Raku dining @ Canberra, ACT

Raku is what we’d describe as contemporary fine dining Japanese. We were in Canberra for the weekend between Christmas and new year and had heard good words about this restaurant. We are so glad to have visited and it ended up making our best of list for 2018.

The restaurant is located in the main CBD precinct near the shopping centre and thus was easy to locate.

The space is large with table seating or right up at the chefs kitchen as well private dining spaces. It is dimly lit and has a romantic feel to it.

We learn that Raku is named after a Japanese style of pottery (fired in open flames), which is apt for a Robata style restaurant. Secondly, the ceramics here were absolutely beautiful and demonstrated different designs and techniques.

The robata method enables the flavour of the flame to shine through the meat, seafood and vegetables and the blue eyed cod has to be one of the best things we’ve ever ordered. You can watch the chefs prepare the meats on the grill over the flame and it is mesmerising.

Given our seats in front of the chef, we could watch the masters at action, preparing beautiful plates of sashimi and nigiri as well as maki rolls. The chefs were precise, fast and seemed to be so calm and thoroughly enjoying their job.

The menu is extensive, so much so we found it an extremely difficult task to decide what to get. The tasting menu sounded brilliant, and the price is appropriate for what it includes. However we thought that ordering ala Carte would allow us to spend the same, whilst enabling us to try more of a variety of the menu offerings.

We started with some miso followed by the loved the Bresaola with kingfish sashimi and a light but lovely truffle dressing $22.

The sashimi looked great and you can order this in the 3, 5 or 7 varieties. We opted for the 5 varieties, which included bluefin tuna, scallops, snapper, kingfish and salmon. It was lovely sashimi and sliced to a nice size, served with wasabi and soy $47.

The absolute winner on the night was the Alaskan black cod $38 with Saikyo miso and picked cauliflower. The Smokey flavour was beautiful and it was so soft and melted in your mouth. We added a side of Asparagus with a miso butter.

We were still little hungry and so added on a maki roll and we were glad we did, as this was another favourite. A South Australian Kingfish with yuzu, truffle, chives and fresh chilli.

We ended with a whiskey ice cream which was also superb.

Drinks wise, they have some solid cocktails with Japanese flavours, sake, beers and wines and ask for the waiters suggestion to match your meal.

It was an all round fantastic experience, with a clean and sophisticated aesthetic, prompt service and incredible food. Whilst it is quite upper end for the budget, it’s worth every dollar.

Raku

148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

RAKU Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Pantry @ Manuka, ACT

We were in Canberra for a weekend and looked up cafes to visit via google & Instagram. This café caught our eye and we are glad it did. We headed down to Mankua area, which is thriving with cafes, which we were pleasantly surprised about given it was between Christmas and New Year’s.

The Urban Pantry occupies a corner location just by a small open arcade. Its big swinging doors greet you from the front and it’s interior styling has a white cottage chic vibe going on, very pretty, with plenty of greenery. You can also sit alfresco.

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It wasn’t too busy and we were seated quickly. The food being served to other diners looked fabulous and the menu is very approachable so we had a very difficult time deciding what to order. Breakfast is until 11:30 or all day dining on weekends – we were brunch visitors but the lunch meals also looked very appealing, in particular the house made gnocchi or meat skewers. This will be for another time!

For the breakfast choices, their sweet dishes include Brioche French Toast and buttermilk pancakes. There’s also plenty of amazing choices to make that are savoury. Whether it be the chef’s pan or urban avocado, mushroom bruschetta or an omelette, you will find something to suit. We decided on their spring onion crumpets, topped with campari cured gravlax, creme fraiche and a toasted grain panagratto. The crumpets were light and fluffy and the topping was a lovely flavour combination. We really enjoyed this dish.

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I had the summer fruits – a plate of mango, dragonfruit, kiwi fruit, watermelon, pineapple and a coconut yoghurt pancaotta with macadamia granola. It was lovely and refreshing for summer. Could have done with a more generous serve of the granola for the crunch factor, but that said it was a good dish.

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To be honest I’m slightly regretting not ordering an open toast; the option that had oven roasted maple pear, basket ricotta and Majura Valley Vanilla honey is still calling my name. At least, it gives me a want to return!

The coffees are good too – we enjoyed an iced coffee, on what was a scorcher of a weekend.

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We really like that this café is not one of the typical cafes we often see in Sydney with their run of the mill bacon and egg rolls or over the top sweet colourful insta worthy dishes. We like that they are inventive and creative, making delicious dishes with beautiful fresh ingredients in an interesting way. Everything was stunning and we are super keen to revisit when in the area.

Urban Pantry

https://urbanpantrymanuka.com.au/

5 Bougainville St, Griffith, ACT

Urban Pantry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

International Eats – Best of 2018

This year, we were fortunate enough to have a few months off travelling the world. Whilst we primarily tried to do this on budget, we feel that travel is also about the whole experience, tasting local cuisine and restaurants. Thus we budgeted and kept some money aside for some top dining memories. We’ve arranged our highlights below in their respective countries.

Peru

Lima

The top of our dining experiences to date (ever) comes from none other than Centrale Restaurant, one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. It is a Gastronomy standout in South America, offering a 12 or 17 course dining experience. This place amazingly reflects Peru’s altitudes and microclimates on a plate. The entire menu was creative and flawless.

Astrid y Gaston made the list for the World’s Top 50 restaurants. Offering a tasting menu and ala carte menu, we chose the latter. We loved all the dishes, in particular, the chocolate dessert ball. A thin tempered chocolate ball, which, when cracked reveals a dessert full of beer ice cream, caramel and more surprises. You must pay this place a visit if in Peru.

Ollantaytambo

The highlight of our visit to Ollantaytambo was our visit to El Albergue and experiencing the Pacahamanca lunch. This was a farm to table experience, learning from the ground up, cooking the meats underground under heated rocks, producing a simple yet exquisite meal. Served with potatoes, salad and breads and we ate in the surrounds of the Andean snow covered mountains, it was fabulous all round.

Argentina

Buenos Aires

Argentina is known for a few things: futball, wine, steak and Dulce De Leche. We certainly experienced these things in spades.

