Unique Miami Brunches: My Top 5 Spots

On my last trip to Miami, I wanted to avoid Cuban cuisine. Nothing against my fellow Caribbean people, but I craved inventive food. Being the busy bees we are, my friend and I made it a point that weekend to find the most unique Miami brunches. So next time you plan a trip, head down to a Miami, Florida hotel, take in the sights, and explore the various food options the city has to offer. Take a look at our top five brunches in Miami with a twist.

Unique Miami Brunches Guide

Yardbird Southern Table

1600 Lenox Ave.

Yardbird’s brunch may seem traditional on the surface, but once you dig in, it’s a different story. Case in point: strawberry waffles with dulce de leche. Butter-and-honey biscuits with pepper jelly and 27-hour-brined crispy chicken, dredged in spices and flour. Thick house-cured, smoked pork belly bacon. Dozens of whiskey and bourbon pairings to choose from.

Chef Todd Harrington’s Southern menu is best sampled tapas-style, so pick several dishes for the table and enjoy. Brunch hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

GK Bistronomie

218 NW 25th St.

A unique Miami brunch affair awaits at this Peruvian bistro in Wynwood. GKB, as it is affectionately known, is the perfect spot for lengthy girl talks thanks to the unlimited $24 Billette Rosé from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Sunday. Other items that stand out from the new à la carte brunch include pulled pork quinoa with fried egg, softshell crab Benedict, and guava-mascarpone-stuffed French toast.


Inside Fontainebleau Resort, 4441 Collins Ave.

Brunch at this four-diamond award-winning Miami Beach spot is more of a huge lunch than a breakfast. I guess it depends on who you ask.

Western meal classifications aside, Hakkasan’s weekend prix fixe is a steal at $28 per person. Available between 12 and 2:45 p.m., it includes two dim sum baskets (crisp and steamed), choice of an entrée, a vegetable, a plate of either rice or noodles, and dessert. You’ll feel like a dumpling yourself once you happily roll out of there.

Unique Brunches in Miami Guide

Batch Gastropub

30 SW 12th St.

One of the most casual brunches in Miami does not veer far from the traditional, but some of its dishes are unique enough to make it to my list. Batch’s crown jewel in my book is the Mac Attack ($12), delicate gnocchi smothered in aged Gruyère cheese and sprinkled with “Dorito dust.” The list of add-ons for this unique macaroni and cheese dish is equally impressive. Pick from grilled or fried chicken, hanger steak, pulled pork, shrimp, pecanwood-smoked bacon, pork belly, whiskey caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, a farm egg, corn, rosemary fries, and truffle oil.

Midtown Oyster Bar

3301 NE 1st Ave., Suite 103-1

This Midtown Miami brunch is all about the Benedicts. Midtown Oyster Bar has three kinds, including buttery Maine lobster, Norwegian smoked salmon with capers, and Alaskan crab meat with asparagus. All arrive paired with spongy English muffins, runny poached eggs, and that thick hollandaise sauce to create the epitome of a good ol’ brunch.

Not a Benedict lover? Then their $25 bottomless mimosas and sparkling rosé may do the trick for you.

Whether your ideal brunch includes unlimited mimosas or hearty food, none of these unique Miami brunches will disappoint you. Plan your Sunshine State getaway today!

Like this Miami brunch guide? PIN IT below!

Unique Miami Brunches Guide

Unknown Mexican Food: 5 Delicacies You’ve Probably Never Heard of

I knew Chiapas would wow me with its beauty as soon as I received my latest Mexico itinerary. What I didn’t expect, though, was to be introduced to unknown Mexican food. You know, dishes I had never seen at a typical Mexican restaurant in the USA.

I think living in Florida is partly to blame. I’m sure Southern states such as Texas and Arizona get a wider variety of Mexican dishes!

Either way, my audience comes from all over the world. So! I wanted to introduce you to five Mexican dishes you’ve probably never heard of today. These are some of my new favorites after my Chiapas tour:

Unknown Mexican Food: 5 Delicacies You’ve Probably Never Heard of

unknown Mexican food

Asado de puerco and pollo

Up until July, I thought all moles were spicy. Chiapas food proved me wrong once again!

