Saturday, March 31, 2012

UPDATED: Saturday! A good day to visit Barranco, Lima

SATURDAY MARCH 31ST 2012 7.50 AM EST: Our second Saturday in Peru, means that our trip is drawing to an end. There are, however, so much to see, and one hot spot is our neighbouring municipality of Barranco a 30 minute walk away from our Lima flat. A Saturday would be a great day for a visit to this part of the Peruvian capital, known for its culture and architecture.

For a visitor to the Peruvian capital, you will soon discover that this vast city is divided into many districts varying in culture, character and wealth. When visiting the historic centre, we could see less privileged parts of the city where small, brightly coloured sheds climbing the hills not far away. There are much poverty in Lima, and it is clearly visible everywhere.

We however enjoy the privilege of our own two floor penthouse appartment in Miraflores, an upscale part of town - at least until Tuesday, that is!

When a trip draws to an end you do have to make your priorities on what to see. My nephew strongly recommended Barranco, due to its charm, and I would like to take a stroll there today (if my traveling companion agrees). I would also like to have another trip to the historic district, and then the last shopping day here will dawn - on Monday.   

I always end up in the local supermarked to buy spices, and I will most certainly stock up on Peruvian condiments to use in my cooking. These are pretty much what you are allowed to bring home, except chocolates and a number of different articles allowed to bring into the EU. This trip has most certainly inspired me to cook more and differently.

My traveling companion Laila has just confirmed that; yes - we will go to Barranco. I will keep you posted on the progress of this last day of March 2012 from Lima - Peru!! Here on Enjoy Food & Travel.  

2.18 PM EST: We have walked our way to Barranco and returned to our appartment for a rest. We found this a slightly confusing experience as the district is located around the Avenida Grau, and we took the route by the ocean.

We managed to find the Avenida Grau, the main street, passing wonderful pieces of classical architecture on our way, some sadly derelict, other restored back to its former glory.

Photo Company website
I am glad to say that we found the gastronomic catch of the say, or rather of the week. As we were looking for a place to cool down we stumbled upon La Pescaderia. The staff discovered that we, in the process of total meltdown, needed a table and we ordered a cold beverages. I hesitated (!) my way to a cold Cuscena (ha-ha).

La Pescaderia served fish, and as we relaxed hunger gradually struck, so - we decided to order lunch. Laila chose crab soup, whereas I chose the salmon and ricotta ravioli. Laila was served a large bowl, as a final resting place for a large Pacific crab in a dark red crab broth.

I got the most delicate pasta cushions immersed in a corral coloured sauce.

Laila and I agreed that the tastes at La Pescaderia were divine!!!!! My raviolis were among the best I have ever tasted (and I am picky!), and we are definitely returning to la Pescaderia for another helping before heading north in order to encapsulate some more flavours in our culinary library.

For fish lovers heading south to Lima, do make note of the address: Miguel Grau 689 Barranco, Lima, Peru. Do not miss it! Fish was awesome. 

Full review with glossy pictures will come here on Enjoy Food & Travel later!!

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Introduction to a tasting menu at Astrid y Gaston, Lima

Yesterday, Thursday March 29th 2012, we enjoyed a 11 course tasting menu at Astrid y Gaston restaurant here in Miraflores Lima. This restaurant has been among the highest ranked restaurants in the world, and the meal was indeed a culinary adventure. 

The restaurant summer menu was priced at 230 soles per person and included the following dishes: 

Sea urchins and scallops
On vacation
(or octopus) 
Trapped in a smoker cylinder
Frutos de verano de los valles del sur 
(or the summer fruits from the south valley) 
Fig cold soup from Chilca
Delicia apple and foie tartar
Cebiche de un amor de verano 
(or the summer's love cebiche) 
Passion, romantic and fleeting
(or guinea pig) 
In a Chinese disguise
(or peruvian white corn) 
Rebel with a cause
Un pez de altura que parece mantequilla 
(or a fish from the deep who looks like butter) 
Peruvian asparagus creamy rice
Artichoke parihuela

Un pez de roca que parece loco 
(or a rock fish who looks like crazy) 
Multicolor quinoas

El placer de la carne 
(or the the pleasure of the meat) 
Beef cheek meat
Crispy potatoes

El mango y su cómplice el camu camu 
(or the the mango and its accomplice, the camu camu
Hidden under a refreshing camu camu layer (rumberry)
Served with coconut tapioca and mint syrup

La manzana castigada 
(or the the punished apple) 
Baked apple in a caramel shell
Served with dulce de leche spread foam 
Sphered apple juice reduction and ginger ice cream 

We were offered a culinary revelaton with so many flavours and textures reflecting the rich culture and the abundance of natural ingredients of Peru. For us to be offered such a exquisite meal at such a favourable price was an extraordinary privilege.

