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Chef and Author of the Fire of Peru, Ricardo Zarate is on fire! Considered the "godfather of Peruvian cuisine", he is spreading the flavors and excitement of Peruvian food across Los Angeles. His restaurant Rosaline in West Hollywood showcases classic Peruvian dishes and his new place, Los Balcones in Studio City, explores Mestizo cuisine, Peruvian dishes blended with Spanish and Asian flavors. Los Balcones is located on the corner of Moorpark, just east of Tujunga. It sits in the space that was previously Girasol. Los Balcones has kept some of the decor, including the magnificent ceiling that looks like an etched flower. After sitting down in the covered patio looking out onto Moorpark Avenue, our first order of business was to select our drinks. We ordered the "special" cocktail that was described as inspired by Zarate's book, The First of Peru, and was made with mezacal and an orange juice ice cube. The serving of the cocktail was the first hint of what we were in for - lots of flavor, a little heat and some of the most colorful dishes you may have ever seen.
Recently I was heading to Seattle for work  It was a short trip. I had three nights and had planned to see friends in my free time. Then, in mid-flight, my friend who I was supposed to catch up with had to reschedule our dinner. I had been counting on her to pick the place as she is a local. But now I found myself on a Sunday afternoon, flying into a city with no plan and no ideas. So, I jumped online and read through Eater Seattle's Top 38. A few places caught my eye, one of which was Manolin. I checked into my hotel downtown and the concierge said it was twenty minutes away and wanted to suggest closer restaurants. But, I stuck to my plan and called Uber. Ten minutes later, I was in Fremont, a popular Seattle Neighborhood. manolin-1 Manolin is named after the young apprentice to Santiago's wise fisherman in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. The restaurant, which was named one of Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants when it opened in 2015, features the maritime pleasures of the Pacific Northwest.
Last time I was in downtown Santa Barbara (less than a year ago), I went to a pop-up sushi bar at Three Pickles Deli. Yes, inside a deli! But, as the deli itself is closed at night, it was a perfect location to set up a pop-up inside. Sadly, the pop-up sushi bar is no longer there but now there is a pop-up every Sunday called Corazon Cucina run by Chef Ramon Velazquez and his wife Chrissie. Chrissie and Ramon Velazquez Another big change since I was last there is that the neighborhood (aka the Presidio Neighborhood), which is centered around a historical Spanish fortress and Santa Barbara's former Chinatown, is now booming. While last time we walked a few blocks from State Street to find Three Pickles Deli on an isolated street, now it is surrounded by restaurants, wine tasting rooms, coffee houses and shops. There were people everywhere and I almost didn't recognize it.   Due to the popularity of the area, and the Corazon Cucina pop-up, it was difficult to find parking. And, once we did, we found ourselves at the back of a long line.