Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Isabel Quispe Aquino in Chorrillos

In Peru, this kind of place is called a huarique, a hole-in-the-wall; but, unlike (or perhaps, like) hole-in-the-walls in other countries, in Peru many huariques are quite famous for specializing in one certain dish or a certain type of cuisine, and while not the most glamorous of eateries, are quite popular with those in search of quality home-style Peruvian cuisine.

Isabel Quispe Aquino's restaurants are like that: simple yet complex; humble but well-worth visiting.

Isabel Quispe Aquino, doña Isabel, is well-known in Chorrillos, the seaside district just south of Barranco, that encompasses both wealthy and poor residents.

For years, she ran a small restaurant, really just a counter and a couple of tables in the aisle, inside the main Chorrillos market.

By birth and marriage,
doña Isabel has been perpetually linked to the sea; and, her cuisine reflects it.

As the story goes, one fine day, doña Isabel was 'discovered' by leading Peruvian chef, Gastón Acurio; needless to say, her life, and her culinary adventure, has not been the same since. Now, she runs three restaurants: the original one inside the market, another on its periphery, and a third a block away.

Gastón called her seafood stew, parihuela, the best in the world, and she now dubs it El Campeón, the Champ.

During our recent trip to Lima, we had the opportunity to visit one of doña Isabel's restaurants and sample her cuisine. These are our pictures of the feast we had.

¡Buen provecho! Happy eating!

As in most traditional seafood restaurants in Peru, there is always lots of cancha, the crunchy toasted corn, and ají on the table.

This is doña Isabel's parihuela, her seafood stew known as El Campeón, the Champ. Unlike other parihuelas, hers is thickened with chuño, a potato-based starch.

Something we fished out of the Champ, which probably explains its name.

The guys who help put it all together. They insisted we photograph them.

Doña Isabel posing proudly inside one of her restaurants.

A wonderful leche de tigre, tiger's milk (made from fish, lemon, ají, and a prawn to top it off).

Isabel's version of the sashimi-like tiradito, garnished with fried yuca.

A fried fish extravaganza.

Classic ceviche.

Doña Isabel posing in front of her original stand inside the Chorrillos marketplace.

To read more about doña Isabel's restaurants at this blog, you can click here.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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


Don Cuevas said...

I would gladly come to Perú to taste some of those sefood dishes ¡pero está tan lejos de México!


CookingDiva - Chef Melissa said...

Alejandro, what a delicious review! Me encantan los mariscos---One of these days I'll go there and enjoy a deep fried fish, the fresh cebiche and the leche de tigre! Se me hace agua la boca :)


::Alejandro:: said...

Mike: Only five and a half hours from MEX to LIM!

Melissa: Que bien que te gustó, Perú te espera con los brazos abiertos.