Connect to Peru

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How is Peru Celebrating “Pisco Day”?

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Tourists Enjoy Pisco Sours in Lima (Andina)

Tourists Enjoy Pisco Sours in Lima (Andina)

The Pisco Sour, the most symbolic beverage of Peru and considerd a “national cultural patrimony”, will be starring this weekend’s crowded festivals in Peru, with thousands of free tastings, contests and dances throughout the country, as the largest Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reports.

Many activities, such as free tastings, competitions and dances are taking place in the capital city of Lima, and throughout the nation since Thursday, February 5 thru tomorrow Sunday, February 8.

In Lima, the Municipality of Surco, Peru’s Ministry of Production and the National Commission of Pisco (Conapisco) will host the 6th National Pisco Sour Festival at the Parque de la Amistad in Surco district.

Andina news reports:

Visitors will have the opportunity to sample Peru’s flagship drink and enjoy a series of artistic and cultural activities. The festival will open at 12:00 (local time) with a Pisco Sour toast and thereafter local authorities will unveil a bust of Victor Morris, creator of the original Pisco Sour recipe.

At 15:00, several young students will participate in a Pisco Sour contest; while at 18:00, the “Pisco Sour: History and Tradition” book by Guillermo Díaz Vera will be presented.

Afterwards, Peruvian historian Luis Repetto, journalist Raul Vargas and deputy foreign minister Gonzalo Gutiérrez will comment on certain particulars of this book.

The Pisco Sour contest will continue on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 15:00 with the professional category and then Creole singer Cecilia Barraza will perform for the audience at 21:30.

The celebrations will end on Sunday, Feb 8, at 15:00 with the final of the Pisco Sour contest in the champions category. All these shows and activities are free.

The Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park) is located in the Limean district of Surco, a block from the intersection of Benavides and Caminos del Inca Avenues.

In the provinces of Peru, many free demonstrations will take place this weekend, as well as dances and all kinds of activities to promote the Pisco Sour.

In the southern region of Ica, where the pisco originated, visitors will receive 3,000 free Pisco Sour drinks, and the Pisco Producers Association will elect its “Queen of the Pisco”.

Contests will take place where bartenders, chefs, students or fans will prepare their own recipes and look to win the prize for the “Best Pisco Sour”.

Written by Catherine Castro

February 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Posted in drinks, Events, News, Travel

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Engineer and Son from Rochester, Minnesota Explore the Peruvian Amazon and Machu Picchu

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limaThe Post Bulletin paper from Rochester, Minnesota, recently published a travel article written by engineer April Horne who decided to travel to Peru with her eight-grade student son Garrison Komanieckiand.

The destinations within Peru included Machu Picchu, one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, and the Amazon River/Rainforest, which is currently ranked No. 3 in the voting for Natural Wonders of the World.

While at Lima (where the major international airport is located), they explored the city and said:

“We walked through beautiful cathedrals, including one with extensive catacomb structures, an engineering marvel that had survived numerous severe earthquakes. We also saw pre-Incan ruins dating back to about 600 A.D.”

While in the Amazon, she highlights:

“We learned how to shoot a blow gun and danced around a fire with the villagers. We were struck by the simple life of the villagers, with minimal possessions, open-air huts and a diet consisting of fish, bananas and the occasional sloth or monkey. We ended our rainforest stay with a “recovery” stop at Ceiba Tops, a luxury resort with hot and cold running water and a swimming pool.

And on her trip to Machu Picchu, she says:

Our guide told us about the different sections of the Lost City, pointing out agricultural areas and living quarters, temples, channels for drinking water and waste water. He showed us how structures were built to study the stars and movements of the sun. We finished with a hike up a portion of the Incan Trail to the Sun Gate.

Click here to read the full article.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

Colorado Reporter Qualifies the Inca Heart as “Strong and Mysterious”

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bildeIt is always interesting to read how foreigners explore Peru and share their journey with the world. In a recent local Colorado newspaper “Summit Daily News” reporter Megan Wheat documents her trek to Machu Picchu. It was great to read how she summarizes her trip:

Our journey through Peru was simply put — an adventure. For me, Machu Picchu was the highlight, and provided education and exploration. In Peru, the culture is rich, the faces friendly, and the ruins and Incas who built them, wondrous.

To read about this reporter’s journey to Peru, and to get her great traveler’s tips, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 26, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Lima International Airport Inaugurates Phase II of Expansion

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peru_overviewOn your next visit to Peru as you arrive into Lima’s International Airport “Jorge Chavez” you might notice changes compared to your last visit. The infrastructure modernization program of the airport was inaugurated and will benefit its 10 million tourists estimated to arrive in the next few years, as El Comercio reports.

