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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Restaurants

A Restaurant-Art Gallery-Flower Shop in Lima

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© Jen Murphy
Mil hojas from Amor Amar, Lima.

As soon as I booked my plane ticket to Peru, I reached out to Nicholas Gill, a super-plugged-in, Lima-based travel and food writer, and asked him where I should eat. At the top of his list was Amor Amar, a new restaurant from the owner of Pescados Capitales and former chef of La Gloria — two of Lima’s greatest culinary minds. Spectacular food. Gorgeous space. His one warning: The restaurant is hard to find. He wasn't kidding. Located in the hip, up-and-coming Barranco neighborhood, Amor Amar is on a nondescript residential street. Random white paper signs stuck to telephone poles lead the way and the only clue that you've reached the restaurant is the valets standing outside what looks like a large garage door. But that door opens into a fabulous courtyard. The entire restaurant is outside (there are heat lamps in case it gets cold) and it feels like a Hollywood backyard party with a long bar and a raised area with couches and music. I jumped between classic dishes like seafood causa (a starchy Peruvian casserole layered rice, potatoes, avocado and prawns) and a slow-roasted suckling goat cooked in a wood-burning oven. My waiter warned me from the moment I sat down to save room for dessert, a decadent mil hojas—a puffed pastry layered with lucuma, a custardy fruit, and chocolate mousse. Rather than sit in a food coma, I explored the restaurant's orchid shop and the art gallery located in an old mansion on the property. The owner showcases local artists, like Marcelo Wong, whose cherubic figures are scattered throughout the courtyard.

Travel

A Great Hotel Find in Lima

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© Jen Murphy
A view leading down to Victor Delfin's studio in Lima.

I recently took a last-minute vacation to Peru and had a few nights to spend in the capital, Lima. A friend clued me in to a great hotel, Second Home. The name and the super-affordable price tag (about $100 a night, including breakfast) made me wary that I'd be checking into a hostel. But instead, I found myself staying at the home of Peru's famous artist, Victor Delfin (his controversial statue, El Beso, is on display nearby in El Parque del Amor). His daughter, Lillian, runs the five-bedroom B&B in Lima's Bohemian Barranco district. A large door on a dead-end street led me into a courtyard dotted with bronze sculptures of horses and a large bird swing set. The aesthetic was a mesh of Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro wackiness and it continued inside the house. Delfin's large portraits of nude women hung from the walls and enormous wooden sculptures were around every corner. Two ground-floor rooms served as galleries showcasing his work (all of it for sale). Rooms had garden or ocean views, and breakfast—eggs made to order, homemade croissants and jams and excellent coffee—was served at a large wooden communal table in the kitchen. But the highlight was getting to see Delfin's studio. A walk across the backyard, down past the fabulous swimming pool, led to Delfin's workspace, where, if you're lucky, you can catch him finishing his newest masterpiece.

Entertaining

Food & Wine Gets a Visit from Cypress Grove

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Cult California cheesemaker Cypress Grove recently visited the office. F&W Features intern Chelsea Morse reports on what she learned about her favorite cheese:

When I moved from San Francisco to New York, I was happy to discover that Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese is widely available nationwide. It has been my go-to cheese-plate anchor since I first tasted it years ago. Cypress Grove cheesemaker and founder Mary Keehn had these tips to share about my favorite snack:

-Fresh goat cheeses and farm cheeses, which have high moisture content, can be frozen without adversely affecting their flavor. This is a great way to save cheese for future cooking projects.

-Storing semi-soft cheese in plastic wrap is the surest way to ruin it. The rind is alive with good bacteria: Plastic wrap cuts off its air supply and kills it. Parchment paper is a much better wrapping – it's breathable and far less expensive than fancy cheese storage papers.

-Depending on the cheese’s age, it can be crumbly and citrusy or creamy and earthy – as the rind ages, the flavor deepens, and the texture changes. An oozy cheese has definitely not necessarily gone bad.

The Cypress Grove website has much more trivia, tasting notes, and pairing suggestions.

Wine

Drink or Treat for a Good Cause

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© Photo Adventures with Ed.com
Joe Campanale at the 2009 NYC Marathon

This Sunday, NYC’s Anfora wine bar is throwing a Halloween party and encouraging customers to dress up (bonus points for anyone who comes dressed as their favorite biodynamic wine producer) for a good cause. Starting at 6 p.m. Anfora will be serving Halloween cocktails like the Szarlotka (bison grass vodka and apple juice) and snacks. Entries in the costume contest are $10 and all of the proceeds go to Team Hole in the Wall, a great charity that co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale is racing for next week in the NYC marathon. The best costume wins their choice of brunch or lunch at Dell’anima or L’Artusi.

Wines Under $20

Today Show: Spooky Beers and Wines

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Had a great time on Today yesterday with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, talking about spooky beers and wines for Halloween parties. The clip is here if you're interested, but I also thought it would be worthwhile to run through the wines in Tasting Room, and add a few extra for fun. Halloween's still a few days away, so there's time left to shop.

2008 Spellbound Chardonnay ($16) Rob Mondavi, Jr. (of those Mondavis) makes this juicy, eminently drinkable Chardonnay with fruit primarily from the Lodi region. (find this wine)

2007 Bogle Phantom ($20) This is a juicy, dark-fruited blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. Plus, it's got an eerie label that looks like a haunted forest at night, though I suspect it's actually gnarled old Zin vines. (find this wine

2006 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Cabernet Franc ($40) Flora Springs will be doing a "ghost winery" release every year on Halloween (or just before, so it can be shipped in time to arrive for Halloween). This year's is an appealingly aromatic Cab Franc with good tannic bones. So to speak. (find this wine)

2008 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly ($18) Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, vinified by the talented winemaker Steve Edmunds: it's a great combination, resulting in a wine that is much more full of life (and lively red fruit) than the skeletons on the label might suggest. (find this wine)

2009 Owen Roe Sinister Hand ($24) Why not pour a wine on Halloween whose label happens to have a blood-dripping severed hand on it? Especially why not, when the wine is a peppery, berry-bright, Washington State Grenache blend like this one. (find this wine)

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