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Archive for the ‘Cuisine’ Category

Lima Named “Gastronomic Capital of South America” by Bon Appetit Magazine in January 2009 Issue

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peru2Bon Appetit magazine’s January 2009 issue includes an amazing feature story on Peru’s capital city gastronomy with a great background on the origins of its cuisine, naming it the “Gastronomic Capital of South America”!!

Here is a great excerpt to summarize the richness of Lima’s cuisine:

“Peru really is blessed with an almost ludicrous variety of natural resources, from the great seafood of the Pacific coast to the vegetables of the temperate highlands of the Andes to the wild tropical abundance of herbs and fish from the Amazon. And the country has one of the world’s most interesting natural culinary fusions […] Perhaps most importantly, Peru is in the midst of a nationwide awakening about its own cuisine…”

And this story is a great source for those who are planning to visit Lima to make sure you try the restaurants named, including:

  • Malabar
  • Restaurant Huaca Pucllana
  • Costanera 700
  • Toshiro’s Sushi Bar
  • Chifa Kam Men
  • La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

And it is even with greater pleasure to share this story after reading how a dear friend from high school has grown so much. Well done, Pedro! Very proud to see your gastronomic success around the world!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 24, 2008 at 12:14 am

Pisco Sour: The Perfect Family- and Friends-Gathering Companion for this Holiday Season

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pisco-sour-imageSo now that you know what “pisco” is (if not, you can read my earlier post), and with the upcoming Holiday season and surely many family and friends gatherings, here is a great way how to keep your guests entertained with some good Peruvian pisco sour!

This recipe comes from a site recommended by my friend Renzo Palacios, a contributor on matters of pisco for my blog. In this English site, you can get a lot of the basic information by clicking the yellow icons on the bottom, including: what is pisco, how it is made, the fine crystal glass designed by the Austrian house Riedel with an ideal form to correctly appreciate its taste best, how to recognize a good pisco, etc.

So here is an easy-to-make recipe pulled from this site, with some tips when preparing it:

  • 3 oz. pure pisco
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz sugar syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • ice cubes (just a few enough to cool it)
  • angostura bitter

In a blender, mix the egg white and lemon juice. Add the sugar syrup, the ice cubes, and pisco. Mix again. Pour into a cocktail glass or champagne flute, and add drops of angostura bitter on top in the middle.

And here are some TIPS:

  • The secret of a good tasting pisco sour (besides using a good pisco) is the shaking of its egg whites. The more air the egg whites get when shaking, the better it will taste. That’s why many people prefer preparing it on a cocktail shaker instead of a blender.
  • Here are some fine old-renowned pisco brands you might want to try asking at your local specialty liqueur store: Ocucaje, Santiago Queirolo, or Tacama. The best type for pisco sours is the pisco coming from Quebranta grapes (read label). If you don’t find it, you can try any other brand out there, but make sure you get a Peruvian-made brand to get good quality results – and get the real pisco, not a different type of grape-made liqueur.
  • The angostura bitter will come in a bottle similar to wine or smaller. The liquid is browned-colored. You might be able to find it at a specialty liqueur store. All you will need is 2-3 drops of it in the middle of the pisco sour at the end (I personally prefer just the bitter versus adding also the cinnamon).
  • Don’t try using regular or powdered sugar instead of the sugar syrup. You will get a totally different taste.
  • Don’t replace lemon for lime. The taste of the pisco sour is great when you bring the acidity of the lemon into the mix.

If you don’t know where to get pisco or angostura bitter, you might want to check out a specialty liqueur store in your city. In the Washington DC area, I love buying my supplies at the Wine Specialist located at 2115 M Street NW (www.winespecialist.com). You can order the angostura bitter if they don’t have it on stock.

There are several ways to make a pisco sour (some change the proportions), but this one I found to be the easiest one to make.

Pisco Sour is not the only drink you can make from pisco. So make sure you stock up on those precious pisco bottles and stay tuned for more pisco-based recipes later on!

