Whether you’re getting ready for the big game or just hanging, this week is full of fun and interesting foodie activities. Enjoy!

More than Q barbecueThe Super Bowl. Why not bring in barbecue for the game? See our post, Super Bowl BBQ, listing local BBQ places. Need some beer to go with the barbecue? See our food guide, the Bucks County Beer Map, for a listing all the Bucks County stores selling a great selection of beer.

Here’s an option that will please fans and sport-indifferent parties alike. This Saturday, January 31 from 1 pm to 5:30 pm, the Chaddsford Winery Tasting Room at Peddler’s Village is hosting a Super Bowl Game Day Wine & Cheese event. It’s not actually on the Big Day, but who’s splitting hairs? If you go, you’ll get to taste their wines, hard ciders, and delicious cheesy snacks that may give you some inspiration for game day.

Get some laughs. How about some wine paired with comedy? Old York Cellars is hosting a Wine & Comedy Night on Saturday, January 31 starting at 7:30 pm. The night will be hosted by award-winning comedian Helene Angley; featuring guest comedians John Zeigler, Johnny Watson and Marc Kaye. Guests can bring their own food and purchase wine on-site by the glass or the bottle.

Fermented Foods

Kitchen D.I.Y. There are two classes this weekend that will teach you some old school kitchen skills, giving you the potential to forego buying some major pantry items in favor of making them yourself. Start with the Pickling and Fermentation Class at Snipes Farm and Education Center on Saturday, January 31 from 10 am to 12 pm. Brad Berry, farmer and home fermenter, will lead participants through making their own sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickled vegetables, using inspiration from the book Wild Fermentation. Health benefits and food history of the techniques will be included.

Or if you love the feeling a homemade soup gives you on a cold winter day, go to Blue Moon Acres in Penningtion for their Soup’s On! Stocks and Broth Workshop, also on Saturday, January 31 from 10 am to 2 pm. This hands-on workshop, led by Farm to Jars founder Marian Bolum will teach you the basics of bone broth, how to create delicious vegetarian and/or meat stocks, and how to preserve your stocks. You’ll also get to enjoy a farm fresh lunch and take home a jar of soup at the end of the workshop. [Read more about Marian and Farm to Jars in our post here].

Champagne & ChocolateLearn about the finer foods in life. On Tuesday, February 3, Jim Hamilton’s Atelier Cooking Class series continues with a Valentine’s Day themed class, Champagne & Chocolate, at 6:30 pm. Jim Hamilton of Hamilton’s Grill Room invites participants to his studio to learn how to create truly special menus. This one includes fresh shucked oysters three ways, roast quail with mole sauce, and a dessert of Laurie’s Chocolates and black cherry balsamic chocolate truffles. Each course is paired with a different champagne or champagne cocktail. This would be a great early Valentine’s activity for hands-on couples, or crafty partners can hone their skills in preparation for the actual holiday on February 14.

Last but not least, Brick Farm Market in Hopewell is hosting a series of Cheese Classes. This Tuesday, February 3, the topic is Winter Cheeses & Raclette. Michael Lemmerling, Brick Farm Market’s own Chevalier du Taste Fromage, will lead you through 5 cheeses and 1 charcuterie while discussing the best food and wine pairings from around the world.  Guests are welcome to bring their own wine or beer to accompany the cheese and Michel will post his recommended pairing for the event ahead of time.

Collard greensHere’s what you’ll find at area farmers’ markets:  Apples, beets, butternut squash, carrots, celeriac (celery root), cheese pumpkins, collard greens, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, micro-greens, mushrooms, napa cabbage, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, salad greens, strawberries (frozen), sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tatsoi, turnips, watermelon radishes, and wheatgrass.

Most markets will also have eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, cider and juice, sauces locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

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For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County, or click the “continue reading” link below.