La Cabrera is a steakhouse with a range of amazing meats at superb quality. Massive servings at inexpensive prices kept us going back for more. Accompanied by plenty of sides and red wine, it was easily one of our favourite places in Argentina.

Don Julio is another winner on the steak front. An upmarket steakhouse with the best steak we had in South America, maybe ever. The beef ribs were a tasty option, but the rib eye was out of this world. We could eat here everyday.

You absolutely have to visit the cafe Pani for their phenomenal dulce de leche desserts. The dulce de Leche cheesecake with Oreos is an absolute winner.

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USA

New York

New York probably has some of the best restaurants and cafes going around. However, since we were only there for 2 nights, it’s a bit hard to see much at all. Milk bar is always a must visit for their birthday cake ice cream, but their alcoholic shakes (found at the Brooklyn store) are superb, in particular the “Russian” – cereal milk ice cream and vodka.

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Dominique Ansel is also high on our list. A patisserie where people line our the doors all morning for their Cronuts, we preferred their frozen s’mores on a stick and chocolate chip cookie shot with milk.

You also can’t visit NYC without getting a Reuben sandwich on rye at Katz deli – loaded and filled to the brim. You’ll struggle to eat it size wise, but you will because it’s so damn tasty.

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Ecuador

Galápagos Islands

Whilst you might not visit the Galápagos Islands for food, but being on the water, good food, in particular, the seafood is in abundance. On San Cristóbal, the Kioskito puerto lobo is a great local joint set up in a small hut and here you can try some tasty seafood including lobster. The langosta (lobster) is well priced between $15 and $20, for a whole lobster, depending on the flavours and toppings of the dish. The Langosta del marisco, which is lobster served in its shell with a seafood sauce containg fish, octopus and prawns is delicious.

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Chile

Santiago

99 Restaurante – “I got 99 problems but this restaurant ain’t one”, especially if you’re dining here for lunch. Their three course lunch, which will set you back roughly AUD $25 is extraordinarily good value. The lunch menu consists of 6 items, you have the 6 item tasting menu or a half serve. We had the three dishes; a potato and yam foam, served with an egg yolk and crisps as well as the beef tongue and cheese sandwich/slider. For the main, we both opted for the papada de Cerdo y lentejas. This was essentially Jamon and lentils. The desserts were a standout including the peanut butter brownie nicely presented with a chocolate mouse and a sorbet and the Bavaroise frambuesa y marscapjone.

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Hong Kong

Michelin star restaurants are all over Hong Kong, and many of them are at next to nothing prices. Try Yat Lok for their famous roasted duck, Tsim Tai Chi for their wonton noodle soup and Lee Kum Kee for snake soup with duck liver sausage and rice.

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A Michelin star was also awarded to I love you dessert bar for their incredible Soufflé pancake. One of the most incredible pancakes we’ve ever had.

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Whilst our Hong Kong experience was mostly on the inexpensive side, we also tried the other end of the spectrum. Whilst Mizunara the library has cocktails that will set you back over $50 a glass and almost every whiskey under the sun at similar prices, it’s definitely worth a visit. Winner of the World Championship Cocktail competition at the all world Open Cup of 2015, this cocktail was super impressive and thus making our best of list.

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Six Senses Resort Uluwatu

When it comes to holidays, we love finding brilliant places to stay with great facilities, beautiful views and lovely staff to make it an all-round enjoyable experience. Thus, we spend hours researching to find that place that really pops out. Whilst scrolling Instagram, I saw that Six Senses, a luxury resort chain, had opened up in the destination of our holiday, Bali, and knew this was the place to go. This particular resort is located on the southern-most tip of Bali in Uluwatu, about 3o – 45 minutes (pending traffic) from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Set on a cliff top of Uluwatu, offering uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean.

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Upon arriving, we are greeted by the lovely General Manager, shown to a lounge and offered fresh towels, a welcome drink, snacks of home-made cookies and granola to enjoy as we took in the breathtaking outlook of the site and ocean beyond the resort. Whilst it has been open only 6 months, it is making waves as not only as a beautiful luxury hotel, but also encouraging purposeful travel with its many sustainability features.

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We are met by a GEM, or Guest Experience Maker who will look after you during your stay. He (or she) shows you around the site and can help to book restaurants, arrange activities around the island (like windsurfing or island hopping to name a few). They also can arrange your golf buggy to transport you around site.

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The site has 2 restaurants (to be discussed in more detail here) with ingredients sourced from their own organic garden, there is a cliff top bar, cinema under the stars, boutique shop with local crafts, gelato cart, fully equipped fitness centre and spa. They offer signature therapies and wellness programs, adapted to suit the individual. Onsite are two large pools, including one super infinity pool looking out into the wide ocean, complete with lounges and day beds for you to sun tan or enjoy a book with a beautiful outlook.

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The site and rooms

With 103 suites and villas on an enormous property, you often feel like you’re holidaying in isolation as it is so peaceful and quiet, fitting with its vision of tranquillity and wellness. Select your room of choice, whether it be a one bedroom suite (with or without a pool) or the one bedroom villa. We were lucky enough to stay in the one bedroom villa, complete with its own outdoor swimming pool, deck, outdoor shower and cabana lounges.

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Inspired by Balinese architecture, it’s like you’re in a luxurious version of a traditional hut, with its interior wicker roofs. The rooms brought into the modern day with their design features. As you enter the villa there’s stepping stones to your room, and each villa complete with traditional offerings. Our room was in a twin configuration, as I was staying with a friend. The room was set with two beautifully arranged beds that were super comfortable, complete with a mosquito net. We also had a lounge, study area, fridge, use of a kettle, pod coffee machine and a welcome chocolate fondue set.

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Rooms have European standard sockets and USB ports with plenty of outlets, as well as a portable speaker for you to listen to music in your room. The rooms also feature an electronic safe to store your personal items. Plenty of products are also available in the room for use such as hairdryers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, vanity kits, razors, nail files and more. In the bathroom, there’s a dual vanity, internal and outdoor shower, there’s a deep soak bathtub and high tech toilet, you are staying in absolute luxury. Rooms have air conditioning, ceiling vans and remote operated technologies.

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If you need more, you can always call their guest services. The hotel also has baby-sitting services, laundry services, and in house doctor.

