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Andina – Portland, OR

Where do I start?!  This place is amazing!!!  My good college friend took me here while I was in town for 24 hours and she couldn’t have picked a better place.  I now see why it’s hard to get a reservation.  What blew me away is how accommodating they are to Gluten Free people.  They have a completely different menu that’s not just a couple of items but rather a whole menu full of options…very impressive!  We started with the Sacsayhuaman (sounds like Sexy Woman) – habañero pepper vodka shaken with pureed passionfruit and cane sugar, served up with a sugar rim and a cilantro leaf garnish.  HOLY CRAP…this drink is to DIE for!!!  I would go back just for that:)

For our non-liquid dishes we ordered the “5 Elementos” cebiche (spelled with a “b” there) which was perfect.  So flavorful and fresh, I could have eaten just that all night.  The A La Chalaca (sashimi-style fish in an ajî Amarillo vinaigrette served with a corn salsa) was so delicate and clean tasting even with the vinaigrette.  Yum!  Whenever there’s octopus on the menu I have to get it so we ordered the Anticucho de Pulpo – grilled octopus kebabs served with chimichurri served over caper potatoes…yum!  Cooked to perfection and exactly what I was hoping for.  Last we got the Pescado al Rocoto y Kyon – roasted fresh fish topped with ginger, rocoto (Capsicum pepper) and scallion, basted with sizzling sesame oil served over shiitake mushrooms and bok choy in a smoked pork broth, served with asparagus quinoa fried rice…DE-LISH!

*Because the lighting was so dim, my pictures turned out horribly so I’m just giving you a teaser with our delicious drink:)

Joe Jack’s Fish Shack – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

My dad and his wife have a home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where we’re lucky enough to go visit from time to time.  I always get my Mexican food fix while down there but I also indulge in all the fresh seafood.  One of my favorites spots is Joe Jack’s Fish Shack.  Chef Joe Jack moved from San Francisco (previous owner and chef of Luna Park…another old favorite of mine in SF) to PV and opened the Fish Shack in 2005 in hopes of showcasing traditional seafood (and Mexican comfort food) at the same time creating a great vibe.  The best spot in house is on the exposed roof deck.  You don’t have to worry about rain that often in PV which is nice.

My all time favorite dish (that I think about quite often) is the Whole Pacific Red Snapper.  It’s covered with roasted chilies, garlic and lime and couldn’t be more tasty.  I LOVE it!!!  Their ceviche is also amazing…so fresh and full of flavor.  Talking about it makes me want to fly down there just to have this:)

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