Latin Bites chef visits Peru, brings home new menu inspirations

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A few months ago, Latin Bites executive chef Roberto Castre took a trip to Peru to attend Mistura, an exciting culinary festival that takes place in Lima every year. During the culinary visit, the acclaimed chef encountered some new trends and restaurant dishes that have become all the rage throughout his homeland. Here, Castre discusses his trip to Peru, how he has seen the country change, and what new dishes he brought back with him to feature on the Latin Bites menu. What was the trip to Peru for? What were you going there specifically to find? The main reason for the trip to Peru was to attend Mistura, the biggest culinary event in South America. I also wanted to visit various restaurants in Lima in order to learn about new gastronomic tendencies in Peru. I went there to find new flavors and textures, learn a bit about the gastronomic culture of my country and the latest tendencies, and learn more about the origins of our traditional dishes. I was surprised by the influx of Asian influences your new dishes had. Is that something you’ve seen change or evolve in the Peruvian culinary scene? Gastronomically speaking, Peru has evolved so much lately and that is reflected in the quality of the restaurants there. Lima has the most culinary schools in the world, and I think that says a lot. In Peru, gastronomy is not only an industry; it’s a social and economic movement that’s part of our Peruvian identity. In Peru, the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine has evolved tremendously. This is why we are able to find such wonderful places with this type of cuisine. Peruvian cuisine is greatly influenced by Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and this has been happening for many years. The difference now is that it has been applied to different levels thanks to new culinary techniques. Tell me a bit about your Peru trip. What are some of the new culinary influences you encountered during your travels? I was in Peru for a week, and to be honest, it wasn’t enough time to enjoy all the things my country can offer as a culinary destination. Nevertheless, it was an extraordinary experience to be able to visit five to seven restaurants a day, apart from visiting the Mistura Fair where you can see over 300 restaurants and nearly 300 typical dishes to feed the half-a-million people that visit the fair on those days. Without a doubt, eating at local spots was a unique experience. It meant a lot to return to my origins and see the dishes being created, feel them, smell them, and taste those flavors and dishes that have made our cuisine what it is today. That is priceless. Detail the new dishes you’ve added to the menu and how those reflect what you saw in Peru. Tiradito de Maracuya, a finely cut fish, like sashimi, served over a maracuya sauce, similar to the one in our cebiche, served with quinoa and sweet potato puree. This was inspired by a cebiche I tasted at Mercado de Rafael Osterling restaurant. Cebiche de Mercado is a fish and octopus cebiche that comes with fried calamari. The dish was inspired by my visit to the markets where they put a bit of everything in their cebiches. Duck rice – rice infused with cilantro, dark beer, and macerated corn, served with sweetened duck, marinated in two types of Peruvian peppers. Quinoa salad – two textures of quinoa, soft and crispy, caramelized cashews, fresh mozzarella, sweetened tomatoes, broad beans, mint, chili, and maracuya dressing. This dish was inspired by the quinoa. The idea is to innovate our menu constantly and teach our clients about the variety and diversity of Peruvian dishes. My goal as a Peruvian chef is even greater: to promote the gastronomy from my country in a sophisticated and modern way, without sacrificing traditions and customs of a country so rich in culture. Recently, we have added seven dishes and I’m working on seven more, which will be ready by the start of 2013. What are some of the inspirations or influences you find in the Houston culinary scene? What I like the most about Houston is the cultural diversity and how open people are to taste new flavors. This makes Houston an attractive city with different restaurant options. It’s a city with a competitive scene, which means you are able to find different interesting flavors and aromas.

