Peru: Part 3 – Lima

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

  • 1 oz of lime juice (if you like lime add 1.5 oz, it’s yummy)
  • 1 oz of simple syrup
  • 3 oz of Pisco (get crazy and try different flavors)
  • 1 oz raw egg whites
  • 3-5 drops of bitters
  • Ice and a shaker

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!

  • 7 oz fresh white fish such as sole or sea bass (use sliced mushrooms for vegetarians or vegans)
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onions
  • Juice of 3 limes (this ‘cooks’ the fish so don’t skimp on it)
  • 1/2 of finely chopped Aji Limo Pepper (if you can’t find here in the states, use a jalapeno), if you’d prefer it not spicy you can deseed and devein the pepper
  • 1/4 cup of tiger’s milk (recipe to follow)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped cilantro (this is to taste, I don’t like cilantro so feel free to eliminate it or use parsley instead)
  • 1/2 cup of boiled sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of cooked corn kernels
  • Salt to taste

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!

Tiger’s Milk  

  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 of a deseeded and deveined jalapeno
  • 1/2 of a small banana pepper deseeded and deveined (or aji amarillo if you’re able to find)
  • 1 stalk (single rib) of celery
  • 2 T fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you’re like me!)
  • 4 T of red onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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!

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography


(w) (e) (p) 610.762.7810


Peru: Part 1 – Cusco Region

I know, I know.  I’ve been a slacker.  Like a HUGE slacker.  I dropped off the face of the planet for a few weeks.  Frankly, I’ve been super duper busy with just life stuff. Between traveling, tons and tons of email inquires, siblings in from out of state, a workshop in Upstate NY (there will eventually be a blog post for that too) and sick doggies.. I’ve been a busy bee.  Not so much in the photography or blog sense, but more in the, ‘there is soo much going on in life right now and I’m like a chicken with my head cut off.’

But PERU!  Whew, what a trip.  And with sooo many details, experiences, and photos, I’m breaking this up into three different posts!  If I tried to fit it all in one, this might be the longest post in history or qualify as a novella.  I’m also going to share some Peruvian inspired recipes too!  Hopefully bringing together some of our favorite flavors from our journey, stay tuned for more of that deliciousness!

This trip, we had some close calls, wonderful tour guides, three different climates, a BIG mishap by the travel agency we booked with (which caused us to get stranded) and many, many beautiful sights and sounds! There was just sooo much experiences crammed into eight days. Not to mention food!  We seriously ate like kings and queens!  And hey, if you want to skip to the photos feel free, you’re about to hear all the good, the bad and the ugly of this trip.  In my mind, we start with the worst and go to the best of our experiences!

Now hey, HEY YOU!  The one reading this who is sitting behind their computer screen saying to themselves, wow, what an adventure.. but I could never to something like that.  Let me say, if my curvy girl self and my 6’5″ hubby can cram ourselves in planes seats for 13+ hours, climb all over Manchu Picchu and survive at 13,000+ feet…. let me tell you, YOU can too.  And with places like Peru and much of the Central/South America’s where the dollar is far superior with ratios of 3 and 5 local currency to a dollar, you can travel very very cheaply!

We ironically chose to do it all our bookings through a travel agent to take the stress out of planning.  Hopefully to ensure that everything taken care of and we didn’t have to think about all those details.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Half way through our travels, while waiting at the check in airline counter, we were told we didn’t have tickets on this flight.  The travel agent had booked our tickets on the wrong day.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge problem, we’d just find another flight… freak out later.. and catch our next transfer.  However, this wasn’t the case.  We were stuck in a tiny airport, in a solely Spanish speaking area, with no more flights leaving that day. Thankfully, we were able to get a hold of our last guide who came to try and help us to no avail.  We caught a taxi back to a crappy hotel and literally spent the rest of the day by the phone waiting for the travel agency to figure out what was going on and if we were even able to get to the Amazon.  It sucked.  There wasn’t even a lot of worry or apologizes on the agency’s part that day either.  They didn’t help us find better accommodations, or get us dinner, or even have someone there to help us translate. The whole thing sucked.

For once, I took the travel out of my hands and gave it to a company who was supposed to take care of everything and they didn’t.  They failed miserably.  And I can’t lie and say this didn’t put a damper on our trip.  We missed going to the clay picks (which I was most looking forward to) where we would have gotten to see tons of parrots and other birds in the Amazon, i.e. literally a photographer’s dream.  With very limited bags too the jumbo lens I lugged around this whole trip just for that opportunity wasn’t used as much as it should have been.  We missed a once in a lifetime sight of a Giant River Otter family attacking a Cayman on the lake we were supposed to stay at.  Not to mention missing more then 30+ hours in the Amazon, as well as our nice hotel, guided tours, and pre-arranged meals.  It sucked.  Like bad.  But let me tell you, it could have been worse if we didn’t keep our heads together.  It would have sucked more if there weren’t any flights the following days. And the final icing on that cake would have been if the strikes in the Sacred Valley (that started while we were there) made it impossible to get out of the area we were in.  There were lots of obstacles thrown at us throughout this trip.  But thankfully, our travel smarts, ability to separate ourselves from the situation until we got back on our home turf, and resilience definitely helped us out here.

