I know, I know what you’re thinking. Holy cow, you guys actually got to Lima without any problems. Yes, yes we did. I’ll tell you what though, we actually made an under-over bet in the terminal if our Lima guide would actually be at the airport. We had a moment of panic when we stepped off and no one was there, but we just got off the plane a wee bit early. Shortly after, our guide arrived and led us to our transportation. The airport in Lima is situated a good 45 minutes from the city center so we were lucky enough to get a scenic drive alongside the Pacific Ocean. The water was loaded with surfers, as it’s rough surf with lots of waves (apparently people come all over to surf here).
Ironically, though right by the ocean, Lima is actually pretty much a desert. If it wasn’t for the watering of the trees and wildlife in the area, it would actually be quite dry. Now unlike most places we stayed, Lima is actually a modern urban city. This does however come with lots of traffic, but also a plethora of yummy food destinations. Lima is actually a bit of a foodie mecca. So this post will of course feature RECIPES!!! Get excited!! I know that’s why you all stopped by today anyway!! Those promises of recipes are finally coming to fruition! The dishes they are most well known for are ceviche, pisco sours, and guinea pig (or cuy in Spanish). While I am a very adventurous, guinea pig was a bit much for me, especially as it usually comes out fried with a little veggie or fruit ‘hat.’ When you grow up with that as a pet, it’s a little hard to stomach eating one of them.
Getting to Lima later, we got settled in the adorable B&B, Quinta Miraflores Boutique Hotel, where we were staying and headed to Amaz for a truly spectacular dinner. If you’re ever in town, I’d highly recommend it. It has different dishes for just about any kind of eater. Plus, the Pisco Sours are to die for.
Something we booked ahead of time (as we both enjoy different culture’s foods) was a guided food tour of Lima. We started our tour with a brief stroll in the city and some great info from our guide while walking across Lima’s famous Bridge of Sighs. Legend has it that a wealthy man’s daughter was forbidden to see the man she loved because he was a street sweeper. Heartbroken, she would stand by her window and sigh within earshot of those who crossed the bridge, hence the name. Tradition states that when you walk across, you hold your breath, and make a wish. If you can make it the other side without taking a breath, your wish will come true. It’s also good luck for lovers to hold hands and hold their breath as they walk over. Pretty cool right? The bridge has a pretty cool view of some art work as well as a beautiful garden next to it with statues of famous Peruvians.
Our first food stop was a little coffee shop called, La Marzocco. It’s a funky little eclectic shop that is a hub for artists, writers, and coffee lovers. They actually get their coffee straight from the rainforest and they hand sort and roast the beans right on the premises. We got to choose from a wide variety of coffee drinks, espressos, macchiatos, lattes, americanos, etc. which were served with little biscotti and sweet potato bread (think pumpkin bread and delicious). The hubs and I went with an espresso and latte. Everyone in our group tried something a bit different but the consensus was positive. Loved the vibe of this place, you could just tell the owner loved the arts!
Coffee beans growing on the back patio. Even though they don’t grow well in this area (it’s too dry and cool) the owners wanted to at least try to grow some.
Filled with some caffeine, our next stop took us to a little brunch place where we got to try a fruit smoothie. And no, not like smoothies here. This was made from the fruit called Lucuma. It actually kind of looks like an avocado and a mango had a baby. The inside is orange and has a texture kind of like a semi-cooked sweet potato. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, rich in antioxidants, and low on the glycemic index. However, truthfully, I thought it tasted like mango flavored Pepto Bismol. It was very chalky. Our group seemed to be split 50/50 with likes vs dislikes.
Our next stop was, eeekk, a local Peruvian market. Filled with allll sorts of goodies. We went to one of the best fruit and veggies stands in the market that is known throughout the region for the quality of the owner’s goods. There, our guide told us about all the local fruits and we got to try about 15 different kinds! Custard apples were Sean’s favorite while the mango (I know.. boorrring) was my fav. Seriously one of the most juicy and sweetest mangos I’ve ever had! We also go to try a smaller avocado that doesn’t have seeds?! Imagine that? But seriously, how pretty is all this produce!
In the same market, we headed to the seafood stand. The fish in Lima is soo fresh every day that Peruvians joke that you can’t have ceviche for dinner because the ‘fish isn’t fresh.’ Such a variety from octopus to shrimp, even scallops and oysters. How fantastic is that octopus?! Photo shoot idea… maybe?
