Tag Archives: Peruvian

El Tule *****

Ceviche at El Tule

609.773.0007
49 N. Main Street
Lambertville, NJ 8530

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Located in a town with a fiercely competitive restaurant scene, El Tule distinguishes itself with a unique menu that features both Peruvian & Mexican specialties. They have a casual, no-frills dining room adorned with traditional Incan tapestries and artwork, and the vibrant color scheme combined with the festive images transports you to some other Latin American world from the moment you walk in the door. If your lucky enough to go in the spring/summer, they also have a nice outdoor patio area where you can enjoy your meal al fresco!

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Just don’t let the relaxed nature of the dining atmosphere fool you about their food. El Tule takes their cooking very seriously, and no detail is overlooked in the foods preparation, presentation, or service (which I will admit was a bit slow when they first opened, but I assure you it has gotten much, much better!). It is clear that the presentation of each dish has been well contemplated and then artfully executed. The flavors are well developed, seasoned, and perfectly balanced. And the servers (which seem to be family)  are genuine experts on the cuisine, that can help you navigate the exotic menu, which can be intimidating for first time Peruvian diners!

And although both cuisines are excellent, I highly recommend ordering one of the unique dishes off the Peruvian menu when dining at El Tule. Sure their quesadilla is great, but how often can you find fresh ceviche in Bucks County?!

And that brings me to my next praise for El Tule; their ceviche is among the best that I have ever had, in Bucks County and beyond! Here are a look at my 3 favorites, which can be conveniently sampled in their tasting platter called the Trilogy Ceviche.

El Tule Trilogy Sampler

Ceviche Limeno, which is fresh Corvina marinated in lime juice with red onions, cilantro, and hot rocoto pepper garnished with sweet potato, yellow corn, and potato. 

El Tule Ceviche Limeno

Ceviche Mixto, which is fresh Corvina, shrimp, octopus, and calamari marinated in lime juice with red onions, cilantro and spicy rocoto pepper with sweet potato, yellow corn, and potato. Tigre de leche.

El Tule Ceviche Mixto

Ceviche Chifa which is fresh corvina fish, pickled vegetables, micro-herbs, and crispy wontons in a black-sesame leche de tigre dressing. This one might just be my favorite because the Asian flavor makes it so unique!

El Tule Ceviche Chifa

Some of my other favorite Peruvian specialties served at El Tule include:

Peruvian Chicken & Rice Soup with Cilantro Pesto. This is my go-t0 lunch in the winter because it warms you from the inside and keeps you feeling satisfied all day long. The cilantro pesto brings a very fresh flavor to dish which helps lighten the otherwise heavy chicken stew.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Taboule Quinoa Salad, which is traditional Inca style taboule garnished with avocado, boiled potatoes, and cilantro dressing. This very light and fragrant quinoa salad with a distinct lime flavor makes a nice lunch pairing with a soup!

Quinoa Tabouli Salad

Red Snapper & Crab Meat Tacu Tacu, which is a pan roasted fillet of red snapper on top of a black bean tacu tacu bathed in a light creamy Rocoto pepper and crab meat sauce. The rocoto pepper is a spicy pepper native to the Peruvian region, and it works beautifully to help balance the light cream sauce that bathes this dish. As you can see, they certainly aren’t stingy with the crab meat either!

Red Snapper & Crab Tacu Tacu

If you aren’t ready to explore the flavors offered by the Peruvian menu, you can play it safe by ordering one of the more familiar entrees on the Mexican menu. My favorite menu item from the Mexican menu would have to be the Quesadilla El Tule, which is a massive grilled flour tortilla filled with shredded beef (or chicken), roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, sauteed onions, and cheese served with sour cream and guacamole! I recommend the shredded beef, which is outrageously tender and abundant!

Beef Quesadilla

Overall, nothing but 5 stars for El Tule!

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Food Porn: Cuzco, Peru

My friends and I decided that we would end our 6-month South American adventure with a bang, and do the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu before flying home for good. And given that the Inca Trail is a rigorous 4-day, 50 km trek, reaching a height of 4,200 meters (I was not aware of any of these “minor” details before paying my deposit), I had an excuse to eat whatever I wanted while staying in Cuzco the couple of days beforehand. I needed to bulk up before this climb….and I certainly did!

Peruvian food is one of my favorite types of cuisine because it has such a wide variety of national dishes ranging from soups, to fish, to poultry, and even llama and alpaca meats! Below is a collection of photos, documenting my most memorable meals:

Lomo Salteado  – Lomo Salteado is a traditional Peruvian dish with Asian influence that can be found everywhere. It is strips of sirloin steak marinated in vinegar and soy sauce, that is then stir fried with red onion, parsley, and tomato. It is usually served alongside rice (image #2), atop french fries, or on a sandwich (image #1).

Dieta de Pollo – The quint essential comfort food, dieta de pollo is a delicate chicken noodle soup. I ate a bowl of this stuff before almost every meal, and I found that most Peruvians eat a bowl of soup before their entree as well–a soup society…I like that!

