Saturday, June 28, 2014

Algarrobo restaurant in Chorrillos

Mr Leon (at L), and Toño (at R)
On Friday, Toño picked us up and drove us to Chorrillos, a suburb of Lima just past Barranco, and at the foot of the Morro Solar, the large promontory that sticks out into the ocean at the south end of the Bay of Lima. Our destination was Algarrobo, a northern cuisine (specifically from Trujillo) restaurant started a month ago by a friend of Toño's, Mr. Oswaldo Leon.

The restaurant is a modest place, with about 8 tables in a single storefront space, presided over by Mr Leon, who -while he does not himself cook most of the time- makes sure that every dish that is served meets his expectations in terms of taste and presentation.

The food itself is quite good and, as is typical of the northern cusine, hearty even though the portions are not overly large.  Basically, just the thing that workers looking for a satisfying lunch would want, and it is no surprise that there was no time while we were there when ours was the only table filled.

It is a bit far for a return trip or for it to become a regular stop, but is well-worth seeking out if one happens to find oneself in Chorrillos.  (Unfortunately, I cannot recall the address, but I am sure that they will soon have an internet presence -everyone seems to these days!)

Seco de cabrito (goat stew), with tacu-tacu (a seasoned mix of rice and beans)
Seco de cabrito with rice and beans.
Tiradito tricolor - a cebiche in three hues

POSTSCRIPT:  I have since learned the address for this restaurant:

Algarrobo Restaurante
Avenida el Sol 1461
Telf: 2482038

"Castillo de Huarmey" exhibit at the Lima Museum of Art

After lunch at the Sheraton Hotel with Juan Ramon, Liz and I walked to the Lima Museum of Art (MALI) where there was an exhibit of artifacts recovered from the ruins of a Wari-period palace at Huarmey, north of Lima.

The "Castle" was a stepped-pyramid shaped temple built some 1,200 years ago, and is the first unlooted tomb of nobility of the Wari culture that has been yet found by archaeologists.  It contained the remains of 63 individuals, of which 58 were females and included the bodies of three Wari queens or high-ranking noblewomen.  Over 1000 artifacts were also recovered - including the pieces depicted in the photos below.

The finds are significant because they have brought to light some previously unknown or unconfirmed facets of Wari life and cultural practices.  For example, they have allowed archaeologists and historians to glean a better view on the status of women in Wari culture. They have also confirmed that the Wari buried their notables with an assortment of grave goods, including perhaps human sacrifices, as well as the strengthening the theory that the Wari played a role in the decline of the Moche culture.
Wooden ear spools decorated with turquoise, sea shells, and other materials.

Gold ear spools.

Painted leather shoe.

(More on the discovery can be read here:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lunch at the Sheraton

Today we had lunch at the Sheraton Hotel's reknown sancochado buffet.   Sancochado means "boiled" and refers to food cooked in a boiling liquid, and in Peru, sancochaado, as a noun, refers to a meal of boiled meats (most often beef and mutton) and vegetables (usually cabbage, carrot, celery, leek, and potato), served with the broth on the side.

Sancohado is often served on Mondays as a restorative tonic to the excesses of the weekend and as a way of getting enough substance in order to start the work week.

In Lima several restaurants compete for serving the best sancochado, and among  them the Sheraton Hotel regularly comes at the top.  The weekly sancochado lunch buffet served at its Las Palmas restaurant is famed among sancochado enthusiasts, and it is easy to see why.

The Sheraton's buffet offered 15 cuts of meat -including varied cuts of beef and pork, but also mutton, chicken, turkey, and sausages-, 5 soups or broths, a couple dozen vegetables, and 50 sauces to accompany them.  That is in addition to the several salads, many desserts and 50 varities of flavoured piscos on hand...


Personally, I love a well-done sancochado, so this lunch was a real treat, and it was made even better because I got to try tripulina as well.

Tripulina is a dish that was started from the practice among abattoir workers of taking the odd bits of offal that were not widely wanted by customers and distributors, and throwing them into a common cooking pot.  In time it developed into a dish of its own, whose name -"tripulina"- makes reference to its origins in the tripas, or intestines or "guts".  The Sheraton's tripulina, as tasty as it was, however, was limited to beef testicles.

Afterward, Liz and I walked over to the Lima Museum of Art, about two blocks down, at the intersection of Wilson and Paseo Colon.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lord of the Fall

On the third block of Av. Republica Dominicana, just down from Plaza San Jose and across the street from the main market in Jesus Maria, resides a local landmark that is, literally, an icon.   

Inside a relatively nondescript archway that looks like it might be the entrance to the several-storey building above it, there is a figure of Jesus that is an object of veneration by locals and even people from further afield, including Mama Pali, my late grandmother.

The story goes that a sculptor named Marcos Huapaya created the image with the intention of selling it, but that fate intervened.    Huapaya had fashioned a previous religious image from wood, cardboard, and plaster, and wanted to create a larger one of Jesus.  He selected to depict a moment from The Passion in which Jesus stumbles under the burden of his cross.   The family thus decided to name the figure the Lord of La Caida (The Fall), a choice that was further cemented by their owning a country estate named La Caida.