The rooms are serviced twice each day and there’s also an evening clean and turn down service. You are certainly well looked after.

Sustainability focus

The hotel has a strong vision with a series of initiatives and a commitment to sustainability and supporting the local community. This is at the core of their vision and brand, and something that really aligns with our personal vision.

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Some of the sustainability features including the removal of plastics. There are no plastics on sale for purchase, including straws. They even have their own on site water bottling plant, where water is purified and mineralised for drinking. You will find numerous bottles of this in your room and if you purchase any on site, 50% of water sales go towards local projects. There are also some products available for sale, focusing on community crafts, and sales going towards local artists.

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In the rooms you will find all your products in refillable ceramic containers, recyclable coffee capsules and an encouragement to save water. Products such as sandal, hairdryer and washing bags are all made from linen rather than plastic and the site also uses compost for their organic waste.

Six Senses has a strong focus on the community and social equity, with a commitment to employing local Balinese staff, work experience students and internships. They aim to raise awareness amongst staff and guests of being environmentally responsible.

These aspects of the hotel are wonderful and it is great to see that a resort is doing what they can to reduce our carbon footprint.

Spa and Wellness

It is important to focus of your own wellness, to find a clear sense of purpose, relax and find where you’re at your best. Six Senses have a set of practitioners, offering a range of therapies to support improving your personal wellness. From personal training to yoga, and sleep experts, nutritionists and beauty therapists, they can craft an experience for you and you can certainly leave feeling your best.

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Wellness – they offer wellness screening to build you a personalised program for your stay. You can sign up to 3,5,7 night wellness programs that include yoga, meditation, massage, personalised food and exercise programs. Price wise, for a wellness screening, 3 spa treatments, 3 fitness sessions and nutritional guidance, it is approx. 9, 700 000 IRD pp. Their fitness centre is also top notch!

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Sleep – Six Senses offer personalised programs that begins with a sleep questionnaire and then your bedroom is prepared to ensure positive sleeping conditions, combined with a sleep tracker so that the experts can determine the best set of arrangements to enable you to have quality sleep.

Nutrition – Six Senses offer a nutritional plan that suits each person and when dining at the restaurants, the menu highlights appropriate offerings for those on each program, whether it be for a cleanse and detox to improve your digestive system and mind, or the trim and fit to aid toning the body, sleep and resilience to gain energy and rejuvenate.

Yoga – Six senses offers a range of yoga in an air-conditioned yoga pavilion. There’s daily complimentary meditation and intro to yoga (30 minutes each), pilates and Pranayama Yoga. If you’d prefer more intensive yoga for 45-60 minutes, such as Yogic intestinal cleanse, Yoga Nidra (lying down, or sleep with awareness) or a longer Traditional Yoga session, you can request this at an extra cost to yourself. Meditation, combined with a yoga session aims to help improve flexibility, relax, release stress and improve your overall wellbeing.

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Beauty– we all love a good massage and there’s certainly plenty on offer here. Whether it be detox, holistic, tension soother, deep tissue or simply a head or foot massage, there’ll be one that suits your needs. A few more specialised choices are also on the menu. There’s a number of facials including a special crystal healing face therapy, body scrubs and wraps. If you’re prone to getting sunburn, there’s a natural sunburn soother.

Weekly Activity Schedule

The room highlights their weekly activity schedule and during our visit, they offered daily complimentary meditation and intro to yoga (30 minutes each), pilates and Pranayama Yoga. For a small price, there were TRX suspension classes, Aerial Yoga, stretch and mobility.

For families, kids were able to participate in cooking, learning Balinese dance, making tie-dye shirts, basket painting, making soap, dreamcatcher making and more.

This changes weekly, so keep an eye out for the timetable in your room.

Dining at Six Senses

Six Senses have a number of options for your dining selection. In keeping with their sustainable vision, ingredients are mostly sourced from their own private garden or local producers if needed. Thus, menus change seasonally according to what is available.

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In terms of dining choices there is Rocka Restaurant which is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is primarily an Indonesian restaurant for dinner, showcasing the authentic flavours of the Indonesian Archipelego. It has amazing views and you can sit inside or out. Rocka also can host a ‘chef’s table’ on their small terrace, called ‘Rocka Edge’, where you can dine in a more intimate setting by the wine cellar and up close with the chef and special menu.

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Crudo is a fusion of South America and Japan, with chefs following the Robatayaki philosophy, simply grilling the ingredients and adding light flavour of sea salt or sauce to enhance the natural flavours. Cliff Bar is as it sounds, set at the cliff, offerings panoramic views of Uluwatu, its beaches and the incredible sunset. The menu here runs until 7pm, serving sushi, salads, burgers and sandwiches and oven baked pizzas. Plenty of cocktails on offer at each of the bars too. Cliff Bar will be even more perfect when their open air cinema comes to fruition.

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If you’re keen to stay in for the night, then Rocka serves breakfast from 6:30 -10am in the Villa, Ala carte daily food ( a smaller selection of meals from a few of the restaurants) for the rest of the day and all night 11pm-6am.

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You’ll also be pleased to note that free gelato and sorbet is on offer just outside Crudo restaurant and the boutique from 12 noon – 6pm. We are good authority on this being outstanding, with us trying guava, yoghurt and berries, coconut and you’ll be pleased to see salted caramel and rocky road making an appearance. Flavours change daily.

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If you’ve got kids, there’s kids menus at each restaurant and in the villas as well.

Really, you are not starved for choice.

Summary

We would like to comment that the Six Senses hotel is outstanding in every way. We absolutlely loved our stay. The staff are delightful and do everything they can to make your stay the most luxurious, comfortable and relaxing trip. The sunset is also incredible. You will never forget it! We hope to visit again sometime.

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Six Senses Uluwatu

https://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/uluwatu-bali/destination

Address: Jl. Goa Lempeh, Uluwatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Sudio Headphones – wireless, compact and tangle free! Perfect for a Christmas gift too!

We’ve been using the Sudio headphones for a while now, specifically the Bluetooth wireless model. They are light, stylish and come in a variety of colours. Swedish design and handmade details. Our first purchase was the white pair and we used these whilst travelling all across North and South America. They are super small and pack down into their case for each transporting and tangle free. They charge quickly and have 3.5 hours battery life. I often use these for the gym too, and having no wires means I can’t get caught up in the cord like I’ve been known to do.