Aji de Gallina – Another classic Peruvian dish with a surprisingly French influence! French chefs, put out of employment by the social upheaval of the French Revolution, traveled to the New World and settled in Peru, creating a cuisine that blended local Peruvian flavors with French styles and techniques. Aji de Gallina consists of shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce, flavored with cheese, garlic, nuts, and rocoto peppers (spicy Peruvian peppers). It is normally served with white rice and/or french fries.

Rocoto Relleno – As I mentioned before, Rocoto is a very spicy Peruvian pepper. Therefore, when you break down the Spanish name, a rococo relleno is a Peruvian stuffed pepper…a very spicy one at that! This particular dish originates in the city of Arequipa, but is now served all over the country! It is can be filled with beef, vegetables, and cheese, among many other things. The one in the photo above is even deep fried!

Pollo con Arroz – Chicken and rice has never tasted so good!! Peruvians know how to prepare a chicken that literally melts off the bone and the cilantro flavored rice that accompanies the poultry is out of this world!! The raw onion and tomato garnishes add a fresh crisp texture to the hearty dish.

Pollo Relleno con Alpaca in Elderberry Sauce – This was our way of easing into trying alpaca. We weren’t going to order an alpaca fillet outright, so we tried a chicken dish that was stuffed with bits of alpaca first. The dish was then finished in an elderberry reduction (elderberry being very popular in Peru), and then accompanied by sautéed vegetables. What does alpaca taste like, you ask? Chicken. Go figure!

Pisco Sour - When in Peru, have a Pisco or two!! Pisco Sour is a popular Peruvian cocktail that dates back to about 1900, getting is name from the Quechua word Pisco, meaning bird. The drink is made from Peruvian grape brandy (pisco), lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It is mixed in a blender so it comes out frothy and full of citrus flavor.

Assortment of Causas - With over 8,000 species of potatoes native to the Andean region, it is no surprise that Peruvians use a lot of them in their cooking. A causa, in its most basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with lime, onion, chili, and oil. The potato mixture is then stuffed with any combination of avocado, chicken, canned tuna, and shellfish. We decided to try the seafood sampler version, and it was light and lovely.

Chicharron de Pollo – Chicharron normally refers to a dish containing pork rinds, but since that didn’t particularly appeal to me, we decided to order the chicken version of the dish instead, which tasted like good ole’ American fried chicken. The fried chicken thighs were then finished with a garlic, ginger, and panda chili sauce, which was out of this world (and every ounce fattening!).

Peruvian Tequenos - Tequenos are not really Peruvian by nature, but these were because they were filled with lomo salted and aji de gallina. Anything stuffed and then deep fried is generally delicious, and this was no exception. I particularly loved the spicy rocoto dipping sauce that accompanied the tasty appetizer.

Tallerines Saltados con Pollo – If you have ever been to Peru, you will have noticed the incredible amount of Asian (chifa) influence on the food there. This is because the Spanish brought Chinese slaves to the country and with them they brought their national cuisine. One of the very popular Asian inspired dishes is Tallerines Saltadas, which are essentially lo mein noodles with poultry or beef (poultry in the photo above!).

Pollo en Salsa Rocoto with Quinoa Tabouli – This was supposed to be served as a sandwich, but since the restaurant ran out of bread, I ordered it as a deconstructed plate of ingredients. The elements included: chicken sautéed in a spicy rocoto pepper sauce, sautéed eggplant and caramelized onions, quinoa tabouli salad, and french fries. The platter had an awesome mix of Peruvian, Asian, and Middle Eastern flavors.

Alfajors – Alfajors are shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche spread (a.k.a caramel). They are popular all over South America, but prepared slightly different by every country. For example, Argentina coast them with chocolate, Chileans in Patagonia fill them with berry flavored jams, and Peruvians simply serve theirs with a dusting of powdered sugar. We got this plate of petite alfajors and fruit jams complimentary with our bill at Chi Cha de Gaston Acurio, and we all agreed that they were the best alfajors we had on our trip (sorry Argentina….)

{ San Pedro Market in Cuzco, Peru }

Woman selling her herbs and spices.

Baskets of dehydrated rocoto peppers and dried fruits.

Enormous loaves of bread, which can be found everywhere in Peru.

The line up of fresh juice bar stands.

Sam pulls up a chair and tries a juice. Have it at the stand though, because if you ask for it to go they give you a plastic bag with a straw:

To-Go cups are so American.

Where the Peruvian locals go to eat.

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Jaguar *****

Cerviche Spoons – Oriental and Vuelve A La Vida

305.444.0216
3067 Grand Ave
Miami, Fl 33133

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This weekend, my bff/future maid-of-honor/love of my life, Jennifer Rose Siegel, finally made her way down to Miami to come and visit me! She has been my best friend since I can remember and throughout high school we were inseparable…ying and yang style (to this day still completing each others sentences!). During her stay, I had the exciting, and yet somewhat overwhelming, task of showing her around the glamorous 305. Now I know that I shouldn’t have been stressing over what to do, but since it was her first time here, I really wanted to show her everything. The hard part was trying to do everything in just 2 days!!! It simply isn’t possible. Between the restaurants, the nightlife, the beach, the weather, and the shopping…it’s just too much! So I had to narrow it down and plan an abbreviated agenda for two short days, factoring in hang over recovery time, mealtime, and beach time. This is far easier said than done, and anyone who lives in Miami and frequently has visitors can agree.