Namely, I learned that asado de puerco varies from region to region. Northern Mexican asados, for instance, tend to be tearfully-spicy, vinegar-based stews. Southern varieties, on the other hand, are more like mole-style stews.

While “puerco” means pork, another popular spin of this underrated Mexican food is made with chicken. Then, it’s called asado de pollo. Either way, it is full of Spanish spices and flavor, typically served with a mountain of rice.

The asado I tried was made with chicken, soaking in a thick chocolate base. The dark cacao notes really stood out, blending beautifully with a chili sauce that was actually served for my nachos. Yum!

unknown Mexican drinks

Chiapas pozol by Alejandro Linares Garcia, Wiki Commons


I’ll admit: I wouldn’t have tried pozol if it weren’t for my Karma Trails guide. It is commonly sold in less-than-appealing plastic jugs, so most foreigners never dare to try it.

Made out of coarse cornmeal, sugar, and sometimes even cacao, this meal-replacement drink is a staple for farmers to kill hunger whilst on the field.

If you plan to go out and explore several Mayan ruins in a day, go ahead and have pozol for breakfast. You will thank me later!

authentic Mexican food

Chanfaina by Marbregal, Wiki Commons


I’ve never been a fan of tripes pork or cow. However, I must admit that Latinos have a special gift to turn these typically-unloved organs into something delicious.

Akin to Puerto Rican mondongo, chanfaina is a hearty, time-consuming soup made with pork liver, heart, and kidneys.

While it originally hails from Western Spain, the Mexican version is typically cooked with tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, sour orange, bay leaves, sweet and white chilies.

unique Mexican food

Sopa de pan

This warming soup is a delicacy of San Cristobal de Las Casas, a charming colonial town up in the Chiapas Highlands.

Traditionally, it is made with pork lard–although it is not as common to find this hard to version and restaurants anymore.

What your sopa de pan will sure have no matter where you go, though, is hen broth, cut vegetables, plantains strips, and bread.

authentic Mexican drinks


OK, so this is not Mexican food. Still, I had to come in its defense. Why does tequila take all the glory?! Mezcal is its unknown Mexican sibling. A mellow, smoky-flavored alcoholic beverage made from the same agave plant.

Literally meaning “oven-cooked agave,” mezcal is most commonly drunk in Oaxaca. As that region is just north of Chiapas, I got to sample a few shots at Belil Restaurant. Wonderful spot for authentic, mostly unknown Mexican food by the way. I highly recommend it if you drop by San Cristobal de Las Casas!

Like Mexican dishes and drinks? PIN IT below!

Unique Mexican Food Guide

Special thanks to Karma Trails for my unforgettable 10-day press trip to Mexico this past July! I highly recommend them for any of your Mexico tour, accommodation, transportation needs. I was not paid for positive reviews however; all views set forth are product of independent research and my own opinions.

Chicago Food Guide: Must-try Dishes and Where to Eat Them

If you are expecting this Chicago food guide to only contain a list of places to grab some deep dish pizzas and other quintessential American foods, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through the most iconic dishes you should try while staying in the Windy City–and which joints cook them best.

Chicago food, jibarito sandwich

Image via Flickr by Minah

El Jibarito

El Nuevo Borinquen: 1720 N California Ave.

Since the first migrants settled in the city in the 1930s, Puerto Ricans have long been involved in the cultural makeup of Chicago. When it comes to food, one of the most significant contributions is El Jibarito–a sandwich where tostones (fried green plantains) are used in lieu of bread.

Whether you add shrimp, ham, chicken or steak to your jibarito, it will always be crispy, garlicky, and riquisimo!

Indian food Chicago

Image via Flickr by PROMarit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Indian Food. Period.

Along Devon Ave., West Rogers Park

As a result of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, an increased number of Indians came to Chicago. Nowadays, Devon Avenue (between Damon & California Ave.) could be called Little India.

Whether it’s Uru-Swati’s vegetarian samosa chaat; Mysore Woodlands’ tear-jerking-hot cilantro tamarind soup rasam; or Tiffin’s mild chicken tikka masala, any Indian food joint you choose along Devon will make your taste buds’ day.

cemita, Mexican Chicago food

Cemita via Flickr by Kate


Cemitas Puebla: 817 W. Fulton Market, West Loop

You can’t go wrong with Mexican food in Chicago. Mexicans, in fact, make up the largest Hispanic group living in the city.

