Monday 1 August 2011


The caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. Its main ingredient is cachaça, which is a wonderfully sweet sugar cane rum.

1 lime, quartered

2 teaspoon brown sugar

50 mls cachaca

Chill a rocks glass with cracked ice. Place the lime quarters in the bottom of a mixing glass; add the sugar, and muddle, extracting the juice and the oil in the skin from the lime quarters. Add the cachaca to the mixture in the mixing glass, dump the ice from the rocks glass into the mixing glass, and shake well. Pour the entire contents of the mixing glass back into the chilled rocks glass and serve. We can have as many variations as you like, just replace some of the lime juice with another fruit.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Pisco Sour

Peru and Chile both claim that the pisco sour is their invention.. What is known, is that the Peruvians they blended it. Pisco is a grape brandy made from the muscatel grape.

50 ml Pisco

25ml of egg white

1 or 2 depending on taste teaspoon of sugar

25ml of fresh lime juice

Angostura bitters (optional)

Crushed ice

Place the Pisco, egg white, sugar, lime juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker or a blender . Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and add the bitters. You can also serve in an old fashion whisky glass as we do it at Sabor.

Friday 15 July 2011


Invented long ago in Havana’s Bodeguita Del Medio bar in Havanna, this drink has been enjoyed by Cubans for generations.

2 tender sprigs of fresh mint

2 teaspoons of caster or brown sugar

30mls fresh lime juice

50mls Havana Club Anejo

Soda water

Muddle one mint spring with the simple syrup or sugar and the lime juice in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over cracked ice over the highball glass, top with soda, and garnish with the remaining spring of mint.

Sunday 3 July 2011


No one knows who invented the margarita. Its origins are as mysterious as the pyramids, but with more hangovers. Margaritas are pretty ubiquitous, and you can get them from some horrible frozen margarita machine, one of my pet hates!!!!!! But the real deal is so much better. Stop buying that horrible day-glo green mix and go back to the basics:

50mls tequila

25mls Cointreau

30mls fresh lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a salted rim. Salting the rim: Rim the edges of the cocktail glass by rubbing a lime piece on the outside rim of the glass, then dipping the outside rim into a saucer of course salt.

Friday 1 July 2011


As the summer peaks, it's time to enjoy the gardens and an opportunity to entertain at home. We get asked a lot for any ideas for a Latin flavoured “trago” or cocktail to spice up the gathering, especially by those expecting South American guests.

The first thing is to think of drinks that would complement the food that will be served and also about your guests drinking preferences, as we Latinos are a diverse bunch. Our different countries have unique customs, aesthetics, and cultural influences. One thing that unites us all though is our love of getting drunk. Let’s face it, the history of Latin America is pretty bleak. If you had been conquered by Francisco Pizarro and Hernan Cortez, kidnapped from Africa to cut sugar cane or lived under a military/communist/fascist dictatorship, you'd want a drink too, so don't blame us, as we also love to have fun.

In Latin American thanks to the weather we can grow a variety of exotic tropical fruits, and this has helped us to come up with some pretty fun cocktails. A lot of men think cocktails are for girls, but the recipes we use at Sabor, that I'm going to share with you in the next few postings, can be enjoyed by anyone without fear.

Thursday 30 June 2011


Running a restaurant I get asked a lot about recommending wines, as our wine list is mainly South American. I drink a lot of these types of wines, even though at home I tend to have a broader choice, late last year for instance we drank lots of French wines, inspired by a trip to the Loire Valley and Bordeaux.

I get very impressed by the quality of wine production both In Argentina and Chile, every year we see at the International wine fair more boutiques wineries showcasing their wines. There is more emphasis in the quality rather than the quantity we saw in the nineties, but lets remember that South America produces more vine varietals than Malbec.

Carmenère, Chile's accidental gift to the world of wine, has been described as both things. Whatever you think of that country's most controversial grape, it's amazing that, until 1994, Carmenère didn't exist in South America. Or rather it did, but no one knew it was there.

When a visiting French academic called Jean-Michel Boursiquot identified Chile's Merlot plantings as Carmenère, it caused general consternation. Had some dodgy Del Boy nurseryman substituted one for the other back in the mid-19th century? The more prosaic truth was that, in those days, many vineyards were co-planted as so-called field blends. Maybe Carmenère adapted better than Merlot.

The more immediate problem facing the Chileans was that their 'Merlot' sold very well, thank you, largely because it tasted of Carmenère. So what should they do? Own up about the difference between the two, go on as before by misleading wine drinkers, or just fudge the issue?

The official statistics suggest that the issue has been resolved. Out of Chile's 115,000 hectares, Merlot allegedly has 11.5 per cent and Carmenère 6 per cent. But the figures are pure fantasy. There was very little real Merlot (called Merlot Merlot by Chileans to differentiate it from Merlot Chileno, or Carmenère) planted before the mid-Nineties, and Peter Richards, author of The Wines of Chile, reckons that somewhere between 50 and 80 per cent of the combined total is actually Carmenère.

