This is the one year anniversary of the first culinary-passport blog entry so there is a giveaway to celebrate and a return trip to the first country’s cuisine.  Details on the giveaway are at the end of the post.

To represent Peru this time I went for the Machu Pichu restaurant in Pineville, NC.  With that name they’re kind of in your face with Peru so I thought I’d see what they brought to the table, literally.

The restaurant is in a well established shopping center on S Polk St, named after the presidential Polks.  They weren’t that busy so when I wasn’t greeted and seated right away I hoped that wasn’t an omen of how the visit would go and fortunately it was not.  After I got seated the server brought over their equivalent to chips & salsa, popcorn or peanuts at some other places and that was choclo.

At first I thought it was peanuts (it was dim in there) but when I picked one out of the bowl it was lighter than a peanut would have been.  Turns out it is a giant kernel of Peruvian corn that was roasted and salted.  The outside was crunchy and chewy and the inside was starchy and you better have something to drink as the starch will dry your mouth out in a hurry.  It’s definitely not sweet corn but it turned out to be a nice snack to munch on while waiting for the main course.  For a drink I tried one from the chirimoya fruit which they make to order judging by the length of time it took to get to me.

I have to say I liked it quite a bit.  It was a little sweet and had a very subtle flavor that is hard to describe.  It was a bit like a melon and apple cross and very refreshing.  It paired well with my entrée, Tiridito en Tres Salsas.

I’m going to quote from the menu here so you understand what I was working with when I ordered. “Thinly sliced fish marinated lightly in lime & covered with Peruvian yellow pepper cream, rocoto peppers cream & a classic white cream; served with sweet potatoes & corn.”  All of that was very true but I was surprised as I went for the first bite and the dish was cold and oh so uncooked.  I got over the surprise and just went with it because the sauces were all very tasty.  They were each tangy so the sweet potato went nicely and chirimoya was a great contrast.  And as you can see from the photo they work to present a plate that’s appealing to the eye as well.  So in spite of the surprise that I got the Peruvian version of sashimi the meal was enjoyable and the portions were not too much.

I had a good chuckle when the young lady who was acting as hostess came over and asked me how I liked the dish and when I said I like it she said “Really?” in a surprised tone and made a little face, “I don’t like it.  I don’t like raw fish.”  I would definitely recommend this place and will try them again.  Having said that I have two caveats for anyone going.  First, they are moderately priced, not a cheap meal but not overly priced either.  Second they are very friendly but not fast so if you are in a hurry head to the BK just down the road but if you want a leisurely meal it’s a good place.  In fact even though I was clearly through and she had bussed the table the server didn’t bring the check until I caught her eye and asked for it.  It wasn’t because she forgot either because she checked on me to see if I needed more water or drink, she just wasn’t going to rush me out.  A win on the blogaversary.

Giveaway Contest

The rules are pretty simple. The contest is open from Jan 28th, 2017 through Feb 3rd, 2017 and open to anyone who can legally receive the prize.  I know, blah blah blah, “What can we win?”  The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card to a single winner (’cause I ain’t rich).  “Well how can I get in on this amazing prize” you ask?  In the spirit of bloggery and the pretext that the audiences should be expanded you will get an entry for each Like, Comment, Share, Retweet, etc. and I’ll use’s random number generator to find the winner.  Each type of action on a single social platform will get an entry so for example if you comment multiple times on FB it’s a single entry but a like on FB and Instagram and Twitter would be 3 entries.  Winner will be announced in next blog post.  Thanks for reading this far.

Sushi Saturday


It felt like a seafood weekend so a little sushi seemed to be in order.  Representing Japan for the Culinary-Passport was Red Bowl Asian Bistro in Rock Hill.  To be precise they are an Asian fusion restaurant and have multiple cuisines represented on the menu so they aren’t solely a Japanese place but they do have a pretty extensive sushi menu as well as hibachi options.  There are at least 4 Red Bowl restaurants in the area so their offering certainly provided a level of success.  I’m pointing this out because my experience wasn’t the kind a culinary empire is built on.

I was greeted by a nice lady who directed a young lady to seat me.  She didn’t sigh but it sure felt like I was interrupting her leaning time.  The waitress was Jenny on the spot and was at the table and ready to take my drink order before I even got the menu open.

I decided to start with a crispy chicken egg roll and for the entrée went with the lunch sushi which is a “pick two” from a limited selection of rolls or 3 pcs of chef’s choice nigiri plus either miso soup or salad.  I chose the Fantasy Roll, the nigiri and miso soup.  The egg roll arrived so fast my Kindle app had not even loaded yet.  It was warm and tasted pretty decent, nothing exceptional.

So next my sushi came and I had to mention I was supposed to get miso soup and was told “oh, it’s on the way”.  I guess the soup comes after the entrée here.  I waited the couple of minutes it took to get the miso and really shouldn’t have bothered.

The soup was mediocre and I didn’t bother finishing it.  The fantasy roll (crab, roe, spicy mayo) was good but I’ve had better from a Publix grocery store.  The nigiri was the high spot as the fish and shrimp looked good, had nice textures and tasted fresh.

Overall this was a disappointing experience and I couldn’t recommend them based on this visit.  Even my fortune cookie arrived broken and the fortune was something about how great my wife was.  Having said that, a number of years ago I went to the Red Bowl in Fort Mill and it was excellent so I might give them another try once the memory of this trip fades.

If you didn’t visit it last time check out Tell Me More – Japan




After a couple of weeks off due to holidays and the snowstorm that wasn’t, it was time to grab the passport and head out.  Destination this week was Taste of Europe in Matthews, NC that specializes in Polish cuisine.  The restaurant is kind of small and has a split seating area.  The front has 4 tables and there is another area in the back that I didn’t venture into but it wasn’t huge either so it doesn’t take long to fill up.  I don’t know about the back but the front was noisy even with so few tables so if you want a quiet meal keep driving but if you just want some good food park and head in.

I didn’t see anything on the menu I wouldn’t have tried but in the interest of my waistline and wallet I just went with the Polish Sampler that came with a cabbage roll, a piece of grilled kielbasa, and a few pierogis in your flavor choice.  My choice was sweet farmer’s cheese.

The cabbage roll was stuffed with seasoned meat and rice and had a nice mild tomato sauce over it and was quite tasty.  The polish sausage was pretty much the same you could find in any grocery store.  I’d never had sweet farmer’s cheese pierogis before but now that I have I would recommend them.  The farmer’s cheese is a soft white cheese as you can see from the second photo.  It has a consistency that reminded me of ricotta cheese, is really mild and they added a bit of sugar to sweeten it.  You can get the pierogis either boiled or pan fried.  I opted for boiled as that is the more traditional. Interestingly, according to the lady who was the lone server talking to another patron, most Americans prefer the fried.  That might just be a southern thing but I’m sure they would have been good fried too.

I was disappointed they didn’t have potato pancakes but that was probably for the best anyway since the sampler plate was enough to fill me up but not leave me stuffed.  Overall I’d rate this a great comfort food kind of meal that felt like authentic Polish.  I think I’ll be going back at some point to try the hunter’s stew and pork cutlet.

If you like cabbage rolls, Polish music or random trivia stop by the Tell Me More page.

A final note, the one year anniversary of the blog is coming up in a couple of weeks and there will be a giveaway to celebrate so stay tuned for details.