There is one particular Mexican delicacy that has become a Chicago institution: cemitas or Mexican-style sandwiches. Standing out in the crowd? The three-meat cemita atomica with Oaxacan cheese, avocado, and smoked chipotle sauce.

classic Chicago food, Italian beef sandwich

Image via Flickr by jpellgen

Italian Beef Sandwich

Johnnie’s Beef: 7500 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park

Spicy Italian beef sandwich, topped with sweet peppers, then dunked in its own juices. Now that’s a classic Chicagoan food.

Who does it best, though? It’s down to Al’s Beef (presumptive 1938 creator), Johnnie’s Beef, and Portillo’s. Shockingly, even chain restaurants dish out amazing food in Chicago.

I’d go to Johnnie’s though, as getting to this local diner is part of the experience.

authentic Chicago style hot dog, Chicago food

Image via Flickr by Arnold Gatilao

Chicago-style Hot Dog

Gene & Jude’s: 2720 River Rd., River Grove (cash only)

To qualify as a Chicago original, a hot dog must be 100 percent beef and in its casing for a nice snap; lay on a poppy seed bun; and be topped with tomato slices, chopped onions, sport peppers, relish, mustard, celery salt, and a pickle spear. You could stretch it by only having the onions, peppers, mustard, and relish as toppings.

Please, don’t ask for ketchup. Not only is it seen as an insult, but in some cases, the restaurant will simply not have it available!

No deep dish pizza. Sorry.

Don’t mention a “Chicago-style deep dish pizza” to locals either–many of them will likely roll their eyes. An authentic Chicago food list would not include such a travesty, they’d say.

Proceed at your own risk!

Hipmunk Hotels: 5 Hotels in Foodie Towns of the South from Lafayette to New Braunfels and More

This post was first published on Southern Fried Travel blog on April 12, 2016.

There is a foodie in everyone, especially when it comes to lip-smacking, tangy barbecue. The secret sometimes is in the sauce, but in places like New Braunfels and Midland, Texas it’s all about the meat and how it’s slowly cooked. Charleston, South Carolina barbecue goes for the equal-opportunity barbecue stance with offerings of the basic four styles of barbecue sauce. Louisville, Kentuckians like their barbecue sauce flavored with Kentucky Bourbon and molasses, while Cajun barbecue around Lafayette, Louisiana features a bolder and spicier flavor, and they even barbecue their shrimp.

Never take your barbecue for granted. For an adventure in barbecue, check out hotels in New Braunfels, Midland, Lafayette, Louisville and Charleston in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky and South Carolina. When you book your hotels, go to Hipmunk for an equally flavorful hotel with the texture of the historic South. So enjoy your barbecue and your stay in the South.

Charleston, South Carolina

Nick’s bar-b-q in Charleston, South Carolina image via flickr by Vla Tsujl

Not only does South Carolina map out their barbecue trail, but they offer the four basic barbecue sauces of mustard sauce, vinegar and pepper sauce, light tomato sauce, and heavy tomato sauce. South Carolina barbecue starts with pulled pork as the meat of choice.

There are several affordable hotels in Charleston. Book The Meeting Street Inn, a cute, pink stucco, three-story inn, complete with white verandas and Colonial-style furniture and four poster beds reminiscent of the Civil War era. Another inn is the Kings Courtyard Inn, which is a short walk from downtown Charleston.

Louisville, Kentucky

First time at Smoketown USA in Louisville, Kentucky image via flickr by Joe Chang, iknowjoe

Kentucky bourbon barbecue uses Kentucky bourbon, tomatoes, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar on chicken. Louisville Kentuckians like their barbecue sauce flavored with molasses for extra sweetness. One cheap Louisville hotel possibility is the Galt House Hotel, which is next to the convention center. The Hyatt Regency Louisville Hotel is another excellent choice to check out.