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We’ve updated our pair with the new release of the Vasa Bla. Wow! We’ve tested them out recently and whilst we loved our first pair, these are even better. We have black/gold style but there’s a variety of colours to select from from white to green and even baby pink.

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They also have a new product – Nivå. As the name probably highlights, Sudio are of Swedish origin. These are noise cancelling and with a microphone and Siri voice control!

If you prefer larger models, they also sell regent headphones with designer caps, colours of which can be changed. Check out their website for further details.

Throughout the Christmas period you can get a free gift box with every purchase + free fast delivery + Use our code for 15% off: AROUNDTHECLOCK15

https://www.sudio.com/au/

Get Fit for Summer

Christmas overeating’s a bummer, here’s a guide to your new body for Summer!

It’s that time of year again. You’re ready to change your ways, turn over a new leaf, and actually conquer your resolutions — yeah, never mind all that.   We’ve got the quick fixes to get you back on track allowing you to enjoy a guilt free Christmas!  You’ve jumped on the scales and you’re wondering how that extra zero got there, the buttons are popping off your favorite jeans you’ve got new cheek folds in those photos that you’ve just been tagged in from the annual work party do!   Getting back on track for Summer is not all that daunting!

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Where to begin? LAB TESTS DIRECT is a new Aussie owned product and service enabling you to take tests from the comfort of your own home.   Your fitness and training plan is taken to a granule level allowing you to identify specific genes that can tell you your capacity / ability to build muscle, how fast you recover from repetitive strain, your range of motion and ligament strength and how your body processes different food.  If you’re a serial dieter or fitness freak and you seem to keep coming across the same roadblocks in your progress and can’t figure out why, maybe it’s time to take the test?

Simply send in your swab samples from the home testing kit you order and access a full DNA Profile analyzing genetic markers that equip you with the knowledge you need to optimize your training regimen or take the Food Sensitivity and Adrenal Fatigue Tests*:

https://www.labtestsdirect.com.au/product-category/sports-fitness/

Ease into it, why put your body through the shock?   Sudden changes to your physical activity could be traumatic to your body, if you’re going to go in hard (which you shouldn’t), we’ve found the perfect tool called WAVEBLADE that’s all about preventative injury and offers relief to your post training recovery.

It works on a simple premise:  RELEASE (tight muscles and fascia), MOVE (enhance functional mobility), IMPROVE (training, performance and recovery time) .  The Waveblade is more than a foam roller,  it’s a versatile sports massage tool that accurately targets all areas of the body. Engineered for Athletes, Essential for all, the Waveblade is designed to help people Stay Mobile and Stay Active, so they can keep doing what they love.

“The Waveblade has allowed by body to recover faster and perform at my best every time.  It has been like my personal therapist on my competitive journey” says world pro-Surfer, Soli Bailey.   “It allows me to pinpoint specific areas of tightness rather than just global treatment” says former Waratahs & Wallabies player, Bernard Foley.  It’s also been endorsed by AFL legend, Adam Goodes and part of the therapies used by South Sydney Rabbitoh’s physiotherapist.

Release.  Move.  Improve  Right here*:

https://waveblade.co/product/waveblade/

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Let the experts to the calorie, macro and nutrient counts while you get a handle on things:

The great thing about MUSCLE MEALS DIRECT is not just the current UFC roster of Australian fighters using their meals as they prepare for UFC229 being hosted in Adelaide, but their easy choice of prepared meal configurations with the right calorie and macro count for you to choose in three categories: Weight Loss, Muscle Gains or Training & Fitness.  From Rob “Bobby Knuckles” Whittaker to Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski, like them, the pre-set meals can be easily adjusted according to your needs to boost protein, lower carbohydrates or increase fat.    Food rations sorted.  Set meals for the week sorted.  Food intake inline with training regime sorted.  Results?  Inevitable!

Choose from a selection of pre-configured plan of 12, 18, 24 or 30 meals:

https://www.musclemealsdirect.com.au/order-meals/

Go through those office drawers, car glove boxes and secret cookie jars and turf out all the junk.   NUTRITIONISTS IN A BOX put together monthly snack packs of bars, powders, nuts, drinks and more with their rotating range of brands (Musashi, Match Maiden, Nexba, Clean treats Factory, RAW C, Slim secrets,  CLIF Bar, Bondi Protein, Justine’s among many others).  It’s curated by a team of nutritionists with your medically recommended daily intake in mind.  Often, people will forget about all those healthy vitamins and minerals the body needs as they excessively shift their protein, fat and carbohydrate levels in pursuit of their new figure.

Choose from their function focused boxes or surprise your tastebuds with their Mystery Box. Find out https://www.nutritionistinabox.com.au/plans-pricing

Easy Treats & Health Boosts:  Molecular technologies have greatly advanced our understanding of the complexity and diversity of  gut (health or) microbial communities in individuals. New bodies of research are rippling through the fitness industry on the topic.   Diet, particularly macronutrients, play a major role in shaping the composition of these complex populations. Though long term effects of a high protein diet or high fat diet are less well defined, we do know your gut health composition is altered when making such extreme changes to your food intake.  This can affect the way you absorb nutrients, digest fibre, affect post training recovery and the strength of your immune system.  This in turn can predispose or trigger genetic or environmental influenced health conditions.  SET THE BAR has created a range of healthy snacks based on such research.  Their EnerGi bars are designed to replenish the probiotics imbalance from excessive changes to diet, are low GI, protecting you from sudden spikes in your glucose and improving digestion, providing a low carb alternative and prevent diabetes among other benefits. 

Stock up on these healthy treats here:*

https://www.setthebar.co/collections/energi-bio-bars

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YUMMEE GLUTEN FREE is a locally produced product.   A range of Peanut Butters enhanced with scents of Tumeric, Cashew & Chai, Almond, Matcha, Cinnamon have been created as a gluten free alternative and substitute for butter and other saturated fats you might what to strip from your diet.  Peanuts are jam packed with heart health and infectious disease fighting antioxidants, cell protecting Vitamin E and bone building magnesium.  They can be easily stirred into your marinades, smoothies giving that extra health boost to your meal.

