Posts Categorized: Eats

Dancing Her Way Through Life: Meet Chilean Dancer Loreto Astroza

Traditional guitar and cultural dances; modern music and sensuous performances; packed audiences, bright lights, and television cameras. These are some of the elements you will find when you enter the world of Loreto Astroza Beltran.

Loreto Astroza Beltran is a professional dancer trained in ballet and modern technique, as well as contemporary, street dance, jazz, and Latin styles. She was born in Santiago, Chile in 1982 and started her professional career in 2002, at the prestigious Academia de Humanismo Cristiano University. There, she graduated with high honors, obtaining a degree in dance with a minor in pedagogy. In 2008, Loreto won a scholarship to an intensive dance seminar in Buenos Aires, Argentina, rounding out her performance education.

Fast-forward three years, and you’ll find Loreto living in New York City. She moved to the Big Apple to experience Broadway Dance Center’s International Student Visa Program (ISVP). There, she entered “the most celebrated dance community in the world,” and received a Certificate of Excellence.

Since moving to New York in 2014, Loreto has continued to stay busy with outstanding performances. With dance companies such as Casa Brazilia, INNO’vation Artist, and Forza Malizia Dance Company and performances at distinguished venues across the United states, including the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the Frank Sinatra Theatre, Times Square, the Wawa Festival, Julia de Burgos Theatre, Dixon Place, Highline Ballroom, the Team USA Olympics Road to Rio 2016, the Radio City Music Hall, and the stage of the Today Show.

Below Astroza shares her story and her go-to Latin gems in New York City:

When did you begin to have an interest in dancing? What sparked your desire to dance?
Astroza: “My passion for dancing started as a child. My older brother Jose and I always danced at home. I remember dancing in family reunions and celebrations. Dancing was always part of my life. Even though I did not take dance classes in the beginning, home was the best school to discover my passion. My parents Maria and Reynaldo are from the late 40’s so they taught me how to dance rock and roll and also the twist. I had so much fun and have great memories of dancing with my mom and dad. With Jose, my brother, I always danced merengue. Juan Luis Guerra was very popular in my country back in those days so we always played his songs and dance to them. Same thing with Salsa, I knew most of the biggest salsa artists and started falling in love with salsa at a very early age because of my brother. What really sparked my desire to dance was when I started taking dance classes at Balmaceda 1215 Cultural Center at the age of 14. I fell in love with dance. I started taking Modern classes with a very well know dancer by the name of Magdalena Bahamondes. After that I took African Dance, Capoeira and Samba and that is how I started and never stopped again.”

What was the most challenging aspect of starting your dance career, of breaking into “show business”?
Astroza: “I think that I can’t name one specific thing. I feel that being an artist is a challenging journey that every day presents a new everest to climb. With time I realized that being disciplined to train every day regardless of how drained I was after taking a bunch of classes all day and rehearsals. Pushing myself to the max to get better. Being rejected from an audition and becoming resilient to keep fighting. To master my strengths and discover my weaknesses and face them. To have the courage to keep training and improving. These are all aspects I believe were the most challenging in the beginning. Even though it was hard, if I had to do it again I would always choose to be a dancer.”

Besides the International Student Visa Program, what motivated you to move to New York City?
Astroza: “First thing that motivated me was the International Student Visa Program. But the reason I got into the program and got to come to NYC was because I started taking Hip Hop classes and other street styles back in Chile.  In 2010 I attended one of the biggest workshops back at a time, the “Arken Festival”, where i had met three important precursors of street dance. After that I was fascinated with street dance and wanted to know more and more about the culture, how it got started, and where. So after that I decided that i wanted to come to NYC. I wanted to live and experience this beautiful city and all the magic that brings together all the mix of cultures, the art everywhere, the nightlife, the museums, the festivals. Wow, so much to name, but yes basically all that.”

As a dancer, you no doubt work up an appetite, but your work also requires that you make healthy dining choices. Since your move to New York, what is your favorite place to refuel after practice?
Astroza: “Ufff, tough question. I love food !! But yes, as a dancer I always have to take care of my diet. I love all types of food especially Latin American and Asian. My favorite spot is PIO PIO, a Peruvian restaurant where you can find delicious and fresh ceviche, which is my favorite.

Is your dancing strictly work related, or do you go out dancing just for fun? If so, what is your favorite Latin venue for a night out on the town?
Astroza: “Of course i do and I have a list of places that I love to go to. My favorite is Camaradas el Barrio in Spanish Harlem. There is always live music on Fridays and Saturdays. They play live salsa, bomba y plena, pop latino and more. I love Favela Cubana, Verlaine, Gonzalez y Gonzalez, Copacabana and the Latin Mondays at Taj.”