<h3>Tweet of the Day</h3> In Texas, ice and snow is often just a theoretical. Even when it does arrive, such weather is hard to truly comprehend. Drive safe, North Texans! <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en">Live coverage of the ice storm that has impacted travel, closed schools in Dallas-Fort Worth <a href="http://t.co/gw0YvSCSyh">http://t.co/gw0YvSCSyh</a> <a href="http://t.co/fY7LCyHyjL">pic.twitter.com/fY7LCyHyjL</a> — Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) <a href="https://twitter.com/dallasnews/status/569851047071649795">February 23, 2015</a></blockquote> <!--break--> <h3>Daily Roundup</h3> <strong>Oscar the Grouch</strong> – The biggest criticism leveled against the Oscars® is that they’re a crock, an awards ceremony that is politically motivated and fails to reward true artistry. This could not have been made more obvious last night since Texas did not win big. Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking <em>Boyhood</em> lost to <em>Birdman</em>, an old trope of Hollywood meta-commentary. The general consensus is that this was a terrible decision (<a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/boyhood-oscars-biggest-ever-snub-5214121" target="_blank">the Brits</a> were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/23/oscars-2015-birdman-takes-flight-but-boyhood-suffers-growing-pains" target="_blank">particularly loud</a> about this). Apart from the word “snubbed” being used in multiple headlines, <em>Slate</em> went all in, declaring that “<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/02/23/oscars_best_picture_winner_birdman_boyhood_snub_is_the_academy_s_worst_mistake.html" target="_blank">The Academy’s Failure to Recognize Boyhood Is Their Worst Mistake in 20 Years</a>.” Texas-born Wes Anderson, while no longer of the Lone Star mindset, had some victories with <em>Grand Budapest Hotel</em>, which won four technical awards, all deserved, including best costume design, makeup, production design, and score. Perhaps the most talked-about moment of the night was Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for best supporting actress. After the usual thanks, the <em>Boyhood</em> mom <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2015/02/22/patricia-arquette-calls-for-wage-gender-equality-in-show-stealing-oscar-speech/" target="_blank">tore into gender inequality</a>. “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!” It was a fantastic moment. Anyone who disagrees will have to take their complaint to <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/02/meryl-streep-patricia-arquette-speech-jennifer-lopez" target="_blank">Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez</a>. <strong>Prison Break</strong> – In case you missed it, South Texas had a pretty intense weekend. A privately operated Raymondville prison that housed mostly “low level” migrants who crossed the border illegally was the site of an uprising on Friday. About two thousand inmates participated after some refused their work detail, amid other complaints regarding the medical services. There were only minor injuries. By Saturday evening the uprising seems to have calmed, with prisoners being “compliant,” according to the prison company, <a href="http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/02/22/3502251/authorities-regain-control-of.html" target="_blank">and by Sunday</a>, security personnel had regained control. “Officials said the inmates damaged facilities in the area where food is served, refrigeration units and plumbing in some of the housing units,” <a href="http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_5e1ad7ac-ba49-11e4-b6c8-7fa3ea9e11be.html" target="_blank">according to the <em>Valley Morning Star</em></a>, which noted that inmates have already begun to be moved out of the prison, a process that is “expected to continue through the week.” <strong>Turning the Other Cheek</strong> – Since some local Christians seem to have forgotten what it means to <a href="http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Thousands-Protest-Muslim-Conference-in-Garland-288936351.html" target="_blank">love thy neighbor</a> and show compassion, Islamic leaders have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate proper religious values. “Leaders at the Quba Islamic Institute near Ellington Field said they will not be pressing charges against the man who allegedly burned down a piece of their property. The leaders urged prosecutors to follow suit,” <a href="http://www.khou.com/story/news/local/2015/02/20/islamic-mosque-burned-in-an-arson-fire-makes-major-motion-to-forgive/23769913/" target="_blank">according to KHOU</a>. While responders were still trying to put out the fire, a homeless man volunteered his own culpability in the blaze, although a clear motive has yet to be established. And despite the call for forgiveness by the Islamic leaders, the Harris County Sheriff's Office doesn't plan to drop the case, <a href="http://abc13.com/news/islamic-center-leaders-dont-want-to-press-charges-in-fire/527220/" target="_blank">according to ABC13</a>. <strong>Which Side Are You On?</strong> – The steelworkers’ strike just got real serious and real local. The United Steekworkers “expanded its strike to the nation's biggest refinery, Motiva Enterprise's plant in Port Arthur, where 800 workers walked off the job early Saturday,” <a href="http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Steelworkers-strike-expands-6094441.php?t=b60f1782d6&cmpid=twitter-premium" target="_blank">according to the <em>Houston Chronicle</em></a>. “Union workers struck the Port Arthur site, a joint venture between Shell and a unit of Saudi Aramco that has the capacity to turn 600,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline and other refined products.” About 20 percent of the country’s energy facilities are now experiencing strikes, with five in Houston alone. Contract negotiations reportedly broke down after “growing frustration among union officials that key health, safety and employment security concerns aren't getting attention.” Company officials claim that “the central issue blocking a settlement is not safety, fatigue, health care or wages. … It is the union's demand that Shell replace routine maintenance contractors with union-represented employees.” Apparently, the energy companies are already working on hiring scabs. <strong>The Fugitive</strong> – Brownsville can rest easy. After about five days on the run, a kudu antelope that escaped from the Gladys Porter Zoo has finally been captured. It was no small feat capturing the elusive beast, either. “A helicopter that had been brought in then went airborne and the crew fired a tranquilizing dart at the kudu, allowing authorities to recapture it without incident,” <a href="http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/missing-antelope-from-brownsville-zoo-captured/article_54533dfc-bae1-11e4-a51d-97d7a3b0cded.html" target="_blank">writes the <em>McAllen</em> <em>Monitor</em></a><em>.</em> “After the dart was fired it took the animal about three minutes to go down. The helicopter landed, and pilot Ben Ellis rushed in to hold up the animal’s head to keep him breathing while tranquilized. The kudu was immediately vaccinated, had blood drawn, and was given fluids to aid with dehydration.” The incident was much more tame than the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4558461/ns/us_news/t/gorillas-escape-violent-rampage-stun-zoo-officials/#.VOsbknZ8Npk">Great Gorilla Escape of 2004</a>, when Jabari, a 300-pound low-land gorilla escaped from the Dallas Zoo, injuring four people before he was shot and killed. <h3>Clickity Bits</h3> <a href="http://www.statesman.com/news/news/talk-of-move-raises-alarm-at-texas-school-for-the-/nkGZf/" target="_blank">What's the Fate of the Texas School for the Deaf?</a> <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/2086045/texas-grandmother-weed-legalization/" target="_blank">Poster Child: The Republican Grandma Leading the Pro-Weed Fight </a> <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/columnists/chris-vognar/20150220-every-movie-from-texas-filmmaker-richard-linklater-graded-by-our-critic.ece">Richard Linklater Films, Ranked</a> <a href="http://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article10905428.html">Will We Be Host to Every Single American Sports Tournament Ever?</a> <span class="paragraph-0">“<a href="http://www.oaoa.com/news/article_abd690d4-b9e1-11e4-814c-e334949f6dc1.html">Ector </a></span><a href="http://www.oaoa.com/news/article_abd690d4-b9e1-11e4-814c-e334949f6dc1.html">County Attorney Proposes New Sexually Oriented Business Rules</a>” <em>Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a>. Or tweet <a href="https://twitter.com/TexasMonthly">Texas Monthly</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/thatwinkler" target="_blank">Jeff Winkler</a>.</em>

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