2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Aji Rocoto closed in 2016 and has metamorphosis into La Cilindrada., but you may wish to read about Chef Michael here, and then click of the link below to read about his new creation La Cilindrada. 

One of the delights in living in Cuenca is observing how a richer array of ethnic and fine-dining restaurants with international flavor continue to pop-up throughout the city.  One such restaurant is Aji Rocoto, which opened this year; and presents a fine variety of menu specialties that reflect the Peruvian fusion flare of fine dining which has become an international rage, and also has made Lima a hotbed for some of the finest restaurants and cuisines in South America.

How fortunate we are to have the young and affable chef, Michael Wagner, a Peruvian of German ancestry living in Cuenca, and bringing his culinary talents to enhance our taste buds with flavors that are in many ways unique to Cuenca.  Chef Wagner is a graduate of the Cordon Bleu Academy in Lima, and brings with him the flavors of the Peruvian dishes; some of which are fused with Chinese, Thai, or Japanese dishes, not to mention Italian as well.  Michael and his wife, Daniela Davalos Carrasco, who is a Cuencana, have come with their two young children to make their home in Cuenca; for which we are fortunate to take advantage of the skills and creativity of an important rising star's contribution to the culinary scene in Cuenca.

Let's begin by taking a look at Michael at work in his immaculately clean kitchen of Aji Rocoto as he prepares two entrees for his customers:

Mixing the right amount of oil with the seasonings and vegetables required with a pinch of this and a pinch of that, like any creative chef there is no need for actual measurements.

Achieving a hot flame to quickly sear in the flavors and juices of the meats and vegetables, and knowing just the right amount of time to accomplish the task is a skill in which Michael excels.

In no time at all, a dish is prepared worthy of royalty.

Michael said that he was six years old when he first took an interest in cooking.  When others might be making cold sandwiches, Michael began his  first endeavor with a hot sandwich right on the stove-top.  The fire raged out of control, and Michael sent the pan flying to the floor.  It looks like at this juncture, Michael has more than mastered control of an exceedingly hot flame, and in no way allowed his first not so successful cooking encounter to blunt his budding passion.  Who would have known at the age of six, where Michael's early spark of interest would someday lead him.

Once Michael has fried the rice, everything is prepared for presentation to his customers.  The final garnishments are added. The metal molder will come off just before the dishes are taken from the kitchen, and the customer is enthralled  with a feast artistic to the eyes, and with aromas that invite enticement to savor the superb flavors and sauces.

Chef Michael also has two years of training as a pastry chef.  He serves a wickedly delicious triple chocolate cheese cake, and he intends to create other pastry delights as well.  Appetizers, entrees, and desserts all made from the freshest of ingredients; with entree choices for vegetarians as well.

Sorry folks, the temptation was too great.  I made my way more than half way through the triple chocolate cheese cake before I thought to take a photo.

In the above photo, Michael makes his own home-made ravioli.

A full liquor bar is on tab.  House wine is a generous glass for six dollars; and the Pisco Sour, the Peruvian national drink made from fermented grapes is worth the indulgence.

Interior of Aji Rocoto

Dining is cozy and warm.  Great for couples, families, friends; and a fine luncheon trade is done with businessmen and professionals.  Chef Michael devotes time with his customers, converses with them in English or Spanish, makes menu suggestions, and provides guidance as his customer's needs require.

The Cuisine

Ravioli Fusion:  Tender cuts of pork served oriental style on a bed of home-made ravioli.  Cooked to perfection, with a totally different way of enjoying ravioli.  It was sooo good!

If you're tired of eating rice with every meal in Cuenca.  Michael's risotto with tender beef (photo below) will raise rice to a whole new level of taste, and don't forget to try cerviche Nikei, new to Aji Rocoto's menu.  Peruvian cerviche is a very different dish from the preparation of Ecuadorian cerviche.  In Michael's hands, cerviche takes an additional twist of creativity as it combines Peruvian and Japanese tastes.


is Aji Rocoto's Facebook page with many beautiful photos of menu items and choices.  Don't hesitate to check out the many beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.  Dishes can be made to order. 

Aji Rocoto is located at 

Borreo 5-91 Juan Jaramillo | Corner of Borrero, 5-91, And Juan Jaramillo, Cuenca, Ecuador  ( the west side of Borrero a couple of doors down from the corner of Borrero and Juan Jaramillo)

Hours are from:

Tuesday thru Saturday:  12:00 p.m. until  4:00 p.m. 
                                      7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Sundays open from Noon until 4:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Reservations can be made at 099 946 6241.

Buen Provecho!!

Monday, October 12, 2015


In my previous post, I shared how friends and myself traveled to Lima, Peru, with its international reputation for gourmet dining as we dined at some of the best restaurants in Lima.  However, while visiting Lima, there is more than just restaurants of which to partake.  Let's take a look at some of the things you definitely want to consider if you visit Lima.

