The first day of the New Year is always special to me, not only do I begin planning a whole year of culinary adventures, but I also celebrate the birth of Pisco Trail. And January 1, 2014, was the three year anniversary. Three years of pop-ups, dinners, classes, conferences, research, recipes, cocktails, writing, and travels. But I’ll remember 2013 as the year where I dared to venture outside my comfort zone and tried new things in an effort to grow. Here are some highlights from the past year, and a preview of what 2014 has in store for Pisco Trail.
Early in the year, I was honored that Foodista published my tips on cocktail photography, which included the classic Chilcano or Pisco and ginger ale cocktail. I was also invited to appear on a chef’s stage for the first time at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, where I took the audience on a journey of Peru’s unique culinary history while preparing Aji de Gallina and the legendary Pisco Punch. Little did I know at the time, that cooking on the chef’s stage would be the preparation I needed for my first live television cooking demo in New Orleans where I prepared Peruvian steamed mussels as a preview of Pisco Trail’s Peruvian Independence Day dinner menu at Carmo.
September started with a culinary bang — a trip to Peru to attend the world-renowned Mistura Food Festival in Lima. Next, was a visit to the birthplace of Pisco in the Ica Valley of Peru, where I experienced the history and terroir that makes Pisco so special. Back in Lima, I had some of Peru’s best ceviche at Chez Wong and a truly unforgettable meal at Astrid & Gaston. Spending time in Lima, and rediscovering its culinary secrets, inspired an intimate pop-up dinner in San Francisco, a Night in Lima at 18 Reasons, where I prepared a traditional Peruvian potato stew, Carapulcra, to honor the fall season.
Throughout the year, I had the pleasure of popping up with Pisco cocktails and Peruvian desserts at my favorite bookstore in San Francisco, Omnivore Books. But the last part of the year found me exploring the Peruvian food scene in London, and having caught only a glimpse, I am eager to visit again soon. I also wrote a post that was quite emotional for me, an opinion piece about Peru’s Goddesses of Food, which got noticed and was later published in Peru This Week. And in the last month of the year, I was intrigued by a recent finding of a Peruvian cookbook from 1903 which included a recipe for what may be the first Pisco Sour.
What does 2014 hold for Pisco Trail? Well, I am happy to announce that I’ve been invited back to the chef’s stage at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, and I am already planning a special dish, paired with a Pisco cocktail, of course. In addition to more pop-up dinners at 18 Reasons, we are also planning a hands-on Flavors of Peru class, details coming soon. I have lots of writing still to do on a very personal project, a collection of stories and recipes from my mom. And I look forward to more travels, learning, growing, and continuing to share my passion for Peruvian food and culture with the world. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!