Lafayette, Louisiana

Louisiana barbecue with four sauces image via flickr by Patrick Lorenz, coffee shop soulja

Cajun barbecue is spicier, with garlic, paprika, chili powder and onions. Besides the regular chicken, beef, and pork, Cajuns also serve barbecue shrimp, and the barbecue around Lafayette, Louisiana goes for a bolder and spicier flavor.

If you’re looking for a hotel in Lafeyette, you can’t go wrong with Buchanan Lofts, which features nine guestrooms decorated as industrial lofts. You’ll like the peace and quiet that comes with a small hotel as well as this venue’s abundant amenities.

New Braunfels and Midland, Texas

Texas Pride barbecue – The name says it all image via flickr by NikonFDSLR

Texas barbecue is generally served with beef brisket as the meat of choice. With Texas, the barbecue is more in how the meat is cooked and less about the sauce. One of the best hotels in Midland is the Grand Texan Hotel and Convention Center, with its indoor pool with slide and a hot tub. Another hotel to check out is the Home2 Suites by Hilton Midland with their suites.

German settlers came to Texas and created their own town: New Braunfels. German-flavored barbecue is bold and tasty. When staying in New Braunfels, check out the Lamb’s Rest Inn B and B and also perhaps the Prince Solms Inn Bed and Breakfast to get more of the local German flavor of the place.

So put on your traveling shoes and step into the barbecue adventure of your life. Look up these little gems and enjoy your stay as you forge your own barbecue trail.

Pakistani food in Orlando: Naan pizza and nihari at Chaat House! [PHOTOS]

He was the only white boy. I was the only brown girl that did not hail from the Middle East. Still, the aroma enticed us. And so, we tried Pakistani food in Orlando for our Travel through Food adventure last week!

Before I move on to the Pakistani restaurant Chaat House review and photos though, I would love to introduce you to Pakistani cuisine and its history.

Pakistani food, chaat dishes

Pakistani chaat dish by junaidrao, Flickr

Pakistani food: Overview

Pakistani food is very similar to Indian cuisine, but with a stronger Muslim influence. As such, it is halal, meaning it follows strict Islamic law standards on what can be eaten and how dishes must be prepared. Pork is forbidden, so other meats such as chicken, lamb, beef, and fish are prevalent in Pakistani dishes. Also, strong aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, mace, black pepper, green and brown cardamom are widely used in the Pakistani kitchen (Wikipedia).

In addition to Islam, the Indian Moghul Empire influenced Pakistani food when it began its ruling of present-day Pakistan around 1526. Saffron, almonds, raisins, and the famous tandoori dishes were introduced (FoodbyCountry.com). Crazy we can still enjoy them in the 21st century!

Pakistani food history, chicken tandoori

Pakistani chicken tandoori by Wally Gobetz, Flickr

Pakistani food in Orlando: Chaat House review

The ambiance is not that special, although it’s cool that giant photos of Pakistani food are sprinkled throughout the walls, helping غیر ملکیوں (foreigners) like us decide what to order.

Within minutes of our arrival though, at least 5 different orders for the Chaat House specialty, naan pizza, had been picked up. We immediately knew what to order as part of our initiation to Pakistani food in Orlando then!

Pakistani food in Orlando, Chaat House restaurant review

Pakistani food in Orlando: on Chaat House’s grill (photo: ChaatHouseOrlando.com)

Within minutes of our arrival, at least 5 different orders for the Chaat House specialty, naan pizza, had been picked up. We immediately knew what to order as part of our initiation to Pakistani food in Orlando then!

We opted for a spicy, 12-inch chicken tikka naan pizza: just what it sounds! Ethnic “pizza dough” made out of tandoori naan, stuffed to the brim with tomato curry sauce, chicken tikka, jalapeños, onions, and red pepper flakes; topped with several layers of cheese and even more jalapenos:

Chaat House Orlando review, Pakistani chicken tandoori naan pizza

We were quite skeptical about Chaat House’s Pakistani naan pizza at first, but now we can’t wait to eat it again!

Pakistani restaurant Orlando, Chaat House naan pizza

Chaat House Orlando Pakistani restaurant: their SMALL naan pizza!

