Thursday, June 27, 2013

Casa Bodega y Quadra Museum

On our trip to downtown this afternoon we took the opportunity to visit the recently opened museum at the Bodega y Quadra House, next to the old train station behind the Presidential Palace.   The house, or rather its remains, was the home of the Bodega y Quadra family in the 17th and 18th Centuries.  The patriarch of the family, Tomas de la Bodega y Quadra, purchased the property after the devastating earthquake of 1746.  The house, like so many others, had been damaged and thus the property was available at a fraction of its previous value.  Bodega y Quadra, nontheless, felt that it held promise, as its central location offered advantages given his commercial ventures.

Lima in 1685

Detail of map, showing  the area near the main square.
 The large 4-courtyarded structure is the government palace.
 The Bodega y Quadra House is the second to the left of the
 numeral 4, on the near side of the street.

Tomas, who was born in Spain, married the limeña Francisca de Mollinedo y Lozada Agüero. Together they had three children: Tomas Aniceto, Alberto, and Juan Francisco.  It is the latter of these who brought fame to the famil;y and made the site historically significant, in addition to being so archaeologically.

Remains of the colonial-era structure
Colonial-era floor

 Juan Francisco (1744-1794) upon reaching adulthood he entered the Spanish Royal Navy at Cadiz, whereupon he was detached to the Pacific fleet attached to the Viceroyalty of New Spain at San Blas, Mexico.

In 1775, Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra was put in command of the Sonora (also called the Felicidad), one of a two-vessel expedition sent by the Spanish crown to explore and lay claim to North America's northern Pacific coast, in light of Russian advances across the Bering Strait.

After the expedition leader, Bruno de Heceta, turned back after an attack by Quinault Indians in present-day Washington state, and the onset of scurvy amongst the crew, Bodeda y Quadra continued northward, eventually reaching the neighborhood of present-day Sitka, Alaska.

Bodega y Quadra was thus able to draw the first relatively accurate maps of the Pacific Northwest coast.  In the process, he sailed over and noted the location of a reef that now bears the name of his ship, the Sonora, discovered what we today call Vancouver Island, as well as the bay in California that now bears his name: Bodega Bay.

The museum is evidently a popular school field trip.

The Bodega y Quadra home itself was remodeled, torn down, built-over, several times in the intervening centuries, housing, over time, a butcher shop and cobblers, among others.   In recent years, the Municipality of Lima took an interest in the site and funded its archaelogical excavation and the establishment of a site museum, which just opened earlier this year.

Colonial clay pipe bowl

Colonial stoneware jars and bottles


After lunch today, Liz, Diego and I decided to head to downtown Lima to look around a bit.  We strolled the Plaza de Armas -making an obligatory stop at the Cordano bar- and down Jiron de la Union to Plaza San Martin, before catching a taxi home.

The Husares de Junin guarding the Presidental Palace

Bar Cordano

The old central post office, now a museum to Peruvian gastronomy

Momunent erected in 1985 in honor of Taulichusco the Elder, last native governor of Lima.

A speaker draws a crowd in the Plaza San Martin

Plaza San Martin, looking toward Jiron Quilca

Bravo Restobar

Last night, after leaving the clinic after visiting my nephew, and his girlfriend and their beautiful newborn girl, Liz, Jacho, Jose, Carla and I headed to Bravo Restobar for drinks and dinner.

Bravo Restobar, the creation of chef Christian Bravo, is a steady element in the Lima restaurant scene, and -as the autographed walls attest- it is frequently a stop for international pop stars and other personalities. The food incorporates Peruvian dishes and ingredients with touches of Asian and "international" cuisine.

Of course, we started off to drinks: some mojitos, pisco sour, caipirinha, and a signature drink which was akin to a chilcano, but made with a touch of ginger and star anise, and colored with ayrampo, a small cactus fruit used to color foods in the Andes.

This was followed by complimentary freshly baked breads with a trio of flavoured butters, some flat-bread chips with a huacatay-infused dipping sauce, and little cups full of a delicious Andean potato soup.

