Category Archives: food

Day Trip from Washington DC: Fall Foliage in Shenandoah Valley

Washington DC is full of historic sites, museums, parks and is one of the top dining destinations in the country. You could easily spend weeks here and never tire of the bountiful options for things to do! But if you’re the type who loves a good road trip and beautiful fall foliage, a trip to Shenandoah Valley for its famous Skyline Drive is a must. I was lucky enough to spend two and a half months in Washington DC in the fall of 2016 and one of the things that was at the top of my to-do list was to plan a road trip out to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley during the peak viewing times for fall foliage.

There are four entrances to Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park. This page will tell you the major highways that lead to each of Shenandoah’s entrances. I’d recommend either exiting or entering at Thornton Gap (in the middle, near the best viewing for folliage) if you’re not planning to drive the whole thing. For a short (2 mile) and easy hike, drive 14 miles south to the Upper Hawksbill trailhead, one of the highest points in the park.

It takes about 3 hours to drive the entire 105 miles of Skyline Drive without stops, but there are numerous lookouts to pull over and places to stop for hike or picnics if you’d like to take a break. Hikes range from beginner to advanced with rewards like panoramic views, wildlife, and waterfalls. You can request free hiking maps from any of the ranger stations when you enter or preview them here. It generally takes about 90 min to 2 hours to get to Shenandoah from Washington DC, depending on which park entrance you use.

Come enjoy #SkylineDrive with us, yet again! ?❤️??? #Shenandoah #RoadTrip @shenandoahnps

A video posted by Malia Yoshioka (@maliayoshioka) on

If you’re spending more than a week in Washington, DC, particularly in the fall, definitely be sure to check out Shenandoah National Park’s Fall Color Reports for tips and a weekly update from park rangers. In 2016, the peak weekend was October 23-23 and I visited both that weekend and the week after, which was still quite beautiful, in my opinion. Note that your entrance fee ($20 per car when I visited) is good for a full week, so you could space out your visits for two chances at peak foliage views and complete different sections of the drive each time.

A few resources for autumn leaf peeping:

If you don’t have time for a day trip out to Shenandoah, there are tons of beautiful sites around the city of DC as well. Rock Creek Park is beautiful for a run, walk or drive and the trees along the Mall and tidal basin are quite colorful too. Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Seneca Park and the National Arboretum are all great options not too far from the downtown DC area.

>> Check out my Washington DC Destination Guide
>> Check out photos from my galleries on Virginia and Washington DC

Where to Eat in Lisbon: Cervejaria Ramiro

I had first seen Cervejaria Ramiro on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode on Lisbon. Known for serving a huge variety of fresh seafood with grilled steak sandwiches for “dessert”, it was on my short list of places to visit in my trip to Portugal. I had plans to meet my friend Flavia from Brazil for dinner, as she happened to be passing through Lisbon on a layover that night. Flavia and I were roommates on my very first night in Goreme when I was still just a tourist in Turkey, so I was looking forward to seeing her again after living there for ten months now.

I was also lucky with my choice of a hostel in Lisbon, We Love F*** Tourists, which has some of the nicest staff I’ve met anywhere in the world and who cheered my interest in going to Ramiro. I was honored that a whole group from the hostel staff was able to join Flavia and I for my last night in Lisbon. It’s always more fun to try out a new restaurant with a food-loving group!

Old friends and new for my last night in Lisbon

There is usually a bit of a wait to enter the restaurant, but we were seated in about ten minutes in the upstairs dining room. We walked in past the tanks of live seafood, waiters waiters weaving through with plates straight from the bustling kitchen, and my mouth began to water in anticipation! We started with pata negra (acorn-fed Iberian ham) and a soft cheese from Azeitao to spread over fresh buttered bread. Next came shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic, tender steamed clams and some of the biggest raw oysters I’ve ever seen.

It was my first time trying goose barnacles (such a strange look, with a taste a bit like clams) and sea snails (like briny escargot, pried out of their shells with little forks). My favorite of all of the dishes were the giant tiger prawns, grilled simply and seasoned with thick flakes of sea salt. I thought they were joking when they brought out a huge live lobster — I was SO full by that point — but minutes later it appeared on the table too.

It was such a treat to be able to sit back and let someone else do the ordering for a change, and I knew we were in good hands when we let Pedro order. Service was a bit slow at times as the staff catered to tables of tourists around us. (Our server also took a selfie when asked to take a photo of the table, haha!) Having locals who’d been there before helped, Pedro and our server went back and forth in rapid Portuguese, making sure to include a variety for all of us to share. Of course, we had to end with the famous prego steak sandwich for “dessert” and everything was paired with appropriate beverages along the way – white wine from the Duoro valley to start, beer when we got to steak and a lemon sorbetto topped with vodka to put you just over the top!

As you can probably tell, the food was amazing but the company was even better. Truly a highlight to my too-short stay in Portugal. Obrigada, friends!