What’s funny is we came into the Chaat House knowing we wanted to order the nihari with naan, as one of Mr. B’s Pakistani students highly recommended it. So naturally, we couldn’t leave without trying it out…

Pakistani food in Orlando, nihari Chaat House review

Nihari, Pakistani curry, with naan

It was a mystery meat: we don’t know if it was goat, beef or otherwise…but it sure was delicious! Next time we would like to order it with less lemon though, as it was slightly more bitter than we would have liked. But then again, we’re used to Indian curries, not Pakistani varieties!

Chaat House Orlando: Pakistani restaurant verdict?

So, did we like their Pakistani food in Orlando? Sure did! The service was a little choppy, but then again they expect you to order by the cash register, not while you’re sitting down. Once you get that, the experience is quite lovely and, most importantly, authentic!

Chaat House Orlando Pakistani restaurant review, front photo

Chaat House Orlando Pakistani restaurant front!

Have you ever had Pakistani food? What’s your favorite dish?

Chaat House on Urbanspoon

A Sensual French-Canadian Encounter (photos)

After a light shove, the gooey, salty white chunks rolled over the crispy bed—just as thick, spicy fluid cascaded down the deep pockets like honey on a stack of hot cakes. Excited, I finally took a mouthful… and, as expected, the concoction was even more explosive inside me. I had to know more about him…

Frontenac Château poutine, Québec City

View of Frontenac Château, one time I was waiting for him…

old Québec city, poutine at Le Cochon Dingue

This, however, is the street of our favorite encounter…

…so today, I’m exploring poutine history and its different flavors! 😀

The origins

How did this sensual French-Canadian creation came to be? That was probably (one of) the first question(s) that came to mind when I lost my poutine virginity in Montréal in June. And while I had a feeling that it’s background wouldn’t be as exciting as our first encounter, it’s controversial nonetheless.

All accounts point to the late 1950s in rural Québec, Canada. It can’t be decided, however, whether its birthplace was the town of Drummondville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Victoriaville or even Warwick. According to the CBC though, the most-often-cited source is the latter, with its inventor being Fernand Lachance… Or the customer the asked for the special french fries? It went something like this:

Customer: I’ll have some cheese curds with those fries, please.

Chef Lachance: une maudite poutine! [a damn mess!]

Either way, thanks to BOTH! Oh, and to the guy (or girl) that had the brilliant idea to add the gravy in order to keep the fries warmer, longer.

La Banquise Montréal original


Poutine flavors: infinite?

The possibilities with poutine are endless: any shredded meat, vegetable or cheese as topping is fair game. Just please, never forget the thick brown gravy, the salty cheese curds or the crispy, sweet fries.

Below are some of the poutine concoctions I stumbled upon with during my time in Montréal, Québec City, and Toronto:

La Banquise, Montréal menu

CLICK TO ENLARGE: many varieties at the infamous La Banquise, Montréal.

Original Montréal Poutinerie

Original variety at Montréal Poutinerie

vegetarian poutine, Montréal

Vegetarian poutine, made with the vegetable-based gravy (ohbernadine, Flickr)

La Fumee poutine

All the poutines at Le Chic Shack (Old Québec City) are made with quite chunky, yet crispy “wedge” fries — a bold twist from original varieties (photo: TripAdvisor.ca)

Double pork poutine from Smoke's Poutinerie, Toronto

Smoked bacon, chipotle pulled pork topping original poutine and gravy (Smoke’s Poutinerie, Toronto)

My favorite poutine

I gained about 10 pounds from my week in Québec—all from eating a different type of poutine every day. But there’s this special one… One that I still dream about every night. One that’s making me consider booking a ticket from the warmth of Puerto Rico to the bitter cold of Québec just so I can have it again this Christmas holiday…

Le Cochon Dingue food

Duck confit variety HECK YEAH

That poutine… That poutine is what inspired the first paragraph of this blog post. I, however, didn’t describe the shredded duck confit—as it smoothly slid into my mouth, between my teeth—because that would have probably grossed some of you out.

duck confit poutinerie, Vieux Québec

*melts in your mouth*

Just look at that. Even without the duck, it was the best poutine I’ve ever had (my 10 pounds worth of it!), hands-down. The big, perfectly salty cheese curds. The crispy, golden-sweet fries. The thick homemade gravy, mixed with the house’s spicy BBQ sauce. And yes, it even had capers.

