: It's amazing how so many people love chocolate cakes. One of my favorite is the "Red Lobster Chocolate Lava Cakes". It's sooooo delicious! If you are like me, I urge you to try this recipe when you have time. You'll fall in love with it. Trust me... :-) So here it is: Red Lobster Chocolate Lava Cakes Number of servings: 6 persons Ingredients:
There are many online specialty stores that offer nothing but the best in chocolate gift baskets. They offer a great assortment to choose from, and you can even individualize your basket by picking just your favorites. Chocolate gift baskets are designed for all occasions and holidays; Valentines Day, birthdays, weddings, and Mother’s Day are by far the most popular, but they are offered in designs perfect for any type of gathering. May chocolate gift baskets can be combined with other items as well, such as with flowers, wine, fruit, nuts, cheeses, appetizers, or whole gourmet meals, and are perfect for a romantic getaway or picnic too. These gift baskets are available in a variety of sizes and prices, and can be gift wrapped for special occasions with a personal card attached and shipped directly to the recipient. With the internet you can shop, make your purchase, and have it shipped all in a relatively short period of time. It will be packaged to keep your chocolate gift basket fresh and cool, and is usually delivered by UPS or Fed Ex to guarantee that your purchase arrives in the state in which it left the store. If you are a lover of chocolate, you have simply not lived until you have tasted true, high quality, gourmet chocolates. Chocolate gift baskets are a great gift and are a nice substitute or tasty addition to traditional floral bouquets, or other gift arrangements. People who are true connoisseurs of fine chocolate will appreciate your gift, and you will probably get to enjoy a sample as well if you deliver the chocolate gift basket personally! Chocolate gift baskets are available in a variety of collections, and include a wonderful assortment of the best gourmet confections around. If you choose to purchase a chocolate gift basket at a local retailer, you can sample their specialties, and literally select items based on your personal tastes. Retailers also offer special promotions around the holidays or for special occasions, and can ship the chocolate gift basket for you as well. Whatever you decide, it will be truly decadent and loved by everyone. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Not me! You haven’t lived until you have had a handmade chocolate truffle filled with a decadent filling surrounded by a tasty outer chocolate shell. And who says that you have to just buy these little pieces of oral pleasure just for others, you deserve to indulge yourself too!
British cuisine has always suffered from bad press. The simple homespun fare and plain preparation of most traditional British foods pales when compared to French haute cuisine, and it’s not uncommon for food critics to sound almost apologetic when writing about traditional British dishes as if there were something shameful in enjoying a good, thick joint of beef with an accompaniment of Yorkshire pudding. If they speak in glowing terms of anything at all, it is a nod to the clever naming of British foods, where dishes like bubble and squeak and spotted dick appear on restaurant menus. And yet, for all the snickering and apologetic references, British cuisine at its best is hearty, delicious, simple fare on which to fuel the nation that influenced the entire world. There is no other nation in the world that does a roast of beef to such perfection, nor any better accompaniment to the succulent meat than a puffed, piping hot Yorkshire pudding prepared in its drippings, and few cuisines have a dessert that can compare with the pure heaven that is a well made trifle or treacle tart. British cuisine is a blending of the practical with the nutritious. If it is, as some say, unimaginative, that may be because the food itself needs little imagination to fancy it up and make it palatable. It is certainly not because the British mind lacks imagination when it comes to food – the common names for everyday meals sometimes require a translator just so you’ll know what’s on your plate. A walk through a restaurant take-away menu offers such dishes as ‘mushy peas’, steak and kidney pie, fish and chips and bangers and mash. There are well-known British dishes for eating at each meal. Some of the most popular include: Breakfast: A full English country breakfast includes meat, eggs, pancakes or toast and side dishes like hash and bangers and mash. It’s hearty fare, the sort that is set on the table for dinner in most other cultures. It often includes leftovers from last night’s dinner, diced and fried together with seasonings and butter, sometimes called country hash. Tea: The tradition of mid-afternoon tea is one that’s been observed by the British for centuries. Among the most common dishes served at mid-afternoon tea are finger-foods like crumpets with jam and clotted cream, dainty watercress sandwiches and scones with raisins or dried fruits. Sunday Dinner: The Sunday dinner has a long tradition as being a family occasion – the one meal of the week at which all family members gathered. A roast joint of meat – beef, lamb, pork or chicken – is nearly a requirement, and it is served with a potato and vegetable, and very often accompanied by Yorkshire pudding. Puddings and custards feature prominently in British cuisine. Baked, boiled or steamed, puddings are usually made with suet and breading, and studded with dried fruits and nuts. One of the most popular and delightful British desserts is the trifle, and there are nearly as many variations as there are cooks. The base is a sponge cake, often left over from another meal. Soaked in Madeira or port, it is layered in a dish with custard, jam, fruits and Jell-O and topped with whipped cream. The end result is a delicious mйlange that is features all that is good about British cookery – plain, practical cooking that is meant to fill the belly and satisfy the taste buds.