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It was one of those dope slap moments. “Why did we wait so long to come here?” We were sitting in Quinoa, the Peruvian and Mexican restaurant on the north end of Doylestown, which opened in December 2013. You’re probably thinking, “You are just getting there?” I have no good excuse. But that’s all in the past now.

Quinoa interiorWhen I think about Quinoa, named after the highly nutritious grain indigenous to Peru, I think—no, I feel—warmth. Certainly from the food which bursts with golds and yellows, greens, and reds, borrowing its color and spiciness from a variety of Peruvian peppers, unique vegetables and fruits.

Warmth too from the decor in the modest restaurant. Golds, ochres, deep, earthy reds and wood create a warm dining atmosphere. The paintings of street scenes in Peru and the Peruvian artifacts scattered around the dining room remind me that I am not in the average Mexican restaurant, but someplace a little different.

And maybe most importantly, I feel the warmth of the people, from the server to each of the family members working at the restaurant, always ready with a smile and a greeting. Jack Egoavil, the son of Carmen and Fausto Egoavil, who own Quinoa and its sister restaurant in Lambertville, El Tule, is a good example. Full of energy and passion, and always with a quick smile, Jack can warm the room all by himself.

appetizer sampler at QuinoaI’m very familiar with Mexican food, but as we skim the menu—which is about 60% Peruvian dishes and 40% Mexican—I’m feeling a bit lost. No matter. Jack recommends we start with the appetizer sampler. Four completely new dishes to my palate but all interesting and tasty. “These are all things you would find being sold by street vendors in Peru,” explains Jack, “It’s all very traditional.”

The sampler contrasts flavors, colors, textures, and even shapes, but they all “complement each other,” says Jack. The Papas Rellenas is a ball of mashed potatoes, stuffed with meat and olives, quickly deep-fried, and served with red onions, avocado salad, and a bright orange salsa criolla. Causa Limena_photo by L. GoldmanThe Causa Limena is a round potato cake, stacked with chicken salad, vegetables, yellow peppers, and “magical” lemon. Yuquitas Fritas, long, thick fries made from the yucca plant, are served with an Andean Huncaina Cream sauce, made from milk, cheese, and yellow peppers. The Palta a La Reina features a healthy serving of chicken salad filled with peas and other vegetables sitting on half of an avocado, with a radicchio leaf forming a kind of canopy over the dish. (Note: these dishes are all available in vegetarian versions.)

The overwhelming impression is of freshness. When I cut my fork into the avocado it moved softly—but not too softly—into the green flesh and in my mouth it simply melted. Here was a perfectly ripe avocado. Not unripe, not too ripe. Just in that small window in-between that so many restaurants seem to miss—or don’t care about.

Tacu Tacu en Cebichado

For entrées, Jack recommends his two favorite dishes. I love ceviche, Peru’s national dish. It is made from fish, typically Corvina (a type of grouper), which is marinated in lime juice and yellow pepper paste. The fish is “cooked” by the acidity of the marinade. The resulting liquid, a marriage of the fish’s natural juices, the lime and the peppers, is called Leche de Tigre, or Tiger’s Milk, in Peruviancuisine. It is spicy and a bright, yellow color. In my entrée, Tacu Tacu en Cebichado, the ceviche was laid on top of a patty (tacu tacu) made from rice and Peruvian yellow canary beans. The serving was so generous that I took half home for lunch the next day.

I was curious as to where the Egoavils were getting their Corvina, not a common fish in these parts. “We make a trip to a fish market in Newark every other day,” explains Jack. What do you import from Peru, I ask, as opposed to getting here? All of their peppers, Peruvian corn and dried potatoes, and the yellow canary beans you’ll find in the tacu tacu, all come from Peru.

Skirt Steak Tacu Tacu

My dining partner (husband, Mark) has an aversion to most things fish. However, there was plenty to choose from to sate his love of meat. Jack recommended another of his favorites, the Skirt Steak Tacu Tacu en Rajas Poblanas. Tender—due to being marinated in Aji Panca sauce—nicely seasoned to bring out the flavor of the meat, and perfectly cooked (Mark ordered it rare, and it came rare). It was also topped with poblano peppers and served with a pico de gallo, and the tacu tacu patty, which actually tasted different when paired with the meat instead of the ceviche.

