Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lunch at Central


Last week, Liz and I had the opportunity to lunch at Central restaurant, here in Lima's Miraflores district.

Central has been one of the up-and-coming star restaurants on the Lima food scene, and we had been curious about it for some time as it kept getting consistently good reviews.   It also happened that at about the time we made our reservation a month ago, Central was ranked in fourth place among the world's 50 best restaurants on the 2015 edition of the prestigious San Pellegrino World's 50 Best list, and No.1 among Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants. 

Liz and I opted for experiencing what Central has become best known for, which is their 17-course Mater Alturas tasting menu.

The ingredients for each course of the Mater Alturas menu (as well as of the smaller Mater Ecosistemas menu) are sourced at specific elevations in Peru, ranging from 70 feet under the sea to almost 14,000 feet up in the Andes. Those ingredients are put together in ways that don't resemble any typical Peruvian foods, but are innovative and, actually, quite tasty ... and beautiful.

Here are some of them, in no particular order:

Seafood crisp with seafood cream and seaweed.

Corn several ways (and in several varieties): paste, crisp, and soup.

Cauliflower with crisps and flowers.

Herb bread served over smoking coca leaves.

Razor clams with pepino melon and citrus.

Ayrampo and pommegranate extract.

Doncella (an Amazonian fish) with nut cream and jungle fruit.

Octopus, sea snail, and octopus ink foam.
An intense octopus broth.

Calf steak covered in quinua colored with herbs and cactus, with an Andean herb-infused cream.

Chocolate ice cream with flakes of lucuma and chaco, an edible clay.

Fruit sorbet, with ayrampo-tinted fruits chunks.

Cacao fruit extract in reverse-osmosis water, with kiwicha jellies.

Chicken with a hollandaise sauce and moraya pearls and cushuro.  Moraya is an Andean tuber and cushuro is a sort of cyanobacterial colony that forms small green balls in the wet ground around high Andean lakes.

From top to bottom: ayrampo crisp, avocado cream, algarrobina cream.

Besides the quality and innovation in the preparations, one detail that was impressive was that in many instances it wasn't just the dishes for one course that hit our table but actually the regular dish and one or more glutten-free or dairy-free dishes for Liz whenever the regular dish contained gluten or dairy.  In effect, we were each served a similar but still different 17-course menu!

Santa Isabel 376
Miraflores, Lima

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pachamanca in Pachacutec

Today we headed out in caravan to Pachacutec, at the northern end of the Lima metropolitan area (actually we were closer to Ancon than to San Felipe), for a pachamanca hosted by Diego and his fiancee at their new place.

A pachamanca is a an Andean method of cooking food in the ground, and is also the type of meal that is cooked that way.  The specifics vary from region to region, as does the seasoning, but generally it includes a variety of meats --beef, lamb, chicken, pork, guinea pig, etc.-- potatoes and sweet potatoes.  In some places they also put in fresh fava beans, in others bananas are included.  In Ayacucho it is customary to top it all with a small pot of cheese before covering the pachamanca with earth.

Diego's delicious pachamanca included all the requisite elements --pork, lamb, chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bananas.  He and his inlaws stayed up late last night seasoning and preparing the meat, and got up early today to make the charcoal they would need to cook the food.  Their efforts were well worth it and definitely appreciated!


Not much to report on yet.   Mostly we've been visiting with relatives here in San Felipe, puttering in the apartment --unpacking and putting stuff away, giving the kitchen cabinets a long overdue cleaning out, just chilling-- , and shopping for groceries and, perhaps, a larger and more powerful stove.

Today we are heading en masse to the Pachacutec district on the northern outskirts of the city, at the edge of Callao, to a pachamanca lunch at Diego's new place.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

We're in Lima!

We're in Lima ... And the sun came out!

We arrived two nights ago and have been visiting with Sara and the kids, mostly.  That, and getting resettled in to the apartment.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Getting ready to go!

Yup, we're just a few days away from this summer's trip to Lima.

Work is done, we've hired someone to help with a major task that had to be taken care of in the front yard, so we're ready to just focus on packing and last-minute trip preparations --and maybe start relaxing a little bit...