Sunday, April 24, 2011

Me With My Dear Daughter Anna In Sao Paulo

Posted by Picasa

Thirty Six Hours In Panama City


36 Hours in Panama City, Panama

Tomas Munita for The New York Times
From left: diners at La Rosa de los Vientos, a newly opened waterfront Italian restaurant; revelers at La Rana Dorada, an Irish-style pub; Sunday morning rollerblading along the Cinta Costera. More Photos »
AT the crossroads of two oceans and two continents, Panama City is a dynamic metropolis. That’s never been truer than it is today. Everywhere in this steamy, tropical town are foreign investors talking shop in upscale cafes, expat fortune-seekers toasting their fates in wine bars, cranes stalking the rooftops of a skyline that seems to grow before your eyes and — on the downside — traffic that puts even the most congested American city to shame. Central America’s capital of international finance is in the midst of a prolonged boomtown fever. Right now, there are more than 30 skyscrapers under construction — among them the Trump Ocean Club and The Panamera, which will be Latin America’s first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (both are set to open later this year). All of this building and hype has local residents calling Panama City the “Dubai of the Americas.” They’re only half-joking.
3 p.m.
See the Panama Canal from the vantage of the ships that use it. From the Balboa Yacht Club (Amador Causeway; 507-228-5196) take the “rapida” (fast boat) to Taboga Island, the day trip of choice for beach-obsessed Panamanians. The 30-minute, 12-mile trip ($6) departs from the Amador Causeway, a palm tree-lined peninsula built from canal construction debris, and makes its way through the maze of freighters lined up at the waterway’s mouth. Taboga, nicknamed the Island of Flowers, is famous for its varied flora, its tan beaches and its fish shacks. Splash in the warm Pacific before returning on the 4:30 p.m. slow boat, the Calypso Queen Ferry (Isla Naos, Amador Causeway; 507-314-1730; $6). (The U.S. dollar is the paper currency of Panama, though it is also referred to as the balboa.)
6 p.m.
On the cusp of revival for years, Casco Viejo, the city’s formerly dilapidated colonial quarter, has turned the corner. The area still buzzes with a creative energy (and the saws of construction crews). But, for good or for ill, the old town seems comfortable in its newly painted, nouveau riche skin. Watch the sun set with a glass of wine ($3.50) or a cold Panamanian cerveza ($2.50) while neighborhood kids play among the mangroves in front of La Rosa de los Vientos (Calle Octava, Casco Viejo; 507-211-2065), a two-month-old Italian restaurant with waterfront seating. After sunset, explore the avant-garde art scene at Diablo Rosso (Avenida A and Calle 7, Casco Viejo;, a gallery and cafe that sells retro-inspired clothes and accessories. Around the corner, Los del Patio (Calle 3, Casco Viejo; no phone; is a just-opened coffeehouse with installation art.
8:30 p.m.
Like a sexy, tropical Chez Panisse, Casco Viejo’s Manolo Caracol (Avenida Central and Calle 3, Casco Viejo; 507-228-4640; holds a mirror to the place it calls home, reflecting the country’s Caribbean-infused culinary traditions with a swaggering self-confidence. Stashed away on a side street across from a ruined church, the restaurant takes its name from a famous Spanish flamenco singer. But the real star here is the restaurant’s Spanish owner, Manuel Madueño, whose 10-course, $30 chef’s menu offers simple preparations of seasonal ingredients, like essence-of-seafood soup or a salad of bitter lettuce and green mango.
10 p.m.
Walk off dinner on the promenade, where lovers canoodle in the moonlight. Then kill an hour at DiVino Enoteca (Avenida A and Calle 4, Casco Viejo; 507-202-6867;, a three-month-old upscale wine bar with low light, Iberian ham hanging behind the counter and black-and-white movies playing silently on a far wall. Peruse the lounge’s art, food and design books, or schmooze with the crowd of urbane expats, artists and intellectuals.
11:30 p.m.
In keeping with its old Cuba vibe, Habana Panama (Calle Eloy Alfaro and Calle 12 Este, Casco Viejo; 507-212-0152; blends in with the crumbling edifices at the edge of Casco Viejo’s refurbished core. Inside this retro dance hall, there’s a plush red interior featuring photographs of Cuban musical greats and hours of steamy salsa dancing. With live bands, a modest cover (from $10) and a clientele of limited inhibitions, this is one of the hottest dance spots in town.
