This is the last leg of the Peru trip, and the most excited part for me. Even as this whole gastronomical experience is 3 weeks behind me, editing the pictures today and spilling the words out onto the screen starts up the kilos of drool that sits behind my mouth, ready to ingest some sea creatures and exotic rainforest ingredients.
I had to do my research in such a short amount of time- categorizing my lists to divide and conquer. I only had three days; which means 6 big meals, in addition to snacks in between. Breakfast was out of the equation; there was no way convincing my other half to leave the comfort of the bed, drive to the other side of the city to take in some eggs benedict, when he could walk one step down to a full-serviced breakfast. That’s fine with me because I ended up finding an excuse to drag him out at 10am for a “coffee” before lunch, which ended up to be a fabulous cappuccino with a series of Italian pastries I stuffed in my mouth at San Antonio Bakery.
Cevicherias. If only I could eat the whole city dry to compare the quality and price. La Mar, one of Gaston’s creations, had a funky, tropical, chic semi-outdoor seating, with hot local young crowd and tourists sitting side by side; his complimentary chips (so far it seems that he does complimentary snacks fantastically well) and five-tasting ceviche is a great cherry-popper for new timers with ceviche. Another place down the road is Pescados Capitales which does some seriousness: delightfully tender grilled octopus, refined creamy tacu tacu, and authentic flavours and freshness of the ceviche. The outdoor open-air space draws an crowd of locals celebrating an event, families, and the business lunches. My favorite so far is El Muelle in the Barranco neighborhood: beach-like plastic chairs, no-frill, big portions, fresh, and asian-style cheap. Our meal was $20 for a big portion of mussel soup, a plate of ceviche, arroz y mariscos, fried calamari and some beer- 1/4 of the price we spend in the two previous places.
Haute Cuisine. One word: Malabar. The only pisco drinks that I’ve been convinced to love is here at their bar, and stepping a few feet is the well-serviced, small dining room that served dishes after dishes that surprised; the thought behind the dishes were detailed, thoughtful, executed with care, unique, and tickled my happy curiosity. The highlight became the whole experience: the stones that warm/cool the butter and bread, delicious morsels of the appetizers, tender bites of beef tongue, hearty bone marrow dish, and the petite fours that blew my expectation to another level. (Fyi: instead of ordering mains, we decided to order lots of appetizers to share.) On the other hand, Astrid & Gaston, one of the top 100 restaurants in the world, seemed to be packed with more busy-bee service than actually providing real service. Their complimentary bread, was again fantastic, and all the dishes we put in our mouth was good; it was solid good dishes, but not Top 35, mindblowing. Instead the highlight of the meal and the best dessert of the trip was Astrid’s chocolate ball. Everything else was similar to all Gaston’s restaurants: chain-like corporate fine-dining. Fun, good, but a bit lacking at the heart.