Get the Power box here:*

https://www.yummeeglutenfree.com/gift-boxes/power-pack-box

Coconut Oil is said to temporarily increase metabolism and so why not try switching over those cooking oils and trying this healthy one?  Designed by My Kitchen Rules alum, Luke Hines, he has also developed a coconut based keto tonic. 

CocoLife:  https://thecocolife.com.au/order/

Supplementing your training:   How does one begin to navigated the modern day complexity of whey, soy, egg, milk, pea and hemp proteins?  What is good for you?   We suggest why for muscle building, something without BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) for weight loss.  Vegetarian, vegan, diabetes, kidney disease and gastrointestinal conditions would warrant non-milk, no-added sugar, low-range protein content and lactose sugar / sweetener or gluten based proteins respectively would generally be the right choice.

SUPPLEMENT WAREHOUSE delivers nationally and offers a price match guarantee.

https://www.supplementwarehouse.com.au/all/protein-powders.html

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A new mindset, a new lifestyle:  It’s nothing new is it, we’ve heard it churned out a million different times in a billion different ways, but it’s all about adopting a new mindset and sticking to your guns. One innovation that reflects this pop culture awareness in cleaner eating, leaner eating and leading a more active lifestyle is LEGACY TRAINING TOURS.  Many of us will finally get to enjoy that long awaited end of year holiday, but for many the cost of that is a dent to your training routine…  What if we told you there was a way to get the rest and relaxation you deserved, enjoy the sites of a new city, eating out and meeting new people without having to sacrifice the progress you have made?  Yes – it is true.  The ultimate holiday package where you can do those things except your tour guides… wait for it… ARE PERSONAL TRAINERS!   Do everything you do together in your tour group exploring the city after a morning session.   From Muay Thai in Thailand, outdoor beach training on Venice Beach, to Las Vegas – welcome to the new way to holiday!

Book your trip here:

https://legacytrainingtours.com/collections/tours

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And there you have it, our picks for the jump start you need to work towards the best you!  Cheers to new beginnings!

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Readers of The Where to are offered 10% OFF on all products as indicated* when using the promo code: “SNAP10%OFF” or mentioning in the notes when finalising orders at each shopping cart. 

Joseph Lloyd, contributor 

Central Restaurante @ Lima, Peru

There’s a reason why it’s in top 50 restaurants in the world. Especially top 10. Because it is downright amazing, that’s why.

Our reason for visiting Lima was so that we could stay overnight so we wouldnt miss our next flight out of Peru. Upon our journey through South America, it was bought to our attention that Lima was not just a stop over, it was a Gastronomy standout in South America with numerous restaurants featuring amongst the best in the world.

Whilst on a surf adventure in Northern Peru, we met a Spanish gent who worked in the mining industry and lived in the trendy Lima suburb of Barranco and discussed the dining options in Lima. Central was one of his recommendations, it turned out to be ranked the sixth best restaurant in the world. We did not have a booking and the last seating was at 1:30 pm, which was the time we arrived.

The restaurant pretty much had a welcoming committee, who thankfully advised that we were not too late to dine somewhere ons ite. The site housed two restaurants and a bar. One being the Vergilio Martìnez Véliz restaurant Central, the other a restaurant Kjoller created by his wife Pía and the bar called Mayo. We were politely advised the lunch was fully booked and opted for a seat at the bar to look at the menus of both Kjolle and Mayo. The cocktails on the drink menu sounded pretty inviting and whilst milling over what to eat, I thankfully decided on the ceviche at the bar. Thankfully because the Bass cevice, with clam, citrus juice roasted white onion chips happened to be best cevice we consumed on the whole trip. The cocktails were also amazing.

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The ceviche had arrived, and the waiter had obviously heard our strong desire to eat at Central, and advised that there was a cancellation and there was the possibility of us dining in Central. He disappeared for a short moment and returned with news that the stars had aligned. There was a fair amount of luck involved, but that is how we walked into one of the worlds top restaurants without a booking. We highly appreciate the staff member going out of his way to help us!

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We have already established the cocktails were good, the espresso martini was one of the better versions we have sipped on. They also had some cool beer on the menu, can’t say that I’d ever thought there would be a home brew on the menu at a fine dining restaurant. Anyway we don’t mind a beer, a pale ale is usually the beer of choice. The Blur home brew pale ale, was ordered. It had plenty of hop and a unique spice, a great pale ale.

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The ethos of Central and chef Véliz is to display local ingredients, the biodiversity of Peru and put each of the microclimates on a plate. We have been fortunate enough to dine at a number of fine dining restaurants,  including a few in the top restaurants list. Central is by far the best fine dining meal we have enjoyed to date. The 12 course dining menu was flawless. NOTE – there is a 17 course menu, but we only had time for the 12. This place amazingly reflecting Peru on a plate, with some out there and unusual ingredients and creative plating.

We outline the dishes below for your perusal:

1 A great start, the main ingredient was clam, the dish looked like little orange pillow sitting on a rock with flowers on top. This morsel exploded with citrus and clam once bitten into.

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2 Contrasting textures of Catctus fruit, root veg crisps and the urchin roe with citrus mousse. The texture and flavour of the urchin roe and citrus mousse was sheer decadence.

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3 Yellow mushrooms dish had a flavour that remined me of toast with butter. The black mushrooms were served on a sweet blackened cruton with pickled mushshroom, sour cream and chives, this dish had perfect balance of flavours and a great contrast to the yellow mushroom dish.

 

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4 The duck leg tartar was nicely spiced served with a citric cream, the knife skills were very impressive, the duck carved into minuscule cubes. Using Jungle potato to make bread which was grey in colour and serve with a cacao butter with cacao and a butter made with 3 types of jungle tomatoe.


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5 A refreshing dish of Pepino melon scallops, a creamy citrus ceviche, with mild melon flavour that had a nashi pear like texture. A great palate cleanser.

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6 The oco tumbo, made with a legume cheese. This dish was a bean dish that was gnocchi like and server with tranparent crisps. The dish had a nice sweetness and earthy flavour.

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7 Another light dish of avocado and river prawns that were very juicy and melt in your mouth, served with toasted black and orange corn, the savoury prawn broth providing a big hit of flavours.

