Chilean Vegan Pisco Sour Recipe

Pisco Sour is the house drink in Chile. Pisco is a popular brandy produced in Chile by distilling grapes, mainly of Muscat, Torontel and Pedro Jiménez varieties. Just like wine, the color, aroma and flavor of pisco can be described as fruity, clean, sweet, refreshing, woody and bold, depending on it’s variety.
There are four main classifications of pisco:
  • Pisco Corriente o Tradicional, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
  • Pisco Especial, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
  • Pisco Reservado, 40% (80 proof).
  • Gran Pisco, 43% or more (86 or more proof).
Did you know? Annual pisco production in 2013 reached 30 million litres in Chile and 9.5 million litres in Peru.
I got a chance to learn how to make this cocktail from an expert bartender. Luis Mariano Cerda Monsalve is a mixologist and author of “Recetario – Pisqueria De Chile.” He has worked at the bars of the Ritz Carlton in Santiago, Cumbres Puerto Varas and now at Hotel Vira Vira in Pucon.
 pisco bartender in chile
When you ask Monsalve for a pisco sour, his question is “what flavor?” I didn’t know that there were any until he pointed out that he makes it in mango, pineapple, cucumber-ginger, and several other flavors.
“Let’s try them all!” I had a pisco sour tasting hour at the hotel’s modern bar and Monsalve happily shared his recipe with me.
Vegan Pisco Sour Recipe
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
2 stems of rosemary + additional for garnish
1 cup lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
3 cups Gran pisco
Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix well on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Strain through a cocktail sieve.
Pour the liquid into a cocktail shaker and add crushed ice till its three-fourth full. Shake well and pour into flute glasses. Garnish with a rosemary stem and say cheers!
*Unlike the Peruvian pisco sour, Monsalve’s does not contain eggs so it is perfect for vegans.
 chilean pisco sour recipe
Monsalve is also well versed with his wines too. Ask him about any winery and he will pull out a map to educate you about the different wine regions of Chile.

Monsalve’s other favorite pisco drink is Piscola, which is just pisco and coke.
Do you know the difference between Peruvian and Chilean pisco sour? If yes, please share below… 

Philly’s International Vegan Nirvana

It was an unconventional find but I had to discover it for myself. When I heard of a new place in Philly taking the local food scene by storm, I was curious. Flora vegan restaurant is located in suburbs of Philadelphia, in the Jenkintown neighborhood. It’s not easy to get here if you are just visiting for the weekend and don’t have your own car. A cab ride from downtown is about 30 minutes and the train – walk – can would take an hour. Even so, dinner at Flora was the best meal I had in Philly.

The 16-seat enterprise was the vision of 4 friends who have known each other since high school, worked at family establishments, and decided to start a small neighborhood restaurant that caters to a niche clientele. None of them are trained culinary professionals but have learned basic techniques by working in the kitchen through school and college. They wanted something intimate, local, customizes and healthy. With limited seats the chefs able to present artfully created unique dishes to diners.

What distinguishes Flora from other vegan restaurants is originality and flavors. Unlike other places that substitute tofu and gluten to make imitation meats, Flora retains ingredients in their original form. The dishes are inspired from all around the world, and adapted to vegan personalities. They also try to source food from local areas, including their own gardens. In fact, many of the people who come here are not necessarily vegans, but hooked on Flora’s promise to deliver a healthy, nutritious and fresh meal in a romantic restaurant setting.

Menu changes with the season and offers 3 or 4 course options. We start off with couple of salads that are pleasing visually and to taste. Sliced carrots delicately spiced with Moroccan seasoning, puree of chickpeas and garnish of homemade pickled radishes and parsley leaves come together in a symphony of flavors. As expected, the dish is light, healthy and delicious!

moroccan spiced carrots

Thinly sliced roasted beet with grapefruits drizzled with a crunchy pistachio vinaigrette are a clear evidence that cheese is not always essential to a well rounded salad. This plate is too pretty to eat, but we managed to clean off every morsel.

beet salad

One of my favorite dishes was the roasted brussel sprouts with a tangy onion marmalade, and wafer thin crackers made out of rolled out and fried sushi rice. The brussels are cooked to perfection – soft with a crisp bite. It takes a creative genius to bring together such varied combinations!

roasted brussels

A vegetarian Thai coconut curry with peppers, eggplant, okra, potatoes, rice and peanuts, is fragrant with herbs and spices, as it should be when freshly prepared. It is the perfect comfort dish on a chilly March evening in Philly.

coconut curry flora restaurant

We continue this culinary journey around the world with a twist on Mexican tamales. This one is stuffed with mashed lentils and served with a salsa verde sauce. The chipotle kicks in at every bite making this the spiciest dish on the menu.

tamales

For dessert we head to New Orleans. I can never refuse fresh warm beignets with melted chocolate. I peek into the tiny kitchen to see if they are actually being made to order and yes, powdered sugar is drizzled on top as they make their way to my table. As soon as I finish the treat, I want to order another one.

beignets

It was a refreshing change to eat food that tastes fresh, original and true to its flavors. Add to that stunning presentations and we have the perfect vegan restaurant.

