Archive for the ‘food on the road’ Category


Whenever I’m in Colombo, a city I’ve eaten my way around quite often, I’m always eager to go off the eaten path and discover a place that I’ve never dined at before. A special favorite of mine is Jaffna food, the spicy Tamil cuisine of the northern part of the island, and when in search of a new spot, it’s wise to take a well-informed guide like my friend, filmmaker T. Arjuna, who has a nose that knows since he himself hails from Jaffna. We meet at my Aunt’s place in Slave Island on a stiflingly hot day, and after downing a cold beer and making a few phone calls, Arjuna has just the spot in mind in nearby Wellawatte, a predominantly Tamil enclave in Colombo. He’s never eaten at Nalapaham Restaurant located just off the Galle Road on E.S Fernando Mawatha, so we are both in for a surprise.

fried fish

fried fish

What I’ve learned about the differences between ordinary rice and curry and Jaffna cuisine comes down to subtleties in spicing and flavoring. Jaffna curries tend to use more tamarind and tomato as their base, but there are also just as many “frys” or dry curries without gravy. Seafood and mutton are the main proteins, but plenty of vegetables make it to the table as well. Of course the use of chilies is abundant, which makes this particular regional cuisine among my favorites.


Arriving just short of noon, we are the first customers in Nalapaham, and I’m immediately impressed with the cleanliness of the place. This is clearly not your ordinary “hole-in-the-wall.” A large menu in English dominates an entire wall, and they are just bringing out all of the days dishes onto the steam table.

They’ve got nandu (crab) curry; iral pooriyal (dry fry prawns); kanawa pooriyal (cuttlefish dry fry); varutha koli (dry fry chicken); attuirachi (mutton) curry; jillameen (fish) curry; and fried fish. They also offer a whole host of vegetables including katharika kootu (eggplant tamarind curry); gotu kola salad; pineapple/cucumber/onion salad; dhal, long beans, and wing beans. We order one of everything except the crabs (since I had been ODing on crabs this trip). Served first, the rice, dhal, and vegetables are all-you-can- eat. But pretty soon our table is covered with a colorful, mouth-watering palette of different dishes, and we dig in—using out fingers, or course.

my lunch plate

my lunch plate

After filling my plate with a bit of everything—Sri Lankan style—I douse my mound of red rice with a few spoonfuls of the crab gravy, which is one of the spicier things we ordered. I dive right into the curries and pretty soon my lips are pleasantly on fire. This is how Jaffna food is supposed to taste! The dry curries—prawns and chicken—remind me of a spicy stir-fry with sliced capsicums and onions. The mutton curry has a proper gravy, thickened by coconut milk, and the tender eggplant has the tangy taste of tamarind. I eat the fried fish, which has been marinated in spices, bones and all, since it is so crispy good. Everything has a little bite to it–even the gotu kola salad, which is laced with slices of fresh green chilies. Following the meal, we sip a cup of the traditional rasam, which is a digestive made of ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, black pepper and some other spices I can’t quite identify. But good to last drop! The meal was amazing save for the cuttlefish, which was a little overcooked and rubbery. When I got the bill, however, I couldn’t be mad: 1430 rupees, which comes to about US $11.34 or $3.78 per person since Arjuna’s driver also joined us. For its fast, friendly service; cleanliness; cheap prices, and excellent eats, Nalapaham proved to be a great find, and a definite keeper.

dry fry prawns and chicken(w/ the pineapple salad in the background)

dry fry prawns and chicken
(w/ the pineapple salad in the background)

cuttlefish dry fry with papadum and fried sardines

cuttlefish dry fry with papadum and fried sardines

mutton (goat) curry

mutton (goat) curry

fish curry

fish curry

brinjal (eggplant) curry

brinjal (eggplant) curry

Washed down with a cup of spicy rasam

Washed down with a cup of spicy rasam


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I recently had the pleasure of visiting the picturesque Napa Valley for the CIA’s 15th Annual World’s of Flavor Conference. No, I’m not a spy, and I’m not talking about that CIA, but rather The Culinary Institute of America, one of the country’s most well regarded cooking schools. Each year they assemble top chefs and culinary professionals from around the world at their beautiful campus in St. Helena, CA for a summit on food without parallel. This year’s theme was “Arc of Flavor: Re-imagining culinary exchange from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia.”

