Friday, November 13, 2009

Cheripan in Tijuana: Argentinean Steak and Exotic Martinis

The Zona Gastronomica in Tijuana, Mexico isn't all about Mexican or Baja-Med food. Located in the heart of this district is Cheripan, a wonderful Argentinean restaurant offering a great selection of steaks and other Argentinean cuisine, a nice list of cocktails, and a large wine selection.

Naturally, it was one of our 8-restaurant-stop first day of Baja extravaganza sponsored by Cotuco.

Cheripan has a whole list of fresh fruit martinis, from the fruits you typically find in the US like strawberry to the more interesting ones like tamarind and nanchy. On my first visit I opted for the tamarind martini, shaken and poured tableside.
Sweet, smooth, and strong, it definitely goes down easy. We all liked having the shaker left next to our glass - you know, refills. You definitely get a lot for your money.

The second time I tried the nanchy martini. Nanchy is the fruit you see here, and tasted like something fermented.

Now, back to my first visit, and our meal there.

We had two types of empanadas: meat and spinach/cheese
When they give you fresh flaky puff pastries with two different fillings, that just means everyone will end up eating two of them.

Chorizo sausages were nicely spiced.

I really enjoyed the Ensalada de palmitos (hearts of palm salad), which were fresh and crisp.

Fried sweetbreads were nice, although they could be crispier for my taste.

Although skirt steak is typically known to be a touch cut of meat, the skirt steak at Cheripan was not only very flavorful, but very tender as well. A winner.
You'd be hard pressed to find skirt steak this good in LA.

For dessert, some chocolate gelato from the gelato shop owned by the same chef/owner.

And, of course, milhojas (literally "thousand layers") an Argentinean dulce de leche 'napoleon'

Zona Río Escuadrón 201-3151
Col. Aviación C.P. 22440
Tijuana, Mexico
Phone: (664) 622-9730

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Agro-touring in Bali. Kopi Luwak, Snakeskin fruit, and more

The good thing about renting a car along with a driver when you're a tourist is that your driver knows places you don't.

As soon as we landed, we asked the driver to take us to Ubud so we can have some suckling pig, but our driver took us for a short pit stop at Trisna Bali Agrowisata (agro-tourism) on the way.
Trisna Bali is a small garden/farm growing a variety of fruits native to Indonesia, including mangoes, mangosteen, rambutans, and more. This was my opportunity to introduce my guests to salak, a tropical fruit they (and probably you) had never seen before.

Lacking any other English name for it, they called it snakeskin fruit. You'll see why:
Salak is a curious fruit. The inside contains three lobes of firm and crisp meat, similar in texture to an apple although firmer and not as juicy. A good salak is sweet and a little tart, but the moistness depends on the variety you're eating.

Per popular request, here is a photo of the inside taken from Salak's Wikipedia page.

When we visited, they gave us a small cup of the Balinese hot chocolate for free, complete with cinnamon sticks!
But of course, since we were in Indonesia after all, we had to get some Kopi Luwak.

Kopi Luwak, peaberry coffee, or whatever other name it goes under, is the most expensive coffee on the planet and is made with ... civet poop.
Luwak is a civet native to Indonesia that eats coffee berries and apparently knows enough to only eat the best quality berries. So when they poop out the beans, those coffee beans are some high quality coffee beans!
Also, the civet's digestive systems supposedly helped break down the coffee beans in such a way that makes the coffee that much better and more intense to drink.

I was quite enjoying my cup until my brother mentioned the word "runny" .....

They roast their own coffee here. As I've said though, they are a small farm/garden in Bali, so if you were expecting a coffee roaster a la Intelligentsia, think again. Here's how they roast coffee:
Yup, by hand, over the fire, for hours and hours. Makes one appreciate it more.

Trisna Bali Agrotourism
Br. Temen (Tampaksiring-Kintamani) Penglumbaran
Susut 80661
Bangli, Bali, Indonesia

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Hour at Wolfgang's Steakhouse

A good happy hour on the westside, and especially in Beverly Hills, is always welcomed. Wolfgang's Steakhouse now offers a happy hour menu from 4-7 pm M-F with $7 cocktails, $7 wines, $5 beers. $7 select appetizers are also available all night long.

On a recent media invite to their happy hour, I tasted some of their expanded cocktail menu, ranging from classics like the Gimlet and Margarita, to a more creative and seasonal concoctions.

My favorite was the Socialite (Absolut pear, St Germain, and topped with champagne).
Another bubbly offering was the Park Avenue (left) with prosecco, lime juice, and fresh berries.
The Antioxidant (right), made with Veev Acai, lime, mint, and pomegranate is sweeter and seems to be a very popular drink. Hey, if you can drink and be healthy(-ish) all at once, why not right?

Their cocktails also incorporate fresh fruit juices like in their Strawberry Lemonade.
Oh, and there's also the Birthday Cake made with Citron vodka, Frangelico, and Limoncello. I had learned this recipe back in bartending school, but never actually tried it. The lemon flavor and the frangelico combined is supposed to mimic the taste of chocolate cake in your mouth. I still didn't try it this time around, but let me know what you think :)

For the food, expect well-prepared sliders, either filled with lobster salad or a medium rare burger.

Steaks aside, you can also find fresh tuna tartar garnished lightly with avocado.
Both the happy hour cocktail and food menu are rotating, but will all still be $7.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse
445 N Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA‎

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