7 a.m.
Arrive early to avoid a wait at Lung Fung (Calle 62C Oeste, Los Ángeles, 507-260-4011), a busy dim sum palace that serves classic Cantonese small plates (shrimp shumai, pork buns, fish balls and chicken feet; starting at $2.10). The aesthetic is familiar — red lanterns, painted dragons and food carts — but the restaurant’s multinational clientele of Chinese immigrants, Panamanian businessmen, American expatriates and European tourists makes for great people-watching.
10 a.m.
Set up in the home of the French designer Hélène Breebaart, a former Christian Diorrepresentative who has lived in Panama for more than 40 years, Breebaart Boutique (Calle Abel Bravo, Casa No. 5; Obarrio; 507-264-5937) produces custom clothing that incorporates the elaborate textile art of the country’s indigenous Kuna people with contemporary design. Embroidered napkins start at $30 a set; clothing prices vary, and the production time takes about a week.
1 p.m.
Get an early glimpse of the new Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo (Amador Causeway;, which has recently completed the first phase of its multiyear construction. Though the interior, which will have exhibitions on natural history and science, won’t be done until 2012 or later, the museum began offering free tours (Spanish only) in January. Reservations should be made at least two weeks ahead.
3 p.m.
The Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio’s ceviche restaurant La Mar (El Cangrejo; 507-209-3323; opened with much ado in 2009, serving an eclectic selection of citrus-marinated fish, from the classic ($7) to the Asian-inspired perú tai ($9). For Panamanian-style ceviche, walk the newly constructed Cinta Costera — a boardwalk park that follows the waterfront — to the Fish Market (Panamerican Highway and Calle 15 Este), where paper cups of shrimp, octopus, corvina or black conch ceviche start at $1. Or buy fresh fish or lobster and head upstairs to the restaurant, which will cook your catch for a modest fee ($6.50 to $8.50).
7 p.m.
La Posta (Calle Uruguay and Calle 49; 507-269-1076; is the flagship restaurant in the David Henesy-Carolina Rodriguez mini-empire. The place has an unpretentious air — fans whirring overhead, joshing guayabera-wearing servers — that belies its popularity. The fare is Caribbean-Italian, and reservations are a must on weekend nights. Try the garlicky camarones en hamaca (shrimp in a hammock, $8.50), house-made pastas (from $12.50) or jumbo prawns with passion fruit ($19.50).
9 p.m.
Have an after-dinner beer at La Rana Dorada (Via Argentina and Calle Arturo Motta, El Cangrejo; 507-269-2989), a six-month-old Irish pub-style bar named for Panama’s most famous endangered species, the golden frog. Then move to the poolside lounge on the roof of the Manrey Hotel (Calle Uruguay and Avenida 5a Sur, Bella Vista; 507-203-0000;, where D.J.’s play on weekends.
10 a.m.
For a leisurely meal, Las Clementinas (Avenida B and Calle 11, Casco Viejo; 507-228-7613; has a prix fixe brunch ($24 adult, $12 child) that includes a selection of omelets, empanadas, risottos and parfaits. There are English-language magazines to skim and a collection of New York-centric sketches and memorabilia on the bathroom walls.
Succumb to the weekend’s lazy pace with a stroll through Parque Recreativo Omar (Avenida Belisario Porras), the recently renovated 140-acre expanse of green at the city’s center. Like New York’s Central Park, but with palm trees, Omar is a respite from urban life; it’s home to an impressive sculpture garden, the National Library and a prominent statue of the Virgin Mary. There are also soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts and a flower-lined swimming pool. Pick up a fresh fruit juice near the park’s entrance. Then savor your tropical elixir beneath a towering tree on a picnic-perfect lawn.
With three individually designed rooms, the Canal House Hotel (Calle 5A and Avenida A; 507-228-1907; holds court in a colonial mansion on a quiet corner in Casco Viejo. From $200.
On a hopping night-life strip in Bella Vista, the new 36-room Manrey Hotel (Calle Uruguay and Avenida 5a Sur; 507-203-0000; has a spare, modern design, Bvlgari bath products and iPod docking stations. From $200.