But whew, that’s my angry spiel about the whole thing.  Now onto Peru, the good, great and awesome parts!  Day 1, we started our journey in BWI arriving in Lima, only to catch our connecting flight to Cusco.  Ladies and gents, that’s like going from sea level to 13k+ feet.  I would not advise this as altitude sickness will kick you in the ass, but hey, it’s how our journey began.  We arrived and were immediately given coca tea (a remedy to altitude sickness as well as nausea) as well as advice on eating habits and physical activities.  What is altitude sickness you might ask?  To me, it’s like being a drunk hungover baby.  Dizzy, headache, shortness of breath and your balance is all wonky.  But for a more ‘clinical definition’ it’s defined by google as, “illness caused by ascent to a high altitude and the resulting shortage of oxygen, characterized chiefly by hyperventilation, nausea, exhaustion, and cerebral edema.”  And yes, it happens to just about EVERYONE who doesn’t live up that high.

We met up with our guide who took us on a tour of some of the ancient terraces in Cusco. Cusco, literally translated means, “navel of the world.” This was once the holy city which was the nexus of the Inca Empire.  Our first stop was Sacsayhuaman, built by the Incas starting around 1200BC and it overlooked the whole city. Followed by Korikancha, known as the Temple of the Sun during Inca Empire, now the site of the Santo Domingo Convent. The Cathedral, which faces the Plaza de Armas in the heart of downtown Cuzco. As well as many different Inca stone ruins including Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay.


At one of the many stops we made with locals selling their wares.  How lovely are the colors and backdrop?

Looking out from one of the ruins where they preserved the bodies of royalty.  The dry cool air up in the Andes greatly helped this process.

Couldn’t escape the weddings, even at 13,000 feet haha!


Now Peruvian food is now seriously in my top three favorite foods!  So many fusions of so many different cultures.  It was awesome to try to figure out different influences in each dish.  This foodie was in heaven. Did you know they have over 5,000 varieties of corn and potatoes in Peru?!  How nutty is that? By far, one of our favorite places we ate the whole trip was Morena Peruvian Kitchen.  Asian Peruvian Fusion with to-die-for drinks (frozen lemonades, actually confusingly enough made with lime.. were one of our favs) as well as one of the best salads I’ve ever had in my life.  Sean fell in love with their rice bowls.  We loved it so much this is where we ended up again after we got stranded here.  Seriously, check out all this goodness.


Walking up from the city center to our hotel after dinner.  This is where altitude sickness hit me the hardest.  Every like 20 steps, I had to stop and breathe.  I hadn’t adjusted to the air yet.  A very odd feeling to be that weak, when you normally aren’t.


Day 2 was followed up Chinchero, Maras, and Moray. Our first stop was a local artisan who showed us how they harvested and dyed llama and alpaca wool as well as how they made the blankets and textiles Peru is known for.  Our next stop was a local market where we learned about local wares, produce, and various local specialties.  Sooo many colors,  it was a photog’s heaven. Following a beautiful country drive, our guide took us to Maras, a village set on a plateau, famous for its salt mines or pans. The salt is drained into separated shallow pools built into the hills, where it then dries in the sun before it is harvested. It’s fed by a natural salt water spring running down the mountain.  The salt has been extracted this way for hundreds of years, even during the reign of the Inca Empire.

Funny story, as some might know, almost every place I visit, I bring back fun little souvenirs for my creative team coworkers.  Nothing ever too big because we travel very light.  At the salt mines, you could buy little flavored salt bags which seemed to me to be a perfect gift!  That is, until we tried getting through security back in the states.  Where they thought we were packing cocaine.  Yes, cocaine. Not only was my hub’s bag searched but they also took some of the salts out and chemically tested them.  Lesson learned.  Small bags of salts make you look like a drug mule.  

Our next stop was Moray, which is one of Peru’s most popular tourist stops. Here we learned how the terraces were used to produce different types of crops and cover a range of microclimates.  We ended at a Peruvian buffet, Tunupa, where we were able to try local favorites like ceviche, alpaca, and dulce de leche cake. They also had llamas in the back with a stunning garden, wildlife, view of the mountains and river running through the property. The whole trip was breathtaking as well driving from location to location with the Andes in the backdrop.  We ended our day in the heart of the Sacred Valley at a beautiful hotel with an Andes sunset in the background and surprisingly enough, even sported a brick oven for pizza for dinner.

This was actually one of the craziest naturally found dyes.  Here our host was pulling a parasite from the cactus (it’s that small white critter in her hand).  Once harvested, it’s smashed and produces that BRIGHT red color. Below, is how it looks once dyed into wool.


The sheep blocking our path on the way down to the salt mines.


The quinoa.  The freaking QUINOA pretty much harvested in the backyard.  I was in heaven.


And that’s all for this post!  Stay tuned for TWO more this week. Until then ta ta for now!

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) (w)

(e) (p) 610.762.7810






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