Wednesday, 21 November 2018

PERU- Where To Eat, What To See, What To Do in Cusco (Part 2)- Morena Peruvian Kitchen and Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca)

"Vinicunca" translates to seven-coloured mountain. The colours are due to mineral deposits over the centuries. Hiking the colourful Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca in Peru is a dream for many people but never take its altitude lightly, be sure you are prepared for travelling to high altitudes or this may completely ruin your vacation. A trek at 5,200 metres is not a joke. To give you an idea, Mt Everest base camp is at 5,389 metres. Some people will begin to feel symptoms of altitude sickness at about 2,400 metres and Rainbow Mountain is more than double that. 

On the day of our hike, we had to wake up at 2:00am and leave Cusco at 3:00am. That lack of sleep coupled with hunger made it worse for me as the altitude increased. Alas, I started having bad headaches and nausea after the hike just when we were about to have lunch at 2pm. It was a horrible experience and something you will never understand until you experience it yourself. Although I still consider myself lucky that I was able to make it to the top and back.

This is Martin, a 16-year-old local horseman who did a fair job of looking after me and making sure I was comfortable during the trek.

I knew this was going to be gruelling so my family and I decided to hop on the horses available for rent for the entire way up and down, except on certain areas of the trek that are steep, we needed to get off and walk. It was a long, excruciating 6 kilometre hike to reach the top of the Rainbow Mountains. Even with the help of the caballo (horse), I was still exhausted.

Alapacas grazing along the valley.

Here's a money saving tip if you want to join a day trip to the Rainbow Mountains. Avoid buying your tickets online, instead purchase your tickets in Cusco as soon as you arrive. There are many travel agency offices around Plaza de Armas that charge only a fraction of the cost advertised online. 

 I made it! 

Morena in Cusco is a wonderful place to enjoy a well deserved meal after that long difficult hike we had earlier to Rainbow Mountain. We spent our last meal in Cusco here and so glad we did. Service was outstanding from the moment we walked in. The place is bright and cheery with Peruvian music playing on the background giving a welcoming, pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. They serve exquisite Peruvian-Asian fusion dishes such as "chaufa" (chaofan in Mandarin) which was exploding with flavours and tasted vibrant as it looks. Dishes were well presented and tasted just as spectacular. We all left extremely satisfied and full. 

Inka Kola is a hugely popular drink in Peru created by using lemon verbena. It smells and tastes slightly like bubblegum.

Succulent pieces of pork belly served with Andean corn and native potatoes. Topped with traditional Andean chilli herb and peanut sauce (uchucuta).

Pancetta de Cardo
12-hour slow-cooked pork belly over braised Andean corn (choclo) and cheese in a creamy herb sauce. Served with tacu tacu (pan fried rice and beans) and topped with fresh herbs and huacatay (Peruvian black mint).

A classic Lima dish. It is a Peruvian-style Chinese fried rice or chaufa (chaofan in Mandarin) with chicken breast, pork belly, fresh prawns, noodles and Chinese vegetables.

Morena Peruvian Kitchen
348-B Calle Plateros, Cusco, Peru

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

PERU- Where To Eat, What To See, What To Do in Cusco (Part 1)- Chicha (Por Gaston Acurio)

Cusco quite literally took my breath away. Situated 3,400 metres up in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this city was the capital of the Inca Empire during the 13th to16th centuries. Cusco is laid out in the shape of a puma which symbolises power and strength, its head being Sacsayhuaman and the body formed by the Tulumayo and Huatanay Rivers. 

Altitude sickness is a problem that many travellers have to cope with in Cusco. Usually, this starts affecting people at 2,438 metres or higher (Machu Picchu is at 2,430 metres). First of all, altitude sickness is something you cannot predict. It can affect anybody and it does not discriminate. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to acclimate at a lower altitude and slowly move up. It is also important to stay hydrated. We took Diamox 24 hours before arriving and have been taking it until our last day in La Paz, Bolivia which has an elevation of 3,640 metres. Yet, I still felt breathless, more so when we reached the Rainbow Mountains (Vinicunca) which is located at a whopping 5,200 metres above sea level. *Please consult your doctor before taking Diamox.

Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea are helpful in relieving mild altitude sickness. Be aware that coca leaf is the raw material used to manufacture the drug cocaine but this is absolutely legal in Peru. 