Peruvian Chefs Add Flavor To Quito, Ecuador


Peruvian Chefs Add Flavor to Quito, Ecuador

Karla Gachet for The New York Times
Moises Velasquez, the executive chef, talks to customers at Segundo Muelle.
IN 2003, when Santiago Jarrin opened Theatrum, a restaurant on the second floor of the newly refurbished national theater in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, he hoped to create a dining destination in the city’s Old Town — a long troubled neighborhood then on the verge of a tourist revival.
Karla Gachet for The New York Times
Ovidio Gabela, owner of El Dorado.
Karla Gachet for The New York Times
Rafael Perez cuts into a giant oyster at Zazu restaurant.
Seeking a world-class chef, he decided to look outside Ecuador, and recruited Julio Ostolaza, a young graduate of the Cordon Bleu outpost in Lima. “I’d traveled a lot around South America,” Mr. Jarrin said. “I’d always been particularly impressed by the food in Peru.” Under Mr. Ostolaza, Theatrum (Teatro Nacional Sucre, Calle Manabi between Guayaquil and Flores; 593-2-257-011;; dinner for two, about $60) quickly became the hot ticket in town, serving a Latin-tinged Mediterranean menu amid sweeping red curtains and antique chandeliers. (All prices are without drinks or tip; the country officially adopted the U.S. dollar in 2000.)
While Ecuadorean cuisine has not evolved much beyond its peasant roots — simple meat and potatoes still anchor most meals in the highlands around Quito — high-end food culture is more developed across the Andean border in Peru, perhaps thanks to that country’s diverse population, with particularly strong influences from Europe and Asia. In recent years, in fact, Peruvian chefs have become a significant export commodity throughout South America — the country’s cooking schools are among the continent’s most acclaimed — trafficking in a melting pot mix of European, Asian and indigenous flavors.
Mr. Ostolaza may have been a trailblazer, but many have followed his lead. In the last two years alone, four top-flight Quito restaurants have opened with chefs imported from Lima. The result has been the creation, for the first time, of a serious fine-dining scene, offering one more good reason to linger in the city before taking off on that Galápagos tour.
Unlike Theatrum, other restaurants attract far more locals than tourists, in particular the city’s well-traveled elite. At lunch the dining rooms become real power canteens, drawing an impeccably clad business and government crowd. At restaurants around the city, a Peruvian pedigree bestows a certain snob appeal, perhaps as French chefs once did in New York.
While the new restaurants all share a similarly upscale sensibility, their often sprawling menus differ widely, reflecting the diversity of influences on Peruvian cooking. The food atLa Gloria (Calle Valladolid N24-519 at Francisco Salazar; 593-2-252-7855;; dinner for two, about $60), Mr. Jarrin’s latest project, is heavily rooted inSpain, where the restaurateur lived during his youth. The restaurant, which became an overnight hot spot when it opened last June in a residential section of town, is an offshoot of a landmark by the same name in Lima, a mainstay of the fine-dining scene there for the last 16 years. Last year, through a chance encounter with the original’s owner, Oscar Velarde, Mr. Jarrin wound up bringing the concept back home.
“He invited us to stay for lunch,” he said over pisco sours in the dark bar at the Quito restaurant. “Seven bottles of wine later we were partners.” The new outpost features the same classic cooking as the original — remarkably tender suckling pig cooked in duck fat and aioli-drenched scallop fideuà (a noodle-based version of paella) are among the best-selling dishes — served in a modern space with poured concrete floors and abstract art on the walls.
The setting is just as sleek at the latest outlet of Segundo Muelle, the most traditional of the new crop. This popular cevicheria, which has a flagship in Lima, opened a second outpost last year (Quicentro Shopping mall, Avenida Naciones Unidas at 6 de Dicembre; 593-2-224-8796;; dinner for two, about $50), in Quito, squeezed into a two-level space in an upmarket shopping mall. Part of a growing international chain, the new branch, which features white walls, blond wood and marble-topped bars, offers an endless variety of raw and citrus-cured seafood dishes, including chili-kissed strips of corvina and sliced octopus tentacles in black olive sauce, prepared by a young chef who worked for 10 years at the Lima restaurant.