Let me know how you did! It will be a great way to rehearse for the upcoming “Pisco Sour Day” in early February!

Salud!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Peruvian Restaurant “Pardo’s Chicken” Now in Miami!

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pardosYou can ask any Peruvian about Pardo’s Chicken, and I assure you will get an expression of excitement on their face right away! It is one of the well-known local restaurants in Peru, particularly in the capital city Lima, where millions of people gather with friends and family to get a rottiserie chicken, french fries, wonderful steamed and fresh salads, Peruvian-style BBQ, Peruvian soda called Inca Kola, and other dishes and flavors of Peru.

Well, Pardo’s Chicken has just opened a new location in Miami, FL!!!!! 

If you are not familiar with Pardo’s Chicken, check out their website from Peru available in English and you can check out their menu!

The exact address is 2312 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33146, right in the heart of Coral Gables.

TIP: If you have time to kill while in the Miami International Airport, the restaurant is just 20-30 minutes away driving via all LeJeune Rd.

Yay! Can’t wait to get that yummi chicken!!!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 19, 2008 at 7:07 pm

So Now That I’m in Peru, What Food Should I Eat?

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pachamancaHeard some friend’s friends are going to Peru in the next month. And I realize if you go to a whole new continent and with SO much food to try, wonder if a non-Peruvian visitor would know where to even start?!?

But here is a list of the top five “basic” dishes you might want to make sure you eat before catching that flight back to the US or elsewhere. And when you order, ask what varieties they have: maybe chicken, pork, fish, etc. so you can have what you like.

Top 5 Appetizers

  1. Ceviche (fresh fish marinated in lemon juice with onions, sweet potato and corn)
  2. Papa a la Huancaina (boiled potatoes with a creamy sauce of yellow chili sauce, milk, crackers, and cheese served with boiled egg and black olive on top)
  3. Tiradito (this is similar to the ceviche but just the plain fresh fish marinated in lemon juice – it’s a delicatessen and not too many places have it outside of Peru, so here is your chance!)
  4. Cocktail de Camarones (fresh shrimp with avocado and golf sauce)
  5. Anticucho (grilled steak skewer, many types to try, served often with grilled potatoes and corn)

Top 5 Entrees

  1. Lomo Saltado (stew made of steak, french fries, onions, tomatoes and white rice)
  2. Aji de Gallina (shredded chicken with a yellow chili sauce served with slices of boiled potatoes and white rice)
  3. Seco (this can be made of lamb or steak, it is a stew with cilantro, and served with white rice and beans)
  4. Arroz Chaufa (this is similar to a Chinese fried rice, but make sure you go to a “Chifa”, the name of the cuisine that mixes Peruvian and Chinese flavors. If hungry, this is a perfect place to go as you can get many other types of dishes that you can enjoy with this Arroz Chaufa)
  5. Chupe de Camarones (this is perfect for shrimp lovers, similar to a chowder)
  6. Extra! You might also want to try “cuy”, the famous Andean rabbit. Some people like it, some others don’t. It is a novelty to have tried it.

Top 5 Desserts

  1. Suspiro de Limena (made with an egg yolks base, milk and meringue on top)
  2. Alfajor (cookie sandwich with condensed milk-based sauce in the middle)
  3. Mazamorra Morada (Peruvian pudding made of purple corn with pieces of fruit, such as pineapple, raisins, etc.)
  4. Picarones (Peruvian doughnuts served with a caramel sauce)
  5. Arroz con Leche (Peruvian style rice pudding)

Top 5 Drinks

  1. Pisco Sour (the Peruvian flagship drink made of the authentic Peruvian pisco (alcoholic) , the same all APEC leaders tried weeks ago)
  2. Inca Kola (this is the national soda, and Peru is the only country where a local soda beats Pepsi and Coke on market share)
  3. Chicha Morada (purple corn-based non-alcoholic drink)
  4. Chicha de Jora (traditional drink that goes back to the Inca empire times, made of yellow maize and is prepared with different degrees of alcohol, similar to an apple cider)
  5. Beers: depending on your preference, you can try Pilsen, Cuzquena (my favorite), or Cristal.

