PHOTO GALLERY: Eating — and Drinking — Our Way Through South America

My Top 5 Bites in South America (described in 3 words)!

My dear friend Shaina — you might remember her from our Epcot eating adventure a couple years back — has always been a big supporter of my culinary exploration. So, when she took a year off to travel the world and told me to pick a place anywhere on the planet to meet up, I jumped at the chance. South America seemed like the perfect place for a wine-tasting extravaganza, with the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina, and Chile’s Maipo Valley providing endless glasses of vino and unforgettable memories we’ll keep with us forever. Here are a few of our favorite bites from the trip.

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#5 — Fricandela Goat Cheese Sandwich: Massive. Earthy. Over-stuffed.
at José Ramón 277: Chopería & Sanguchería, Santiago de Chile

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#4 — Pan Atomatado Con Prosciutto: Salty. Tangy. Chewy.
at Bar Liguria, Santiago de Chile

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#3 — Ham and Cheese Empanadas: Crispy. Buttery. Melty.
at Mod Hotels Mendoza

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#2 — Grilled Beef Filet with Malbec Reduction: Tender. Rich. Seared.
at Gaia Restaurant, Mendoza

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#1 — Tuna Ceviche: Light. Citrusy. Brightness.
at Chipe Libre: Républica Independiente del Pisco, Santiago de Chile

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My Top 5 Sips in South America

Sure, we ate loads of delicious food, but the fine wines and mixed cocktails we sipped were equally as memorable throughout the journey.

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#5 — Pisco Sour
at Hotel Cumbres Lastarria, Santiago de Chile

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#4 — Blue Reserve Malbec
at Bodega la Azul, Mendoza

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#3 — Chilcano (pisco, ginger ale, lime juice, angostura bitters)
at Chipe Libre, Santiago de Chile

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#2 — Founder’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon
at Undurraga, Maipo Valley

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#1 — Gaia Red Blend
at Domaine Bousquet, Mendoza

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Cajun Two-Step: Red Beans and Rice

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When it comes to Cajun comfort food, red beans and rice typically tops the list. And over the years I’ve come to make this dish two different ways, depending on how much time I have for cooking. The traditional low-and-slow method requires soaking the beans overnight and letting them simmer for hours, while the semi-homemade version uses canned beans to speedy up the cooking process. You do you — this is a judgment-free zone.

 

Traditional Red Beans and Rice
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
1 pound red kidney beans
Water to cover and soak
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
½ cup celery, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound smoked sausage or andouille, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup green onions, chopped
½ cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Chicken stock or broth to cover
Cooked white rice

Directions
Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Cover and let the beans soak overnight. When you are ready to cook, use a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and when it is melted, add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sausage and the remaining ingredients, up to the chicken stock. Mix together well and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken stock to cover the beans completely, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook until the beans are tender, about 2 ½ to 3 hours. Serve hot over cooked white rice.

Note: I like my red beans to have more of a gravy consistency, so I mash some of the beans on the side of the pot while simmering to thicken up the sauce. Also, the recommended seasonings deliver a very spicy dish, so be sure to adjust to your taste.

 

 

 

Quick Red Beans and Rice
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
4 (15.5-ounce) cans red beans
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
½ cup celery, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (13-ounce) link smoked turkey sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup green onions, chopped
½ cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Cooked white rice

Directions
Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sausage and brown for 3-5 minutes, set aside. Add the oil to the pan and then add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sausage back in and the cans of beans (with their juices) and then the remaining ingredients, up to the rice. Mix together well and cook until bubbling. Turn heat down to simmer and let cook for at least 1 hour, stirring often. Serve hot over cooked white rice.

Note: I like my red beans to have more of a gravy consistency, so I mash some of the beans on the side of the pot while simmering to thicken up the sauce. Also, the recommended seasonings deliver a very spicy dish, so be sure to adjust to your taste.

PHOTO GALLERY: Eating Our Way Through Iceland

My Top 5 Bites in Iceland (described in 3 words)!

We spent my birthday week exploring southern Iceland, from the milky waters of the Blue Lagoon to the steaming geysers of the Golden Circle and Reykjavik’s charming downtown sprawl. We even stayed in a bubble tent one night and were lucky enough to catch the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Along the way, we ate exotic meats and local specialties, with our favorites highlighted below.

 

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#5 — Icelandic Cheese Platter: Diverse. Epic. Hyper-local.
at Lava Restaurant, Blue Lagoon

 

 

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#4 — Beef Tenderloin: Sumptuous. Hearty. Silky.
at Moss Restaurant, Blue Lagoon

 

 

 

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#3 — Rock Shrimp Tempura: Crispy. Spicy. Satisfying.
at FISH MRKT, Reykjavik

 

 

 

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#2 — Arctic Char Sushi: Fresh. Fatty. Light.
at Spa Restaurant, The Retreat Hotel

 

 

 

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#1 — Langoustine: Creamy. Garlicky. Succulent.
at ROK, Reykjavik