Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back to Barranco

Opened in 2014, Barranco Beer Company's brewpub has been a resounding success.  From selling 50 liters of beer on their first night, beer sales are now in the range of 20 bbl per month, with weekend sales reaching s/. 7000, according to Rommel, one of the managers

The initial lineup of beers has been expanded and refined.   Some favorites, like the "Presidente" heffeweizen" --renamed" Jefe Weiss"-- have been retained, others -like the dunkel-- have been dropped.   In their place are new recipes for pale ales, IPA, and lagers.

Three years ago I lamented the absence of "heavier", "chewier" beers in their lineup.  I must not have been the only one asking for them, as Barranco now offers at least one porter and has just released "Saca Tu Machete", an excellent 8.7% abv / 42 IBU imperial stout made with aji limo, cacao, and algarrobina.

Another beer that is worth mentioning, and one I hope they make part of their regular lineup, even if only seasonally, is the Pepino Punch saison.  Made with pepino fruit, Pepino Punch is easily one of the best fruited beers I've ever tasted.

Barranco Beer Company
Av Almirante Miguel Grau 308
Barranco, Lima

Saturday, July 9, 2016

BarBarian (Lima, Peru)

Lima's newest addition to the growing Peruvian craft beer scene is Cerveceria Barbarian's taproom in Miraflores: BarBarian.

Located half a block from Miraflores' main park, on Calle Bonilla, BarBarian taproom has been open only since March, and already it is a popular, standing-room-only, joint late into a Friday night.  It has a friendly, open atmosphere, and the back portion is dominated by a colorful mural and a wall display of several hundred beer bottles collected over seven years by the owners.

The twety-three taps offer a mix of Barbarian's own brews and guest beers from other Peruvian craft brewers such as Nuevo Mundo, La Magdalena, Cumbres, and Sierra Andina.  All are available in 100-ml tasters, or in 200-ml and 400-ml pours.  

In addition, there is a selection of bottled Peruvian craft and import beers available for consumption on the spot or to go (currently at a 30% discount relative to the in-house price!).

There is also a kitchen, offering burgers, chicken wings, and other pub-type fare, making  this a good place for lunch, dinner, or a late night snack, washed down with quality beer.

Jacho and I had already had dinner at La Costanera 700, also in Miraflores, so we didn't eat at BarBarian -other than the complimentary cancha- but we did each enjoy some rather tasty brews!

Friday, July 8, 2016

At San Marcos University

The other day I attended one session of a multi-part, multi-day colloquium on Marxism in Latin America held at the San Marcos University.

The talks were interesting enough, but there was nothing particularly revelatory in them. Nonetheless, I was glad to have attended, but what really got my interest was the university campus itself.

The last time I had been there was, I think, 25 years ago, still during the war between the Peruvian state and the Shining Path guerrillas.

At that time, the university had been practically taken over by the Shining Path, who had infiltrated its student body and employees, and had cowed everyone into leaving them relatively undisturbed.  Guerrilla flags flew over the campus and the walls of the classrooms were covered in red-painted slogans in support of their "People's War."

The government, meanwhile, stuck in fiscal crisis after fiscal crisis, and disdainful of the university, let San Marco's coffers become nearly drained, such that repairs went undone, salaries were low and late, and even basics such as desks or chalkboards were not kept up, nor the campus repainted --not that anyone would have dared erase the guerrilla slogans. A truly sad state for the oldest university in America (it was chartered in 1551).

Today, by contrast, despite signs left over from the recent university elections, the campus was neat, clean, and orderly.  The atmosphere was truly relaxed, and young people milled about chatting and smiling.

It was neat, but also a little odd because of the contrast with all my previous experiences there. It was, though, nice to see.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


This morning Wily, Helba, my dad, and I headed off to Lurin for lunch and to visit the new museum at Pachacamac.

Pachacamac is a 1400 acre archaeological site 40 km south of Lima at the edge of the Lurin Valley. It was first settled in about AD 200, and was one of ancient Peru's primary religious piligrimage sites for over a thousand years, until the Spanish Conquest.

 The main idol of the temple of Pachacamac

The site was dedicated to the earth-creator god, Pachakamaq, who was worshipped far and wide across ancient Peru, and by many successive cultures, including the Ychma, Lima, Wari, and eventually, even, the Incas. 

The remains of the Palace of Taurichumpi, last Inca administrator of Pachacamac
Reconstructed Inca-period structures which housed the "chosen women"

The site museum is pretty much brand-new, having been opened earlier this year and it is a big improvement over the rather small and wear-worn one that had been there previously.

The new museum does not have a great many objects on display, but those it does have are very nice pieces and are arranged and selected to give a very good impression of the cultures who occupied Pachacamac and of the special nature of the site for them.

All in all, it was a great visit.

Inca-period footwear

Inca feathered headdress
Wari-period ceramic "gourd" offering
Grave covering, with spndylus shells brought from Ecuador

Spndylus and cotton necklace, and silver miniature offerings

Inca-period, male and female gold figurines

Monday, July 4, 2016

Superba bar

Long known for its cocktails and sandwiches prepared with house-made ham, the Superba has been one of Lima's favorite "old-school" haunts since its opening in 1938. (As for the name, many believe that it was originally "Superbar" and that the final "r" was dropped, but it has actually always been just "Superba".)

A couple of years ago, the original owner retired, and passed the management to his children. They've kept the place intact, while quietly turning it into one Lima's best spots for craft beer. 