When it comes to making a good impression, saying “Thank you,” or selecting a gift sure to delight, few other choices guarantee success like gourmet gift baskets; especially when the food basket comes from Full Moon. That’s because Full Moon Gift Baskets are particular. We include only the highest-quality of gourmet foods; ones with the highest of palatable standards. With a variety of styles from which to select, our gourmet gift baskets are the perfect choice for corporate business gifts, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and weddings, just to name a few. There is a “just-right” gift basket brimming with select gourmet foods, one to fit every occasion. Take the Crowd Pleaser Gourmet food basket, for instance…as visually impressive as it is appetizing. A lavish basket adorned with cascading ribbons, bows and gift card, filled to overflowing with delectable treats: gourmet cookies, coffees, herbal teas, flavored popcorns, Ghirardelli chocolates, hot cocoa, lemon cake, and more. Plus three humorous perpetual calendars, sure to bring a chuckle to help ease work related or holiday stress. This generous food basket is sure to win rave reviews! “WOW” is the only way to describe our corporate gift baskets, theme oriented with high-impact visual appeal. Exquisite and elegant, each gourmet food basket a masterpiece - offering such tantalizing tummy-pleasers as gourmet cheeses and mustards, mouth watering sausages, wine crackers, dried fruit, candies and so much more. Quality with executive flair! Don’t forget our sampler Gourmet Delight. It offers a variety of taste-teasers sure to satisfy the most scrutinizing gourmet connoisseur. Custom-made Gourmet gift baskets can also be personalized to your specifications. Our talented design team is just a phone call away; on standby to create the perfect gift basket extraordinaire…classy, tasty, affordable, and custom made. Make a good impression and choose a gourmet gift basket for your gift giving occasion.
: If you want to make a gourmet gift basket by your own then don’t take much time to think because making one is quite fun and also an affordable alternative to purchase them. But before you get a gift basket to start making the basket decide carefully that which candy and in what quantity you are going to place in it. You can gift a gourmet gift basket on any occasion may be mothers day or fathers day or even on the occasion of the birthday of your friends. You can make a trip to your local candy store whereby you can get a huge variety of individual candies wrapped in pretty wrappings. Other theme candy wrappings are also available such as sports theme wrapping, holiday and birthday themes are also very popular. The other way would be that you buy candy in bulk and later create small individual packing for your basket by using small cloth bags or squares of transparent wrap or tissue paper filled with candies. Thereafter you need to gather all the corners and tie it up with a bow. This is another cost cutting idea and also adds a personal touch to the gift basket. For a larger variety of candy choice you have also the option to buy candy online and this is pretty easy when you enter the term “candy” and you shall have all the results displayed before you. After you decide what you shall fill in the basket you should choose a style and size of the basket. When you make several baskets you should not limit yourself to the same choice for all. The choice for the basket could be personal and also consider what they shall do with it after the contents have been removed. You have various options and it is not necessary that you stick to baskets because if it is a child you can use a fun lunch box, for a lady cosmetic or handbag would be perfect whereas for a gentleman a metal tin or small travel bag would be great. With a little thought keeping in mind the interests and likes of the recipient you can easily make a gourmet gift basket really special. For more information, visit customgiftbasket. info
French cuisine is the amazingly high standard to which all other native cuisines must live up to. The country of France is home of some of the finest cuisine in the world, and it is created by some of the finest master chefs in the world. The French people take excessive pride in cooking and knowing how to prepare a good meal. Cooking is an essential part of their culture, and it adds to one's usefulness if they are capable of preparing a good meal. Each of the four regions of France has a characteristic of its food all its own. French food in general requires the use of lots of different types of sauces and gravies, but recipes for cuisine that originated in the northwestern region of France tend to require the use a lot of apple ingredients, milk and cream, and they tend to be heavily buttered making for an extremely rich (and sometimes rather heavy) meal. Southeastern French cuisine is reminiscent of German food, heavy in lard and meat products such as pork sausage and sauerkraut. On the other hand, southern French cuisine tends to be a lot more widely accepted; this is generally the type of French food that is served in traditional French restaurants. In the southeastern area of France, the cooking is a lot lighter in fat and substance. Cooks from the southeast of France tend to lean more toward the side of a light olive oil more than any other type of oil, and they rely heavily on herbs and tomatoes, as well as tomato-based