What goals do you have for expanding your career over the next few years?
Astroza: “My goal is to get in a Broadway and off Broadway show. I to also produce my own show that I have been writing and developing for about 2 years.”

What advice would you give to young people who are nurturing dreams of success in the big city?
Astroza: “Self discipline, self discipline, self discipline.  I repeat it 3 times because i think that is one of the most important bases of success. Also be constant and consistent in any discipline. Be resilient and work on that every day, because there are a bunch of doors that you will knock on and the will stay closed. But there are a bunch of them that will open for you, to bring you new opportunities. Have self love for yourself and love for your art and others. Take care of your body, soul and mind. Celebrate your glories, but stay humble. Be aware and grateful for the little and big things that you get. Enrich the spirit with great experiences and do everything with love in order to enjoy the process and every step that you take to accomplish your dreams.”

Where is your favorite place to experience Latin culture in Nyc?
Astroza: “There are many places that I love going to, but La Marqueta is my favorite. I like it because it is an accessible place that is open for everybody. Where you can find local vendors promoting their products and food and there is always a Latin band playing. I love the atmosphere and it is beautiful to see the mixed generations enjoying themselves and dancing. I love Latin culture and I’m happy to be surrounded by my people. I always support and go to Latin festivals and parades. It makes me feel at home.”

When you get that craving for a mouth watering latin dish, where is your go to spot?
Astroza: “There are no Chilean restaurants in NYC where i can find traditional, high quality foods. Lucky for me I was able find two Latin spots that I love in NYC. They are both located in the lower east side. One is  Casa Adela. This place has authentic Puerto Rican food, which I love!  My favorite dish there is the Mofongo. The other is El Castillo de Jagua. They specialize in traditional Dominican cuisine and they have the most delightful rice and beans with avocado and maduros. The mangu there is amazing!!!”

What is next for Loreto Astroza? Look for her upcoming performances, including New York City’s Los Pregones Theatre for the “Stage Garden Rumba” and Julia de Burgos Cultural Center for “The Seasons of Love” a Forza Malizia Dance Company Production.

Top 7 Reasons to Visit Buenos Aires Argentina

Buenos Aires is a pulsating, passionate, cosmopolitan city. The combination of rich architectural and cultural heritage, modern creative energy, electric nightlife, unique traditions, a vibrant arts scene, extensive parks, and warm, friendly hosts makes it one of the world’s most exciting capitals.

There are dozens of reasons to visit, hence why the city has repeatedly been voted the best in Latin America by users of TripAdvisor, but here are just ten of the big ones.

1. You can dance the world’s most romantic dance in its birthplace

Sensual, nostalgic, and fiendishly difficult to learn, tango emerged in the city’s portside neighbourhoods in the mid-19th century and has since conquered the world. Today, Buenos Aires is a place of pilgrimage for tango dancers from all over, and the dance is still very much alive – danced by the young and young-at-heart well into the early hours every night of the week. As well as witnessing traditional social dancing and learning some steps at a milonga, you can treat yourself to sumptuous dinner-shows with spectacularly choreographed performances, and see live orchestras playing everywhere from cosy neighbourhood bars to grand symphony halls.

2. You can enjoy nightlife that goes on well into the morning

Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, famous for its phenomenal nightlife, which ranges from traditional neighbourhood taverns to award-winning cocktail bars, big clubs, hidden gig venues, and underground nightspots catering to every niche. The city’s incredible openness and diversity also make it the top destination in Latin America for LGBT visitors. Just be prepared to stay out late! We eat late, party late and sleep late, if at all!

3. You’ll experience sporting passion like never before

Buenos Aires is a city that lives and breathes football (soccer), and the passion can be felt in the stadiums, the neighbourhood cafes and the goal celebrations of a local amateur team. The atmosphere at the city’s stadiums has to be experienced to be believed, and the Boca vs River derby has been described as the most intense sporting event in the world.

4. You’ll find yourself in a historic melting pot of cultures

The city’s cosmopolitan, multicultural identity was forged in a melting pot of cultures, from native American and colonial Spanish roots, to the influences of immigration from Italy, France, Great Britain, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. You’ll see this eclectic mix of influences in the city’s architecture, food and in the character of its people. And while Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city always looking towards the latest trends, we also have passionate pride for our history and tradition. Feel the nostalgia in the cobbled streets of neighbourhoods like San Telmo, visit old cafes where poets used to gather, witness traditional gaucho displays of horsemanship and folk dancing at the Feria de Mataderos, and explore the political history of the Plaza de Mayo, where huge crowds turned out to see Eva Perón speak.