A sign on the bar states that they have 90 beers on hand , but the staff told me it is more than that.  All of them are bottled (draught beer is not very common here yet), and while they may have a cooler in back somewhere, it looks like most are just kept on the shelves or counters at room temperature.

The beer geek draw however, is the couple of display fridges in the dining room, both of which are well-stocked with a pick of imported (mostly Belgian and Spanish) beers, and lots of Peruvian craft beers.

Just in the one, I counted beers from Cumbres, Sierra Andina, Beer Stache, Nuevo Mundo, Invictus, and a few others.

If one is in need of a good beer in the Limce/San Isidro area, the Superba is a go-to spot.  Their traditional Peruvian mixed drinks are good as well, as are their sandwiches, of course.

La Casa restaurant

On one of my first days here, Jose --who was in need of company for lunch-- came and rescued me from having lunch alone myself, and took me to a new restaurant opened by a friend of his.

La Casa ("The House"), located in San Isidro district, is still in its soft opening phase, but it is well on its way.  The food is solidly prepared --the conchas a la parmesana were some of the best I've ha, and the carapuclcra, which is made from freeze-dried potatoes, was very flavorful and smoky, showing that the cook knew how to prepare it in the highland way, by toasting the dried potato before rehydrating it.

Our only criticisms were of the wait staff and the decor.  Our waiter forgot to mention the specials, and when asked about them he was rather perfunctory.  With training that is something that can be fixed.

As for the decor, it isn't so much a criticism, but rather noting of a missed opportunity.  While La Casa is welcoming enough, if they had played up the house theme a bit more by, for example, mixing up furniture, with a few couches or arm chairs, "family" photos, lamps, etc., they could have made the place a bit more of an experience.  I have no doubt that they'll do fine in pulling the lunch crowds, but I think they've potentially missed the opportunity to make the place a nighttime destination spot.

In any case the food and drinks are worth visiting the place.

Conchas a la parmesana

Tequenos de lomo (won ton skins with beef filling)

Escabeche de pescado


Monday, June 27, 2016

Back in San Felipe

I've been in Lima just over a week, and am settling into the apartment and back into San Felipe.  

For those unfamiliar with Lima's topography, the Residencial San Felipe (to residents usually just, San Felipe or "la Resi") is a large housing development inaugurated in 1966 (but finished in 1968) during the presidency of Fernando Belaude Terry, who was an architect by trade.  Belaunde was determined to build housing for Lima's growing middle class and assembled a team of several hundred architects and engineers to design it.

The result, built on land that had housed the San Felipe horse racetrack, is a unique community within the city, with 30-some building in five different styles.  Despite housing for 1,085 families, and containing three nursery schools and a commercial center, close to 70% of the Resi is open space, with many and ample tree-filled gardens.

Of course, those gardens require frequent maintenance, which occasionally means pruning of trees and shrubs.  The debris, of course, must be gathered in one spot so it can be hauled away, as in the photo below, from this week.

Seeing that pile, I was reminded of an incindent from my childhood in the Resi.

In the 1970s the gardens usually were surrounded by low hedges --no more than two or three feet. In 1977 many of those were drastically pruned or removed, and many shrubs cut back, in order to deal with an infestation of rodents that had made them their home.  The resulting green waste was deposited in a single pile many times larger than the one above, in one of the parking lots.

It so happened, if I recall correctly, that this came around our midwinter school break, but it also coincided with a period of unrest against the military dictatorship headed by Gen. Francisco Morales Bermudez.  The major labor confederations went on strike, and so the debris was not hauled away from some weeks.

A friend and I started playing in it, and soon had devised a shelter in it complete with a "secret" exit. In the course of a few days we were joined by more and more neighborhood kids, and for a couple of weeks we had great fun expanding our warrens with extra rooms, hidden entrances, and long, winding tunnels, all practically invisible to the casual passerby.

We were much saddened when the government finally managed to get the place cleaned up.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Practically on my way ...

Yup, I'm in the final countdown, with about 24 hours to go before I head to the airport.

I'm trying to get the final things done for the trip, which mostly consists of not forgetting to get each one done. It seems easy enough a task, but I've been fairly distracted by other things.  Nonetheless, I think I'm in pretty good shape with it all, and ready to start packing this evening while we watch the USA v. Ecuador game of the Copa America quarter finals.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking ahead ...

The tickets are bought --well, at least mine are-- and I'm starting to really look forward to being in Lima again.

Naturally, that brings up the question of what to do in my time there.  Of course there are some housekeeping and financial issues to take care of, but those will occupy a minimum of the time, so what to do with the rest?

Granted, most of the time I will be simply living and doing what that entails in Lima: going to market in the morning for lunch, meeting relatives lunch, seeing people in the evenings after they get home from work, getting together for Sunday lunch, playing with the nephews and nieces, house chores, and so on.  

I think I'll spend the next few weeks thinking up an emphasis for this trip.

Some ideas:
  •  continue to explore the craft beer scene;
  • visit some museums I've missed in the past;
  • visit some of Lima's more than 370 pre-Columbian archaeological sites;
  • having eaten at Central, Astrid & Gaston, and Malabar, currently rated Latin America's #1,  #3 and #20 top restaurants, to now eat at Maido and at La Mar, currently Latin America's #5 and #12--which would mean having dined at Peru's top 5;
  • ...