The same chic design sensibility seems to dominate at all of the new Peruvian-influenced spots: one modern white room after another with overhead spotlights and Latin Americanwines in showcase glass cellars. Zazu (Mariano Aguilera 331 at la Pradera; 593-2-254-3559;; dinner for two, about $60), an early adopter that kicked off the trend back in 2005, is tucked into a luxury ranch house that wouldn’t seem out of place on the Malibu coast. Despite that, a seven-course tasting menu is only $35; dishes on a recent version included sashimi-style tuna encrusted in smoked chili powder and raw sole tiradito in a Parmesan-cream sauce.
To distinguish himself from the newcomers, the restaurant’s new Peruvian chef Rafael Perez (who recently replaced another one of his countrymen in the kitchen) has broadened the menu, adding international touches and the latest in modernist cooking techniques. “So many Peruvian spots have opened in the last few years,” said Jan Niedrau, the restaurant’s young German owner. “We’re a little more open-minded to other influences now.”
Last year Mr. Niedrau asked the restaurant’s sous-chef, Hugo Tsuda, a Peruvian of Japanese descent, to shift gears even further, assigning him a new pan-Asian concept. That restaurant, Zao (Avenida Eloy Alfaro N10-16 at San Salvador; 593-2-252-3496;; dinner for two, about $40), a bald knockoff of the wildly successful Tao inLas Vegas down to its oversize Buddha, potent party cocktails and dance music D.J., serves a classic mix of Chinese-, Japanese- and Thai-inspired dishes.
With the high-end restaurant scene so crowded in Quito, simply hiring a Peruvian chef may no longer be enough to secure the right clientele. Location is at least part of the draw at El Dorado (Federicao Paez E14-200 at Gualguiltagua; 593-2-333-1486; dinner for two, about $90), which opened last spring high on a slope overlooking the city. The restaurant, run by two more Cordon Bleu Peru graduates, features some of the most ambitious — and pricey — cooking in town, with a focus on luxury ingredients few other restaurants carry. Its wagyu steak from Australia, for example, is cooked sous-vide, then finished off with a sear on the flattop. Ovidio Gabela, the restaurant’s 25-year-old owner and chef, was the first in the city to fully embrace the vacuum-bag cooking so popular among colleagues in the United States and Europe.
The encroachment of so many Peruvian chefs has left aspiring food pros from Ecuador struggling to level the playing field. The culinary school in the Universidad San Francisco de Quito is leading the charge, partly through its own white tablecloth restaurant, which serves upmarket riffs on Ecuadorean classics.
“In Peru they’ve made peasant food into gourmet food,” said Mauricio Cepeda, dean of the program. “We’re trying to do that too.”
Mr. Cepeda and his colleagues are also hoping to produce a homegrown celebrity chef to rival the superstar Gastón Acurio, who, with more than 30 restaurants and some two dozen cookbooks, is the de facto ambassador for Peruvian cuisine.
In 2005 Mr. Acurio opened his first outpost in Quito, a branch of his Astrid y Gastónmini-chain (Coruña N32-302 at Gonzalez Suarez; 593-2-233-3061;; dinner for two, about $80). Despite his renown, however, the restaurant initially floundered. Last year he took on new local partners, Rosa Laureiro and Francisco Pinto, a wealthy couple who also own the city’s TGIF and Pizza Hut franchises; they tweaked the décor and brought in a new chef. The updated menu still features Acurio originals like Peking-duck-style guinea pig with savory pancakes.
The new partners are such huge fans of Mr. Acurio they’re already planning to bring in two more of his restaurants, including a branch of La Mar, the cevicheria he also plans to open in New York toward the end of this summer.
“Peru has the most gourmet cuisine,” Ms. Laureiro said. “It ought to be exported all over the world.”

