saturday, june 22, 2013

Franklin Barbecue and Being Part of The Experience

I often use Peru's famed "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu as an example of things which have become so unbelievably overhyped there is no possible way they can live up to the promise -- but it does. Everybody talks about going to Machu Picchu and having returned raves about the experience.  Because when you finally make the trek to see it you're gonna be dumbfounded like the rest of us.

That experience is actually quite a bit of hassle. Getting there carves days out of a trip to Peru and you are part of a torrent of tourists pretty much from the moment you step off the plane in Cusco. You know very well you are being sold a very effective marketing narrative from the start.

But when you stand on the top of that hill and look down on the place, somehow, it grips you in an almost visceral way. Just like it has done for everyone else who has gone before you. You become a believer and, inescapably, part of this strange and bizarre cycle. read more

posted by kleph @ 8:00 am | comments

thursday, june 28, 2007

La Red

The far north section of Miraflores roughly along La Mar Avenue has been transformed into an epicenter of Peruvian seafood establishments. More than a half-dozen of Lima’s premier eateries featuring the abundance of the country’s waters are to be found in this little neighborhood.

Many of these places have opened in recent years – major restaurants backed by well known chefs – but there is at least one that is a long-time landmark here, so much so it is pretty easy to miss it when you venture into this little cluster of streets.

From the street, La Red looks like one of the countless neighborhood markets found across Peru. Most likely, this was originally a home and an informal restaurant was opened in the front room. The back-story certainly lends credence to that theory. read more

posted by kleph @ 6:00 pm | 0 comments

thursday, june 14, 2007

Los Mundialistas

Finding decent Peruvian food in the heart of Cusco can be an uphill battle. While there are a few high-end locales that boast excellent novoandino fare, you are mostly besieged with an onslaught of pizzerias and a bland imitation of what this country is capable of in the kitchen.

In such a situation it is usually best to go where the natives go and in Cusco that is to the small side street Pampas del Castillo. This half street/half sidewalk a handful of blocks from the main square boasts a dozen or so hole-in-the-wall chicharoneria’s – restaurants serving freshly fried pork plates.

And, one of the most famed chicharonerias on this little boulevard is Los Mundialistas. For more than three decades this emporium has been serving meals to Cuscos working stiffs and artists. It’s packed every day and there are damned few gringos to be found hunched over its tables. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:00 pm | 1 comments

monday, may 21, 2007

Sonia

Twenty-eight years ago, the wife of a fisherman in the beachside town of Chorillos near Lima opened a little restaurant with four tables and an abiding respect for the bounty of the Peruvian sea.

Sonia Bahamonde's restaurant, Sonia, has gone from that humble beginning to taking its place as one of the premier seafood restaurants in Lima.

The restaurant earned a smidgen of international renown last year when it was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. He was brought to Sonia by Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio who, on the program, explained his reason for selecting the establishment thusly:

"Because the owner is a fisherman. Because his wife is a cook... And because this is the real flavor that Peruvians love." read more

posted by kleph @ 2:00 am | 0 comments

monday, october 09, 2006

Rincón Chami

There is just something about a bar-style diner that sings to the southern heart that beats within my breast.

Rincón Chami is about a block off the Parque Kennedy in the heart of Miraflores. That puts it just close enough to the horde of crap restaurants aimed at pulling in bewildered gringos that I was a bit suspicious of the place. The patio full of gore-tex clad Westerners clutching their backpacks as they tried to thumb through their travel guides that seemed ubiquitous at the place on the weekend didn’t help.

But, after moving into a small apartment a few blocks away, I started passing the place during the week and I noticed something. There were a LOT of Peruvians that ate here regularly. Moreover, even when the tourists were filling the front tables, the back ones were filled with the local residents. read more

posted by kleph @ 3:23 am | 1 comments

tuesday, september 26, 2006

Hocca Bar

Decadence cannot be overrated but it certainly can be overdone, which is why it is often best left to the professionals.

Even so, I firmly believe that on occasion we all need to experience the truth of the maxim that "too much is not quite enough."

Which is why Hocca Bar is such a glorious delight. This Sao Paulo institution has mastered the glory of luncheon counter decadence allowing us mere mortals to delight in excess we’d dare not venture into elsewhere.

Take the unrepentant gluttony of the mortadela sandwich. This is a heaping slab of meat grilled up hot with a layer of sautéed onions and melted mozzarella cheese covering the whole proceeding. This is a concoction to rival the powerful glory of a properly done Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.

But be prepared; this is your first heart attack served up on a paper plate with not a single iota of apology or a smidgen of regret. They leave that to you. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:39 am | 3 comments

friday, august 04, 2006

Inka Grill

An ubiquitous feature to every town in Peru is the restaurant on the Plaza de Armas. It’s almost as if it were a law somewhere. And the larger the town the more likely there is a person wielding a menu on the sidewalk imploring passers by to come sample their culinary creations.