From the market, we headed to our recipe spot! We pulled up to Embarcadero 41 Fusion and headed inside to learn from the restaurant’s chef and bartender how to make both pisco sours and ceviche! You’re getting excited aren’t you? Well you should be! It was amazing! First on the lesson plan was pisco sours. Now a little bit about the main ingredient, pisco. Pisco is a white brandy made in Peru from muscat grapes. Pisco was developed by 16th century Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo (their traditional brandy). There are a TON of different piscos in Peru, from different grades and processing to a huge variety of flavors. A lot of places will soak pisco with different foods like passion fruit or peppers. Each pisco variety helps make the house’s ‘specialty drinks.’ We were given straight pisco and then pisco flavored with peppers to taste the difference. Now be careful, this is a STRONG drink and it doesn’t taste like it’s strong. The pisco sour in it’s most simple form consists of five ingredients, pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, raw egg whites, and bitters. It’s a very similar flavor to margarita with just a little more sour. It’s delicious. The hubs and I couldn’t get enough pisco sours on this trip. But enough talking, grab your shakers and let’s learn to make pisco sours!
Traditional Pisco Sours
Measure and pour first four ingredients into your shaker. Fill with ice, make sure you have a good seal and shake away. You’ll need to shake for 1-2 minutes to ensure you get good foam on the top of your drink. The rule is that the foam on the top of the drink should be at least as thick as your thumb. Once shaken, pour half the drink in your chilled glass. Now, carefully, without spilling any (it’s bad luck), slowly swirl the remaining liquid in the shaker. This ensures you get all the foam that has settled on the sides of the shaker. After you have collected all the foam, slowly pour the remaining liquid into your glass. At this point you should have a nice foamy top. Sprinkle top with 3-5 drops of bitters and ahhh enjoy this nice, cold, refreshing beverage. Yuuuum!
So you pumped? You enjoying your drink? Next on our game plan was to learn how to make ceviche from one of the restaurant’s chefs. I’m not even a fish person and this was delicious. They even let me make mine with mushrooms, which is not only an awesome option for non-seafood people like me, but also all the vegetarians and vegans! Now the fish they recommend is very fresh white fish. Like sea bass or sole. No fatty, crappy fish here. The fresher the better! Almost every restaurant you go to will have a different ‘sauce’ they add to theirs. The one we went to called theirs ‘tiger milk.’ It did contain some ingredients that aren’t available here in the states, so I’ve mixed it up to make it my own. The tiger milk recipe will follow. Also, Peru, unlike a lot of ceviches in the world, traditionally serves theirs with their local large corn kernels and boiled sweet potatoes (they boil them in a ton of spices like cinnamon, all spice and chilis). This is not a ‘must,’ but adds a unique Peruvian twist on your every day ceviche! Now onto recipe two, let’s get crazy!
Traditional Peruvian Ceviche for 2!
Cut up fish into small bite sized pieces. Place in bowl and season with salt (don’t worry you can add more later so don’t get crazy), stir and then pour in lime juice. Add tiger’s milk and stir until fish is well coated. Add cilantro and finely chopped peppers to taste (this can be very spicy or mild, chef’s choice!). After combined, slowly stir in most of the thinly sliced onions (save some for garnish). Now, taste the ‘sauce.’ This is where you can add more salt, seasoning, or peppers. Spoon ceviche on plate, make sure it has a little rim as there will be a lot of ‘juice.’ Once plated, top with saved onions, a few peppers or a spring of cilantro. Place sweet potatoes on one side and corn on the other. Serve and enjoy! Traditionally, you take a small piece of the sweet potato, corn and ceviche. The sweet, salty, and savory combination is what makes this ceviche unique! Make sure to get a lot of that yummy ceviche broth too! Enjoy!
Place all above ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Great for a marinade as well! Will also freeze very well or keep in fridge for up to a week.
Mmmm, now aren’t you licking your chops? Seriously, this is sooo good. The flavors are unbelievable and the freshness is unmatched! Now you’re thinking; wow, you ate so well! You’re right, seriously but WAIT, we’re not done yet! Our last stop was one of the most well-known restaurants in Lima. Many celebrities stop here when in Lima and their photos are all over the wall. It’s known as Restaurant Huaca Pucllana and is built right next to Inca ruins. Known for it’s great adobe and clay pyramid, as you dine you get to look out and see the ruins as well as some of Lima’s skyline. It was a treat. They brought us out so many different dishes, I couldn’t even begin to tell you my favorite.
The national dish of Peru Lomo Saltado (we had two versions, the traditional version made with beef, but also the vegetarian version made with mushrooms.)
And whew, that’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed this three part series on Peru. It’s such a wonderful country and there are truly sooo many things to see, learn, and eat. We did it on a whirlwind tour in 8 days but you could easily spend months here. Hopefully this gives you a little idea of the country! Until next time and another recipe, cheers!
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