Bogota Comes Back To Life!


A Party Blooms in Bogotá

The Colombian folk singer Toto la Momposina performs at La Dayliciosa.

EARLY one evening in Bogotá, Colombia, late last year, a tall brunette in her mid-20s, with a Joan Jett shag and in heels, walked with her girlfriends along the desolate streets of La Candelaria, the city’s historic neighborhood. A decade ago, when this country was the kidnapping capital of the world, strolling anywhere after dark would have been reckless.
But these young women walked with ease, pausing to share text messages and giggle as they made their way to La Dayliciosa, part dance party, part rock show and part art opening. The event, which began in 2007 as a convergence of disparate D.J. nights, has lately emerged as the pre-eminent social event of this once-prohibitively perilous city’s burgeoning hipster culture.
In some ways, it was borne of necessity. In 2008, the right to revelry was threatened when city officials reinstated the “ley zanahoria” (which translates literally as “carrot law,” as in carrots are good for you and so is this edict) mandating that bars close by 3 a.m. In a city where a proper night ends when the sun rises, this restriction presented a real problem. Several friends involved in the electronic music scene as D.J.’s or enthusiasts — including the current organizers of Dayliciosa, Juan Sudarsky, Eduardo Tobal, Allan Kassin, Daniel Simhon and Richard Leigh — responded with a solution.
“We had the idea to start the party early, offering a barbecue-type atmosphere and having a live act earlier on,” Mr. Sudarsky said of Dayliciosa, which recurs every few months at a club called Casa Siam. “This was very profitable, since people arrived earlier and stayed longer.”
Dayliciosa’s early start allows for a marathon blur of day-into-night hedonism. But the debauchery doesn’t feel frenzied or uptight; there’s a serene elegance to it. You enter Dayliciosa through a courtyard. Young men in blazers with artfully unwashed hair lean casually against large pillars. Their prospective dates, in heeled, slouchy boots and complex eye makeup, pose for Catalina Hernandez, a local artist using the global reach of social media to compile 100 million individual portraits.
As Colombia’s situation has stabilized, the party scene has flourished, and Dayliciosa is not without competition. The early start time sets them apart, but there’s another distinction.
“The emphasis on cultural heritage, as well as throwing a great party, has become the differential factor that separates us from other events,” Mr. Sudarsky said. Dayliciosa’s organizers act as curators, selecting mostly native bands and artists they feel should be celebrated locally and publicized internationally.
Headlining a party in November was Petrona Martínez, a 71-year-old Grammy-nominated singer from the Caribbean coast who delivers percussion-driven chants while swaying, trance-like, in a tiered floral dress and head wrap. Her opener, a reggae- and ska-influenced hip-hop group called Voodoo Souljahs, is fronted by a young woman in tribal makeup and is as progressive as Ms. Martínez is traditional. And yet they complement each other: ingénue and veteran, antique and modern, old Colombia and new Colombia.
The party founders’ boundless enthusiasm for their culture is fueled in part by the fact that as children, the danger posed by kidnappers prevented them from exploring it. “I went straight home from school for 10 years,” said Mr. Sudarsky, who was born in 1980. “Kidnapping was fairly common and particularly aimed toward affluent Jews, or anyone with money. This meant we had very limited options when it came to going out, or doing much of anything in the city.”
Part of what’s striking about the patriotism of Dayliciosa is that it’s delivered by a group of upper-class intellectuals who could live elsewhere. Most of them attended an upscale private school called Colegio Nueva Granada, where they learned to speak perfect English and put those skills to use soaking up as much American pop culture as possible. There’s not a “South Park” episode the party organizers can’t quote from, and they talk about underground bands with a level of intensity that rivals that of your average Green Point music blogger. The Dayliciosa team could easily be living in Brooklyn, working versions of the same day jobs they have in Bogotá — Web designer (Mr. Tobal), Internet ad salesman (Mr. Leigh), event producer (Mr. Kassin). But they want to be here because now there’s reason to stay.
While rebel groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, still operate in parts of Colombia, the country’s long conflict has ebbed over the last decade, with kidnappings and homicides down sharply from the 1990s. Still, armed security guards (many of them ex-paramilitaries) patrol La Candelaria, and it’s wise to take cabs, even if you’re traveling only a few blocks. The difference between Colombia in 2001 and Colombia in 2011 is that it’s now possible, employing appropriate caution, to travel around this geographically arresting, culturally enthralling country without fear.
BY the time that Dayliciosa’s founders graduated from college, Bogotá had been revamped. “Now I can go outside,” Mr. Sudarsky said wryly. “No, there’s been a radical shift in recent years, and as a result, the going-out culture has evolved. Security has become a second-tier problem in almost all cases, and people are no longer afraid to explore their city, which has led to more options and variety in the party/bar scene. There are also many more tourists. Eight years ago they were a rarity; now we cater specifically to them.”
It’s easy to be a tourist at Dayliciosa. Almost everybody speaks a little English — though that doesn’t matter much because no one is here to talk. Out back, near the stage, a broad, ivy-covered staircase leads to one of the only rooms with an actual door, marked V.I.P. Inside is an end-table-size block of ice shaped like a woman’s torso, with tracks carved into it like a dirty luge course. (Your friend pours a shot down the top, and when it reaches your open mouth at the bottom, the alcohol is perfectly chilled.) In New York, the members-only room with the pornographic ice sculpture would be crammed with scenesters, sizing each other up. Not here. Everyone is downstairs dancing, their shapes like shadow puppets playing against the iridescent green of backlit trees.
There is talk of expanding Dayliciosa in various ways, perhaps by opening the lineup to international acts, or trying out a festival format. But for now, the organizers are sticking with what works. “Keeping it small, bringing 1,000 people together and having something to say to them, having Petrona Martínez perform for them,” Mr. Kassin muses, “that’s what we love, that’s what makes this the best party in the world.”