products, in their culinary creations. Cuisine Nouvelle is a more contemporary form of French cuisine that developed in the late 1970s, the offspring of traditional French cuisine. This is the most common type of French food, served in French restaurants. Cuisine Nouvelle can generally be characterized by shorter cooking times, smaller food portions, and more festive, decorative plate presentations. Many French restaurant cuisines can be classified as Cuisine Nouvelle, but the more traditional French restaurant cuisine would be classified as Cuisine du Terroir, a more general form of French cooking than Cuisine Nouvelle. Cuisine du Terroir is an attempt to return to the more indigenous forms of French cooking, especially with reference to regional differences between the north and south, or different areas such as the Loire Valley, Catalonia, and Rousillon. These are all areas famous for their specific specialty of French cuisine. As time has progressed, the difference between a white wine from the Loire Valley and a wine from another area has slowly diminished, and the Cuisine du Terroir approach to French cooking focuses on establishing special characteristics between regions such as this. As part of their culture, the French incorporate wine into nearly every meal, whether it is simply as a refreshment or part of the recipe for the meal itself. Even today, it is a part of traditional French culture to have at least one glass of wine on a daily basis.
A "Dessert" is a meal course that usually comes after dinner. Most often Dessert foods are of sweet food but can also be of a strongly flavored food, such as cheese, like cheese cake. The world dessert comes from the Old French word "desservir", which means 'to clear the table'. Often times in the English language dessert is confused with the word desert(note only one "s"), which is a baren peice of land normally with sand as soil. It wasn't until after the 19th-century where the rise of the middle class, and the mechanization of the sugar industry, brought the privilege of sweets into the general public and unreserved it exclusively for the aristocracy, or as rare holiday treat. This was because sugar became cheaper and more readily available to the general public. As sugar was widely spread, so was the development and popularity of desserts. In today's culture dessert recipes have become a popular item for discussion, as they are a winning way to win people over at the end of any meal. This is partly because if you serve a mediocre meal, with an excellent dessert, people will remember you for the dessert and forget about the meal. Most cultures, have a seperate final distinction between the main course, and the sweet course. This is not true however in some cultures such as Chinese, who will mix in sweet and savoury dishes throughout the entire meal. Dessert is, often times seen as a separate meal or snack, rather than a course, and can be eaten some time after the meal by many individuals. Because of it's wide spread popularity there are even some restaurants that specialize in desserts. Some of the most common desserts are: - Biscuits or cookies - Ice creams - Meringues - Fruit - Cakes - Crumbles - Custards - Gelatin desserts - Puddings - Pastries - Pies or tarts
Here's some sweet news: people all over the country can still enjoy that crown jewel of New Orleans, the King Cake, this Mardi Gras season. For those who don't know, a King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy-a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It's decorated in royal colors or Purple for Justice, Green for Faith and Gold for Power: These colors were chosen to represent a jeweled crown honoring the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child on the Epiphany. A tiny plastic baby is hidden inside. Whoever gets the piece with the prize is named "King for a day." Some of the most popular King cakes are those created in New Orleans at the famous Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery. Despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the store recently reopened its doors and took part in a special program with DHL to bring a taste of home to displaced New Orleanians, residents and others for Mardi Gras. Explained Tricia Zornes, owner of Randazzo's, "Continuing local traditions like Mardi Gras helps revitalize the New Orleans economy, improves morale and shows the world that we can rebuild and re-establish the culture that has made New Orleans special." To help the rebuilding and celebrate the reopening, shipping company DHL developed a festive, co-branded shipping box, specially designed to open from the top to protect the rich icing and traditional shape. In addition, according to Zornes, the shipper's sales representative offered his own time and effort to rebuilding the bakery after nearly everything was lost, from the valuable baking equipment to the building itself. "In addition to helping us create a new distribution process, he went beyond the call of duty in offering to help paint, or do any odd jobs that would help us get up and running quickly," said Zornes. "DHL has been committed to leveraging its resources to support disaster relief and long-term reconstruction along the Gulf Coast, and is now pleased to be able to support the private sector in rebuilding their businesses and their livelihoods," said Kay Hart, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, DHL Americas.