5. You can enjoy a wealth of culture

Long seen as Latin America’s capital of culture, Buenos Aires has almost 300 theatres, 380 bookstores and 160 museums, and some of them will take your breath away. The Teatro Colón is one of the world’s best opera houses, with outstanding acoustics and beautiful interiors, the Ateneo Grand Spendid is considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, and you’ll find creative, artistic expression not only in the many galleries and cultural centres, but in the streets themselves. The city has its own traditional form of folk art known as fileteado, recognised as cultural heritage by UNESCO, and you can find incredible street art on every corner (pay a visit to the incredible 2000m² mural El regreso de Quinquela in Barracas).

6. Festivals and events

A guide to what’s happening in Buenos Aires throughout the year.
• 125th Argentine Open Polo Tournament: One of the world’s greatest polo tournament every November – December.
• International Tango Festival and World Cup: (Every August. 2018 edition: August 9 – 22) Two weeks of concerts, shows, classes and milongas every August. Come to watch, listen or dance!
• BA International Jazz Festival: (November 14 – 19, 2018) Everything from Bebop to jazz fusion at this international festival every November.Click here for more

7. You can eat like a king

Designated Ibero-American capital of Gastronomic Culture 2017, the city boasts outstanding culinary options, from elegant 19th and early 20th century “bares notables” to some of Latin America’s most acclaimed contemporary restaurants and bars. Dining is important in Buenos Aires, and you can enjoy the world’s best steaks, Argentina’s famous malbec wines, and hearty Andean fare, plus there’s pizza, pasta and ice cream on every corner thanks to the city’s Italian heritage. Buenos Aires boasts several restaurants recognised in Latin America’s 50 Best. Local treats to look out for include the traditional infusion mate and addictive alfajores – chocolate-covered double-deck cookies filled with caramel-like dulce de leche.

We’re drooling over this new Wynwood Yard Jamaican-Latin fusion food spot

Wynwood’s favorite chill spot has introduced a new tasty reason for you to visit. Food Dude is the latest resident of the Wynwood Yard and their menu has us salivating.

The Food Dude rounds off the 10 food options at the Yard with its Jamaican-Latin fusion. If dishes like arroz con jerk or jerk tostones sounds great to you, like they do to us, you might want to plan your trip to the Wynwood Yard ASAP.

You can get the Caribbean-Latin fare from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. Tuesdays though Thursdays, beginning at 2 p.m. and noon and open until late on Fridays and Saturdays, respectively; and from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays. It’s closed Mondays.

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How Peruvian cuisine has taken the UAE by storm

Ten years ago, had an intrepid eater embarked on a search for tiger’s milk, anticucho or tiradito, in even the most cosmopolitan, forward-thinking foodie capitals, their quest would more than likely have proven fruitless (or almost certainly ceviche-­less). A decade on, though, and Peru has staged its very own culinary invasion, infiltrating cities all over the world, establishing the country and its cuisine as not just a fleeting trendsetter, but as one of the leaders on the global cooking stage.

The UAE got its first real taste of Peruvian cooking at the tail end of 2014, with the launch of Coya Dubai, an offshoot of the London flagship. Others quickly followed, and almost three years later, the country boasts an ever-growing array of ­choices for Peruvian-­inspired eating. In Dubai, there’s Ceviche (another London original) in Emirates Financial Towers and Garden at the JW Marriott Marquis, as well as Inka, Mayta, Pollo Pollo, Ají and Waka. Those living in the capital are now well catered for thanks to both Limo Restaurant at the Bab Al Qasr Hotel and Coya Abu Dhabi.

This enthusiasm shows no sign of waning, here or internationally. With Virgilio Martínez as chef proprietor, Lima London was the first ­Peruvian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star back in 2014 and Central, his restaurant in the Peruvian capital, was ranked at No 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year. Lima Dubai opened its doors in March this year.

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So what is it about Peruvian food that has proved so alluring? At a time when we are all increasingly aware of what we eat and how this affects our well-being, it certainly doesn’t hurt that, by its very nature, ­Peruvian food is generally healthy. There’s an integral lightness to the cuisine, along with an appreciation for ancient grains and a dedication to fresh ingredients that all tie in seamlessly with modern, health-­conscious approaches to eating. And while it might sound superficial, with social media – particularly Instagram – awash with beautiful food images, it helps that this style of cooking is very easy on the eye. As well as taste, texture and flavour, the colour and visual appeal of food has long been important to Peruvian cooks.