The teaching kitchens at CIA

It was no small honor to attend the conference, and to represent Sri Lankan food for the very first time here, joined by my esteemed colleague, Chef Koluu, who traveled all the way from Colombo for the event.  Koluu was extremely helpful when I went to Sri Lanka to research my cookbook, and I made sure he was featured when I returned to shoot No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. As one of Sri Lanka’s most well-known and respected chefs, his attendance at the conference was a must.


Chef Koluu outside CIA Greystone, St. Helena, CA

Having just barely escaped the east coast and the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, I arrived in the Bay Area at night, so it was not until morning that I got a good look at the CIA itself. Occupying the former hilltop mansion of The Christian Brothers’ winery and overlooking acres of quaint vineyards, the school’s substantial facilities cut quite an impressive sight. The third floor teaching kitchens alone occupy a space about half the size of a football field, filled with every modern convenience you can imagine. What a joy it must be going to school in such an environment, much less cooking there for three days. This massive kitchen is where all the action was happening as chefs from across the arc of flavor prepared countless dishes for the various seminars, demo sessions, lunch, and, of course, the formidable World Marketplace, probably the best food court going on planet earth.

It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many foreign chefs interacting with CIA staff and students, and introducing so many new ingredients and techniques. Koluu made his famous pork kalupol or “black” pork curry, fish ambul thiyal, and crab curry, along with other Sri Lankan specialties like hoppers, sambol, and coconut roti. Like the other chefs, we had a whole crew of students working with us–none of whom had ever even tried Sri Lankan food before. But they picked things up very quickly as they took care of most of the prep. For everyone involved, however, the opening day proved to be an exchange of cultures, ingredients, ideas, and good vibes.



baby back ribs



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Dub Gabe gets busy in the SF Bay

Having just returned from a very enjoyable trip to the West Coast—specifically the Bay Area—my belly is plumper, my face more tan, and I have a noticeable smile on my face—probably due to all the good food I ate. Though I need no excuse to visit SF and its environs, The CIA (as in Culinary Institute of America) brought me out this time to speak at their 15th World’s of Flavor Conference, where I presented Sri Lankan food along with Colombo’s own Chef Koluu. I also hosted my first Sri Lankan Supper Club in in the city, and even found time to check out some amazing Asian spots in my new favorite dining district, Inner Sunset. I did not have a bad meal during my entire trip, but if I had to single out the most memorable one, I would have to say it was Bay crabs steamed in Old Bay.

nets and some simple bait, like chicken parts, are all you need

Now, being a Baltimore cat, I’ve had steamed crabs more times than I can count, but what made this meal indelibly imprinted in my mind was the fact that we caught these crabs ourselves—a first for me. My buddy Gabe, who lives in SF, has been taking advantage of his town’s proximity to nature and recently bought some crabbing nets. Gabe, like myself, is a serious DIY guy, who loves to eat, and having sampled his simple but divine crab bisque on my first night visiting, I had to have him take me to the source.

And that’s exactly what we did. On election day, which was a balmy 80 degrees in the Bay Area, we spent most of the afternoon on a little pier overlooking the iconic Golden Gate, tossing in crab nets, sipping brews, and waiting for the nets to fill up with delicious crustaceans. There are three kinds of crab in the San Francisco Bay—rock crabs, red crabs, and the popular Dungeness, which you are actually not allowed to catch in the Bay, but rather only in the Ocean. We actually trapped quite a few of these beauties, but had to throw them back in along with the red crabs that are less than 4 inches wide.

But crabbing is hella fun! All it takes are some nets, some bait, and a little patience as you wait about 10 minutes before hauling in your catch. It’s a bit like playing the slots—you never know what you’re going to get (or if you’ll get anything at all). And the whole concept of catching your own food, puts a whole new spin on dinner. It just tastes that much better because of all the effort you put into it, and the excitement of pulling in a load of keepers is even better than winning at slots.

Gabe  himself  cuts quite a character. He makes his own bread, his own pickles, and even his own kombucha. He also makes his own music, and that is, in fact, how I know him. Dub Gabriel, as he is known worldwide and outernational, was into dub music long before the hype, and he will be doing it long after everyone else has gone on to greener pastures. In fact, he is just getting another album ready as we speak, and you have a chance to support him in these efforts by following the link below and making a donation to his Kickstarter campaign, which has only a few days left.


Help Gabe reach his goal before time runs out!