Flora Restaurant 307 Old York Road, Jenkintown, (215) 779-7945

Note: Bring cash or check and BYOB

Celebrate your BODY in Santa Fe

The city of Santa Fe is aptly known for high spiritual energy that stems from its unique landscapes and Native American history. It is home to a number of spas, yoga and meditation centers, spiritual healers and alternative medicine practitioners. While the choices are endless, many locals pick BODY of Santa Fe as their daily destination for a complete inner and outer retreat. Continue reading “Celebrate your BODY in Santa Fe”

Curry Masala

Curry Masala is the only Indian restaurant in Rapid City. “Someone has to serve the vegans, vegetarians and gluten and dairy allergic people” says Al, who is doing the community a service as well as running a successful business in downtown Rapid City. Many of the local patrons are searching for options that are able to meet their diet restrictions, which only Indian cuisine can provide.

There are no frills when it comes to the ambiance or the menu at Curry Masala. Formerly a pizza joint, the space now has few Indian posters and ethnic music in the background of the small but cozy dining area. The menu contains few options which indicate that the ingredients are fresh and everything is made from scratch daily. You won’t find the typical tandoori, tikka masala or naan here (although they are served from time to time). There are one-of-a-kind original dishes that incorporate influences of north and south Indian cuisine.

For appetizer, try the spinach pakora, a delicately fried vegetable fritter served with tamarind and mint chutneys. Entrée selections include rice dishes (biryani, pulao), curries (chicken, beef, fish) and homemade vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes). I highly recommend the mango lassi, which is made with mango pulp, buttermilk and cardamoms. It is nothing like you have ever tasted before!

All the recipes are passed by mothers and grandmothers of owners, Al Rodriguez and Justine Ashokar’s families from southern India.

Traditional Indian food is very different than how we know of it here in the west. In Indian households, ingredients are fresh and healthy. Butter, heavy cream, artificial coloring and white flour are never used in home-style cooking. Spice mixtures are made from scratch and attention is given to eating a well balanced diet. Curry Masala has carried on this tradition and offers simply prepared dishes using organic, locally sourced ingredients. It is a real treat for those who wish to eat out but also have to watch their physiological needs. As advertised, Curry Masala offer food that is of good quality, healthy and delicious!

Justine also teaches Indian cooking classes at Curry Masala. If after a lesson you are inspired to go home and try the recipes, you can also buy the spices on site. There is a little storefront at the restaurant. Curry Masala has two locations in Rapid City – a casual cafe on 2050 W. Main St. and a sit town style restaurant at 510 St. Joseph Street.


Fuego Mundo

Fuego Mundo is an authentic South American casual restaurant located at The Prado in Sandy Springs in Atlanta.  If you want quality food with a Latin twist that is abundant, unique, tasty, affordable and healthy, all in a casual world-class environment, then this is the place for you!

Owners Masha Hleap-Hershkovitz and Udi Hershkovitz combined their Columbians and Jewish backgrounds with an inspired trip to Central and South America, to create a fun, lively restaurant that expresses their passion for flavors, cultures and wines.

Here you can savor foods from the continents of South America, Central America and Spain that not only scintillates your taste buds but is also suited if you are looking for gluten free, organic, vegan, dairy free or kosher food options. From Spanish tapas style starters to typical South American entrees that are made-to-order in front of you on an exhibition wood-fire grill fueled by natural oak wood, you can fully enjoy a multi-sensory experience without being tough on your wallet.

The house Sangria complements the food really well and is a must try here. The menu will please all palates with a wide range of food selections with authentic dishes ranging from Peruvian style ceviche and yucca fries to carefully prepared spicy Spanish style baked beef pastelito. For a more healthy start, try the Fuego Mundo’s signature style Latin vegetable soup made daily with 10 vegetables and herbs.

Among entrees, you can choose either a Latin style steaks, burgers, fresh sea-foods. The calories counters can also find a decent selection of entrée salads with added proteins. They are marinated with Fuego Mundo’s own homemade sauces that are big on flavor, without being spicy, for maximum taste and health benefits. The fish, tofu and veggies are grilled separately from the meats and poultry to care for vegetarians and people with food sensitivities. All entrees come with a pre listed combination of sides where you can pick #1 The Latin – a more traditional approach to rice, beans and plantains; or #3 The Health Nut – organic quinoa, black beans and plantains. The menu allows a lot of flexibility to design your own plate as per your desires and diet restrictions. At Fuego Mundo you will discover that it doesn’t need to be expensive to be good and healthy.

The promise of fast, warm and friendly customer experience is held strong. Fuego Mundo is perhaps the only restaurant in Atlanta where you can find a variety of selections that are kosher, organic, gluten-free dairy-free, grass-fed and vegan-friendly.  It has been consistently rated as the Best Kosher restaurant in Atlanta. They are offering a Mother’s Day special for $27.95 per personal which includes a 3-course meal, sangria and live music! Apparently, it is “the best kept secret” as per Star94 FM.

Hasta Pronto!

Fuego Mundo
5590 Roswell Road, Suite # A120
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
404-256-4330