In Italy, stylish dining has long been embraced as a relaxing way to unwind after a busy day. So before you order takeout and eat in front of the television, take a cue from the Italians and make each meal a treat. Whether dining alone, with family or with your closest friends, turn an otherwise hurried meal into a chic expression of style with these tips from Ecco Domani Italian wines. * Determine the dйcor. Whether you are dining at the kitchen table or in a more formal setting, it's easy to add some pizzazz to your surroundings. Candles cast a warm glow once the sun goes down. Strands of small lights also enhance the mood; string them around the room or even bunch them in a Mason jar for a funky tabletop display. * Master the art of mood music. Mellow jazz will help take the edge off a long day, and classical music can help lift your mood. Consider tailoring the music around the type of cuisine you are serving. For an Italian meal, for instance, play an assortment of Italian opera. If you're dining with family or friends, get them involved by inviting them to bring their favorite CDs. Set your disc player to shuffle so that everyone's music selection gets played during the meal. * Create a stylish menu. To help you unwind, it's best to keep your meal simple. Luckily, delicious meals are a snap to make with fresh, easy-to-prepare foods. And you can add flair to any basic dish with just a few additions. For an Italian meal, a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad is always a crowd-pleaser. Drizzle chicken and fish with olive oil and lemon for a fresh, light flavor. And dust colorful veggies with Italian seasonings to bring out their natural flavors. Whatever your menu, be sure to select a delicious wine to accompany the meal. Ecco Domani 2003 Pinot Grigio is a perfect wine for everyday dining because of its crisp, fresh flavor, which pairs perfectly with today's light cuisine. It is easy to infuse any setting with glamour by adding a few small touches. In the end, nothing says style like taking the time to make each meal special. - NU
With so many different tastes how does one go about selecting the most choice gourmet gift baskets for a loved one? It's simple, make a list of classic gourmet food gift baskets, go over the list carefully, and choose the one that you think will make your loved one's mouth water the most. Almost any basket chosen with love will be a well-received gift. You could start with a gourmet delight gift basket that includes cranberry walnut tarts, raspberry cookies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, raspberry-honey-mustard pretzels, spicy trail mix, almond cookies, cheese shortbread, cheese straws, potato chip cookies and other delicious treats for the person who craves sweets. It's a classy collection of unique food gift basket delicacies. At times of bereavement a heartfelt sympathy food gift basket can be visually uplifting and convey respect. A sympathy basket will be packed full of fine gourmet foods, comforting gifts and caring words of encouragement for the broken hearted. Possible inclusions can be scented candles, Biscotti, cracked pepper water crackers, delectable cookies, chocolate crisp wafers, fine chocolates, and other delicious treats. It's often a great idea to add non-food items to a food gift basket. And this is an especially true when it comes to a bridal shower party. Not only should your basket contain gourmet food and delicious snacks, but an assortment of bridal shower games and keepsakes. How about a party game book, cookies, crackers, cheeses, wines, herbal teas, along with a few essentials: disposable camera, photo book, and even a keepsake registry book. Some of the most popular and unique food gift baskets combine a generous assortment of fine gourmet treats with a look that conveys your good taste and sincerity. Whether small or large they can be crammed full of fine chocolates, nuts, gourmet cookies, cheeses, crackers and other mouth-watering treats. These baskets can be enjoyed on any occasion including holidays, bridal showers, birthdays, times of bereavement, as a get-well gift or for a housewarming. Maybe you are not into those tasty savory snacks, but are more inclined to eat from a fresh and healthy basket of fruit. If health is a concern, and junk food is out, you will be able to sink your teeth into some luscious seasonal fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, nectarines, peaches and pears. Or add a tropical flavor with mangos, papayas and other savory tropical fruits. Everyone loves pasta, so why not surprise your loved ones with a three-course Italian dinner? Your food basket can contain pasta, champagne hand-poured into a wine glass, along with flavors such as extra virgin olive oil, tomato basil cheese, Nicosia coquilles olives, wine crackers and sausage. Or how about an Italian salad that combines celery, bell pepper, mushroom, black olives, onion, garlic and oregano. And it wouldn't be a true Italian basket without lots of tomato and sweet basil sauce mixed with savory vegetables There are many types of gift baskets and it's hard to go wrong with any of them. Whether you are drooling for Italian, Scottish, Irish or Mexican food there are wonderful assortments available. Food and gift baskets are the ultimate. And as for holidays, a holiday food gift basket can make any day special. Ordering gourmet gift baskets is always easy, but creating your own custom-made basket is special and lots of fun. A creative and unique idea, easily customized to suit any individual, the gourmet food gift basket can be a delightful expression of sentiment.
If you're used to thinking of gift baskets as cheap woven containers of semi-fresh fruit, you may be interested to discover just how creative gift baskets have become. There's something for everyone, and it's not even limited to food items. FOR GOLFING FANATICS: Got a client who loves to golf? Get him or her a golf-themed gift basket. Most include some gourmet treats, perfect for snacking on the green. But many of them also include great accessories, such as a putting cup, club cleaner, tee, ball marker, towel or golf club brush. The food may be gone by the end of the day, but the accessories will stick around, and remind your business associate of you. FOR GARDENERS: Most gardener gift baskets have a bit of a feminine theme, but many are neutral. Some include food, and most include accessories and tools like gardening gloves, seed packets, gardening tools, hand and nail cream. FOR SPA AND AROMATHERAPY ENTHUSIASTS: You'll find a terrific variety of spa, beauty and aromatherapy gift baskets available. Go with a scent theme, or choose one that includes soothing teas. Accessories can include such items as: wooden massager, back scrubber or soft hand towel. FOR EVERYBODY: You can never go wrong with groumet food and drink gift baskets - not with so many to choose from! If an elaborate, expensive champagne and caviar basket is outside your budget, go for simple with Shari's Berries, or a single bottle of Dom Perignon with some chocolate dipped apricot. These combinations are far more affordable, but speak just as eloquently to your good taste, which people will want to associate themselves with.