I miss him. I MISS HIM SO MUCH. And it can only be found at Le Cochon Dingue, Vieux Québec.

Old Québec City poutinerie

YES. Please.

Damn, I really do love poutine…

(I did pay for that duck confit poutine, in case you’re wondering…) 

Got any other stories about poutine history? What’s your favorite variety?

Travel through Maya food and its history: Photo essay

Welcome to another edition of Cultural Tidbits Monday. Following my trip to Mexico, this week we travel through Maya food and its history. I will give you a brief overview of Yucatec Maya food (also known as Yucatán food), influences, popular ingredients, and dishes. All sprinkled with delicious photos. ¡Buen Provecho!

Maya food platter

Maya food platter from Valladolid (1yen, Flickr)

Maya food: Brief history

If any restaurant in Mexico claims to serve “pure” Maya cuisine, they are lying. Maya food from the Yucatán is a mix of Yucatec Maya, North African, Spaniard, and other European influences. The Peninsula was active in the Caribbean trade throughout colonial times, which transformed its cuisine.

Maize, or corn, is the centerpiece of Maya food. Every dish is made with, or comes with a side of, handmade corn tortillas. Mashed black, red, and pinto beans are also present in most Maya dishes. The way I see it, Yucatec Maya food is the type of Mexican food Americans recognize. Go visit any other region in Mexico and you’ll be surprised to see how different “Mexican food” can be!

Conversely, the further south you go, the less spicy/hot Mexican food is. Accordingly, Yucatán cuisine is rather mild. They do import hot sauces from all over the country though, so ask your server! 😉

Maya food banana leaves

Maya food wrapped in banana leaves (foodfreak, Flickr)

Chicken and seafood have always been eaten by the Maya, in addition to rabbits, deer, doves, pheasants, and pork after colonial times. These are cooked with chili peppersHabaneros, tomatoes, achiote (annatto seeds paste), wild onions, chayotes, and cucumbers.

Like in the Caribbean, fruits play a big role in Yucatán cuisine. Papaya, bananas, mamey, oranges, guava, avocados, guanabana, mangoes, and pineapple are some common ingredients. Moreoever, Middle Eastern spices such as cumin, coriander, and saffron are now part of Maya food! The end result? Subtle, yet full flavors. Think sweet and peppery.

Traditionally, the Maya would wrap their food with banana leaves and bake it in underground ovens. Nowadays, most Mayas cook over coal fire stoves. By the way, the Maya are still alive in the Yucatán: They have their own villages and manage their own businesses! In fact, several companies in tourist towns such as Cancun and Playa Del Carmen have partnerships with Maya villages, helping them thrive. I loved this 🙂

Now, let’s sample some popular Maya dishes shall we?!

Cochinita Pibil or Pollo Pibil

The Maya used to marinate chicken with axiote and other pre-Columbian spices, baking it in underground ovens. In fact, the dish has its name because pibil means “buried” in Maya language 😉

After the Spaniards came, pork and other Eastern spices were introduced. This mix of cultures gave birth to the most popular Maya dish: Cochinita Pibil. Virtually every single Mayan restaurant you ever visit will list this dish under their specialties. I had it while visiting Playa Del Carmen last month and let me tell you, it is delishh!

Maya Recipe: Cochinita Pibil

Maya food Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibil by Gonzalo Valenzuela, Flickr

Sopa de Lima

Lime soup with crushed (or strips) of tortilla on top. Traditionally, it is made with turkey, but can also be made with chicken. Very light, perfect with a margarita or Coronita 😉

Recipe: Mexican lime soup

Maya food lime soup and cochinita pibil

Lime soup (bottom) + cochinita pibil sandwiches! (Rigoberto Reyes, Flickr)


While there are several ways to cook poc-chuc, I love the the Maya barbecue version 😀 Fine slices of pork, marinated in a sour orange juice sauce, with onions and spices.

Maya Recipe: Poc-Chuc

poc chuc Maya food

Mmm Maya poc chuc (kanuck, Flickr)

Pavo en Relleno Negro

Literally means turkey with black stuffing. The jet-black sauce is made of a spice mix called recado. A variation of the reca’o used in the Caribbean, it consists of “achiote seeds, charred chilies, cloves, allspice, peppercorns and cumin” (GoMexico.About.com). Then, mashed hard-boiled eggs and tortillas are added to complete the stuffing. Yum!

