Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

On two occasions, A and I were invited to lunch at C and F’s lovely home.  The well-designed space is bright and modern with direct views to the ocean and many wonderful art pieces prominently displayed in the gallery-like entrance hall and all over the house.  The table was set with striking cowhide place mats and colorful napkins in an enamel ring.  Several glasses were at each place setting signaling a tasting meal with matching wines.  Before sitting down to lunch, C gave us a short tour and explanation of the different art pieces and their provenance.
A Puerto-Rican themed lunch was organized by C and prepared by chef Jose from Zafra.  We began with ice-cold champagne rose and soon after for the first course of seared foie gras and banana – an interesting combination with the richness of the foie gras and the sweet banana coming together partnered with a glass of Chateau d’Yquem.  With the subsequent white wine, we had seared halibut atop a lighter version of mofongo made with yucca instead of the usual mashed plantains followed by a risotto con gandules (pigeon peas or tropical green peas), another typical Caribbean ingredient.  Then came the magnum of 1981 Vega Sicilia Unico – a velvety blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and a little bit of merlot  from the famed region of Ribera del duero which was served with the main course of seared tenderloin wrapped in a thin slice of crispy plantain still keeping with the Puerto-Rican influenced cuisine.  Last but not least was a light cheesecake served with guava sorbet and jelly which came with a shot of mango-flavored pitorro (Puerto Rican moonshine rum), a fitting end and digestif to the exquisite meal. 
Our second lunch at their home started with an amuse bouche of foie gras, prawn tempura and smoked salmon gravlax followed by a beautiful rendition of the classic caprese salad – one hollowed plum tomato filled with greens alongside several chunks of fresh mozzarella followed by mahi-mahi with mashed chickpeas.  Along with F’s favorite wine, the Vega Sicilia unico, came two dishes: a slab of veal accompanied by mushroom sauce and apple chunks then seared skirt steak topped with baby vegetables including purple yam and a caramelized turnip.  To go along with the rest of the red wine was a molten milk chocolate dessert with guava sorbet.  This time lunch finished with a shot of Venezuelan reserve rum – Diplomatico.  Another one-of-a-kind meal from exceptional hosts who know how to live the good life with food, wine and art.
C and her cockatoo plus a few art pieces from their art collection.

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