You could choose from a wine menu or two hand picked Malbec wines from Argentina, and we chose the latter. The whole meal ended at around 450 soles ($ 172 / € 126 per person), including a foredrink (three pisco sours)

I will return with a full review with photos of the meal here on Enjoy Food & Travel after I have returned from Peru and have digested all the powerful impressions. For those of you in Peru the coming week I would recommend to make a reservation at Astrid y Gaston. 

If you do not care for such a impressive meal you can choose dishes from the a la carte menu at very favourable prices.

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bosque el Olivar, Lima

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart
Today we have visited a true gem from the dramatic era of the Spanish conquest of Peru. The Bosque El Olivar is an olive grove going back 450 years, to three trees that survived the transportation from Europe in 1560.

Bosque El Olivar surrounds the El Olivar Historical Monument. It is a lush park made up of a plantation of olive trees that dates back more than 450 years. It is six blocks long, and serves as a great reminder of Lima’s history and offers visitors a pleasant stroll under the olive trees.

From the three olive trees don Antonio de Rivera, mayor, brought to Peru grew an impressive number of trees and in 1730 there could be verified the existence of 2,000 trees and in 1828 it was overcoming 2,828 trees. According to the census of 2000 there are 1519 olive trees eft in the park.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good bye - Cusco, hello Lima!

              Photo: Night view of Cusco's Plaza de Armas by Martin St-Amant (S23678)
 4.50 PM EST, March 29th 2012: We (I land Laila) left Cusco this morning, with deep regret from our both. In fact Laila cried when she arrived and when she left. It has been a very special experience ranking among the most important in our lives.

Our Star Perú flight were scheduled at 1:00 PM today. After the breakfast at the hotel, we packed our suitcase, and went for a stroll around the city.

What a different one day (or rather a night) makes. Whereas the heavens opened up with strong rains yesterday night, the clouds were clear, and we went for a last stroll along the old streets ofthis ancient city, so important in the Kingdom of the Inkas.

Having seen the craftmanship and sophistication of this culture, I asked myself - why did the Spanish infidels win!! What has been lost by the pure greed and destruction of the conquistadors. My big consolation is that the Inka heritage has been blended into the occupation culture. Being the superior it allowed the invaders culture to become a mere varnish over the sophisticated underlining Indian culture. Peruvians today are showing off the Inka to the world as the true owners of this beautiful land.
Photo: Pachacuti statue, Cuzco, Peru by Dger
Well, we walked through the old city, and I managed to take a shot of the centerpiece of the square, the sculpture of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (or Pachacutec) as it was standing over the dome of the Jesuit church. I also many photos of the architectural features of the ancient buildings surrounding the square before returning back to the hotel and our waiting taxi to bring us to the airport.

The one-hour flight from Cusco to Lima passed easily and I could, wehere it was clear see the landscape change from the green, lush mountains of the low Andes to the arrid desert by the sea.

I supposed that these huge variation in climate and vegetation is caised ny the fact that the weather on the southern hemisphere moves in an east-westerly direction (as opposed to the west to east in the northern), the mighty mountains stops the clouds releasing their humidity east of the mountains secures ample rainfall to the Amazonian rainforests, keeping the area west of them exceptionally dry.

We passed over tall, snowcapped mountains. I took a great del of photos from the air and hopefully some will be as good that they might illustrate the change in scenery from Cusco to Lima    

Back in our appartment in Calle San Fernando we lunched at Antigua Bodega, choosing risotto with langoustines flambéd in Pernod and served with rocket. We chose a Peroni Nastro Azzurro as a refreshing drink. When Laila chose the traditional Tres Leches as "postre", I added "y il postre para me es un Peroni Nastro Azzurro." In short - I chose another beer for dessert.

Now we are resting in our flat, waiting in supspense for my nephew to return from work to find whether he has managed to book a table at the Legendary Astrid y Gaston. I will keep you posted.  

Two Inca sites: Pisac and Ollantaytambo

Pisac - citadel. Photo: Manfred Manske 
6.15 PM EST: Another day with more Inka cities. Tour bus with an English speaking guide picked us up at our hotel at 8.30 AM. We traveled to the Pisac, an hour dive from Cusco, did some shopping at the local market, then driving uphill to the Inka site. Had a great buffet lunch at Urumbamba, driving on too another major Inka site at Ollantaytambo. We returned to the hotel at 6.00 PM. Now we have an hour rest before enjoying our last evening in Cusco.
Pisac Market. Photo by Hardscarf
We were supposed to have visited another Inka site at Chinchirro, but as the road had been undermined by water our return route had been closed, so we returned the other way. Our tour guide was excellent giving information on vegetation, culture, geography and other interesting topics of the Sacred Valley. We drove through the mountain pass separating Cusco and the Sacred Valley at 3800 meters over sea level (12 000 feet), driving on to Pisac.

The Pisac Market used to be a very popular an authentic market, but is now more or less the same as all of the rest. I bought a few gifts, but after 45 minutes we drove up to the Inka city of Pisac, once an administrative centre in the valley. The complex is vast, even bigger than Macchu Picchu, with a vast burial ground where mummified remains of 2200 people has been buried in niches in a high cliff.

Then we drove on to Urubamba, stopped and enjoyed a delicious one-hour buffet lunch at El Maize, specializing in local ingredients. We were seated in a beautiful garden area and helped us to a cold and a hot plate and a small dessert.
Photo: The giant site at Ollantaytambo by Bernard Gagnon
Then we visited the giant Inka sight in the town of Ollantaytambo, where we walked up over 200 steps to the summit overlooking the ancient town, where many building still rests on the foundation from the Inka time over 600 years old. There we watched some of the mastership of the Inka engineers.

We drove to Cusco arriving here one hour ago. We will soon head out in the city and get something (light) to eat and take a point at Paddy Flaherty's Pub, the highest Iris Pub in the world.

9.00 PM EST: Back from Inka Grill by Cusco's main square where we chose two servings of Aji de Gallina - Peruvian Spicy Creamed Chicken, god comfort food for a late evening. Returned to hotel, inestead of going to Paddy's as it is raining cats or dogs, or rather lamas, condors or guinea pigs outside and we were soaking wet when returning to the hotel. 

This is just an introduction to extended stories from the Cusco area to come here at Enjoy Food & Travel.

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Macchu Picchu

Intihuatana (solar clock) at Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo: Dodo
10.10. PM EST,  March 27th 2012 (5.10. AM CET/DST +1): I have been at Macchu Picchu today, and it was a wonderful experience. Having seen the images from the Sacred City in the Clouds, I have always imagined that they were the works of genius photographers or good photoshop manipulation. That is positively wrong. I have dozens of similar shots in my camera, and it seems that the rays of the sun illuminates the ruins are divine. 

Inca remains in Ollantayntamo. Photo: Stevage
 I am far too tired to tell the story tonight, so the trip as well as the visit will be told in separate stories later, giving priority to Macchu Picchu. I will however update the map of this trip with points of interests, sights, bars, and restaurants.

Another interesting theme is the journey from a lush mountain scenery at elevations up to 3870 meters (11800 feets) down to the tropical jungle of Aguas Calientes and Macchu Picchu 1000 meters / 3000 feet lower seeing snowcapped mountains on our way.

Tomorrow we will se other Inka sights in Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchirro and enjoy a buffet lunch in Urumbamba, so there will be more Inka stories to come, and an equally short report tomorrow as it lasts all day.   

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Monday, March 26, 2012

Andes - here we come

                             Colonial style roofs of Cusco  - photo: Colegota
11.10 AM: We are two hours delayed at Lima Airport, as our Star Peru flight supposed to leave 9.30 AM will head for Cusco 11.30 instead. 

We will also visit the Sacred Valley of the Inkas. Photo: Autgang
We were picked up by our cab 6.30 this morning. The fog had started to lift, but now it is back again.

We had breakfast at McDonalds (sorry - but they had the best breakfast deal, at that point), went through security to find a chaotic scene by gate 1-7.

We took our first altitude sickness pills yesterday, and both I and Laila have felt weird the whole day. A prickling sensation in palms and under my feet, and a little drowsiness. Consulting my physician nephew and my sister all this is completely normal.

Now boarding is scheduled to start 11.40 AM, and I will use his occation to say that we ate on our way to the Andes mountains and the Inkas. I'll keep you posted!!

7.55 PM: Landed in Lima around 2.40 PM local time. Was picked up by cab and Fernando a guide slash seller of excursions and driven to our hotel. Was installed in  a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l room at Tierra Viva Saphi Hotel with sitting room, bed room with the widest double bed I have ever seen, and one of the most beautiful bathrooms as well with a separate tub and shower.

Have not been affected by altitude sickness to the extent that I had feared. Shortness of breath not bad, very tiring to climb stairs.

Will not write much today. I am very tired and will drive to Macchu Picchu tomorrow. Will have a light dinner and return here for an early night. This as we have to rise at 04.30 AM tomorrow for the trip into trhe Inka Kingdoms most secretive city.

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning in Lima, plans ahead

Photo: Interior (nave) of the Cathedral of Lima, Lima, Peru by Bobak Ha'Eri
Good morning - no daylights savings time here, and we have been another hour further away from Europe.

8.15 AM: Plans for the day. The old town with its 550 year old cathedral, palaces, and merchants mansions famous for its wooden balcones. The crypt of the San Francisco monastery church with bones and culls from the last 5 centuries organized in creative works of arts. Reminding us that "Tempus fugit" times flies!!

My friend Ketil visited a similar crypt in Palermo, Sicily. There one whole skeleton had been dressed in a monks robe, one arm pointing out to an inscription:
What you are now, was I. What I am know will you become...... 
Casa de Osambela built 1803 Photo: Manuel González Olaechea
My friend John told me that here's an ancient olive grove in San Isidro just off Arequipa supposedly dating back to the time of the Spanish Viceroys

Spaniards, naturally enough, missed their olives and must have been pleased to find out that Lima has a sort-of "mediterranean climate" where one could continue olive production. 

So there are supposed to be olive trees there that were planted as early as 1560.  The grove goes under the name "Bosque el Olivar".

Tomorrow we fly to Cusco, 10 100 feet above sea level, the capital of the last Inka emperor Atahualpa where foundations of houses still rests on the walls of old inca houses.

But first, breakfast - I will run over to Per-Lizza and buy those scrumptious ciabattas. Yum, yum!!!!

Archbishops Palace, photo: Tetraktys
5.30 PM: Back from the historic centre where we admired the grand cathedral and observed some kind of a political ptotest during morning mass. Then we admired the archbishops palace (1535), the House of Oidor (Around 1700), before walking down to the Convent of San Francisco, where we were given a guided tour of the convent as well as the crypt were bones and sculls were assembled after 200 years of burials in old Lima.

We had a Pisco Sour at Bar & Restaurant Cordano that has served the citizen of Lima since 1905 - a an absolutely charming bar & restaurant with an original interior. This is absolutely a place to return to later in the week to soak in more of the old Lima.

We decided to cook at home this evening as my nephew is getting back to work north of Lima tomorrow as we will catch the morning plane to Cusco. After a short drink at Haiti (a cusqueno), we went down to Vivanda, buying Argentian fillet steak, chorizos to be prepared on the grill. We havde just finished the meal and getting ready to pack for our Andean adventure starting tomorrow.

Stay tuned for stories from Cusco here on Enjoy Food & Travel.      

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Legal Seafood's Goat Cheese Salad

For those of you looking for a Legal Sea Foods Restaurant in Boston, you do not have to the South Shore Plaza to enjoy the delicious lobster bisque. There are several restaurants in the Boston area, as well as in Washington DC and 7 states along the eastern seaboard.

The Legal Sea Foods chain goes back over 100 years and has its roots in Cambridge, home of the prestigious Harvard University and MIT.  

At this segment from CN8's entertainment show Backstage with Barry Nolan they prepare an intriguing goats cheese salad, and watching it made me really hungry. I particularly loved the fried goats cheese.

Enjoy this interesting recipe, and I will prepare this as a tasty lunch during the Easter break!!   

More goats cheese on Enjoy Food & Travel