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Posts Tagged ‘Food

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

Merry Christmas a la Peruvian, by Las Canteras’ Executive Chef Eddy Ancasi

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eddy-ancasiLocated in the Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area, Las Canteras Restaurant & Bar is one of Washington DC’s Peruvian food hot spots where you can get several authentic dishes and of course Pisco Sours. For today’s Christmas post, its executive chef Eddy Ancasi – a native Peruvian from Arequipa, a department located in the South West of Peru – is our special guest!

A typical Peruvian Christmas starts with a big dinner on the 24th with a table full of dishes similar to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is the typical main dish, although lately there have been variations of pork or chicken; side dishes include potatoes or white rice; as well as traditional homemade hot chocolate, and paneton (an Italian sweet bread). At midnight, everyone hugs and grabs their presents from underneath the Christmas tree and opens them, while fireworks start going on everywhere. After a few hours of kids enjoying their presents, everyone goes to sleep after much chit chat. The next morning, the family gathers again for lunch to eat leftovers or they all go to a nice family restaurant and continue the celebration. If you are married, having a two-day celebration gives you the chance to spend at each other’s families.

And, here is how chef Eddy Ancasi remembers his own Christmas family gatherings:

Over the years, the celebration of Christmas has evolved. In my childhood — in the mountain town of Chuchibamba — Christmas was a mostly Catholic affair. It centered around singing — carols and folk holiday songs called villancicos. And there was always hot beverages made from dark Peruvian chocolate and paneton. Later, when I moved to Arequipa, Christmas eve was a time of family reunion. All my relatives gathered around a long table laden with turkey, mashed potatoes and different kinds of salads — Russian salad, potato salad and so on. Still later, when I moved to the Washington D.C. area, Christmas became a time for gift giving, seeing friends, and of course, gorging on “Causa de Pollo” and other classic Peruvian dishes.

I guess to nobody’s surprise Peruvian food is the main guest of the party regardless of where in Peru you are from. No wonder the expression “love grows through the stomach”.

Have a wonderful Christmas Day!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 25, 2008 at 12:48 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

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

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