Most of my posts have been about my journey and travel, but another thing I’m extremely passionate about is food!! I’ve had the opportunity to go to some amazing restaurants in the past couple of years in Chicago. Some of my favorites are Next (If you haven’t read Life on the Line by Grant Achatz, I’d highly recommend it- an inspiring story), Bavettes, and Formento’s. I am a foodie at heart and am willing to try anything. I would have to say that along with experiencing culture, trying new foods is definitely one of my favorite things about traveling. Below are some of my most memorable meals from my recent travels!
Link to the book I mentioned about Grant Achatz:
In South Africa I ate a mix of fresh seafood, new meats (Ostrich, Biltong, Springbok, Crocodile, Oxtail), amazing bread, and of course had to try out some of their pizza.
Rooserkoek is an amazing bread that they cook over a fire (braai). It tasted wonderful with butter, but also made an awesome outside to a sandwich. I loved it so much that I made my own when I got back when showing my family my South Africa pictures- it paired perfectly with some of my favorite wine from Stellenbosch (Tokara winery- Director’s Reserve Red).
The seafood in South Africa was so fresh- I couldn’t get enough! I was a bit out of my comfort zone eating fish with bones and oysters with some sort of moving tentacle on the outside of the shell, but the fresh taste is something I’ll never forget. I have to say my favorite seafood meals were a tuna chowder (top left), and sushi (bottom left).
Within one day, I stopped at an Ostrich farm, and volunteered to have an Ostrich “kiss” me (instead it just bit my lip with it’s hard beak), I rode an Ostrich, and I also ate one for dinner. I wasn’t obsessed with the taste/texture of the meat- maybe it was just that I felt guilty eating it, but I’m glad I at least gave it a try.
I had dinner one night at the Tokara Winery. The restaurant was in the most beautiful setting overlooking the winery. The restaurant was decorated with the most beautiful art, and there was an art gallery on the way in with gorgeous drawings made from red wine. I had Springbok which is kind of like a deer- the meat was very tender, and delicious, a side of potatoes with truffle oil and parmesan, and also tried my friend’s fish of the day.
My first taste of Bobotie (minced meat with a golden crust- similar to moussaka if you’ve had that at greek restaurants) and oxtail after a day of wine tasting. Although I was buzzing a bit, this was one of my favorite meals.
We visited a cool market in South Africa that had a ton of different vendors. I had heard bunny chow was a must-have before going, so I gave it a try. It’s curry inside of a loaf of bread- it was deli!
I had to order Bobotie one more time at an African Restaurant Mama Africa, I also tried my friend’s crocodile. Not only was the food amazing, but there was live music and African dancing, and even better, we appeared to be the only tourists in the place, so it was very authentic.
Of course I had to end with pizza in a hip Cape Town neighborhood on Kloof street. The first pizza was biltong (their version of beef jerky), feta cheese, and sweet peppers (peppadews), and the second one was roast butternut, spinach, peppadews, and roquefort cheese. They were great combinations and extremely tasty- the perfect way to end the trip.
Costa Rican food was much different than what I experienced in South Africa. Throughout the trip I ate mostly rice and beans, plantains, fruit, and fresh meat and seafood. I didn’t try any new food, but I was introduced to a new kind of liquor- Cacique Guaro. They taught us to mix it with hot sauce, lime, and sugar to make a “chili guaro” shot. I still haven’t been able to find Guaro in the states, but we enjoyed it while there.
Yummy food we made at the airbnb- fresh avocado, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, breakfast with eggs, rice, beans, plantain
Meals made by our chef- fajitas with chicken and steak, shrimp salad, delicious fish and vegetables
Lots of fish varieties when dining out- finished with a Chili Guaro shot
Peruvian food was a medley of a bunch of different kinds of food. I ate a lot of fresh seafood, ham (jamon), inca corn, empanadas, alpaca, and of course pisco sours. Cuy (guinea pig) is also a very popular meal to order in Peru. I was planning on trying it, but didn’t order it at the beginning of the trip and missed the opportunity. I think I’m okay with that- I saw it cooking and I”m not sure I would be able to stomach it.
Two wonderful breakfasts- one at the Lima airport- a Butifarra sandwich (made with crispy ciabatta bread and ham), the second breakfast was at the Uros islands- tasty coffee and bread and sweet rolls
Delicious lunch started with fresh inca corn (reminded me of corn nuts, but hot out of the oven) and pisco sour, then ended with empanadas, and pumpkin cream soup. The experience was great as well- after just arriving in Puno, we sat at a table that overlooked the main plaza, so we got a feel for the town’s vibe.
Who would have known there would be a molecular bar in the heart of Puno creating scientific drinks? They were amazing, and it was so fun sitting at the bar watching them being made.
My first taste of Peruvian ceviche did not disappoint- it melted in your mouth. I also tried my friend’s alpaca, which was flavorful, but kind of a dry texture, and ordered a calzone from a woodfire oven.
We went to a nice Peruvian steakhouse for a meal- the total bill was $73 for a nice bottle of wine, 2 salads, 2 beef tenderloin and shrimp combos, and 2 sides. It was WAY too much food, and so delicious!
La Sirena d’Juan was my favorite restaurant in Mancora- it’s super cute inside, with a chill vibe (there are cats roaming around), but the food is amazing. I had a grilled octopus appetizer, ahi tuna, and tried my friends osso bucco. They were all so flavorful- I could have eaten every meal here!
The last must-have in Peru is their ceviche. I stopped at one of the many cevicheria’s on the beach and enjoyed fresh ceviche, inca corn, and fried yucca.
Thinking about all of this is making me hungry! I’m so excited Chicago is starting to open up some restaurants that serve some of my Peruvian/South African/Costa Rican favorites. If you want to try Peruvian food, Tanta is amazing. There is also a BYOB Peruvian restaurant up North called Machu Picchu. I haven’t been, but friends said it’s amazing- don’t forget to bring your own Pisco! In the West Loop, they opened up a popular chain restaurant from South Africa that I didn’t get to try while I was there, but I’m obsessed with- it’ called Nando’s Peri Peri. The most flavorful chicken ever! I’m still waiting for a restaurant to serve other South African favorites like bobotie and roosterkoek. I am also in love with Irazu which is another BYOB restaurant that serves really great Costa Rican food. I’d love to hear if anyone has been to any others!