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For M’s birthday this year, we went to Vernick. They offered to seat us at the kitchen so we could get a free show, so we said sure! I actually love watching people cook my food. But I always forget that it’s going to be super hot there! But we still enjoyed the show! They started us off with a complimentary little amuse bouche – a pea soup with some chili oil on top. A fun and tasty start!
vernicktunaWe started off with some tuna poke, served with macadamia nuts in a sweet soy dressing. This was a perfect combo of cold tuna with sweet and umami flavors. I’ve never had poke, so I have no idea how poke-ish this poke was, but it was darn tasty. It was obvious, from the very start, how fresh and high quality all the ingredients here were.

vernickbroccWe wanted to get at least some veggies, to feign caring about our health, so we went with the broccoli rabe, which was simply roasted with chili and aged pecorino. I need to eat more roasted veggies!
vernickravioliOur last shared small dish was the ravioli with braised duck and green beans. Another great dish. Three pieces of delicate ravioli with super moist duck. The green beans were still nice and firm. There’s nothing appealing about soggy green beans!
vernickvealM got the oven-roasted veal loin, served with Israeli couscous and spring beans with a pesto sauce. He loved it! The entree portions here were surprisingly large.
vernickbassI got the grilled black sea bass, served with tender broccoli and a fire-roasted tomato sauce. Yum! The fish is cooked really nicely, with the skin on, and the skin is nice and crispity. The tomato sauce is surprisingly flavorful and works well with the flaky fish. It’s a delicate fish, but the accompanying sauce is strong and pungent.
vernickdatecakeWe definitely wanted to try dessert so we asked our server what to get and he said “cardamom cake!” so we said sure! Listen here people. This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. It’s just the whole package. It’s a roasted date cake with orange cardamom toffee sauce, a scoop of coconut gelato, and topped with a candied slice of orange. Man, the cake is warm and moist with just enough hint of that exotic cardamom flavor, the gelato is just the right amount of cold. It just works! I could eat this every day. Our experience at Vernick was just wonderful. All of it, the food, the show, and the service. It certainly deserves all its raves!
Vernick Food & Drink on Urbanspoon

Fuji Mountain

Every time we passed Fuji Mountain M kept saying we needed to go there. It took us long enough, but we finally went for some sushi and japanese eats. Requisite garden salad with ginger dressing and miso soup.
Here is the tuna tataki, probably the dish that M wanted to get here. He’s nearly batsh!t crazy about seared tuna. Slices of seared tuna with ponzu sauce. I had to agree with him on this one, it was great!
Ceviche at a japanese restaurant? I wasn’t convinced, but M really wanted to try the mixed ceviche, Fuji Mountain’s japanese take on a raw seafood favorite. Also good!
Quite a respectful sushi regular from Fuji Mountain.
Would it surprise anyone that I got the tempura udon? Nope, this girl knows what she likes, and she sticks with her tried and true favorites. Also quite respectful here! There are a bazillion sushi and japanese joints in philly. It’s almost like you can’t walk a block without running into one. But I like the unexpected dishes here. And the expected ones are also good too! Service here is good. There’s also a private karaoke room upstairs!
Fuji Mountain on Urbanspoon

Peru Food Roundup

I took a rather kick-ass vacation to Peru awhile back. They have wonderful food. I absolutely loved pretty much everything I ate. So here are some very few highlights. I guess you could say these are a version of corn nuts. Except these corn kernels are ginormous. They’re a salty and crunchy snack.
The ceviche is pretty much the best around. I should think so, since Peru invented it. We were taught by a Peruvian to only get ceviche for lunch, only when you’re in a coastal town, and only at a cevicheria. If not, you risk the the seafood not being its absolute freshest. We had absolutely no issues with that here. Here’s the giant corn again, which is a very common accompaniment. I quickly learned to love the giant corn.
The rice with seafood. Holy crap this was amazing. If I could learn to make one thing that I ate in my 2 weeks in Peru, it would be this.
Not only is the corn big, they also have purple corn.
This purple corn is used to make chicha morada. It looks like red wine, but it’s a completely non-alcoholic drink made from boiling purple corn and adding some spices. It’s an unfamiliar taste, but something we all learned to love. I’m going to attempt to make this some day, as soon as I get my hands on some giant purple corn!
They love their meats, and you’ll find plenty of it at anticucheras. Beef and chicken are popular, but you need to try the beef hearts. Even I liked it. We also tried alpaca steak. It’s delicious, but you need to eat it only when it’s rare. It’s exotic but delicious. Speaking of exotic, no one tried the cuy (guinea pig). It seemed too bony!
We couldn’t get enough picarones – pumpkin and sweet potato donuts served with a sweet and sticky syrup. You have to eat them fresh! They are crispity on the outside and doughy and amazing. These beat any kind of american donuts.
Fresh fruit is everywhere, so you can pretty much get any kind of freshly squeezed juice you can think of. Fresh limeades and lemonades are particularly refreshing.
You can also pretty much get any kind of smoothie that you want. You’ll find an amazing array of fruits. Some stuff will be completely foreign to you.
Sometimes, you have to take risks and buy soup from a little old lady on the side of the street. Sure, you’re not quite sure if your stomach will agree, but it has to be done. Even if you’re just about to start a 4-day inca trail hike where there’s no indoor plumbing. Adventure is fun.
And when you’re hanging out in Lima’s famous JFK park (famous because there are hundreds of adorable cats there), you’ll try a random sweet treat from one of the mystery carts. You have no idea what this is, but it’s crunchy and covered with a sweet and orangey syrup. It’s all sticky and gooey but you love it. We ate a lot of homemade foods while we were on the Inca Trail and on our rafting trip. Everything was made with love and absolutely delicious. Lomo saltado was probably a particular standout. It’s like a peruvian stir fry. In general, we were all fans of Peruvian cuisine. I think it would appeal to just about anyone. In fact, I wish there was a genuine Peruvian restaurant near me. I would go all the time. 

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