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The Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in Toronto

by Pira Pathmanathan

Sri Lankan restaurants Toronto

The best Sri Lankan restaurants in Toronto are often overshadowed by those serving up food from its neighbor to the north. But as good as Indian food is in Toronto, cuisine from this beautiful island nation shouldn’t be missed. In its most traditional form, Sri Lankan food brings to mind a plate of rice served with several curries served on a banana leaf. Popular dishes include string hoppers, roti, pittu, and appum. Kothu roti–a seasoned blend of thinly sliced roti served with chicken, mutton or vegetables–can be nothing short of life-altering if prepared right.

With its large Sri Lankan community, Scarborough is home to the greatest concentration of Sri Lankan restaurants in Toronto although it is possible to find the cuisine in Cabbagetown and other areas of the city.

Here are the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Toronto.


Babu Catering

Babu Catering

You can’t talk about Sri Lankan food without bringing up this Toronto gem. Established two decades ago, Babu now has locations in both Scarborough and Markham. With a wide array of tasty Sri Lankan fare, lineups tend to be perpetually long but the efficient staff ensures swift service. Be sure to pick up some patties and sweets from their bakery section too.MORE »

Hopper Hut

Hopper Hut

Located at Kennedy and Ellesmere, Hopper Hut is a go-to for Sri Lankan Torontonians. Their kothu roti is something to write home about and for a special dessert treat, try their appam, a crepe-like dish with a soft, sweet centre made from coconut milk. For an incredibly cost-effective meal, simply pick up a heaping box of string hoppers served with spicy sambul for about five bucks. Don’t forget to also order a few delicious samosa and crunchy vadais. Unlike many other pickup counter-style Sri Lankan restaurants, Hopper Hut has a seating area. MORE »



Found in Cabbagetown, Rashnaa feels slightly more formal than most spots on this list. With many entrees listed under $10, Rashnaa offers an inexpensive entry to the world of Sri Lankan eats for those wanting to dine south of Eglinton. Be sure to order the masala thosai, a popular Sri Lankan dish (similar to South India’s masala dosa) consisting of a lentil rice and wheat flour crepe filled with potato curry. Rashnaa also offers take-out and delivery. MORE »



Known for its spicy kothu roti, Gasa is another east Toronto mainstay for Sri Lankan cuisine. Gasa has two locations. One at Kennedy and Finch in Scarborough and the other on New Delhi Drive in Markham. Be sure to try their nandu (crab) curry but also be prepared to sweat! If you aren’t gunning for a spicy feast, ask the staff to recommend a few milder options. MORE »



Located at Birchmount and Finch, Suvaiyakam is another Sri Lankan takeout joint that offers the usual fare. Like many of its rivals, Suvaiyakam serves up a great variety of roti, string hoppers, curries, noodles, and short eats like mutton rolls, patties and the like. MORE »

Amma Take Out and Catering

Amma Take Out and Catering

Amma Take Out and Catering at Markham and Steeles is fairly new to the Sri Lankan scene but it has quickly gained a loyal following. Try their variety of lamprais or just some basic rice and curry. Amma also offers a variety of snacks including the ever-popular mutton roll. As the name suggests, be prepared to accept your food in a plastic bag. MORE »

Araliya Takeout and Catering

Araliya Takeout and Catering

Relatively new to the scene and located on Markham Road in the Woburn area of Scarborough, Araliya delivers with tasty Sri Lankan fare. Araliya has already established a following, with diners coming back for rice and spicy curries. MORE »

Abbirami Catering

Abbirami Catering

At Brimley and Eglinton, Abbirami is your best bet for lamprais, a traditional dish that consists of rice and various curries baked inside a banana leaf. For about $7, this dish can easily serve two. Be prepared to be adventurous as Abbirami lacks menus. Luckily, as with most Sri Lankan takeout counters, food is readily available in front of you so simply point to what you want to order. MORE »

Ceylon Flavor

Ceylon Flavor

Ceylon Flavor is not your typical Sri Lankan takeout-counter-style restaurant. Located at Markham and Steeles just a few steps from Amma, Ceylon Flavor is also relatively new and boasts a sleek design and comfortable seating area. They offer a large selection of vegetarian and meat dishes including mutton rolls and chicken curry. MORE »

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Pachamama, the fertility god of the indigenous people of the Andes

As I often judge a place by its street food, I was pleased to find Cusco with a vibrant tradition of the latter. In addition to anticucho, grilled beef heart on a stick served with a potato; and chicharrones, fried pork rinds, which surprisingly boasted a greater ratio of meat to fat; I also found hard-boiled quail eggs, choclo (giant corn on the cob) smothered with white cheese; chili rellenos (a chili stuffed inside a deep fried potato croquette ); baked sweet potatoes and plantains; and enough exotic fruit to keep me happy for days.

