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fine dining

Portland: A Bold Food Guide

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Portland: A Bold Food Guide

Portland, Oregon is one of the best food cities in the US. It has one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita, and all that competition adds up to delicious food. I have been traveling there once or twice per year for many years now, and I am never disappointed.

In addition to the great restaurants, Portland has a unique food cart scene. Don't call them "food trucks," or they will know you are from out of town. Food carts are stationary trailers that are situated in pods of two to 25 all over town, including the suburbs. There are more than 600 of them. Eater keeps a list of "Must-Have Food Cart Dishes" and very successful carts can go on to become restaurants, or, in some cases, create a multi-cart empire.

With all of this great food to choose from, it's hard to know where to start. Here is my list, in order of preference. Note that everything on this list is worth a visit, even the ones at the bottom of the list because this is my best of Portland list. 

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Malabar in Lima, Peru: Food from the Amazon

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Malabar in Lima, Peru: Food from the Amazon

Lima is one of the best food cities in the world, and there's a delightful culinary surprise practically around every corner. But Malabar in Lima was the most exciting meal of my entire trip to Lima. Malabar has kept a position on the Latin America and World's Best Restaurants lists for many years now, and for good reason. Every menu item was full of ingredients and preparations I had never seen before. 

Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is the owner of Malabar. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners, then spent five years cooking in Italy before moving back to his native Lima. He is one of a handful of world-renowned chefs in Lima who is highlighting local ingredients and techniques in his restaurants. 

There's nothing more exciting for a foodie than to find something new and incredibly tasty. When I sat down to dinner and the server brought me the bread course, I knew I would have my mind blown during this meal. I was treated to three breads made from yucca (cassava) that were completely new to me, along with a dipping sauce made from fermented yucca juice that was black and funky with an umami kick that the Japanese would envy. I was in awe of it. It was one of those moments when I thought, "Why doesn't the whole world eat like this?" After the bread came the most flavorful hearts of palm dish I've ever had, and and then raw scallops with cucumbers, native herbs and fermented ají amarillo. This native yellow pepper is ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, but this is the only time I have had it fermented. Every dish contained a delicious surprise. I only wish I could eat like this every day! 

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