Recipe: Pavo en Relleno Negro (with a French twist)

relleno negro, Maya food

Turkey with relleno negro on the left (mswine, Flickr)

Queso Relleno

It is unknown how Edam cheese was introduced to the Yucatán Peninsula. There are several stories, but my favorite is the one told by the chef of the Mayan restaurant I visited: “a ship, containing a large shipment of the Dutch Edam cheese, ran aground at the height of the Caribbean trade in colonial times. Yucatec Mayas discovered  the boxes and started to incorporate Edam cheese in their cuisine. And so Queso Relleno became a Maya food!”

Maya Recipe: Queso Relleno

Maya food platter, Yaxche rest.

Queso relleno (bottom) stuffed with ground pork, which you can see coming out of the top left corner. The black portion is Pavo con Relleno Negro and on the right is the Cochinita Pibil once more


Small fried tortillas, topped with seasoned turkey, mashed fried beans, avocado, pickled onions, lettuce, and sometimes tomatoes.

Maya Recipe: Panuchos

panucho, Maya food

Yucatán panucho (John Chew, Flickr)


It is actually a type of chili in Maya food, but it needed its own category 😉 I found a fascinating recipe mixing these chiles with another authentic Maya dish. You have to try it!

Maya Recipe: Pib X’catik (blonde chilies stuffed with cochinita pibil!)

Pib Xcatik, Mayan cuisine

Pib Xcatik by los-dos.com

Mayan coffee

Last, but definitely not least, is Mayan coffee. Flambéed coffee with shots of Kahlúa, brandy, and Xtabentun (anise, fermented honey) liqueurs, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream. To make it, a fire show (quite literally) takes place at your table. Think of Irish coffee —  but even better. O.M.G. Why do I do this to myself when I have to be at the office?! *sigh*

Recipe: Maya coffee (without the brandy, though!)

Which was your favorite Maya food? Have you tried it before?

Quirky travel food: Dishes that surprised me on my travels

As I enjoyed some grilled cow hearts last week, I realized that I haven’t written a post about quirky travel food. Not just any kind of strange food, but a list of dishes that actually surprised me on my travels. Those memorable little ones that were odd travel food at first, but tasty in the end! So, without further ado, I introduce you to some quirky travel food I ended up liking.

Quirky travel food in the Caribbean: Eating iguana in Curaçao

During a beach hopping tour in Curaçao, our lunch stop at Jaanchie’s Restaurant included a free dish of iguana. All the girls on our table looked at each other in disbelief. I took a look (and sniff) at the iguana stew…didn’t seem any different than chicken. The cooked reptile reminded me of bony wings, actually. Once I took a bite, I was hooked! As expected, tasted just like chicken wings 😀 Can’t tell you this is what I expected iguanas to taste like when I saw them crawling on the best beaches of Curaçao

quirky travel food, eating iguana in Curacao

Chicken wings, I mean iguana, anyone?

Quirky travel food in Africa: Eating snail soup in Morocco

I’m not going to lie — this sounds more badass than it really was. You see, my friends actually ate the snail, using a toothpick to take it out of the shell and all. I couldn’t stomach this much, so instead, I sipped the snail broth. I call it snail soup. Yes, I drank the water in which the snails are pretty much cooked alive and seasoned in. It was salty and not too bad. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite Moroccan food, but still…I was surprised I was brave enough to try it (against my taste buds’ judgment). This delicacy can be found in several of the many stalls in Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh. Definitely one of the quirkiest things to do in Morocco!

quirky travel food, snails in Marrakesh

Yup, I drank the broth of THAT (Christine Chun, Flickr)

Quirky travel food in Europe: Eating whale and puffin in Iceland

Please don’t judge me. Yes, I did eat whale (twice, actually) and a cute little penguin-like animal called puffin. My first bite of whale was offered by my Couchsurfing host Asgeir as soon as we arrived to his home late at night. And I’m not going to lie: Smoked whale tasted delicious, tender even. The second time around, I was at a popular restaurant in Reykjavík and ordered an Icelandic food sampler. The waitress suggested the following platter and I said why not:

quirky travel food, whale and puffin

Icelandic food sampler: Whale (top left corner), puffin (center) and smoked lamb (bottom right) with raisin reduction for dipping (bottom left)

Not that I’m going to seek whale or eat it every time I can… But I believe Icelanders have a certain way of getting it, not as unethically as other countries. Yes, I admit it: I ate some whale and I liked it.