The diversity of the cuisine and the sense of authenticity that surrounds it is another major draw. While it’s not unusual to be able to trace the political, social and economic history of a country through its food, Peruvian cooking is the edible embodiment of this idea. From the continued use of indigenous produce (potatoes, corn, maize, chillies) as well as Inca techniques and traditions, to the way the cuisine has assimilated produce and ideas from migrant countries, notably Spain, Africa, China and Japan, this is fusion cooking of the highest order.

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Oficina Latina: A Culinary ride down the Pan-American Highway [NYC]

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Oficina Latina, in Manhattan’s NOLITA neighborhood, is a tribute to the diverse charm of Latin America. Conceived as a culinary ride down the Pan-American Highway, the restaurant offers food and drinks that can be found from Mexico to Brazil.

The menu features Venezuelan arepas, Peruvian-style tilapia and chivito sandwiches from Uruguay, a smorgasbord of options that will leave your taste buds duly satisfied.

But most of all, the creative assortment of cocktails is what truly stands out at Oficina Latina. Their unique twist on the caipirinhas, piña coladas and mojitos, which are prepared with keen attention to detail, provide a visual treat before you wash down your food.

So if you’re looking for good food, tasty drinks and a Pan-American-style ambiance, Oficina Latina is the place for you.

Click here for more info on Oficina Latina

The Road To The Calle Ocho Festival 2017

Since 1978, Carnaval Miami has been organized by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and is held annually between February and March.  Through the dedicated support of the club’s members, volunteers and dedicated corporate and community partners, Carnaval Miami has grown into one of the largest Latin cultural celebrations in the United States, culminating with the world-famous El Festival de la Calle Ocho (Calle Ocho Festival).

Here are some events leading up to El Festival de la Calle Ocho which takes place March 12th, 10am -7pm.

Carnaval Miami 2017 officially kicks off on Saturday, February 11th with the Miss Carnaval pageant. The pageant winner will not only be awarded cash prizes and scholarships, but the opportunity to be the face of Carnaval Miami 2017 with sponsored entry into the Miss Florida USA pageant.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

February 11 36th Annual Miss Carnaval Miami

Manuel Artime Theater

A pageant of elegance, beauty, talent and poise to select Miss Carnaval Miami 2017 and court. The winners become hosts of all Carnaval Miami 2017 festivities, and brand ambassadors for the Kiwanis Little Havana Foundation throughout an intense year of activities. Tickets available through Eventbrite. [link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/miss-carnaval-miami-2017-tickets-31430311909]

March 4 – 5 19th Annual Carnaval on the Mile

Downtown Coral Gables (Alhambra Circle)

A festival of art, jazz and funk, fine cuisine, cocktail pavilion and children’s entertainment all weekend long. Three concert stages, a mile of paintings, crafts, photography and jewelry of the highest caliber; one cultural experience for the enjoyment of all age groups.

March 4 – 5 2nd Annual Cork & Fork

Coral Gables, Miracle Mile [this will change. Pending meeting this weekend]

The food and wine tasting event will feature the hottest chefs, local restaurants and international wines combined for two days of unrivaled culinary tastings, intimate cooking demonstrations, exclusive book signings and live entertainment. Tickets available through Eventbrite. [link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cork-fork-carnaval-on-the-mile-tickets-29537702062?aff=es2}

March 7 36th Annual Carnaval Miami Cooking Contest

Aspiring chefs in three categories compete in one of the most popular food

competitions in South Florida. Culinary aficionados will have the opportunity

to showcase their creativity against other food enthusiasts and compete for a

variety of cash prizes

March 8 36th Annual Carnaval Miami Domino Tournament

Domino Park

A popular domino tournament for golden age seniors held in the heart of Little Havana.

March 9 36th Annual Carnaval Miami Golf Classic

Miami International Links

Connect with VIPs at this Carnaval Miami-flavored tournament to benefit the Kiwanis Little Havana Foundation’s scholarship awards.

March 10 Carnaval Live! Gala

Jungle Island

An upscale, black tie gala attended by executives of multi-national corporations in a world-class setting.

March 12 40th Annual Calle Ocho Festival

SW 12th to 27th Avenue

The culmination of it all! The world’s largest ‘Hispanic’ festival! Block after block of Little Havana full of musical stages, international food, dance, sampling sites and family entertainment to celebrate life and all Hispanic ethnicities. Tickets for a first ever VIP tour, limited to 100 spots, available through Eventbrite.