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8 The pirahna dish! This was the scariest and coolest plating we have come across. The crisp pirahna skin with juka, extravagantly plated atop of 5 pirahna heads. Eat or be eaten.

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9 The Octopus had a sweet flavour and was very tender and served with sea lettuce that was prepared like kale chips

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10 Slow cooked baby goat with olluco, which had a subtle caramel flavour, the goat amazingly tender. The goat flavour infused in to every item in the dish.

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11, Mountain rain, choc clay, coca leaf granada and powder, gel, thick chocolate paste. As you can imagine this dessert nicely following on from the goat with rich, bold flavours and texture.

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12 A palate cleanser that is a medicinal plant drink, containing algae from a high altitude lake. This was very refreshing and a great end to the meal.

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This degustation is a perfectly orchestrated dining affair. Each dish compliments the next. This meal was a food journey through Peru in one sitting. Highly recommended if you are intending on visiting Lima. Make sure you book well in advance.

Central Restaurante

Avenida Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco, Lima 15063

Incredible waterfalls @ Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Iguazu falls can be seen from the Brazilian side as well as the Argentinian side. We hear Brazil is good for the Panoramic shots, but Argentina for everything else. You can visit both if you desire. How can the falls be described: jaw-dropping, incredible, and unforgettable.

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The falls are 190m of cascading waterfalls, with power and depth. We had previously been to Niagara, but this is absolutely better.

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The falls are part of a broader national park, and UNESCO heritage site, which you pay 600 peso to enter (per day of visit). It is about 20 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes from the town of Puerto Iguazu.  You can organise a bus or taxi in, or tours. Guided tours are really not necessary if you read about the falls before your visit, and can read signs – you’ll be right. Within the park there’s a few trails to walk. Only one of them has stairs, so most of it is wheelchair and elderly friendly. You can also get a train to the climax of the falls, Devil’s throat.  The train leaves every 30 minutes and takes about 20 minutes travel (mainly because it is slow). From here you see the falls from above.

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You can do ecotourism tours and birdwatching or a guide if you simply want more information. Throughout the park there’s some fast food places and a restaurant to eat at, though we recommend having lunch at the Melia hotel within the park. It’s the same price and so much better.

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There’s plenty of flora and fauna to spot, we saw a crocodile, turtles, plenty of birds and coatis. Be careful the coatis can bite, just keep your food away and don’t annoy them and you’ll be fine.

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Make sure you pack your bug spray and hat, as well as a poncho or raincoat. It can get humid and sunny as well as rainy. It is a rainforest.

We visited overnight, arriving at 9:25 am. On this day we did one of trails and the boat ride. We could have easily fit everything else in too, but wanted to enjoy our hotel a bit too. On the following day we did another trail and the train trip and had lunch at the hotel as well as a masage at left at 6pm. It was completely do able to stay overnight only.

It’s 100% worth a visit.

What to do

Iguazu Jungle (boat trip)

We wanted to go on the boat ride because it takes you under the falls. We first began with a drive in a truck through the jungle (information provided in Spanish and English).

You then are given a waterproof bag and walk down some stairs (quite a lot) to the boat. Hop on the speedboat and it takes you on a trip through the rapids to both the Brazilian falls and Argentina Devils Throat falls.

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Getting up close makes for great photos. The driver then drives you straight into the falls. It is awesome fun and pretty crazy! We were warned you would get wet and thought we were prepared. We were covered full head to toe in a poncho. They give you a waterproof bag. Note you will get wet – very very wet! You may as well wear a bikini and thongs because you will get soaked right through. Totally worth every dollar you pay. Hold on tight to your phone and leave your cameras at home if they’re not waterproof.

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What else to do?

Some attractions we didn’t have time for but come thoroughly recommended include:

  • Guiro Oga – animal rehabilitation centre
  • Casa Ecologica de Botellas – house made of packaging
  • Museum tower
  • Mano Das Americas – point where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet

If you’re staying in Puerto Iguazu, some food options we read about include:

  • Feria – if you want some Brazilian food
  • Tatu Caretta – for Asado
  • La Misionera – empanadas
  • Maria Preta – dinner for steaks

Where to stay 

Most accomation options are in the town of Puerto Iguazu. You then need to get a bus, taxi or tour group into the falls. You then pay your 600 peso entry each time you enter the park (daily). The other option is the Melia hotel (old Sheraton) inside the park.

Melia Hotel 

We chose to stay here because it is the only hotel inside the park. This makes the trip to Iguazu easy because you pay your entrance fee and then you’re in the park. Elsewhere you pay everytime you want to enter.

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The lobby of the hotel has a view of the falls, as does your room if you choose a falls view. As the hotel is pricy, we selected the room facing the jungle. The hotel wasn’t very busy and they offered us to upgrade for $80 (most hotels just give you free upgrades in that instance). The hotel is then in walking distance of al the activities; train, bush walks and boat tour so it’s the perfect location.

The hotel has (and is) undergoing renovations. The lobby, dining hall and half the rooms have been completed. The renovations and styling really is beautiful, very country cottage/Hampton’s style and feels very stylish. The rooms look lovely too. The half of the hotel is being renovated but it isn’t disruptive at all.

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Big rooms and bathroom with a TV and desk. There’s a safe, mini bar and laundry service.

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The outdoor pool is being renovated but there is an indoor one (could be a bit warmer) and it would be good if they had a spa bath. There are massage, facial services at reasonable prices and they do a good massage. There’s also a huge bathroom with. Wet and dry Sauna and the area makes you feel so relaxed.

The gym is excellent – fully equipped with machines and weights, and a view of the falls.

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Staff here are lovely, particularly the bellboys who were so happy and eager to help.

The dining room was comfortable and the food here was excellent – for the same price as junk food in the park, you can get delicious fancy food here. Begins with a free bread basket with cheesy balls too. We ordered some lovely lemongrass prawns and grilled vegetables with hummus, as well as the amazing steak. Good wines and cocktails on the menu as well.

The buffet breakfast was outstanding, everything you can expect from a buffet and more. I was impressed to see oatmeal and egg whites for those in a health kick. There’s also Champagne to make brunch cocktails.

We loved this hotel and can’t fault it.