anticucho -- beefheart on a stick



chili rellenos

baked yams and plantains

soursop for sale on the street

fresh OJ vendor

Cusco’s central market also made a very favorable impression. This “Walmart” of the Andes is a one-stop shopping mecca that stocks everything from souvenirs to staples, which make up most of the huge mercado’s front section. But the back half is entirely dedicated to food–most of it prepared right in front of you. Two whole rows of vendors special in chicken noodle soup and escabeche topped with chopped cilantro and a spicy salsa picante. Other vendors specialize in lomo saltado, fried fish, beef ribs, ceviche, and more. You know everything is super fresh because the stalls selling meat and fish are right next door to all of these cheap eateries.

Nothing like some chicken noodle soup!

salsa picante


beef ribs

The market is pulsing with the sights, sounds, and smells of Andean Peru. Piles of vibrant textiles next to stacks of fruit, wheels of cheese, and the wafting aromas of dozens of food stalls serving lunch. Pork products occupy their own special aisle within the market, and Peruvians obviously go for the whole hog.

After a huge feed, you can relax with a cup of herba mate tea right outside the market. I also discovered a great cold drink called chicha morada, which is made from black corn. It’s sweet, hard to place taste lies somewhere between licorice and cinnamon, while it’s fermented cousin, chicha, made of regular corn, is known to pack quite a wallop.

herbe mate vendor

chicha & chicha morado

black corn, the raw material of chicha morada

Speaking of drinks, I was not about to leave Peru without trying  their home-grown liquor, pisco, a type of grape brandy. The drink of choice, a pisco sour made with lime juice, sugar, and topped with a foam of egg whites, is certainly potent, but also very tasty, and it reminded me of one of my favorite cocktails, the Caipirinha ( a brazilian drink made from sugar cane liquor).

The potent Pisco Sour

I feel like I got a good taste of Peru on my 10 day excursion, but I also feel like there’s much more to see and do here. As different as Lima and Cusco are to one another, I’m sure there are other corners of the country that are just as unique. I liked pretty much everything I tried except for one thing: coca leaves. In Cusco, especially, all the locals chew the leaf (or drink it in tea), from which the drug cocaine is distilled, as a means to deal with the effects of the high altitude. While the strong bitterness of the leaf is obviously an acquired taste, I would never have known that it actually does help with the altitude had I not tried it. I also credit it  for giving me the energy to climb Machu Picchu in just under an hour.

coca leaves

High plains drifter


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Machu Picchu as seen from Huayna Picchu

The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, located high up in the Andes Mountains, has long been on my list of “must see” places on the planet, and I was finally able to fulfill this dream this past March, climbing both Machu Picchu and the lesser known Huayna Picchu (the rounded peak in the background of many classic Machu Picchu shots). But no matter how many photos you have seen of this popular site, it cannot compare to the experience of actually being there, surrounded by cloud covered peaks; breathing in the thin, crisp air; and being awestruck at the huge scale of the ruins and what it must have taken to build them in such a challenging location.

Of course, one of the main attractions of any trip abroad for me, is the food. Having never visited Peru before, I had no idea what to expect other than great ceviche and, of course, cuy or guinea pig. Arriving early in the morning in Lima, one of the first bites I had, however, was the familiar empanada–ground meat wrapped up in a pastry. So many cultures worldwide have something similar: In Jamaica and Sri Lanka, they call them “patties,” in Brasil, salgados.  In Peru, empanadas are as ubiquitous as Manhattan’s dirty water hot dogs, stuffed with all kinds of fillings from ham & cheese, to beef, chicken, as well as an amazing sweet variety made with guava and cheese.


a flaky pastry surrounds a moist, meaty filling--who doesn't like that?

the ultimate street food

Judging by the hotels in which I stayed, breakfast is not much of a meal in Peru. The most you’ll get is a white roll with butter and jam and maybe some fruit along with a concentrated coffee liquid to which you add hot milk. To see what average Peruvians start the day of with, however, I took a look at what’s cooking on the streets. Outside one of Lima’s old school mercados (markets), where you can by all manner of fresh meats and produce, I followed the noise of frying and the aroma of meat and eggs, to discover what’s really for breakfast here.

can't beat the streets...

...for a classic fry up!

Speaking of the mercado, it’s a great place to get a “lay of the land” and see which foods are available in a country as well as which foods people like to eat. In Peru, where the mighty Amazon begins, there are no shortage of exotic eats, many  of which I am still trying to at least put a name to.