Our choices included a very tasty lomo saltado.  As I have mentioned elsewhere, lomo saltado - a sauteed mix of beef, tomatoes, onions and potatoes, with an Chinese touch- is a classic dish of Peruvian home and restaurant cooking.  It is very much comfort food for Peruvians, and any restaurant worth its salt will have it on the menu.   Of course, that makes it hard to impress Peruvians with a lomo saltado, as few will find one to be as good as mom's or that of their favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

Bravo's lomo saltado did not disappoint.  The seasoning was right on, and the dish was upscaled a bit by the addition of mushrooms.   Even though it had the tubers on the side instead of mixed into the sautee -a recent trend in restaurants here, and one on which there are definitely two school of thought - that "deficiency" (I side with those who feel that the dish is better with the potatoes mixed in)was more than made up for by the crispness of the fries and the inclusion of fried yuca root.  That saltado was definitely the star of the night's meal.

Bravo Restobar
Av. Conquistadores 1005
San Isidro - Lima

Yesterday, on our second full day in Lima, we had lunch with the cousins my Aunt Betty's house, here in San Felipe.  Afterward, Liz and I walked a few blocks into Magdalena district, to the San Antonio pastry shop for an after-lunch capuccino.  And, then to Vivanda supermarket for a bit browsing and grocery shopping.

In the evening, Jacho picked us up and we went to visit Guille and his newborn. 

We met my other cousin, Jose, and his wife at the hospital and the five of us went on to dinner at Bravo Restobar, in San Isidro, were we whiled away the next few hours with good food and conversation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We're in Lima

After arriving last night, we took care of some errands this morning and then met Willy, Toti, and Marina, who gave us a ride to Toya and Orlando's for the customary Tueday family luncheon.  We spent a very pleasant afternoon chatting and catching up with each other, and getting adjusted to the idea that, as of this afternoon, they were great grand aunts and uncles, and we grand aunt and grand uncle, thanks to our nephew, Guille, whose baby was born today.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Less than 24 hrs to go ....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Well, work is done! And, vacation has started, so the countdown really is on.  It's only a matter of days now, before we're heading to Peru.

So, what's on the agenda?

Restaurants, obviously.   We have a reservation already made at Astrid y Gaston, one of Lima's premier restaurants, listed at no. 14 on the San Pellegrino List of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, and the highest-ranked Latin American restaurant on the list.

Another one I want to hit is Amaz, the new restaurant by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, the originator and chef of Malabar.

One that my cousin has told me about is Nanka.  It specializes in cuisine based on organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients.  They even grow their own herbs on site.

Yet another interesting one that has shown up on the horizon is Central, which also has made the San Pellegrino list, entering it at no. 50.  It's a bit pricey, so ... we'll see. Maybe next year?

And who knows which others?  Lima certainly does serve up surprises.  Last year, for example, one surprise for me was Placeres Clandestinos, a business run by Vivian Queirolo, of the famed wine and pisco-producing family.  She organizes private dinners, paired with her family's wines, which take place at various locations throughout the city, in a manner reminiscent of the "Gypsy dinner" phenomenon in the U.S.

Another surprise was Cafe Risso, a walk-up, standing-room, take-out only coffee shop on Lince's Risso street, a half block from Ave. Arequipa.   The coffee is dark, rich, and strong. The perfect antidote to the Lima winter cold and to after-lunch somnambulance.

We've also got a trip planned to the north coast.  To Piura, specifically, to hang out on the beach for a couple of days and hopefully get some of that tropical sun we always miss out on by going to Lima during its wintertime.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Even though my ticket was purchased a while ago, and it's still some time until I again depart for Lima, I guess one could say that in my heart, the countdown is on.

Great news: This year Liz will be able to make the trip as well! Even though she won't be able to stay as long as I, after not having been there in two years, I am sure that every moment will be enjoyable.  I'll sure do my best to ensure that it is so.