Before Huapaya could sell the figure, however, a neighborhood woman gave him a white cord to add to the figure's vestments in thanks for divine aid she said she had received after praying before the statue.  Soon others started to do the same and Huapaya ended up building a sanctuary for it.

Later, when the family moved to Jesus Maria, they built the niche where the statue now resides, and where it receives numerous visitors daily, some of whom leave behind tokens of the "miracles" they say they have been granted after praying to the Señor de La Caida.

Huapaya has since died, but the niche is still maintained by his family, who open it up every morning and close it up every night.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Lima!

We arrived in Lima late last night, and pretty much just settled in for the night without even unpacking, as it was well after midnight by the time we got home.

Today, we had a lazy Sunday with the family.  Willy picked us up in the morning and we headed to the San Jose Market in the "downtown" part of Jesus Maria, where we picked up the ingredients for a North Coast-style lamb stew (seco de cordero a la nortena).

The lamb and mutton butcher's stall. Note the tuft of wool left on the carcass'
tail in order to show that it is indeed lamb, and not goat.

We then went to Jacho's apartment in Los Eucaliptos to fix the lunch, where we were joined by Mito, Pali, Jose, Carlita, and Tono.

Liz and I took the opportunity between Wordl Cup games and before everyone arrived to head to the Metro supermarket here in San Felipe to get some necessities, some wine for lunch, and to get SIM cards for our phones.

After lunch Liz and I adjourned to our apartment to take care of stuff -unpacking, taking stock of the pantry, and so on- and to watch the USA-Portugal game.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sidetrip: New York

We've  taken the opportunity to combine two trips and so, on our way to Lima, we have made a 3-day stopover in New York, to visit Liz's dad and stepmom.

Darrell and Jean have a very nice house in the hamlet of East Durham, in the Catskill, which sits next to the forest and a small lake, which at night rings with the calls of frogs while the forest edge flashes with fireflies.  It's really quite something.

Yesterday we went about 60 miles north-east of here to Cooperstown.  Now, Cooperstown is famous as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame museum, but we were there to indulge my wish to visit Brewery Ommegang.

Ommegang is one of the premier brewers of Belgian-style ales in the US.  It was started in the late 1990s by a local couple with 40% funding from the Duvel brewing group in Belgium.  Today, Duvel owns all of the brewery -the founders having decided to step out of brewing- but the operation continues to be run as a local craft brewery, producing just 50,000 barrels per year.

Although I knew, from visiting other breweries that not a lot of space is needed, for the output that they have and the level of distribution (45 states, and several countries) that their beers enjoy, I was bit surprised how small their facilities are.

The tour was brief, and not very involved - partly due to the size of the place, which did not require much walking from one spot to the other- but also due to rules which limited where visitors could stand and how close we could get to the equipment (not close at all, atually).  This was very different from brewery tours we had gone on in California, where one could even actually touch the fermenters and peek into the kettles.  I expect that that was probably due to NY state regulations for visitors to industrial facilities, as we were, for example, also required to have close-toed shoes and to wear safety goggles!

Ommegang draws it water from an on-site well, and we were told that it comes out of the ground pretty much brew-ready.    The hops they use come from Europe, and from Washington and Oregon.

The area used to be the major hop-producig region for the Northeast, but a blight swept through the area and decimated the crops in the early 20th century.  Hop producers who managed to survive were then done in by Prohibition.

Today, Brewery Ommgang has a small experimental hopyard at the back end of their property, were they grow hops in conjunction with Syracuse University, in order to find hops varieties that are suited to the climate and soil, but that are also blight-resistant.

The best part of the tour -as with any brewery or winery tour- was the tasting that came afterward, at which we got to sample five of Ommegangs signature brews: Witte, Hop House Ale, Rare Vos, Hennepin, Abbey Ale, and Three Philosophers.

We then decided to stay and have lunch at their recently innugurated tap house and pub.

On our way

We left California on Tuesday and headed east, taking the opportunity to stop in New York state for a few days on our way to Lima.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Getting ready...

Well, work is done! And, vacation has started, so the countdown really is on, and the packing has started.  It's only a matter of a couple days now, before we're heading to New York, and less than a week before we fly to Lima.

So, what's on our Lima agenda?

One thing that's obviously on the to-do list is restaurants.

Another one I wanted to hit last year, but did not manage to, is Amaz, the latest restaurant by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, the originator and chef of Malabar.

One that my cousins recommended last year but that we did not go to is La Picanteria.  It specializes in southern Peruvian cuisine.  Carla, my cousin Jose's wife, told me that they served the best chupe de camarones that she'd ever had, and as she's from Arequipa and it is a specialty there, that's high praise indeed.

 I also want to check the Barranco Beer Company, and to search out several other beers that are pioneers in Lima's nascent craft beer scene: Cumbres, Maddok, and Barbarian, as well as Amarilis, which I sampled last year.

We don't have any trips planned within Peru, but I may head up to Ayacucho for a colloquium that is to be held there in July.

Other than that, there doesn't seem to be anything pressing on us as a must-do other than enjoy the family's company and have a good time together.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The countdown is on...

Yup, Liz and I leave for Lima next week, with an extended stop-over in New York State.