The issue here is one of integrity. Many Chilean companies continue to label blends that are dominated by Carmenère as Merlot. It is perfectly legal to include up to 15 per cent of the former, but I think that economic imperatives - Merlot is the more famous name, despite the fact that it rarely produces great wine outside Bordeaux - have made them parsimonious with the truth.

These days there is a growing number of own-up Carmenères on the market, Here at Sabor we loved the ones produced by Julio Bouchon, which has some notes of chocolate, peppers and green tobacco, in combination with ripe fruits like cherry and plums. I recently found the amazing Antun Ninquen Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, that was the clear stand-out of 25 wines we tasted one long evening, and we were happy to add it to our wine list.

Friday 13 May 2011

Antu Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This Chilean blend is an award winning wine that is loved by Robert Parker amongst others. We loved it so much that we would like to share some of this wine's flavorsome details.

Ninquén (nin-ken), meaning ‘Plateau on a Mountain’, is the name of this unique Estate which is the first of its kind in Chile. Antu which in the Mapuche or “People from Earth” language means “Sun” is a range of wines inspired from this ancestral tribe, renowned for its perseverance. Antu Ninquén - “Sun of the Mountain”- is a premium wine that best sums up our philosophy: Create and show only the best from our land.

Appearance: Deep ruby red.

Aromas: A big core of ripe black cherries and blackberries, complemented by nicely melted touches of vanilla and cedar from a well integrated ageing oak

Flavours: Nice acidity over very ripe black fruit. As always, this wine is muscular and powerful, full of ripe and nicely textured tannins combined with the cedar from the oak ageing giving to this wine a lingering but creamy finish

Varietal Composition: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon; 30% Carmenère

Appellation: Colchagua Valley

Vineyards: Ninquén

Friday 25 March 2011

Aji Amarillo

My favorite chilli is aji amarillo, long and thin peppers, about 3-5 inches in length. Don’t be fooled by the name – amarillo means yellow in Spanish – because ripe aji amarillo are bright orange and unripe ones are yellow. The seeds inside will make a dish very spicy so just remove them to lower the heat level. The aroma and its fruity, somewhat sweet flavor add to the spiciness, making it unique from other hot peppers.

Aji Amarillo is consider the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking by the famous Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio.

Here at Sabor we use aji amarillo in dishes such Papa a la Huancaina, potatoes with a yellow creamy sauce; Causa, a cold potato dish colored and flavored with yellow aji; and as a garnish on Escabeche, pickled fish. Another common use is as a side dipping sauce that can accompany any meal.

In addition to flavor, aji amarillo has health benefits as well due to its high levels of capsaicin, a natural ingredient in hot peppers located in the pepper’s ribs, which is good for pain relief, as a digestion aid, and in fighting inflammation.

In the UK the supply of this Aji is very irregular, so when we get it, we buy a good quantity and make a paste that we can use later in various recipesj, and we would advise anyone to do the same.

Pasta de Ají Amarillo

This chilli paste is use in many peruvian recipes especially in ceviches (we have even done a sorbet and is great with pasta). It can be freeze in small containers so that it can be easily thawed when needed.


1lb (½ kg) ají amarillo

½ cup sugar

¼ cup vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable oil


Wash, stem, seed and devein ají amarillo. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until ajíes are soft. Strain ajíes and place in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the other ingredients. Blend to form a creamy paste. Press through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pieces of skin.

Chillies at South American kick to the world food

Ajíes (Capsicum)

Ajies mean hot chilli peppers in Spanish (also spelled chili), is the fruit of the plant capsicum of the nightshade Solanaceae family, in their various forms are what give every dish its essential flavour.

Ajíes feature prominently in pre-hispanic mythology; one of the legendary brothers who were the forefathers of the Inca Empire, Ayar Uchu, is named for ají in Quechua. Cultivated since prehistoric times in Peru and Mexico, it was discovered in the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus. He thought them as a more masculine version of Old World peppers, so he named them pimento in contrast with pimenta. Diego Alvarez Chanca, a physician on Columbus' second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, brought the first chile peppers to Spain, and first wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494.

Ajíes are used in two basic forms; as an aderezo which is a seasoning or dressing included in the preparation of a dish or as accompanying sauces or salsas. Just add a little aji to soups, stews, meats of ceviches to give a wonderful kick to the food. They are used dried or fresh and can be blanched to reduce spiciness. The various ajíes can also be bought in jars ready made in markets and specialty food stores. Here at Sabor we used a different types and always get asked about to describe the differences, I’ll be posting on many different types of aji in this blog since they are intrinsic to South American cooking .