Tip: The safest bet if it’s your first time in Peru is to go for a buffet restaurant. Ask your hotel to recommend places where they serve buffets. That way you get a better chance to get a little bit of everything, and go for what you like.

And if you go to a more camp-like restaurant, you might also want to try “Pachamanca” (see picture above). It is food cooked underground with hot stones the same way the Incas did. It can be chicken, pork, steak, etc. and you can also have it with sweet potatoes, corn, potatoes, etc. This is a very unique way of cooking the food, a tradition that has gone through many generations.

And here are the top 5 places to eat in Lima, Peru according to Food & Wine magazine from my earlier post.

Hope this list helps you try some of the best traditional Peruvian dishes during your stay. There are many more options, so if you got plenty of time over there, go for it! The sky is the limit!

Bon appetit!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm

America’s Green Cuisine Gem…and He’s Peruvian!

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joseWhile in Boston, I am getting to know great sites and restaurants, but I didn’t expect to learn about Peruvian-related green cuisine! Ladies and gentlemen…let me introduce you to Jose Duarte, a Peruvian successful chef and restaurant owner of Taranta. Jose’s gastronomic style brings the wonders of two of the best cuisines in the world: Italian and Peruvian. I tried a gnocchi made with a culantro-based sauce that clearly reminded me of the Peruvian “seco de cordero”. It was a taste that brought me back home.

Located at the North End in Boston, the entrance door welcomed me with a pair of opening curtains perhaps as a sign I was entering into something new…and it was. I was greeted by Jose who since the beginning was really nice and patient to walk me through his business, his background, and of course his culinary expertise which was very exciting.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, Boston is the second largest green city (after New York) and it was great to know one of its leaders is actually Jose. According to a recent Boston Globe article, here are some of his green achievements:

  • The wine list is biodynamic, sustainable, and organic
  • The restaurant is eliminating bottled water, putting in its own carbonation and bottling system
  • The straws are green – they’re made from a corn-based polymer
  • The business cards are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and printed with soy ink
  • He wears an organic chef’s coat
  • Uses LED candles instead of wax

And particularly about bottled water, his Taranta “Going Green” blog on a December 4, 2008 post says:

“Just installed our own bottling and carbonation system for water, a very eco friendly alternative to bottled water with a carbon footprint. We will be filling and reusing our own bottles, this will reduce our storage space, less boxes being driven and less bottles to recycle. The flavor is excellent and we are continuing our funding program by donating $1 for each bottle sold to the City of Boston Green Energy Fund. We will also feature an aluminum portable bottle in our Peruvian Culinary Adventure to in March 2009 courtesy of Natura Water.”

Great, huh? But here’s what was also pretty interesting to me: I tried the Peruvian flagship drink Pisco Sour and Jose made me notice something peculiar about it: the foam. His pisco sours are made from powdered egg whites, which ensures health standards are met and avoid viruses such as the salmonella that most other restaurants don’t keep in mind. The taste and body of the pisco sour is great made out of a great quality pisco from Peru. With that excuse, I made sure I had one for dinner after my chat with Jose.

As a Peruvian, it is great to see how he is leading the way on green restaurants. And even more so if you can enjoy a great Italian delicatessen with a Peruvian kick (yum) and support environmental sustainability! Go Jose!

Taranta is located at 210 Hanover Street, Boston, MA.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Peru Becomes First South American Country to Get Travelers Guide by National Geographic

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nat-geoIn early February 2009, you might want to make sure you get a copy of Peru’s Travelers Guide to be published by National Geographic, the first one from countries in South America. There are only 58 other countries to have a guide in the world.

Featuring unique information on local culture, food, history and population, Peru’s Travelers Guide will release a record number of copies of 17,000 versus just 6,000-8,000 for other countries given the increasing interest in Peru by foreigners.

