So on September 1st I boarded my flight to Peru where I would spend the next four months teaching, traveling and tasting South America. I had the privilege of spending two of those few months in Arequipa, also known as the White City. Here I list just a few of the many things I am beginning to miss as I type this from my desk on a drizzly, dark winter's afternoon.
Wanting something a little more light? I know just the thing - 'soltero de queso', to you and me that's a cheese salad. It's actually a refreshing bowl of choclo (giant Peruvian corn), black olives, broad beans, peppers, dressed with fresh herbs, chillies, vinegar, oil and a zap of lime, and the fresh white cheese.
And the day wouldn't be complete without a drink at the end. My best version of the nation's beloved pisco sours was an aguaymanto sours at La Casona del Pisco, a gastrobar serving beautiful cocktails and elegant food.
Peru is not the place for your low fat, no carb, no fun diet. The food is filling and hearty, so embrace it. And dine at a typical Arequipan 'picantería' restaurant like Tipika, packed with large family groups on a weekend lunch time and set in an open garden on Calle Luna Pizarro; Picantería La Benita in the serene Claustros de la Compania; or La Nuevo Palomino the local favourite.
Or, take a little escape from it and head to one of my favourite gringo hangouts in Arequipa - Chaqchao, a rooftop bar, café and chocolate shop. A hit with expats and gringos, as well as a few edgy locals. It serves a mean cup of coffee, freshly baked cakes, craft beer and chocolate workshops. Go there for an afternoon on the sunny terrace, or watch the sun set over Santa Catalina on the streetside balcony. What more could a girl want!