Cervejaria Ramiro
Av. Almirante Reis nº1 – H
1150-007 Lisboa, Portugal (map) Phone: +351 21 885 1024
Closest metro: Intendente
Website | TripAdvisor | Yelp | Spotted by Locals

If Portugal is not already on your travel bucket list, add it now! Here’s some inspiration, and both shows happen to feature Cervejaria Ramiro prominently:

>> For recommendations of things to do, see and EAT in Portugal, check out my Portugal Destination Guide.
>> For other highlights from my trip, check out my Portugal Photo Galleries.

Cooking Classes in Chile: Uncorked Cooking Workshop

Disclosure: My cooking class was provided courtesy of Uncorked Cooking Workshop, however I was not otherwise compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugCeviche. Oh, my love for ceviche knows no bounds.

It’s one of the dishes that I’ve tried up and down the continent of South America and have pretty much loved in all its variations – although some more than others. After having an ungodly amount of ceviche in Lima, I gave it a rest for a bit as I headed back up into the mountains of Peru and Bolivia.

So I was thrilled when I saw that ceviche was one of the dishes we would be making in my class with Uncorked Cooking Workshop! Just reading the menu made me salivate for the sour-citrusy seafood goodness. (Say that ten times fast!)
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Cooking Classes in Peru: Cusco Culinary

Disclosure: My cooking class was provided courtesy of Cusco Culinary, however I was not otherwise compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

In Cusco, there is no shortage of touristic sights to keep you busy – in fact, most visitors to Cusco opt to purchase the Boleto Turistico which gives you access to 16 sites over a 10 day period, many of them including Inca or pre-Inca ruins. And then, of course, visitors to Cusco are usually using it as a stopping off point before a visit to Machu Picchu. I’ve actually heard more than one person say they were “ruined out”, that is to say that all of the sites were starting to blend together. A shame to feel this way, of course, but I could relate after a few days spent touring the city and nearby historic sites.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugIn search of something different, I began looking into food tours and cooking classes and came across fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor for Cusco Culinary, so I reached out to see if they’d let me drop in on a class to share the experience with you. Despite it being Christmas Eve, I got a response within a few hours that there was a spot open for the dinner class the following evening, which sounded like a perfect way to spend Christmas night!

I’ve taken cooking classes all over the world and I can honestly say this was one of the best. Peru has arguably the most popular cuisine in South America, and the people behind Cusco Culinary have really put thought into the experience so that you leave with a real appreciation for the food as well as the culture of the country. The price tag of $59.99 may seem a bit steep to some, but if you’re a food lover, I would strongly suggest you consider it as an option when you’re planning your budget for day trips, tours and things to do in Cusco.

Dinner Experience with Cusco Culinary

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugThe cooking class with Cusco Culinary generally begins with a tour of Mercado San Pedro, but due to the holiday we skipped this and headed straight into the class itself. To begin, we were ushered into a room downstairs set up to give us a taste of life in the Andes. We began with a chilled glass of chicha morada (a drink made from purple corn and flavored with cloves, cinnamon and fruit) while our host, Sofia, described the various types of chicha and customs related to the beverage, including how it’s made, who’s doing the drinking and how to tell when a local chicheria has the mildly alcoholic version of the beverage available.

The rest of the room introduced other aspects of local life, including elements of an Andean kitchen – the stove and cooking utensils, various talismans placed around the home for good luck, and items found in the pantry. We got to see examples of various grains and flours, herbs, spices, dried peppers and potatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors. One that is important to Peruvian cooking is called chuño, which is a bit of an acquired taste and texture. It’s a potato preserved by a freeze-drying process, then ground into a flour or used in soups and sauces or sometimes just eaten with spicy aji sauce. With this method, indigenous people preserve the potatoes for years at a time! Continue reading

Where to Eat in Cusco: Centro Historico

Cusco is definitely worth more than the few days that people give it, often as a pit stop to or from the nearby main attraction, Machu Picchu. In reality, the city has a charming historic center with the grand Plaza de Armas as a central meeting place, interesting museums and churches, a circuit of impressive ruins and – most importantly – many culinary delights, if you know where to look! Sure there is a well-established “backpacker trail” here, with the accompanying pubs, pizzas, mass produced souvenirs and cheap massages. But not to be overlooked are great options for foodies in the markets, street stalls and even cooking classes.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Budget Eats in Cusco: Street Food

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugIf you’re on a budget or just looking for a snack, look no further than the streets! Around the mercados and plazas you can often find stalls dishing out small plates of local favorites like arroz con huevos (a fried rice dish topped with egg), sopa de pollo, trout ceviche, boiled quail eggs, popcorn, churros, seasonal fruits and even chicha.

In the evenings, you can often find my favorite snack – anticuchos – for just a bit more than $1. Anticuchos are skewers of meat, usually topped off with a boiled potato and drizzled with spicy aji sauce, if you’d like extra flavor. The classic anticucho is corazon (beef heart) but I’ve also seen kidney, chicken, sausage, and regular beef. The most reliable spot, usually with 2-3 stalls open each night, is on the steps near San Francisco church.

>> If you want to go where the locals do for anticuchos and aren’t afraid to venture a bit further, check out this recommendation from CuzcoEats.com: Anticucheria Condoritos. Highly recommended!
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