Day 1… I try to eat the whole city in one day.
Peru is known for being one of the major producers and fair trade coffee producers in the world. I started at Tostaduria Bisetti coffee shop in the Barranco neighborhood, where they have an onsite coffee “laboratory” where they literally check, bean by bean, the quality of their product before roasting. But since Peru is also know for it’s cacoa (not cocoa, as American’s have been misspelling it for decades) I decided on a Mocha Coffee – mixing the best of two worlds. Every beverage needs a companion, so I nibbled (aka devoured) on a warm peruvian sweet potato blondie. Peru has 4,000 types of potatoes, but alas… they only actually eat 2,000 of them. That’s right, I said 2,000. I can’t decide what is more amazing, the potato variety – or that they also grow 3,000 types of quinoa.
With a proper start to the day behind me I decide to freshen it up a bit. I head to La Bodega Verde and order the countries national smoothie. Once known as the Gold of the Incas, the lucama fruit is widely enjoyed in Peruvian cuisine and is a favorite ice cream flavor. The smoothie includes a dash of vanilla and milk, and I can only describe it as sweet, butterscotch, caramel, banana concoction that puts my smoothies to shame. I’m told you can get lucuma powder in the states, and it turns out it’s on click away and now in my Amazon cart, so it will be home waiting for me when I return (Score!) This fruit’s skin starts to naturally split at the top so you know when it’s ripe. Genius if you ask me.
But I must keep forging on. Time to hit a market – and I go to the one in San Isidro because this is where Gaston Acurio get’s his produce. This will be more relevant once I dine at Astrid & Gaston on Saturday. Sorry for the spoiler alert, come back and read about that later.
The fruit stall is brighter and more approachable than many others I’ve been to. Here you can touch, smell, and study the fruits and vegetables. (Don’t try that in Florence, where you can get your hand slapped for touching…) Time to try to Pepino (melon pear), Chirimoya (custard apple), Granadilla (same in English – and the one I’m sucking like an oyster in the picture), Aquaymanton (Goldenberry), and Tuna (nope – not fish, actually a prickly pear). See, I eat healthy too.
Time for a drink, namely a Pisco Sour, the countries national drink. They drink them everywhere, all the time. To make a Pisco Sour, start with a 80 proof non-aromatic pisco, and keep tight ratios. 3 oz pisco, 1 oz lime juice, 1 oz simple syrup, and 1 large egg white. Shake vigorously, and pour into a coupe glass. It truly strikes a perfect balance. And let’s get serious – the egg white technically makes this a protein drink. Maybe I’ll have two.
But if a Pisco Sour is the national drink, then ceviche is their national food. Served only at lunch, and using only that mornings fresh white fish, ceviche is eaten weekly, if not daily by most locals. I’m going to make mine at Embarcadero 41 Fusion. It’s pretty simple, and you can find the recipe here. But really – we’re talking about white fish, red onion, cilantro, spicy chili pepper, fish stock, lime juice, and a “sauce”. Get ready for the freshest and cleanest ceviche you’ve ever tasted!
Perhaps it’s time for a proper lunch across from The Huaca ruins dating back to 500 A.D. La Huaca Pucllana is the place to be. This is not your standard TGIFriday’s sampler platter coming out to greet me. Those beautiful chunks a meat over toasted corn you see there – grilled beef hearts. Sorry vegetarians – we meat eaters use every part of the animal we can to respect it’s life. And because it tastes good. Wrap it up with a series of small desserts – each with local Peruvian ingredients and you have the prefect recipe for a 2 hour siesta back in my room. How else am I going to make room for dinner?