Overview

Iguazu is brilliant and should not be missed. Feel free to ask any questions you may have

 

Chicama – for a surfing holiday

If you’re heading to Chicama, the reason is for the surf. It has a famous point break and surfers flock from everywhere in search of the perfect wave. The town is an old remote fishing town with very little to do.

Walking around, you will see pueblo’s and brightly painted properties which is interesting artistically. There’s a few hostels and restaurants and a park but it feels like a pretty empty place.

 

The surfing 

 As you know Chicama is a long long sand bottom left point break, it is suitable for all levels. The sweep along the point is quite strong, you will want to have your paddle fitness at a decent level. This being said, it is not really a wave of consequence, except for the odd rock and the pier at the end, which you will be unlikely to get to. The vibe in the water is fun and relaxed, as there are plenty of waves for everyone, when there is swell, this break is a literal wave machine.

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There are a number of fun sections along the way, best not to fight the current and pick off waves down the point. The point itself has a super strong current that sorts the crowd out. 

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Next section is named las tittas which is distinctly recognised by a couple of fallen boulders, then there is the reef, with a steeper face for vertical turns and some barrel sections. Further toward the pier is another hollow fast section with some sharp rock, which we were told is a good wave on its day.

Chicama Boutique Hotel 

This area has a number of small hostels and the town has very little to do. So if you have a non surfing partner or simply want a bit of luxury during your non surfing hours, then this is the place for you. The hotel is a beautiful little beach apartment style rooms with a main dining area and central spaces like a gym, spa, sauna, jacuzzi and games room. The rooms have a huge bed, a balcony to watch the surf (be sure to select an ocean view), a big bathroom with fresh towels. They provide 2 water bottles each day and really good organic beauty products. The room was super comfortable.

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Surfboard room

The Board room is set up well to store a number of surfboards including short boards, long boards and stand up paddle boards. There are also padded saw horses in case you need to repair you surfboard. With Chicama being a cool water wave, a wetsuit is important and they have a drier on spin cycle to help your wetty dry quicker. 

 

Gear hire

From the resort you can hire wetsuits for USD$15 a day. You can also hire boards and the boards on stock are shaped by a local shaper and will suit the waves, they have some chunkier shortboards and longboards on offer.  They are perfect for the wave as it does not pack that much punch. The cost to hire a board is USD$30, which is a little pricey, but the boards are in great condition. 

There are plenty of places around town to hire boards, they are cheaper between S30 – S45. It tends to be a bit of a lucky dip and the boards are little banged up. We mainly hired our boards from The Surf House Hostal, the ladies running the joint were cool and they had an ok selection of boards.

Boat and boat crew 

There is always a solid current running at this surf break. The boat assist is a great option to help you maximise your wave count, especially when the waves are bigger. The crew running the boats are Del Mar and Steve who are champion guys. They will put you in the spot to catch plenty of waves and may even take you out to the cape. A chunky deep water wave, you’ll need some length on your board if it’s bigger.

Restaurant / Bar 

Breakfast is included in your stay, and it’s a great spread. Many types of bread, Jamon, queso, fruits, cereals and yoghurts. There’s also fresh juices. You are able to order one selection off the made to order menu – French toast, crepes or eggs. We had scrambled eggs daily and they were awesome. 

For lunch and dinner you can order off their ala carte menu. We found the prices to be rather expensive, but since there’s not a lot in town (expect the traditional almuzera lunches), you tend to just do it. The food is good; a great variety of salads, ceviche, fish and beef dishes as well as pastas and kids meals are available too. I think some smaller type snack food would be a good addition to crave the hunger bursts, like single empanadas or wraps or even sushi would be awesome. 

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We liked how they took care to make the dining room look fancier at dinner time. 

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The bar sells cocktails, juices and coffees. Cocktails are relatively pricy so be sure to buy them when it’s happy hour (6-10pm). The coffee is just a pod machine so unless you like that, just go for the free coffee.

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We appreciated that they had a hot water, tea and coffee station available for free all day, with regular supplies of biscuits to keep us full between meals. 

Water 

 Water isn’t drinkable so the hotel provides two small bottles each day in your room. You can also purchase a thermos bottle for $15 USD and have it refilled by their filter in an unlimited capacity.

It’s clear that they are keen about being environmental and sustainable, not only with this but with water usage, signage about not washing towels all the time and encouraging locals to collect rubbish in exchange for a coffee. 

Gym 

They have a basic gym downstairs with a set of weights, a few old step riders, 2 old bikes, press up and a boxing bag. They look like the got a set of cables as a recent acquisition which was great. There’s also some mats to use. It’s sufficient to get a routine in, but I would thoroughly recommend a new bike and a pair of boxing gloves to use on the boxing bag and maybe a good skipping rope. 

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Saunas/Jacuzzi

There’s a hot and wet sauna which has some nice aromatherapy scents in there, as well as an indoor and outdoor jacuzzi. These were great and the staff would turn up the temperature if you wanted it. 

Pool

There’s a large outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. It was a bit cold for us to make use of but it’s surrounded by deck chairs and in summer would be great. 

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Entertainment 

Upstairs there’s a pool table (with extraordinarily small ball pockets), table tennis, chess, fuse ball, a frog game ? 

Rooms don’t have tvs so there’s also a tv room with digital / cable tv. Plenty of magazines around the place too.

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In the bar they have a tv playing surf movies daily.

Music is a constant repeat of jazz at breakfast and Jack Johnson / Donovan Frankenteiter for the rest of the time. It makes for good ambience despite its repetition. 

You can also arrange massages in house – some of the best we’ve had on our trip.

Staff 

Manager Ralph does an excellent job, he showed us the full tour when we arrived. He speaks English which made our stay easier. He seemed to always be around when you needed him and he is a good addition to the staffing. 

Restaurant staff are excellent. They don’t speak English, but they understand our basic Spanish and are very efficient. Joi in the bar always remembered your name and regular order. They clear plates away quickly and always do a great job.  

The staff constantly seem to be working and the maintenance men are always busy, turning lights off if not in use, gardening, painting and cleaning so it constantly feels like they care about the place and want it to look it’s best.

Jorge, the security man, is a breath of fresh air. His outgoing personality made for a fun stay, every time we went out to surf. 

