For the past few months I have been pushing the NYTimes travel section to do a story on Peruvian chefs in the Amazon, but they had some similar story waiting to run. In last weekends travel section I discovered what that story was. Jay Cheshes, whose food writing I admire… Read More →
A Pacific scented wind blows off the Miraflores malécon outside of the Miraflores Park hotel, where the restaurant Mesa 18 can be found. Lima has lacked a really good hotel restaurant for some time. There’s Perroquet??? in the Country Club, which is more about socialites mingling than the food, and the Sonesta El Olivar used to hire promising chefs but jumped off that train long ago. Orient Express, which manages the Miraflores Park, chose to make the restaurant a destination unto itself, rather than make it another hotel eatery like the predecessor. Gone is the stiff red and gold décor and formal setting. In came a plant filled open-air terrace and an edgy dining room designed by a Jordi Puig.
Last year after eating at Alex Atala’s D.O.M. in São Paulo I predicted that the restaurant, then #18 on San Pellegrino’s World’s Best List, would make the Top 5 in 2011. I was close. It jumped up 11 spots to #7. Thus far, no other restaurant in South America has come close to the level of D.O.M. Atala is sourcing many rare ingredients direct from farmers and artisanal vendors throughout Brazil, including the Amazon, and presenting them in a modern form. Atala isn’t focusing on foraging like at Noma or molecular gastronomy like at El Bulli. Rather he is showcasing some of the most vibrant, exciting, and unknown ingredients in a new way. Two other Brazilian restaurants, Mani (#74) and Fasano (#59), both which focus on Brazilian ingredients, also made the list.
Besides the Pisco Sour, Algarobbina, and Chilcano, the El Capitán (the Captain) is one of the most common Pisco based cocktails you will find in Peru. There is no exact date that the cocktail can be traced back to in Peru, though it was likely created by Italian immigrants in Lima with the arrival of vermouth (Cinzano Rosso) in 1854. The name, as the legend goes, is derived from military captains who rode on horseback in the altiplano near Puno and asked for a drink of pisco mixed with vermouth. Basically, the El Capitán is the Pisco version of a Manhattan.
Cusco, Peru is where many travelers to Peru fly to so they can see the famed ruins of Machu Picchu. No direct flights fly to Cusco from international destinations, therefore all travelers flying into Peru have to go through Lima where they can catch any number of cheap daily flights to the Andean capital.
Nuela’s Arroz con Pato isn’t a Peruvian Arroz con Pato. It’s more of a cross between a Peruvian arroz con pato and a Spanish paella. The restaurant, probably the top Pan-Latin restaurant in New York City right now, is often mistaken for a Peruvian one as they base quite a few dishes on Peruvian ones, use lots of Peruvian ingredients, and have a generous selection of Pisco based cocktails. Their Arroz con Pato (the name translates simply to duck with rice) has been their signature dish since opening and was named one of the New York Times’ best dishes of 2010.
The last five years have seen a boom in artisanal beer-making in Chile and there are anywhere between 70 and 90 microbreweries active in the country, ranging from backyard businesses to much larger operations. Most brewers are concentrated in the Lakes District south of Santiago, from Valdivia to Puerto Montt, as well as places further afield. These brewers are creating a significant turning point for Chilean beer.