Are you tired of your regular Joe life and your regular Joe cup of coffee that you start your day with? Then it’s time to reward yourself with something different. Why not jazz up your morning ritual with cup of rich gourmet coffee. The dictionary defines gourmet food like this, “Gourmet food is that which is of the highest quality, perfectly prepared and artfully presented.” If you want the highest quality food you go to a top notch restaurant but if you want the highest quality coffee, you can do that at home yourself. That gourmet meal is probably going to stay at the restaurant unless you invite a chef over but gourmet coffee can be made in the comfort of your own home with just a little practice. Gourmet coffee is more expensive than say, supermarket brands but the taste is also much richer. Unless money is no object, why not save the gourmet cup of coffee for the weekends. Make it an end of the week tradition. Stick with the supermarket coffee for when you’re rushing off to work. To make your own gourmet coffee start with the beans. Gourmet Coffee beans can be bought by the pound and there are many varieties to choose from. Some of the most popular gourmet beans include Kona, Jamaican Blue Mountain, and Sumatra types. Coffee beans are similar to wine in that they name the beans after the region. In the world of wine you have the popular Sonoma wines which come from Sonoma Valley in California. In the world of coffee the equivalent would be Kona beans which come from Kona, Hawaii. Kona coffee beans are grown in rich volcanic soil and the mild tropical climate of the Kona coffee belt on the western side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It has a wonderfully full, rich and smooth flavor with little or no bitter after taste. Be sure that you buy Kona beans and not a Kona blend. A Kona blend can legally be labeled as Kona with as little as 10% of actual Kona beans in it. Next you’ll need to grind your beans. Ground coffee begins losing it’s flavor once it’s exposed to air. So you’ll want to grind just enough to make your desired amount. Store any leftover grinds in an air tight container. You’ll want to grind you coffee beans very fine but don’t pulverize them into dust. If you over grind them the heat and friction will vaporize the oils that give the coffee it’s distinct flavor. When was the last time you cleaned your coffee maker? A clean coffee maker makes a significant difference in how your coffee tastes. At least once a month pour a mixture of half vinegar and half water into your coffee maker. Let the mix run through the full brew process. Repeat the process again using only water this time to rinse it out. Do this one more time if a vinegar smell is still present. Now you’re work is done and it’s time for the coffee maker to pulls it’s weight. Use clean filtered water and fill the coffee maker to the desired level. Use about 6 ounces of water for every 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee. Turn it on and hang around while it brews. You’ll want to be there to enjoy the delightful aroma. Everyday coffee is perfect for everyday life. But every once in a while you should treat yourself to something special. And what better way to start a special than that with a special cup of coffee. Gourmet coffees can really jazz up your day.
When I mention the word “cerviche” to people I am usually questioned, “what the ___is that?” After they taste my recipe for true Mexican cerviche they are begging me to teach them how to make it. First let me explain why I call it authentic Mexican cerviche. I lived in the Yucatan Peninsula over 20 years ago at the beginning of the birth of Cancun. I worked on boats every day and learned to make Mexican food dishes from the natives I worked with. One of my favorites has always been cerviche because it is very fast and easy to make and it is very light and cooling on hot days. So what is it and how do I make it? Well, for starters there are several different types of cerviche. It can be made from Conch, a large shellfish found all over the Caribbean, shrimp, or a white meat fish such as snapper, trout, etc. We used Spanish Mackerel a lot as well when I was in Cancun. The recipe is the same regardless of the meat you choose so let me begin. For a refreshing snack that will feed six to eight people you will want about a pound of meat filleted and deboned. You will need a couple of large tomatoes, several limes or a couple bottles of lime concentrate, an onion, and several chili peppers. If you are averse to really spicy foods you can substitute less spicy peppers. The first thing you do is cut the meat into small fingertip sized chunks and place in a large bowl with a lid so you can shake the mixture up easily later. After you have the meat cut up pour just enough lime juice over it to cover the meat thoroughly, shake it up and put it to the side. Next cut up your tomatoes into small chunks and scrape them into the mixture, then your onions and peppers and so on. Be sure to cut the peppers extra small. If you like a little more seasoned taste you can sprinkle a little of your favorite spice on it although most people prefer to eat it as is. Let the mixture chill in the refrigerator or on ice for at least one hour then serve with tortilla chips or crackers washed down with a good cold beer.
