Connect to Peru

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Posts Tagged ‘Cuisine

The Origins of the Pisco

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piscoInstead of writing a post about pisco and its origins, here is a two-part video named “Pisco, cultural heritage of Peru” that walks you through the origins of pisco, including locations where it is produced in the south coast of Peru, official documents from centuries ago proving pisco is authentic from Peru (and nowhere else — others claimed to be pisco are really a totally different liqueur not 100% from grapes — a key characteristic of the authentic pisco), as well as interesting recipes you can make with pisco. You might also want to take note of the locations mentioned in this video which are great places where you can visit and see how pisco is produced.

Part 1

  • The history
  • The old cellars
  • The name
  • Pisco tourism

Part 2

  • Bar and Kitchen — includes commentary from Peruvian top chefs Isabel Alvarez, Gaston Acurio and Pedro Schiaffino
  • Cultural Heritage
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Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

Calling Las Vegas, New York and Miami…Gaston Acurio’s Peruvian Cuisine is on the Way!

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Traditional Lomo Saltado

Traditional Lomo Saltado

According to today’s Associated Press story published in today’s Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper, Gaston Acurio – one of Peru’s top chefs and one of the leaders in Peruvian cuisine around the world – announced his empire will be opening more La Mar seafood restaurant locations in Las Vegas, New York and Miami.

As the article states,

“Acurio hopes to inundate the U.S. and European markets with his brands, from a mall-friendly stuffed potato franchise to microwavable Peruvian favorites and seasonings for grocers. Acurio says investors have been eager to back his projects.”

Acurio brings the best of Peruvian cuisine to the palate of the international gastronomy fans — also named “neo Peruvian cuisine” which is a bit different from what traditional native Peruvian cuisine is all about. So how do you know which one is which? Might be a bit tough if you are not Peruvian or you don’t have a Peruvian friend at your table. Let’s see…I will show you the difference from visuals that might help for one of Peruvian cuisine’s most traditional dishes, the Lomo Saltado. The photo above is the traditional-styled Lomo Saltado which is more home-y, more rustically served, this is how Peruvians eat it every day. Now check the picture in the AP story and you will see it is a bit more refined and styled up. Neither of them are right or wrong, just two different styles. If you want to have the authentic one, you might want to try the traditional style of course. That is how many Peruvians have enjoyed their cuisine for many generations.

There is no question about how Acurio’s efforts have benefited and promoted tremendously the Peruvian gastronomic art (yes, it is an art) around the world. And if you want to learn more about Gaston Acurio, get a refresher of the postings I did earlier, one on his new La Mar restaurant opening in California, and another posting about its ratings.

Look forward to trying the new locations! And if you are a local in any of these three cities, let us know how was your experience!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

Where Can I Buy Peruvian Food Supplies in Virginia?

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anticuchos-cow-heartI have been getting questions on where to get Peruvian food supplies in the DC area, and here is the scoop. One of my favorite spots to do my Peruvian grocery shopping is in El Chaparral Meat Market located at 2719 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. It is a small store right across a Wholefoods Market, and carries a pretty decent variety of authentic imported supplies from Peru, including:

  • Aji panca (great to make Lomo Saltado or Anticuchos, for example)
  • Aji amarillo (the “secret” flavor behind the Papa a la Huancaina or Cau Cau)
  • Yuca (comes already peeled, cut into blocks and frozen, great to make the yuca fries with the Huancaina sauce — for first-timers you can get a taste of it at Guarapo a few blocks away)
  • Packaged instant sauces (a big life savior if you cannot find all the Peruvian native ingredients)
  • Paneton (the Italian sweet bread on every Peruvian table around Christmas and New Year’s)
  • Chocolates I used to enjoy when I was a kid, including Cua Cua, Sublime, Princesa, Lentejas, etc.

And as we come closer to Spring and getting ready for BBQ season, El Chaparral is a great spot to get some fresh meat ideally prepared for Anticuchos. The great thing for those who aren’t Peruvian is that its employees are familiar with Anticuchos, and can guide you as to what is the best meat to use.

Writing this post is making me hungry and now craving for a Papa a la Huancaina. Getting a couple of potatoes and the Huancaina packaged sauce is a quick way to get my craving satisfied right away. Yum!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

Peruvian Jose Duarte’s “Taranta” Ranked Among Top 50 Restaurants by Boston Magazine

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boston_printIt is always great to hear whenever a Peruvian succeeds abroad. Boston Magazine’s latest Dining Features Article names Jose Duarte’s restaurant Taranta among the “50 Best Restaurants” in Boston!

If you have been following my postings, I am sure you might recall the note I did on Jose’s innovative efforts on implementing “green” initiatives in the restaurant business. Click here to read my post if you missed it.

Here is how Boston Magazine’s ranking worked:

What we’ve come up with is an unprecedented ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the city, as collectively judged by the Globe, the Herald, the Phoenix, Zagat, Yelp, the Phantom Gourmet, and select posters from the Boston board on Chowhound. And, of course, ourselves, in the persons of food editor Amy Traverso and features editor Jolyon Helterman (a Cook’s Illustrated alum), with help from our critic, Corby Kummer. We reviewed the reviews, standardized the scores, and, using a little statistical wizardry, calculated a hierarchy of culinary excellence.

Listed under # 34, Taranta is described as:

Peruvian cuisine is a dizzying fusion of Spanish, African, Asian, Italian, and French influences. At this North End spot, Peruvian meets southern Italian for an even headier mix. ORDER THIS: Pork chop with sugar cane–rocoto pepper glaze.

Congratulations to Jose, and keep up with the success!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm

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

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