Carnaval Miami is organized annually by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. All proceeds benefit the Kiwanis of Little Havana Foundation’s youth development programs. For more information about the Kiwanis of Little Havana, or Carnaval Miami 2017 sponsorship opportunities, visit http://carnavalmiami.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@KiwanisKCLH) and Facebook (@KiwanisLittleHavana) for real-time updates.

Running with the Beef presents La Puesta del Sol

Inspired by Spain’s Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Running with the Beef returns on this Saturday, July 16th, with an all-inclusive evening of Mezcal and barbecue, all served up along Manhattan’s scenic East River.

PUESTA DEL SOL: MEZCAL Y BARBACOA

Our all-inclusive evening session will have a specially curated Mezcal tasting with both VIP (4:30-8:30PM) and GA (5:30-8:30PM) options. La Puesta del Sol –  Mezcal y Barbacoa will feature a great line-up of chefs from the following restaurants all working with D’Artagnan, Tortilleria Nixtamal and Danny Mena’s Mezcales de Leyenda:

  • Anthony Sasso for Casa Mono
  • Julian Medina for Toloache
  • Danny Mena for Hecho en Dumbo
  • Ivan Garcia for Mesa Coyoacan
  • Cosme Aguilar for Casa Enrique
  • David Navarro for Jimmy’s No. 43
  • Barbara Sibley for La Palapa
  • Ed McDevitt for Rosa Mexicano
  • With desserts by Fany La New Yorkina

Vegetarian options will include Corn on the Cob (Street Version), cheeses and breads (all food subject to change).

Puesta del Sol will also feature 20+ different Mezcal brands, including:

  • Mezcales de Leyenda
  • Fidencio
  • Koch
  • La Venenosa
  • Peloton de la Muerte
  • Jolgorio
  • Ilegal Mezcal
  • Marca Negra
  • Santa Pedrera
  • Del Maguey
  • Siembra Metl

DJ La Huaracaha will provide the tunes with Rana Santacruz providing additional entertainment, and each person will receive a commemorative Mezcal glass.

TICKETS ARE ALL-INCLUSIVE. UNLIMITED BEER, WINE, FOOD AND FUN! ON THE WATERFRONT! VIP AND GA OPTIONS.

Click here for tickets and more information

Chefs Richard Sandoval and Jose Garces Cut the Ribbon on Latinicity [Chicago]

The food options in Downtown shopping complex Block 37 are about to get a lot more tempting. Yesterday marked the grand opening of Latinicity, chefs Richard Sandoval and Jose Garces’ massive Latin food complex, located on the third floor.

The 22,000-sq.-ft. food hall is divided between 12 food stalls, a restaurant, market, cafe and wine bar. While early word compared it to Eataly, it more closely resembles a curated mall food court, where each booth specializes in a different prepared food type — the Burgersa serves twists on the American classic such as a chili con carne burger, while the sushi stall offers Japanese-Peruvian fusion rolls. Other options include Saladero Latin Grill with assorted fired meat and housemade sausages; Chufa, or Peruvian stir-fry; the Torta stand fills flatbread with carne asada, braised short rib and more; and Mariscos specializes in seafood of the fried, grilled and raw variety.

The market, which sits in the entrance before the hallway of food stalls, is stocked with the best Latin America and beyond has to offer. Cured meats and imported cheese fill the cooler, while spice rubs and chile powders line shelves. A thoughtful wine selection ranges from Argentinean reds to Chilean whites, while wicker baskets are filled with hard-to-find Spanish cookies, Mexican chocolates and Portuguese crafts.

Spoils from the stalls or the market can be enjoyed in a 200-seat dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook The Loop. Hanging plants, blue-and-white tiled columns, leather booths and mismatched chairs prevent the space from too closely resembling your run-of-the-mill cafeteria, while a U-shaped wood bar serving beer, wine, cocktails and sangria adds additional finesse to the space.

For a more formal experience, diners can visit Pata Negra, a full-service tapas restaurant opposite the market. The menu ranges from assorted cured meats and cheeses to an entire section devoted to Iberico, the restaurant’s namesake. Tapas lean toward the traditional with spiced meatballs, smoked Marcona almonds, tortilla Espanola, patatas bravas and bacon-wrapped Medjool dates. An open kitchen sears Wagyu sirloin and calamari to be served a la plancha. Its polar opposite, a quick-service concept designed to feed commuters fresh-cut salads, tacos and breakfast items called Loncheria, is located on the first floor.

Latinicity opens to the public tomorrow. It will be open Monday though Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM.

108 N. State St., third floor; 312-795-4444

Source: Zagat.com