When she arrived on Friday evening, we wasted no time and headed straight to Monty’s for some happy hour cocktails. But after experiencing her first PK-3, Jen decided it would be a good idea to get some food before drinking anymore. Since I wanted to stay in the area, we stumbled our way on over to Jaguar in the Grove for some grub. Jaguar is a fabulous little Peruvian restaurant that has outdoor seating and a complete bar, with the best (and strongest) Red Sangria. You can get it by the glass or the pitcher, all that matters is that you get it! The fruit is soaked in brandy and the drink is strong but not too sweet. It is perfection. We started off with a glass, and also ordered the drink special of the day, which was a Cilantro Margarita. The margarita was alright, but the cilantro was definitely a tad weird and certainly overpowering.

Glass of Red Sangria and Cilantro Margarita

For an appetizer, I ordered some ceviche spoons, which Jaguar is especially known for. You can order spoons individually for $2 a pop or get a sampler of 6 (1 of each) for $12. I order individually, since I now have my favorites which are; (1) the Ceviche Oriental with tuna, ginger, soy, jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, lime, grape seed oil, avocado, cucumber, and sesame seeds, and (2) the Ceviche Vuelve A La Vida with swordfish, shrimp, calamari, tomato, lime, orange, onion, cilantro, habanero chile, and avocado. The oriental is an incredible explosion of flavor that is very light, wheras the Vuelve A La Vida is a little heavier because it comes in a tomato-based sauce. I love both equally, and Jen did too.

Ceviche Sampler Spoons

For my entrée, I ordered my usual—the Celia’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken, which is a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuce topped with jalapenos, avocado, peppers, corn, black beans, tomato, cilantro, and crispy tortillas tossed in a black bean vinaigrette. Words cannot possibly describe how delicious this salad is! The dressing is light yet full of flavor, and not overpowered by the cilantro. The chicken is all white meat and grilled to perfection, sliced down nice and thin on top of the salad. The crispy tortilla strips add a perfect amount of crunch and there aren’t too many, so each one is a savory bite. The avocado is always ripe and adds a great creamy contrast to the crunch of the romaine lettuce. Best part though is that this salad is also available in a half portion for days when you’re not starving or want to have an appetizer first (the photograph is of a ½ portion).

Celia’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Black Beans, Corn, Tomatoes, Jalapenos, and Crispy Tortillas tossed in Black Bean Vinaigrette

Jen ordered the Shrimp Tacos cooked with achiote pepper and served with fresh handmade tortillas, salsa verde, and pineapple salsa. I did not try these, but Jen thought that they were great and cleared the entire plate. They looked fabulous, and if I was more into shrimp, then I might have ordered them myself. I prefer the Crispy Blue Corn Chicken Tacos with roasted salsa verde, sour cream, and guacamole.

Shrimp Tacos with Handmade Tortillas and Rice and Black Beans

 

On other occasions, I have also had the Swordfish “A Lo Macho,” which is a combination of swordfish with shrimps and calamari finished in aji Amarillo sauce with saffron, brandy, and pernod, served on a bed of delicate white rice. This is by far the most incredible dish on the menu at Jaguar, and it is the dish that made me fall in love with swordfish. The sauce is creamy, dreamy, and just the right amount of sweet. It is honestly good enough to tempt you to lick the plate clean. I rarely enjoy seafood dishes, and this one is just to die for.

I also enjoy the Chicken and Three Cheese Quesadillas with Chihuahua, parmesan, and manchego cheeses, poblano chiles, corn, zucchini, and grilled chicken served with pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. This makes a great lunch or even appetizer to share among the table. The cheese combination is divine and they are pretty much just fun to eat because I am a huge fan of finger food.

Although I rarely eat dessert, I did save recently save some room to satisfy my sweet tooth and ordered the Bread Pudding 3 Leches, which is a classic bread pudding with a moist tres leches, hint of cinnamon, splash of rum, and caramelized carrot topping. Mmmmmm…..it was as if a carrot cake mated with bread pudding and this was their love child that got the best attributes of each. It was super moist like bread pudding, but not too sweet like carrot cake. It had just the right balance of spicy and sweet, and the cinnamon was pronounced overdone. I absolutely loved this dessert and would definitely save room for it again!

Overall, Jaguar is the spot to be. It has outdoor seating that is ideal for people watching, as well as basking in nice weather. And the inside is equally as beautiful with artwork and bold colors adorning the walls. The servers are attentive and fast, and the wait for a table is never too long. The owner is also always around and makes sure that everyone is satisfied. The one and only time that I had to wait a rather long time for a table, the owner comp-ed us our pitcher of sangria and thus we left happy…happy and drunk! Ohhh, and one pitcher of Sangria will get you drunk. I did not know this the first time, and ended up having to take a cab home from my 7 O’clock dinner because I was too drunk to drive!

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