The Phase II expansion will bring the following benefits to tourists:

  • More immigration counters for quicker service particularly during peak hours
  • Expansion of the duty free
  • Improved luggage service

Never been to Peru? Here is a great video produced by the German TV network Deutsche Welle on the airport management group and improvements made to the Lima International Airport, including safety for tourists and efficiency of its operations. And here is another video with a glance around the airport.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 16, 2009 at 2:30 am

Afro-Peruvian Rhythms with Novalima Coming Up to New York in March 2009

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novalimaDiversity is a pretty good word to describe Peru — its culture, its history, its food. Among the diversity of cultures and races that still remain in Peru are the descendants of the immigration flow from the African continent several centuries ago. Afro-Peruvian music is perhaps one of the most treasured rhythms you might want to learn if you are exploring Peruvian native music.

New York Daily News writes an article about “Novalima”, a new fusion-type of band who will be releasing worldwide their new CD “Coba Coba” this month and will be performing in New York in March. Click here to watch a video on one of their hit songs “Machete”.

Just so you get a taste of what traditional Peruvian African music is all about (and who served as inspiration to Novalima), click here to listen to the authentic song behind “Machete” called “El Mayoral” performed by Eva Ayllon, one of the most widely known ambassadors to Afro-Peruvian  music.

And if you go to Peru, Chincha is a city in the department of Ica (south of the department of Lima) where you will be able to find the oldest generations of original Afro-Peruvian families. You can get to Chincha by driving the Panamericana Sur highway with some nice beaches along the road. One of the most known native family names is the Balleumbrosio’s, and you can click here and here to watch videos on this exotic dance you might be able to enjoy live on your trip!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 15, 2009 at 6:00 am

Ready to Fly? Paragliding in Lima, Peru

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tandem_paraglidingIf you are of the adventure type, paragliding might be something you’d like to try for your next visit to Lima.

It is done in the Miraflores/Larcomar area right next to the beach which is where most of the top hotels (e.g. Marriott) in Lima are located. So ask your hotel or travel agent for a paragliding company nearby.

Here is a fun video of what you’ll be able to enjoy. Are you ready?!?

Written by Catherine Castro

January 14, 2009 at 11:06 am

Peru’s Skies Connecting to Cuba’s Starting March 23 via TACA

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tacaStarting March 23, TACA airlines has announced they will be serving direct flights between Lima, Peru and La Havana, Cuba, as an article in Living in Peru reports.

There will be 3 flights to and from both cities every week.

So perhaps a little stay in La Havana before heading to your final destination, or maybe making a stop in Peru coming from La Havana on your Latin American tour might be a good option to consider now!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Posted in News, Travel

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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

Cajamarca To Become Peru’s Carnival Capital in 2009

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cajamarcaCajamarca is one of the 24 departments of Peru located in the far north Highlands region (see my earlier post to get a map). In order to promote it as a tourist attraction all throughout the country and around the world, the local government will be registering Cajamarca to be known as “Peru’s Carnival Capital” to the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi).

As Andina reports,

One of the most important carnival celebrations is the Cajamarca Carnival, considered one of the country’s most famous festivals during February and March. During the carnival, locals from different parts of the region compete with other neighborhoods in a dance and music contest. Afterward, a parade is organized where all can enjoy the festive music and dances. This celebration lasts for one month with eight main days.

For those who have gone to the Brazilian Carnival, Cajamarca’s carnivals aren’t as big or crazy of a party. Very differently, they are traditionalist and a place where you can enjoy the colorful folkloric dresses and dances that have gone through several generations in history. And most likely, there will be great traditional dishes sold at stands and restaurants nearby.

It is a great target if you are planning to visit Peru between February and March 2009! And if you have several days of stay in Peru, you might want to enjoy a trip driving from Lima to Cajamarca which takes 12-13 hours, but worth making stops along the way to enjoy the local dishes and archaeological sites. And if you don’t have too much time, you can also catch a flight from Lima.

Here is a good video where you can get a glance of the drive from Lima to Cajamarca. You can also watch Cajamarca’s main square, archaeological sites, as well as the “Banos del Inca” which are the saunas used back at the time of the Inca empire as spiritual purifiers for the royalty.

And here is a good map of an illustration of Cajamarca’s tourism sites nearby.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 23, 2008 at 10:55 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