By the end of the meal, I was intrigued. Peruvian food was not just another take on Mexican food. It was different and I wanted to learn why.

Aji Amarillo peppers_Quinoa_photo by L. GoldmanFirst it is helpful to understand Peru’s geography and cultural history. There are three main regions in Peru: the coastal area (costa), the Andes Mountains (sierra), and the jungle forest (selva). Each has been influenced by their wide variety of indigenous vegetables and fruits—like potatoes, tubers, corn, peppers, tomatoes and beans—and the culinary traditions of its varied immigrants. Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, African, Italian, French, and British have all left their stamp on Peruvian cuisine, making it one of the most diverse in the world.

Chef's Choice_Quinoa_photo credit L Goldman

“It’s the different clashes of culture that make Peruvian cuisine so special,” says Jack. So don’t be surprised when you see a dish called Ceviche Chifa made with typical Chinese ingredients like wontons and black sesame seeds. Chinese immigrants came to Peru hundreds of years ago and their culinary influence can be seen throughout Peruvian neighborhoods, all of which have a Chifa restaurant.

Quinoa’s menu includes dishes from all those regions, whether it’s ceviche from the coast, or Papas Rellenas, from the Andes. “It is like home cooking,” explains Jack. He uses the term “criollo” to describe the style of food. “It’s traditional food, down-to-earth, the kind of food you will find being sold by street vendors all over Peru, or in someone’s home.” It also has to be fresh, Jack emphasizes, and is very versatile, enabling Quinoa to offer many dishes in a vegetarian/vegan or gluten-free version.

Carmen Egoavil & Said AnguianoAt the heart of this menu—and El Tule’s as well—is family. Carmen Egoavil, mother of the clan, may be diminutive in size, with a quick smile and warm, dark eyes, but you can see with one look that she can hold her own and then some. Although a self-taught cook, she recently spent six months in Peru taking formal cooking classes. She innovates and expands the menu constantly, but keeps it all authentic, says Jack.

Son-in-law, Said Anguiano, is the restaurants’ Mexican chef. Sylvia, the youngest of the four siblings, is just returning from five months of Cordon Bleu cooking classes in Peru, and Jack is leaving soon to do the same. The other two sisters, Michelle and Adele, help run both restaurants. “Everyone has an important role to play,” says Jack.

I sat with Jack in the restaurant one afternoon, in that quiet time between lunch and dinner. He asked one of his sisters something in Spanish. A few minutes later, she brought us both mugs of Champu, a warm Andean drink made with pineapple, quinoa and brown sugar. As I’ve said, Peruvian food is different. But damn good. On a cold January day it certainly hit the spot.

If you are familiar with Hispanic culture, you know just how important family is. Not just immediate family, but the extended one as well. “It’s really cool to be able to work with your family,” Jack shares, motioning towards his young niece moving around in her baby walker, her mother encouraging her from across the room. “We may argue or yell at each other, but at the end of the day, we love each other.”

I mention to Jack that if the Egoavils want to continue to grow, and maintain their high standards, they are going to need more people. Jack smiles and agrees. That’s why they are going back and forth to learn culinary skills in Peru, and why they welcome their cousins in Peru to come, learn and grow. “Whatever we do in the business is for them,” he says, referring to this younger generation. “When we came here we had very little,” he adds, and they want it to be different for the next generation. “We are growing not just as a business, but as a family too.”

Quinoa, Peruvian & Mexican Restaurant
62 North Easton Road
Doylestown, PA 18902
PH: 215.348.2826
WEB: www.QuinoaRestaurantBYO.com
Facebook: Quinoa Peruvian/Mexican

Quinoa is BYOB

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