanuts and wonton strips
Criollo: calamari, shrimp, yellowtail, snapper, cancha corn in, ají amarillo pepper leche de tigre
Clásico:  fluke, cilantro, ají limo pepper, red onions, choclo, classic leche de tigre

LA MAR 002 copyCausa Nikkei , tuna tartare, sweet with chili  sauce, avocado, rocoto pepper cream and  nori
LA MAR 014 copyGrilled black grouper Kama anticuchos, anticuchera sauce, chimichurri-garlic butter, lime
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LA MAR 012Tiradito  Nikkei: tuna, scallions, passion fruit leche de tigre, honey sesame reduction
  LA MAR 007 copyPlancha Anticuchera of grilled octopus, crushed potatoes, ají panca pepper sauce, chimichurri, choclo corn
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Aydinli Cave House – Göreme, Turkey


Aydinli Cave House Hotel

90-384-271 2263
Aydinli Sokak No 12 Göreme
50180 Nevsehir, Turkey

Aydinli Cave Hotel is a small, family-run hotel  with Mustafa Demirci being the head of the family and his super charming son Cem

charming rooftop terracewith a panoramic view of Goreme

If there were a 6th Star for service, I would gladly award it to the Aydinli Cave House Hotel!

All businesses start from the top down -> and here we are starting with a home that has been occupied by the same family for over 500 years! Generations of love fill the Aydinli Cave Hotel with their joy and passion and you can feel it reverberating from the walls and the family that receives you.

From the father, Mr. Mustafa Demirci, and his son Çem (pronounced Chem) you learn the warmth of the beautiful town of Göreme. To visit the place is to meet it’s people. And there is no better window into this world then from them.

The town you know already is the most beautiful of those in Cappadocia – and having travelled around, we believe the smart move is to stay in Göreme. The experience you have there will depend on with whom and where you stay. It is for this reason I recommend the Aydinli Cave House Hotel.

Çem was always looking out for us and making sure we were headed in the right direction, while Mustafa took an day to show us around some special places and to pick lovely Rocket from his own garden!





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Coure – Barcelona, Spain

coure-bcn-004above photo © Coure


(34) 93 – 200 7532
PJ Marimon 20,
08001 Barcelona, Spain

Open Hours:
13:00 – 16:00     Lunch  Tuesday – Saturday
20:00 – 24:30    Dinner  Tuesday – Saturday

With its discreet entrance and residential location, Coure is there for those that who are looking for it; it is not the grand tourist attraction that it should be! Chef Albert Ventura and pastry chef Joan Grimal have conceived a wonderful station for the modern creative delights of Catalan cuisine.

We had lunch in the lower level of the restaurant, which is smaller and more formal.  Later we learned that the ground level has a small bar and its own spirited menu.  Next to our table was a book shelf, filled with amazing cook books; there to entertain and prompt the palate, while the kitchen prepared your marvelous meal.

Our lunch began with clams and Escopinyes (cockles), which are always fun. Next up was a tasty Cantabrian Anchovy salad – each sided with an incredibly delicious warm bread.

Something new to us was the Mojama, who’s name is derived from the Arabic word musama, meaning dry.  Mojama is a sea salt cured tuna, and is considered a Mediterranean delicacy; with origins dating from the time of the Phoenician settlements on the Catalan coast.  The best approximation is the tuna version of a thinly sliced, dry jamon serrano.

Also new to us were the Santiaguiños  –  (scyllarus arctus); a Klingon-esque creature in both looks and flavour – we just had to try it!  However, like everything at Coure, it is refined and delicious.

The Amanida de verat (Mackerel salad), was not only exquisite, but beautifully plated as well.  We followed the salad with the Sea Bas a la sous vide – perfect and delicate in every way.

We finished with a moist excellent Torrija (think French Toast, but instead of egg, custard). This quickly became our go-to Spanish dessert; and a barometer of our love for the restaurant.  The Torrija at Coure was the second favorite in our Barcelona food adventure!

Coure_008amanida de verat (mackerel salad)
Coure_010mojama  (salt cured tuna)
Coure_011mojama  (salt cured tuna)
Coure_007Cantabrian anchovies salad
Coure_012sous vide sea bass
Coure_001Santiaguiños  –  (scyllarus arctus)
Coure_003cescopinyes (cockles)
coure-bcn-003above photo © Coure
coure-bcn-015above photo © Coure


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