Cusco is small and easy to get around. It is a city like no other, so vibrant, full of life and filled with visitors from all over the world. This friendly city is packed with cultural sights, impressive monuments and beautiful churches at every corner.  I would recommend that you explore the area by foot but wear comfortable shoes because the streets can be hilly and uneven. 

A statue of Inca King Pacachuti, the 9th ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco right in the middle of Plaza de Armas..

Cusco is a charming city with unspoiled colonial architecture and plenty of wonderful restaurants. Chicha, one of Cusco's most popular restaurants is part of the celebrated Astrid & Gaston restaurant group in Peru. If you are unable to book yourself a table at Astrid & Gaston in Lima, having a meal at Chicha is another way to experience Gaston Acurio's culinary greatness in a different way. I would suggest making reservations in advance because it tends to fill up quickly. 

 Chicha is an upscale restaurant located across Plaza el Regocijo on the second floor of a building. The atmosphere is cosy with attractive local decors. Food was delectable with a contemporary twist on classical Peruvian dishes while retaining its original flavours. Dishes were rich, hearty and delicious and most came in large portions. 

Que Tal Mango (mango, passionfruit and banana)
Chicha de Jora (white corn)
Chicha Morada (purple corn)

Chicha appetiser
Pork Crackling, Beef Stir Fry, Tequeno, Beef Heart Anticucho, Stuffed Potato and Sauces

Purple Corn Bread, Quinoa Bread Stick and Red Pepper Butter

Pork Super Adobo- Pork Nape, Ribs and Cheeks, Rocoto and Chuta Local Bread

Atomatada Lengua (beef tongue) with Arracacha Puree, Rocoto and Hierbabuena Sarza

Alpaca Curry- Colca Valley's Alpaca served with Quinoa and Season Fruit

Globo de Chocolate

This chocolate globe is not only impressive but tasted fantastic as well.  

A mind blowing dessert to end an excellent meal.


Prickly pears also known as cactus fruits can be sliced up to eat or made into juice. They are also commonly used in jams and candies. 

San Pedro Market is also known as the Shaman's Market.

Peruvian Jelly

Wachuma is a scared cactus known for having special healing powers and a source of protection from evil spirits and bad luck. 


Big loaves of bread bigger than my face.

Some cultures believe that photography can steal your soul away. I asked this cholita permission to snap a photo and she expressed willingness but buried her face in her hand.

Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn. It is dried, seasoned and can be eaten as a snack.

Plaza Regocijo 261, Cusco, Peru
+51 84 240520

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon, Portugal

Upon arriving in Lisbon after a long and tiring flight, one of our main priorities was to find somewhere to eat. We decided to take a risk and go to Cervejaria Ramiro, which is arguably one of the best restaurants in the city. Naturally, its reputation comes with unbelievably long queues which can stretch up to two hours long.

Luckily for us, we managed to get in after waiting only twenty minutes. We were greeted by a friendly waiter who showed us to our table and handed us with our menu on an iPad. There was a wide variety of seafood, and as a seafood lover, I was overwhelmed by all the choices.

The first dishes to come were the garlic prawns and garlic clams, which both tasted wonderful with garlic bread. Then arrived the barnacles, which was a bit sweet despite their unappealing appearance. Things started to get messy as the scarlet prawns were brought to our table, followed by the spider crab with roe. We were forced to use our hands, and within minutes sauce and roe were splattered all over the table. Do not make the same mistake as me and bring a white shirt.

Overall Ramiro is a must-go restaurant if you are ever travelling to Lisbon. Its high-quality food and reputation ensure that it is loved by both locals and tourists alike.

Toasted buttered bread
This was one order but believe me, you'll end up ordering more. 

Garlic Prawns in Olive Oil

Now this is something you don't get to see everyday. Do you know what these weird looking shelled creatures are called? These are gooseneck barnacles and are considered a rare and wonderful delicacy in Spain and Portugal. We had our first taste of barnacles here in Ramiro. They are far from appetising at first glance but the flesh is actually slightly sweet and the texture is like a combination of clams and lobsters. The best way to eat them is to boil them. How do you eat them? You simply twist off the claw and pull the inner flesh out of its shell. Easy peasy!

Garlic Clams

Giant Scarlett Prawns, Tiger Prawns

Look at its size!

Spider crab full of roe.

There are more than a dozen reasons why I love Lisbon and you will too. 

Av. Almirante Reis nÂș1 - H, 
1150-007 Lisboa, Portugal

Ramiro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato