Sunday, January 21, 2007

La Casa De Don Cucho in Pachacámac, Part One: The Food

La Casa de Don Cucho Outside Pachacámac Village

Our visit to La Casa de Don Cucho was one of the culinary highlights of the 2006 Peru Food Tour.

I have so much to comment about La Casa de Don Cucho, I am going to make three different posts (as I post, I will link):

La Casa de Don Cucho is owned by Cucho La Rosa, known as Don Cucho, an extremely popular Lima-based chef who has a long running radio show called Divinas Comidas on Radio Programas del Perú.

This country-style restaurant is located outside Lima, about 40 minutes south, near the archeological site of Pachacámac. Don Cucho has refurbished a traditional hacienda-style house, some kilometers inland along the fertile Lurín Valley, on the site of the Hacienda Casa Blanca, and just east of the village of the same name as the ruins. This area has some weekend homes, but it is also home to many local families who work in farming in the valley.

On this map below, click to magnify the image, and you can clearly see Casa Blanca just east (inland) of the village of Pachacámac.

Lurin River Valley @ Club de Exploradores

Don Cucho opened La Casa de Don Cucho in 2006, and it has become a popular destination, especially at weekends. Cucho La Rosa prides himself as one of the leading proponents of 'traditional criolla cuisine' and his restaurant is often full.

One Sunday in December, we headed to La Casa de Don Cucho, to understand why he was so beloved.

The Drinks

Chicha morada, made with sweetened purple corn.

It was warm the day we went to La Casa de Don Cucho, and after walking in and settling down in the breezy outdoor dining area, we ordered some refreshing drinks. We like chicha morada, which is made from purple corn that is boiled with pineapple and then flavored with lemon and sugar, and also pisco sours.

Cucho La Rosa is said to make among the best pisco sours in Lima.

I've read that Cucho La Rosa makes the best pisco sours in the city, so we were eager to sample them. I don't know if they are the best, in a city known for its superlative pisco sours, but they were refreshing and came in a generous glass.

The Appetizers

Since there were three of us, we decided to order a few appetizers and thereby sample some of Don Cucho's specialities. All of the appetizers were magnificent. They came out quickly, and were just the right mix of flavors. Kudos for Cucho La Rosa's appetizers.

I've already mentioned Andean potatoes at Madrid Fusión.

Our first appetizer to arrive was a three-potato and three-sauce dish, a perfect marriage between Andean potatoes and three spicy, creamy sauces.

There are many potato strains in Peru, unknown in North America or Europe. This dish featured three of the most flavorful potatoes, the famed papa amarilla, or yellow potato, (Solanum goniocalyx); huamantanga, considered to be among most delicious; and, the huayro (Solanum chaucha), grown in the cold heights of the Andes and perfect for soaking up sauces. This dish also features three sauces that are liberally drizzled on the potatoes (from left to right): rocoto sauce, huancaína sauce, and huacatay sauce. Simply exquiste.

Camaronada, an almost sinful explosion of shrimp.

We also sampled the famed camaronada, which was a plateful of cooked shrimp in a spicy vinegar based sauce, and topped with marinated onions. The flavor of the shrimp was complex and juxtaposed quite nicely with the tartness of the onion dressing.

Chicharrón de cuy, crispy deep-fried cuy.

Yes, that is the tasty herbivore raised in the Andes for millenia as a delicious source of protein (known in English as guinea pig), served with an onion and rocoto dressing. Very delicious.

The Main Course

There is a photo of a main course missing, and I can't for the life of me recall what the third dish we ate there was.

I admit we were not convinced with the two main dishes shown here. After our visit to Don Cucho's we heard that the best entrees to order are his lomo saltado, the beef, onion, tomato and potato stir fry dish; or; the arroz con pato, duck with seasoned rice. Now we know for the next time.

Carapulcra, chicken and freeze-dried potatoes,
slowly cooked in special seasonings.

Carapulcra requires patience and time to make correctly, and while Don Cucho's potatoes were quite flavorful, we felt the chicken pieces were too big to be eaten easily. We prefer a carapulcra made with more finely chopped pieces, although the flavor of the chicken complemented the potatoes very nicely. The seasonings were good, but the dish was dissapointing.

Ají de gallina, a creamy spicy chicken dish.

Likewise, the ají de gallina was dissapointing. There was something amiss in the preparation, and we thought that what it needed was for the chicken to be cut into much smaller pieces. The flavor of this creamy dish was quite good, but the texture was all wrong. We felt it needed to be much more delicate and sublime to be convincing.


Picarones, pumpkin fritters, and a cóctel de algarrobina,
a creamy drink made with pisco and algorrobina liqueur.

I finally figured out what algarrobina is, a tree that grows mainly in the arid region near Piura in northern Peru, and that it has a small, pod-like, fruit which is collected to make a liqueur. This frothy and creamy drink is made with that liqueur.

I have posted about Cucho La Rosa before here on Peru Food. I've also read about him at Mucho Gusto Perú.

I had wanted to visit La Casa de Don Cucho in Pachacámac for a long time: when we went, it
turned out to be one of our favorite restaurants on our recent trip to Peru.

La Casa de Don Cucho
Antigua Hacienda Casa Blanca
Calle 8, Lote 14-A
Open Tuesday to Sunday, lunch and dinner.
Closed Monday.
Reservations: 231-1415, 9920-6219

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


Anonymous said...

el cebiche, el seco de res con frejoles, el cabrito guisado y el lomaso saltado (asi le llaman) son estupendos. elpisco sour lo hace ver todo mejor. felicidades

david Barkay said...

Dear Alejandro,
Your Blog is a piece of art! what a great work you have done.
I am posting in the next 24 hours a post about Ceviche, and i have referred myself to the Peruvian Ceviche (although i am putting my personal way of preparing Ceviche, as Israeli and French Nationality - i am doing a multi national fusion of taste here :-)
I have linked my Blog and post to your great Blog!
Keep on going my friend - you are doing a great job!
David Barkay,

Anonymous said...

Visited last weekend with family, the food was very bland and did not have that distinguished Peruvian flavor...

::Alejandro:: said...

@ David: Thank you for your comments and for linking Peru Food at your blog.

@anonymous: That's too bad the food wasn't that great when you visited. I wonder if it was an off day or is it a trend? Thanks for the comment.