Lunch at Fina Estampa – by Gary Smolker


During lunch today (April 26,2107), at the Fina Estampa Restaurant in Chatsworth, California, the owner of the restaurant (Kathy Schultz) came to my table and asked me how my daughter Leah and I were enjoying our lunch.

I replied:

“I am so happy that I hope you have a jail cell you can lock me up in until I settle down enough to go outside.”

To this Kathy replied:

“You must try our desserts.”

At the end of our meal, Kathy brought  two desserts (pictured above) to our table: a Leche Asada and Hellado de Lucuma.

When I told Kathy we were too full to eat any dessert, Kathy packed up the desserts and told me to take them home immediately to put them in my refrigerator before the ice cream melted and the Leche Asada (which has egg in it) spoiled.

I did as I was instructed.

That is why I did not go back to my office to work this afternoon.

Picante de Mariscos

For lunch, Leah had Picante de Mariscos.

See photo above of Leah’s lunch.

Picante de Mariscos is a seafood stew simmered in red wine with onions, tomatoes served over boiled potatoes.

The Picante de Mariscos  served at Fina Estampa is a world-class dish.

Peruvian Cuisine

Fina Estampa serves Peruvian cuisine.

Peruvian cuisine is rich in ingredients, influences and nuances.

Its influences are varied and historical –

There are 84 different ecological zones in Peru, each with its own species of plants and animals.

Ancient Peruvians

  • cultivated potatoes and corn in the Andes;
  • pumpkins and Lima beans on the coast;
  • they discovered and used aromatic herbs and Chile peppers as well as fruits of the Amazon region;
  • they also ate fish and mollusks and Llama meat and poultry.

The Spaniards who conquered Peru followed by the Viceroyalty brought with them

  • rice, onions, citrus fruits, wheat, vineyards, olives, pigs, cows and hens;
  • Arab-Moorish  and African touches introduced by workers who arrived to toil on ranches and farms.

Chinese “”coolies” arrived in Peru as migrant workers in the nineteenth century bringing their customs and recipes with them.  They also introduced techniques such as sautéing over a high flame, splashing soy sauce into beef stir-fries, and the tradition of eating white rice.

Japanese immigrants arriving at the end of the nineteenth century, introduced the Japanese love of seafood, subtley of flavoea, and care in haddling ingredients.

Another important influence on Peruvian cuisine is Italian immigrants.

Peruvian cuisine has many influences, including the fusion of influences from distant foreign lands, unique exquisite dishes in each region of Peru based on local customs traditions, ingredients and recipes passed from generation to generation.

By the way, Peru is the gastronomical capital of South America and Lima is the culinary capital of Latin America – a city that journalists, chefs, and visitors from all over the world travel to in search of new dishes and chic places to dine.

In Lima, food is religion.

Cooking professionally has become something to aspire to, and about 80,000 young people are currently studying to be chefs, in schools scattered across Lima.


During lunch Leah and I discussed why we like to travel.

Leah and travel together because we like to see beauty, we like to see history, and we like to eat some of the best food in the world.

For lunch today, I had Sopa Wantan.

Sopa Wantan is a Peruvian version of Chinese Won Ton soup.

See photo below of the Sopa Wantan that I ate for lunch today.


Leah and I believe that the benefits to us of traveling are

  • traveling allows us to see how beautiful the world is; and
  • traveling enables us to feel more strongly connected to the beauty of the world.

Next, Leah and I will be going to Sicily together.

We will arrive in Sicily on May 21 and return back to California on June 4, 2017

Below is a photograph of an Itinerary for our upcoming trip to Sicily Leah which jotted down while we were eating lunch today.

Leah and I discussed that Itinerary in great detail while we were eating lunch.

By the way,

  • Sicily has better preserved and more spectacular Greek ruins then Greece.
  • The Norman Palace in Palermo (Palazzo Reale) with the Palatine Chapel is fantastic – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The island of Ortygia is an ancient district of Siracusa (Syracuse). In the the city’s Jewish quarter until 1493 (in the Giudecca) is the oldest Mikvah known to survive in Europe.
  • Judaism was present in Sicily way before the arrival of Christianity on Sicilian shores.
  • It is thought that while in Syracuse (AD (CE) 59, Paul of Tarsus preached to Jews as well as to Greeks.
  • The Mikvah in Siracusa dates from the Byzantine period following the fall of the “western” Roman empire to invading forces (in Italy mostly Vandals and Visigoths) in the fifth century.

Leah and I will be flying out of LAX (departing from Los Angeles) on May 20, 2017.

It will be a long flight.

We will not land in Sicily until May 21, 2017.


Copyright © 2017 Gary Smolker, All Rights Reserved


About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

Posted on April 26, 2017, in food, living life fully, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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