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The meat section reminds me of a typical market in Sri Lanka (or any developing nation for that matter), where huge sides of beef hang on hooks sans refrigeration. As people waste  no part of the animal, plenty of offal (the nasty bits) is available as well, to be made into traditional dishes like cau-cau, or cow’s stomach (which I did not have the pleasure of trying this time around) .

In Lima, ceviche is king, and I tried all manner of this seafood-cooked-in-citrus specialty, from the 5 soles plate at the mercado to the more high-end offering at La Rosa Nautica Restaurant (see earlier blog post). What I love about ceviche here is that they serve it with so many sides–a boiled sweet potato, toasted corn kernals, rice, and even fried calamari–which make it a full meal, while also providing a textural counterpoint for the tender chunks of fish and seafood. I also love the marinating liquid–leche de tigre (milk of the tiger)–made of lime juice, cilantro, red onions, and salt.

my first ceviche: can't even see the fish swimming in the "leche de tigre" and topped with fried calamari and a chunk of sweet potato

freshwater ceviche

But while seafood is primarily the province of coastal areas, a plate of lomo saltado stands as more a contender for the national dish. A simple stir fry of (usually) beef with onions tomatoes and peas served with rice and french fries, lomo is a gut-buster that is guaranteed to keep you going all day (that is, if you are not inclined to take a nap after eating it).

lomo saltado

Of course, if beef is not your thing, there’s plenty of pork and chicken to go around, and for those on the more adventurous side, alpaca (a relative of the llama) provides a great lean alternative. With a taste akin to beef, alpaca, prized for its soft fur, which is used to make everything from sweaters to rugs, also makes a mean steak.

an alpaca

grilled alpaca

Another quintessentially Peruvian favorite is, of course, guinea pig or cuy. Though Americans might balk at the idea of eating an animal that many consider a household pet like dogs and cats, Peruvians also keep these animals as pets, yet relish their taste, regardless. No self-respecting gastronaut, could bypass such an opportunity, so I seized the cuy with both hands at a restaurant catering to locals in Cusco, the former Inca capital. Located almost 12,000 feet above sea level, Cusco has a decidedly rootsier feel compared to more cosmopolitan Lima. It’s also difficult to breathe here, and handful of coca leaves placed between the cheek and gums and alternately chewed and sucked on greatly helps deal with it. It doesn’t seem to bother the locals, however, mostly quechua-speaking Indians, who appear out of a different era.

cuy...or guinea pig to you

a typical resident of Cusco

The grilled guinea pig was served whole (or actually vivisected from head to tail) along with some pasta, sauteed vegetables, and a couple of large Andean potatoes. The crispy skin, much like chicken skin, was delicious and comprised most of the edible material here as this small animal does not have that much meat (and a lot of bones). In fact, what little flesh there was tasted a lot like chicken except for the ‘head cheese’ up in the well-baked cranial cavity which had its own unique flavor. I thought nothing of polishing off the little critter except when I stared at its tiny, rat-like claws, which elicited unwelcome visions of the New York subway. At 20 soles (about $7.50), cuy was also no bargain in comparison to other local food, so I didn’t have it again on the trip. However, I did see a much cheaper version of cuy at a street fair Cusco, served with bread, cheese, and topped with a kind of seaweed of all things, but having just polished off a hefty portion of lomo saltado, my appetite was satiated for the rest of the day.

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La Canta Rana -- currently undergoing renovations

When traveling, it is sometimes advisable to go by the guidebook and follow other peoples’ recommendations, while at other times, it is best to throw the book out the window, and follow your own instincts. I much prefer the latter because it gives you a sense of discovery and makes you feel like a true traveler as opposed to just a tourist. And believe me, there’s a great chasm between the two. A tourist goes places to take pictures of himself/herself in front of the popular sites; buy souvenirs; and get a tan, generally playing it pretty safe, and not straying to far from the herd of other tourists.  A gastronaut like myself, however, is always open to try something new; prefers street food over fine dining; and loves to go off the eaten path in search of his next meal.

Lima is a great city to explore, and after spending a couple of days getting oriented in the ritzy neighborhood of Miraflores, I decided to try out the more liveable, downtempo area known as Barranco. It reminded me Brooklyn, my home for 11 years, and I decided that if I ever moved to Lima, this would be the place. An eclectic mix of casual eateries, mom and pop shops, and run-down casonas (mansions),the neighborhood had a decidedly laid-back appeal, and a plethora of street art. I knew some good eating lay around the way.