Pork is a staple food of the mountain regions of northern Italy, where it's often said that a well butchered pig should leave 'nothing but the oink' behind. As a pig is typically around 30% fat, thrifty locals had to come up with a way to use and preserve this valuable source of protein, and the result is Lardo. Lardo di Colonnata, to give it its full name, is a delicacy produced from pork fat in and around the Tuscan mountain town of Colonnata. Happily for fans of cured meat, it's not only a frugal way of preserving pork fat over winter - it's delicious too! It's made in large vats known as conche, fashioned from marble quarried at the nearby 'white mountain' of Cararra, which are first liberally rubbed with garlic. Next, layers of pork fat, salt, and a special mix of herbs and spices are added until the vats are full. The conche are then sealed with a wooden lid and left in cool mountain caves for 6 months or longer to mature in the clean air. After the maturation time is over, the conche are opened to reveal a silky-smooth, meltingly tender 'meat' which can be eaten in much the same way as Parma Ham or other prosciutto. While Lardo is often used to keep roasted meats moist by placing a thin layer over the skin, it is also delicious simply sliced thinly and eaten with bread, olives, and a good extra virgin olive oil as part of an antipasto course. It is not at all tough or greasy, and is well worth trying even if the idea of eating pure fat leaves you a little apprehensive! Despite the long years of making Lardo in the traditional way, most of the examples that you may find in your local deli or store will have been made in a much more industrial setting, mainly as a result of modern hygiene laws taking precedence over customs and heritage. Gone are the marble conche and the mountain air, replaced by stainless steel and air conditioning. However, visitors to the area around Colonnata may still be lucky and get hold of Lardo made in the old way that has been proven over the centuries - just don't tell the authorities if you do!
Although gastronomy has always been deeply rooted in Limeсos' idiosyncrasy, the last few years have seen a huge leap in Lima's dining scene. Not only Peru's capital has become tapped with restaurants, both stylish and unpretentious, but many of them seem to be at full capacity all week long. One possible explanation for the boom, besides obvious food quality, is international recognition. The Economist magazine, for example, reported in 2004 that Peru could "lay claim to one of the world's dozen or so great cuisines". Norman Van Aken, one of Florida's most gifted chefs, acknowledged that Peruvian cuisine was possibly the most enticing of those he had studied. And Patrick Martin, academic director of Le Cordon Blue, said that one of the reasons for having a branch of the school in Lima was the excellent quality of local cuisine. "Better late than never", believe most Limeсos, increasingly proud of the exceptionality of their gastronomic heritage. However, notwithstanding general contentment, they are still demanding and hard-to-please, and expect the best from their favourite restaurants and chefs. This, too, contributes to gastronomic excellence. Indeed Peruvian cuisine, though hardly noticed abroad until most recently, is one of the World's most varied and delicious. Two aspects converge to give Peruvian cuisine an uniqueness that few other enjoy. The first is Peru's huge biodiversity. The country is home to 80 of the world's 104 different biological zones, which assures a remarkable assortment of fresh ingredients. Potatoes and hot peppers from the Andes, fish and seafood from the Pacific Ocean, mangoes and limes from the coastal valleys, bananas and manioc from the Amazon jungle: a chef's only problem is abundance of choice. Second, Peruvian cuisine is the quintessence of cultural fusion. Ever since the first blending between Inca and Spanish traditions, local cooks have skilfully incorporated the flavours and techniques of the many immigrants that disembarked in Peru's ports, such as Italian and French. However, the strongest influences didn't arrive from Europe, but from Africa, China, and Japan. Although the restaurant offer in Lima is most varied and covers a wide range of cuisines, Ceviche - diced raw fish marinated in lime juice and hot peppers - is surely number one on the list of dishes you must taste. There is at least one cevicherнa in every neighbourhood, so it won't be hard to find one. Our suggestion goes to superb Pescados Capitales, a lunch-only cevicheria in Miraflores. A second must goes to Asian restaurants in Lima, both Chinese and Japanese, which, predictably, have a strong Peruvian influence. Chinese restaurants - known as Chifas-, can be counted by the hundreds. Usually down-to-earth neighbourhood eateries, these offer a fare rich in seafood and chicken. Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, on the contrary, are less widespread, and more upscale and expensive. Their forte is a year-round supply of the freshest and most variegated seafood, which is delightfully transformed into sushi, sashimi, and rolls. Our favourites are Wa Lok for Chinese, and Matsuei (where Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Nobu's chef and owner, perfected his skills) for Japanese. A last word for Lima's Criollo restaurants. Their cuisine is a vivid and tasty demonstration of the rich cultural fusion undergone by Peruvian gastronomy over the centuries. Besides the obvious Spanish and Andean fusion (a. k.a. Criollo), in their menus you'll discover much Africa (tacu-tacu and anticuchos), China (lomo saltado), and Japan (ceviches and tiraditos). Bon appйtit!