A Spanish version will also be available late 2009, as Andina reports.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 12, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Where to Get a Good Pisco Sour in Boston

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pisco-sourIn search for a nice place to grab dinner in Boston, my sister took me to this restaurant called “Orinoco”.

Despite not having Peruvian dishes (more of a Venezuelan/Latin American cuisine style), to my surprise they made this great pisco sour. Spoke with the bar tender who isn’t Peruvian, and he pretty much gave me the original Peruvian recipe which explains why it was so good!

I went to one of their two locations in 22 Harvard Street in the Brookline area (off the train – or “T” as they call it here – stop). Their other location is in 477 Shawmut Avenue in the Boston area.

You should check it out if you are in the Boston area. Click here to go to their website.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Food & Wine Magazine: Top 5 Places to Eat in Lima, Peru

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The November 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine listed the top five “must-go” restaurants.

These are great restaurants but typically pricey. In a later posting I will compile some smaller-scale restaurants which still give you the great Peruvian cuisine for a lower price. Tough times, tight budgets!

In the meantime, here are the top five:

Astrid Y Gastón: Gastón Acurio’s modern Peruvian spot offers remarkable dishes, like lacquered goat cooked with chicha (corn beer).

Chez Wong: Javier Wong’s restaurant, inside his house, has no menu. Meals start with simple sole ceviche; the next course depends on the chef’s whim and the day’s catch.

El Rincón Que No Conoces: Chef-owner Teresa Izquierdo is a champion of African- and Spanish-influenced Criollo cooking, notable for endless pots of great beans and tripe.

Fiesta: A sophisticated spot serving distinctive dishes from north Peru’s Moche civilization, like quickly grilled cured grouper.

La Mar: Acurio’s ceviche restaurant, which has a San Francisco outpost, serves dozens of versions of cured fish, including a delicate sea urchin. [Check out my earlier posts on the San Francisco La Mar here, and its ratings here]

If you go to each of them in the article, it will give you more information about each restaurant, including exact location in Lima.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

What Makes Pisco Unique From Other Types of Brandy? by Renzo Palacios

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pasion-por-el-piscoMy friend Renzo Palacios, also a native Peruvian living in the U.S., is known for his great knowledge and taste on making the best pisco sours. That’s why I had to make him the first of my contributors to my blog, one because he is the coolest, and second because it is great to know things about the authentic pisco which is made in Peru. And take note he likes reading this book you can purchase on your next trip to Lima called “Pasion por el Pisco” (Passion for Pisco) written by Jhonny Schuler from where he got some of the information to write this piece. Thanks Renzo!

Pisco, the flagship drink from Peru, is a pure grape juice distillation without any other ingredients, compared to the Italian Grappa, the Galician Orujo, the French Marc, the Greek Tziroupo, the German Trestten, and the rest of brandy in the world which aren’t pure.

Pisco is made from the must just fermented, whereas other brandy are made from the distillation of orujos which is comprised by the rests from the grape after pressing it to make wine and includes grape skin, seeds, and parts of the bunch.

Another difference pisco has to other types of brandy, is its noble nature since the beginning. A good pisco embraces the richness of its aromatic palette and its tasting structure that comes from the different types of pisco grapes used for its preparation.

Also, pisco doesn’t go through certain rectification processes as happens with other brandy that need to age to obtain their new features.

Finally, pisco doesn’t require water to regulate its alcoholic content as other types of brandy do.

In Peru, the production of pisco has significantly grown. Currently there are more than 400 bodegas producing pisco in the country. In fact, statistics about consumption of pisco continue increasing between 10-15% in the past eight years, and exports of pisco have grown in average 40% since 2002.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 11, 2008 at 3:42 pm

It’s Official: Peru Wins Guinness Record for Largest Ceviche in the World

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ceviche2Following up from my earlier post, Peru today won the Guinness World Record for preparing the world’s largest ceviche weighing 4.5 tons, as Peru’s newspaper El Comercio reports.

You can watch two pictures of this historic event by clicking here.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 8, 2008 at 1:19 am