Street art in Barranco











Since the Lonely Planet Guide only listed 3 restaurants for Barranco–2 of which were on the pricey side–we decided to go for the cheap option, La Canta Rana. “An unpretentious place that packs in the locals…” was all the description I needed, as the book said to look out for the green walls. Unfortunately, when we rolled up to the spot and peeked inside, the dust and scaffolding told us that the place was clearly not open for business. Luckily a man inside said that their sister restaurant was open just a few blocks away. He gestured this way and that, and we vaguely set off in the direction to which he had pointed. We soon stumbled into a small covered mercado with various little stalls, some serving food.  There was some nice chicken and rice going on at one spot, but the place that hooked me was serving huge plates of ceviche. I was almost going to suggest we give up our search and eat here as I reflexively took a seat and snagged a menu. When I saw the words, “La Canta Ranita,” however, I knew we had arrived.

a seafood broth (with a little surprise at the bottom) for starters

No sooner had we sat down, when a kid brought us a complimentary mug of soup–a basic, but delicious seafood broth, with a mussel tucked away at the bottom. I checked out the menu of some 20 offerings–mostly seafood, of course–and ordered the grilled pulpo (octopus). My friend Sue ordered something called Causa de Pescado arrebozado, which the table next door was having.  Despite our humble surroundings, what we got was worthy of a fine-dining establishment.

causa de pescado arrebozado

The Causa was actually pieces of fried fish atop a “pillow” of mashed sweet potato and avocado, all topped with a mayonnaise and tomato relish. Super good! And I loved the vertical presentation. Then, my octopus arrived–three long tentacles smothered in an aji (chili) sauce. Wow! This dish is tailor-made for me, I was thinking as I carved off a bite of tender tentacle, smoky from the grill.

pulpo a la parrilla

washed down with a cold one!

the kitchen at La Canta Ranita

Later that night, we decided to try another one of the book’s picks–this one a more upscale place called Chala. On an interesting ‘street’ (if  you could call it that), Bajada  de Banos, Chala served novoandina cusine, the nouvelle cuisine of Peru, and its prices reflected that. Luckily we arrived some 45 minutes before the restaurant opened, so we had the opportunity to check out the surrounding area, which we soon learned was chock full of interesting eateries. There seemed to be a lot of competition for customers, too, as restaurant hosts, approached us, menues in hand, trying to get us to have a seat inside their place. One place in particular caught my eye because of their colorful, mouth-watering menu, and the low prices of the food. They also offered us a free pisco sour as a pre-dinner cocktail, so who was I to argue? We took a seat overlooking the ocean at the homey Toto’s Restaurant.

Toto's restaurant, Barranco

There was one item on the menu that seemed to good to be true–especially at the low low price of 20 soles (about US $8)– so I had to ask them again about it, and this was the Specialty of the House, a seafood stew featuring crab, fish, octopus, squid, mussels, scallops,  and shrimp. It was indeed available, and though I expected it to look nothing like the picture on the menu, I ordered it anyway. When it arrived, to my surprise, it looked even better.

The Specialty of the House at Toto's ....before....

...and after

All of the seafood I mentioned before arrived swimming in a broth made of tomato and clam juice, and topped with chopped cilantro. There were even a couple long slices of yuca for good measure. I had just eaten a dish very similar in San Francisco, the famous cioppino, but Toto’s special blew it away on all counts.  The fact that I had practically stumbled into this place made it all the more satisfying because it really felt like a discovery worth telling others about.

return to La Canta Ranita

Just to make sure the whole day wasn’t a dream, we revisited La Canta Ranita and Toto’s the next day as well.  For lunch, my friend Susan had the Arroz con mariscos, a kind of Peruvian seafood paella, topped with a healthy dose of parmesano cheese.  I went for the Pescado frito con langostinos al ajillo, fried fish topped with shrimp in a chili sauce. Both dishes were fantastic and under 20 soles each.

Arroz con mariscos

pescado frito con langostinos al ajillo

For dinner that night at Toto’s we both went for traditional dishes. Susan had the Aji de Galina, chicken cooked in a thick walnut and cream sauce. I ate the Seco de cabrito con frijoles, stewed baby goat with white beans and rice.  While it would have been tough to top my previous nights’ meal, the baby goat was super tender and not gamey in the least, and the beans sang with a hint of cumin. Susan’s chicken was very rich, but tasty as well. All in all, second time around, we could not go wrong, and we didn’t

Aji de Galina

Seco de cabrito con frijoles












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