We loved our stay at Chicama and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good surf. 

 http://www.chicamaboutiquehotel.com/

 

Where to go in the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo, Peru

We were told this town in the sacred valley was interesting and worth a stop on the way back from Machu Picchu, so we opted to get the Peru Rail train there and stay a night.

When we hopped off the train from Machu Picchu, we were expecting to find a small
Archaeological town, which it is, but it is also a thriving little tourist village with cafes, bars and markets.

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The following day we secured a taxi back to Cusco, but you could book the train again the following day if you prefer. It’s much of a muchness in price. Since we had some other sites to visit on the return trip, this suited us.

Where to visit

El Albergue

Upon hopping off the train, we were met with a fabulous looking coffee shop, restaurant and hotel. A few questions later, and we found the had a farm and distillery too. The lovely Stephen showed us around. He was extremely enthusiastic about the brand and highly knowledgeable about everything on site.

Hotel

El Albergue has a hotel and although we didn’t stay here as it was out of our price range, we had a tour through and it’s a good high end option.

This is a property right at the train station with beautiful rustic styling, large rooms and it is built around a garden. With an attached vegetable farm and distillery (where they produce Cana Alta on site), it’s really a lovely place to stay.

Part of this complex is also a cafe: Cafe Mayu and a restaurant: El Albergue farm. You can also have a wonderful Pachamanca lunch for US$40 (we explain this in further detail later). This accomodation is considered to be expensive for the town, between $150-$200.

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They also support a school called Kuska on site to promote education amongst local children.

Mayu Torrefaccion and Cafe Mayu

The site has a workshop for roasters and we had the opportunity to see their roaster, beans and learn about their selection and roasting process. These beans are used at the Cafe and you can order your preferred coffee; an espresso, latte or Americano. The cafe also sells beers, wines, snacks and especially a delicious choc chip cookie!

Distillery Andina

The property also has a distillery on farm, producing Cana Alta. We had a tour to the distillery and learnt about their artisanal distilling methods and also tried a number of different Cana Alta Canazo flavours.

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Chuncho

This is not on site at El Albergue, but a sister store. It is located more in the main town of Olltaytambo, which is less than a km from the train station.

We were recommended to visit here for dinner since we were staying in the town, and we were encouraged with free drinks! Newly opened, their rustic styled restaurant is on the upstairs of the property overlooking the main square in Ollantaytambo. The atmosphere and ambience here is cool and casual and the staff made it a great experience. It is a bar and restaurant selling food based on native ingredients sourced from their farm and flavours from the area. The food offered changes based on the season. Drinks are inspired by the Cana Alta flavours.

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Food is designed to be shared, and using your hands to eat. We were recommended to share a banquet since it was generous portions. This was great advice since there was so much food!

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The banquet involved a number of tasty dishes to share, the food having a rustic style and plenty of flavour. The appetiser was some maize, salt and herbed sauces followed by an entree with potato crisps, cream cheese, potatoes and a tasty vegetable salad. Then came a mixture of nicely seasoned roasted meats including lamb and the local delicacy: cuy(guinea pig). With this was a few salads and quinoa pancakes. The banquet completed with a trio of Andean desserts such as a beetroot chocolate truffle, quinoa rice pudding and poached tomato. You will be so full by this point, you will need to channel your dessert stomach for this.

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The bartender/cocktail designer made some brilliant cocktails based around the Cana Alta including the “Quillabandida”: Cana Alta, pineapple syrup, passion fruit, Tahiti lime, garden mint and also their creative version of an old fashioned “Mosoq”: Cana Alta, house bitters, wild mushroom butters, brown sugar, aperitif and wild mushrooms.

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We were surprised to find a restaurant of this calibre in a small archaeological town and it made the visit even better.

Pachamanca lunch

The highlight of our El Albergue visit was the day on the farm where we experienced the traditional Pacahamanca lunch. It was $40 per person and and you learn about everything from farm to table.

The Patchamanca involved heating rocks using wood, once the rocks hit the right temperature, the marinated meats; lamb, chicken and pork are placed on top and with a hiss, the meat sizzles on contact with the rocks, then some potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans are added. This is then covered with a wet cloth and dirt to retain the heat, sealing the food with in a primitive oven. 15 minutes later the food is ready and the layers are removed to reveal a simple exquisite meal.

The meat served on a long table set nicely, in a serene setting, on the farm where many of the ingredients were source and with tranquil surrounds of the Andean snow covered mountains.

The meal delivered to the table in rustic earthenware, perfectly suited to the meal being served. The meal is served with a mixed salad of ingredients sourced literally meters away, simply not possible for it to be any fresher. Another tasty side of quinoa cheese and vegetables cooked in a sealed cast iron crockpot also provided a great dish. Then there were the inviting chunks of super tender meat served on the bone, very succulent with the skin charred and crisp. This cooking method instils a magnificent flavour to the meat. To wash this down, a jug of their refreshing house made beetroot cordial. It is also possible to order beer wine and spirits to accompany the meal.

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Where else to stay

Valle Inca

We chose this cheaper hostel style accomodation for our one night stay. Right in town, just off the main square. Check in was easy and a lovely staff work they. They were super eager to assist with anything. Room is a decent size, large bed with warm blankets, TV, charging ports and a cupboard. Hot shower and soap provided. We didn’t need it, but the room doesn’t have a heater. You need to climb stairs and they have a terrace where you can buy breakfast. It’s pretty quiet, though if street side, you hear the running water of the aqueducts. For $25 it’s a bargain.

Where to visit?

Archaeological site

You can enter this site at 130 peso as part of your 4 pass ticket if you purchased it with other sites in the sacred valley. However, it’s otherwise 70 peso entry. Your other option is to visit the free site, overlooking the city. It doesn’t give you as many ruins, but certainly a good option if you’re not spending as much time or money.

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Cerveceria Del Valle Segrado (Sacred Valley Brewery)

About 5 minutes out of Ollantaytambo, you can visit this brewery for a taste of some of their local brews. We tried a sampler of 5, but you can also try them all if you like. It was reasonably price and they also sell food. Unfortunately they were out of the pale ale when we visited.

We highly recommend a stopover to Ollantaytambo.