Too often they are simply set up to take advantage of tourists by featuring the regional highlights but with very little inspiration. The goal is to get you drinking where they will make some real money.

Since Cusco is the gateway to the famed Inca city of Macchu Picchu and a tourist destination in its own right. More than any other Peruvian city, it caters to the tourist industry and, sadly, this means that the pizzeria reigns supreme. Which is why the Inka Grill is such a wonderful change of pace. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:31 am | 0 comments

saturday, july 01, 2006

Fiesta Restaurant Gourmet

I often say Peru is a lot like Louisiana in many ways and never more so than when it comes to food. The Bayou State and this Andean country share the culinary advantages of a plentiful natural larder allied with a vibrant mix of cultures throughout their history.

One more frustrating shared trait is that the ubiquity of places to find great food is counterbalanced by a lack of places that serve fine food. While excellent food is to be found in pretty much anywhere in Louisiana you pretty much have to head to New Orleans to find a four star restaurant.

And it is similar in Peru. Which is why I have so enjoyed the unique approach of Fiesta Restaurant Gourmet.

Fiesta is not the cutting edge. You won’t find bold Novoandino creations attempting to fuse a multifold number of culinary traditions on the menu. It is not the type of place where people wearing a lot of Prada flock to. Fiesta is the kind of restaurant that fills with families after mass late Sunday mornings. read more

posted by kleph @ 10:44 pm | 0 comments

wednesday, may 10, 2006

Fusion

Fusion is all about first impressions. The restaurant, which seems to be situated in a former residence in this upscale district of Lima, has a cool and sleek décor.

The design is minimal with frosted windows and glass doors but no paintings or pictures on the walls. The chic 50s’ meets the sushi bar furnishings dominated with mahoganies and burgundies. Their comfortable gravity is contrasted well with the fresh cream of the walls.

There is a reassuring element of style that makes one look forward in anticipation to what wonders lie waiting in the menu. That is the work of Rafael Piqueras, a 29-year-old wunderkund who studied at Cordon Bleu in Lima before heading to Italy for further training. He did stints at the world-famous El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca, both in Spain. So his return to Lima is a much-anticipated homecoming and an opportunity for him to wield his prodigious talents at his native cuisine. read more

posted by kleph @ 8:09 pm | 0 comments

saturday, april 22, 2006

La Mar

In the year since it opened its doors for the first time, La Mar has been one of the hottest dining spots in all of Lima. The popularity of the place isn’t a passing fancy. There is a lot more going on here than just being hip - there is some serious cooking being done.

La Mar is the brainchild of Gaston Acurio, Peru’s wunderkund chef. He says he looked around Peru for the “perfect” cebicheria - a seafood restaruant serving dishes in the traditional Peruvian style - and, when he couldn’t find one, decided to start his own.

Peru has always boasted an abundance from the sea and the cuisines that have emerged here have always highlighted this largess. It has only been relatively recently that there has been an emergence of restaurants that are attempting to take this long and rich tradition forward into new territory of fine dining. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:11 am | 0 comments

thursday, april 13, 2006

Astrid y Gaston

Peruvian Chef Gaston Acurio has long been the brightest star in the Peruvian culinary firmament and his fame is steadily growing internationally.

His restaurants are popping up across North and South America but the heart of his cooking philosophy can still be found in his original storefront, Astrid y Gaston, tucked away in a corner the Miraflores section of Lima. This is the restaurant that was recognized as the 3rd best in Latin America and the 74th in the world by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Named for he and his wife, the restaurant opened more than a decade ago and has been a mainstay in the Lima culinary scene ever since. There are already branches in Santiago, Quito and Bogotá and plans are in the works to open new ones in Panama City, and Mexico City. read more

posted by kleph @ 4:07 pm | 0 comments

sunday, april 02, 2006

Pescados Capitales

Pescados Capitales has been one of the most esteemed cevicherías in the Peruvian capital since the brothers Vi­ctor and Zue Chang Say opened it four years ago. The duo have risen fast since opening their first restaurant in 1997 in Madrid and this restaurant is a testament to their prowess as restaurateurs.

The restaurant sits snugly on the end of Aveneda La Mar at the edge of the Miraflores district in Lima. It’s façade gives only the slight hint of the riches to be found inside but once through the large wood door you are met an airy elegance that sets the tone for your meal. The open feel of the restaurant’s décor is inviting and casual. The brick and wood layout evokes an almost zen simplicity in terms of design while staying true to the feel of a provincial cevicherías with touches like the white walls and bamboo thatch ceiling. read more

posted by kleph @ 3:57 pm | 1 comments