Lima is a tropical desert-city on the Pacific Coast with a population of under nine million, and a metropolitan population of just under ten million, which is one-third of the total population of Peru.  Because of its inter-mixture of hot, dry desert climate with the water currents and air moisture off the Pacific, Lima has overall moderate temperatures throughout the year, with July and August months generally being the coolest and averaging in the 50's. The summer months, between November and March, average in the 80's.  It rarely rains.  However, fog can en-capsulize the city in the mornings.  The day can be fraught with heavy masses of clouds, and what often passes for moisture are pellets that are less obtrusive than light spring showers in many places like Cuenca.  Nancy, Doyle, and I experienced a number of cloudy days, but when the sun was out on three of our nine days, it certainly gave being in Lima a real uplift to our spirits.

We rented an apartment for the week, and stayed about a block from the ocean in the Miraflores area of Lima, which is one of the nicer areas in in the city.  However, San Isidro is the most up-scale area in Lima, and has a long stretch of expensive International stores with many of the usual brand names. There were many tourists presiding in Miraflores, and it appears that many expats live in this area as well.  I was surprised at the number of Europeans that we saw on the streets in our neighborhood, who greatly outnumbered North Americans, and who were either visiting are living in Miraflores.

Here are some views of Miraflores:

This first photo is just below our penthouse apartment.  I was surprised to find such deluxe tennis courts in Peru.  The club below features about ten plush courts, and the one just below our apartment has stadium seating for about 600 people.  Games are played before large crowds usually on most days and throughout the day. The tennis club also features a physical fitness workout facility, an in-door and large terraced-restaurant, and a banquet facility.  While there may be courts this nice in the states, I am not aware of them.


Along the ocean is the Park of Love, which incorporates Victor Delfin's statue El Beso (The Kiss) in the photo above and below.  The statue is quite large, and quite erotic.  This is one of those sculptures that is best viewed as one walks around it and experiences it from a variety of perspectives.

The temperatures during cloudy days like this in July were in the 60's and low 70's.  It was basically lite-jacket weather, and we were fortunate that it was warmer than usual for that time of year.  Surfers took to the waters, but we had no idea how warm the water temperatures were.

Many tourists to Lima will generally come to visit for a day or two to take in some important museums and some of the archaeological sites just outside the city as preparation for their trip to see Machu Picchu.

One such museum is the preeminent Museo Larco Herrera collection of pre-Columbian art.  Museo Larco is an extraordinary collection of the three Pre-Incan cultures that inhabited Peru.  The exhibits are beautifully organized and arranged chronologically, with placard explanations in both Spanish and English.  Although I am a student of history, I did not know anything about these pre-Incan civilizations until I visited Lima.  The museum contains some extraordinary exhibits of silver and gold, which the museum officials did an excellent job of off-setting in backgrounds that visually accented these silver and gold artifacts.  Unfortunately, since I lost my camera, I do not have photos of the exhibits which I so meticulously shot while in the museum, only some exterior shots of the attractive museum from Nancy's camera:

 As you can see from the above photos, the museum has some lovely gardens, and also features a gourmet restaurant that was presented in my last post.

The Museo de la NaciĆ³n, (National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History Museum) which traces the history of Peru’s Pre-Columbian ancient civilizations including the Incas; also includes galleries of the conquistadors,  the post-Inca Spanish settlement of Peru, and the political and military history of Peru.  One gallery is devoted to the paintings of the various presidents of Peru over time. While the National Museum is more historically encompassing than the Larco Museum, both offer exhibitions which are distinctive and unique to their respective museums.

Like the Museo Larco, the Museo de Nacion also has beautiful grounds to enjoy.

The Museo de Art Contemporanio (Museum of Contemporary Art) is best enjoyed if taken as part of a tour to appreciate the collection.  Tour guides, who are art students, are generally available right there on the spot. The collection is primarily from South American artists, with a few international contributions.  The museum is not only surrounded by beautiful grounds, but also is encompassed by a park as well, which one can take advantage of on a beautiful weather day. Here are a few of the paintings and sculpture pieces at the museum:


Museo de MATE possesses the world’s largest collection of the world reknown international photographer, Mario Testino's work.  After 35 years living abroad, it was Testino’s personal desire to bring the largest collection of his work to Lima, his hometown, as a contribution to the cultural heritage of Peru.  Mario had photographed many celebrities over his life time. A special gallery is devoted to Princess Diana.


The above museums were by no means all the museums in Lima, but were the ones that we had the chance to visit while in the city.

NEXT POST will feature the historic district of Lima, and Lima's spectacular light, sound, and water extravaganza.