Wednesday, June 27, 2012

La Botica

In Spanish, botica means drug store, and such is the name of a small bar/restaurant that my namesake cousin Juancho took me to last night.

It was new to us both -Juancho had read about it the newspaper- and we were both very pleasantly surprised.

La Botica is located in the site of a longtime drug store and pharmacy, Farmacia Maggiolo, on Ave. Petit Thouars in San Isidro district.   The owners visited other classic Lima bars and taverns and it is evident that they learned well.  La Botica has been open since October but it feels like it's been around forever.  It has that feel of old times that one gets in venerable places like the Taberna Queirolo or the Bar Cordano.

The drinks menu is pretty slim and standard -pisco sours, chilcanos, cosmopolitan, martini, and so on- but well-prepared.  The food and appetizer menu is also smaller than at some other establishments, but it is well-thought out and well-prepared as well.

We started with pisco sours made with different brands of pisco, and a papa rellena.  Papa rellena consists of a meat stuffing rolled inside a ball of mashed potato, which is then fried to give it a crisp exterior.  La Botica's was good, not great, but no one would be ashamed to serve it to guests.  The second round of food, however, was exceptional.

The dish, Mollejitas de mi suegra (My mother-in-law's gizzards), consisted of chicken gizzards served bathed in the cilantro-laced sauce typical of the stews served in the north coast.  I don't know what they did to them, but the gizzards were fork-tender and buttery.  It was surprising and delicious.  The decision to pair the gizzards cooked that way with the norteño gravy was inspired.

The staff was friendly and efficient.  We chatted with the owner for a bit, and he later sent out a comped dish of olives for us.

La Botica definitely merits a visit.  I predict that it will become one of Lima's favorite bars as word of it spreads.

La Botica
3910 Ave. Petit Thouars
San Isidro, Lima

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Lima!

I got here without any problems or delays, which was great.  Unfortunately when I landed a bit after 11 pm, there were about 5 other flights -judging from the luggage carrousels going- that arrived at much the same time, making for a huge line through immigrations.  Fortunately I got a green light when I pressed the button at customs and was allowed through without my bags being searched.

The weather is surprisingly good for this time of year.  I awoke at 7:30 to sunlight streaming in and the sounds of songbirds and parrots carrying on in the trees below (being on the 13th story, the trees are below not above). 

The morning's remained sunny so far, even though there is some haze and a bit of a fog bank hanging off the coast.  Walking around downstairs, taking care of some errands and having a look around, it actually got kinda hot, what with the tropical sun shinning, even though the air itself is cool and refreshing.  It seems like spring instead of the midwinter that it actually is.

The Resi looks the same, as expected.  The only changes that I've noticed so far are that where the Mi Geon chifa used to be is a new restaurant called Agua y Manto -a play on the word aguaymanto, an Andean fruit similar to a gooseberry-, that the bakery that replaced the Apolo barbershop is gone and in its place is a restaurant -Casimiro- that has pretty much the same menu as Guido's but a better atmosphere, and that the Vivian pharmacy is gone and in its place is a pastry and baguette shop.

Nico's a bit under the weather, so we're taking it easy for now, and waiting to see what we might manage to do in the afternoon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On my way ...

It's just about 6 am and I'm sitting by the boarding gate at SFO, waiting to board the first leg of my journey to Lima.  I've got the laptop going and I'm posting from the airport - I feel like such a high-tech traveller!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hotel reservations in Iquitos have been made.

Meanwhile, here in California, I am getting ready and mere days away from flying south.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Video: Takanakuy

Another one. This time it's about the custom of takanakuy.

In the province of Chumbivilcas, in the Cuzco region, Christmas is celebrated with partying, drinking, fireworks -like in the rest of Peru.  What makes chumbivilcano Christmas different is the takanakuy, which is a festival of ritualized hand-to-hand combat. 

Fights are one-on-one bareknuckled fistfights accompanied by huaylia music, and all strata in the community take part -men, women, young, and old.  Even kids.  Through  the takanakuy grudges are settles, stress is released, community harmony is retained, and the Earth is repaid for her bounty through  the fighters' sacrifice.

In this video, the host, Thomas, travels to Chumbivilcas to witness and participate in the takanakuy.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Video: Scissor dance in Andamarca

Just browsing the web today I came across this cool little video on danza de tijeras, or scissor dancing, in Peru.  The danza de tijeras is an age-old custom, as one of the musicians in the video explains, and is intimately tied to Andean veneration of the earth and the apus and wamanis (mountain spirits).

The video shows two travellers -Krishna and Anthony- who drive  from Nazca to the community of Andamarca, in Apurimac, to witness a tijeras competition.      It reminded me of stories my mom told when I was little, of danzaqs she had seen in her travels, who -she said- seemed as if they had no bones in their bodies.

I've got to tell you that what the show's hosts witness the danzaqs do in Andamarca is a far cry from the tijeras dances you'd see on stage at folkloric shows in Lima.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Off work for the summer.  The countdown to Lima has started....