Quirky travel food in South America: Eating Peruvian heart kebabs

This quirky travel food has a different story. I actually tried them in Florida! My roommates, one who lived in Peru for over 2 years and another one who visited, decided to cook something “different” last week. I asked them what kind of beef they were grilling, but they said that they wanted me to try it first. And so I tried it, and naturally, was unable to point my finger on it.

Only after I finished an entire heart kebab, did my friend Joshua break the news: “Anticuchos de corazón.” I’m a native Spanish speaker, so my first reaction was “wait, did you say HEARTS in Spanish?!” My roommates Josh and Alan broke out into tears… of laughter. Oh well, I guess I ate cow HEARTS and I liked them, too! Recipe will actually be tomorrow’s feature for our new Hostel Cooking series. I hope you guys give them a try! 😉 They are great surprises.

Peruvian heart kebabs, quirky travel food

Peruvian cow heart kebabs with potatoes

Quirky travel food in the USA: Corndogs and fair fried food

Don’t laugh at me now! I actually do feel like an expat in the USA, even though Puerto Rico is a US territory. And one of the things that surprised me from American food was corndogs. They seemed odd and weird to me at first. But after I tried them, I absolutely loved them! Along with other popular fair foods such as funnel cakes and -gulp- fried Oreos and cookie dough!

deep-fried Oreos, quirky travel food

Deep-fried Oreos! Yum (Rachel Knickmeyer, Flickr)

quirky travel food, deep-fried cookie dough

Deep-fried cookie dough! Can you say LOVE? (David Berkowitz, Flickr)

What quirky travel food have you tried? Share in a comment below!

Simple Venezuelan food recipes: Arepas and cachapas (videos)

Craving some Latin food? You are in for a treat! This week’s Cultural Tidbits Monday will showcase some simple Venezuelan food recipes. Learn how to cook arepas and cachapas!

Arepas and cachapas: What are they?

Arepas are like thicker tortillas, made with flour and/or ground corn dough. Sometimes even coconut is added to the mix! While they are one of the most popular Venezuelan dishes, arepas are also part of Dominican cuisine and Puerto Rican fast food.

simple Venezuelan food recipes, arepas

Venezuelan arepas stuffed with sausage chimichurri (bottom) and glorified tostones (“canoes” with cheese on top) at Caracas Arepa Bar in NYC

Another Venezuelan specialty is the cachapas. Also popular in neighboring Colombia, these are basically South American pancake tacos. That’s right: a thicker batter, but made of fresh corn dough, with the slight sweetness of a plain American pancake.

Once ready, you may stuff it with all types of meats and cheeses: Pulled pork, chicken, beef, and even shrimp! The most traditional cachapa, however, is plain cheese: made with delicious queso de mano. Meaning “handmade cheese,” it resembles mozarella in texture, although it has a milder flavor to it.

cachapa, simple Venezuelan food recipes

A Venezuelan cachapa with pulled pork, sliced tomato, avocado, side of aioli (entitee, Flickr)

Simple Venezuelan food recipes: VIDEOS and other resources

Want to see how easy it is to bake arepas? All you need:

2 cups of Harina P.A.N. flour
2 cups of water
A pinch of salt

Once baked, you pan-fry them until golden. That’s it! For the full recipe, click here. Once they are done, however, you have just created the canvas — it is time to paint on it!

Mmmm. And that’s not all: You’ll learn how to cook cachapas today as well! Go get:

Freshest corn you can find
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspon of salt
5 tablespoons of sugar (you want tthat sweet afterbite)
1 egg
A bit of heavy cream (for density)

Enjoy! Let me know how your arepas and cachapas mixtas come out 😉

Have you ever tried any of these simple Venezuelan food recipes?