Thursday, January 31, 2008

On The Blogs: Kión Lounge In NYC @ Food/Actually

Peruvian food seems to be everywhere these days. On The Blogs is a new feature here at Peru Food in which I comment and link to what other bloggers are writing and posting about Peruvian food.

Food/Actually is a blog which explores, "Lovely delectable things from the city, both coasts, and around the globe."

When they refer to "the city" they mean NYC, where the blog is based.

Recently, Food/Actually visited the hip Japanese Peruvian Kión Lounge "on E. 6th St. and Ave. A".

In Peru, kión means ginger, a word which entered the Peruvian vocabulary via China; in other Spanish-speaking countries the word for ginger is jengibre. It's just another example of the influence of Asian cuisine in Peruvian food and culture.

In Food/Actually's own words: "...the pictures [of Kión] speak for themselves..."

Here are two of Food/Actually's mouth-watering pics. Follow the link below to see more.

"Spicy mussels: wok-roasted mussels with rocoto peppers,
ginger, cilantro, and miso broth."
Photo: Food/Actually

"Pulpito: Chilled baby octopus and sautéed octopus tentacles
with a panca miso garlic ginger sauce"
Photo: Food/Actually

To read the entire post, and see even more pictures, visit Food/Actually's post here.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tracking The Buzz: Cuy @ BuzzFeed

This is not about bees; it's about cuy.

We've discovered people have a fascination with Peru's edible rodent; so much in fact, there's a trackable buzz about it.

BuzzFeed, cuy is being tracked.

You can contemplate whether
to cuy or not, consider it roasted, fried, or covered in glaze, or ponder if cuy will ever really take off in the US market.

Yours truly's forays with cuy are mentioned.

Read this, and all the other buzz about
cuy, here.

If you want to actively add to the cuy buzz, click on the cute little guinea pigs here (you'll have to scroll down).

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peruvian Food Video: Cevicheria "El Limon"

27 seconds: Dad is having a jugoso a lo macho, his "favorite dish", and a causa de langostinos sits at the center of the table, just waiting to be devoured. The little girl tastes it and says, "¡Está rico!" ("It's good!"). Looks like the other diners are polishing off ceviche and washing everything down with Inca Kola.

It sure looks good.

The first in an occasional series of posts with videos of everyday people in Peru filming their Peruvian food.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Book Review: Primicias de cocina Peruana. (Novelties of Peruvian Cooking) @ Críticas

Críticas has a review of Rodolfo Hinostroza's Primicias de la cocina peruana. A poet, author, and food critic, he is also the brother of chef, author, and historian Gloria Hinostroza. In an interview, he said writing this book was a "personal challenge" that took him 20 years to complete.

To read the complete review, click here.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, January 28, 2008

For The Love Of ... Lúcuma

Photo: RPP

Photo: Javier&Ares

One dictionary may tell you lúcuma is merely, "A round, greenish fruit with tangy orangey flesh, widely used in desserts." Another one might say it is, "An American genus of sapotaceous trees bearing sweet and edible fruits."

In English, they are sometimes called lucmo, canistel, or egg fruit.

In the US, the best known variety is Pouteria campechiana grown in Florida.

In Peru, the main variety of lúcuma is Pouteria lucuma, also known as lucuma nervosa, and it grows in the subtropical valleys where the Andes descend into the Amazon basin.

But, lúcuma is so much more than definitions and statistics.

It is sweet and seductive; it plays with your taste buds and entices them; it makes you dream about it when you are far away.

Lúcuma is loved by almost all Peruvians; in fact, I've never met a Peruvian who didn't like it.

Lúcuma is like its name: tempting, beguiling, easy on the tongue.

This first series of photographs depicts the physical characteristics of the lúcuma tree and the production of this unique fruit.

Lucuma nervosa growing in Japan
Photo: kalavinka

Photo: V. van den Eynden, Biodiversity International

Lúcuma, Moche Period, 200 AD,
Museo Larco, Pueblo Libre, Lima

Photo: Wiki

Lúcuma was cultivated by pre-Conquest peoples for milenia, as seen in the Moche clay depiction above.

It is exotic; in Peru, the general consensus is there is no better flavor for ice cream than lúcuma.

Lúcuma is also used in cakes, drinks, and other desserts. In the recent past, there has been an explosion in innovative ways to employ this fruit.

Take a look for yourself:

Lúcuma and a recipe for lúcuma meringue
Photo: Magalí Torres Guizado

Lucúma ice cream in Cuzco
Photo: mmm-yoso!!!

Lúcuma drink, Cebichería La Mar, Miraflores, Lima
Photo: modernistx

Lúcuma ice cream bar
Photo: andrea*

Lúcuma parfait
Photo: Felicia_

Lúcuma and chocolate cake
Photo: Johnny Panic

Lúcuma ice cream at Lima Peruvian Restaurant & Lounge in LA
Photo: Traveling Man

Lúcuma meringue with ice cream
Photo: cristián arismendi

Lúcuma dessert
Photo: Mitch Teplitsky

Fruity lúcuma meringue
Photo: kelly.sisson

Lúcuma mousse on a chocolate cake,
Starbucks, Jockey Plaza, La Molina, Lima

Photo: Jorge Gobbi

To finish of this series on lúcuma desserts, here are some photos from Tortas Marconi, who bake made-to-order cakes in San Isidro.

They've clearly learned how to use lúcuma in their ingredients:

Lúcuma Merengado, layers of lúcuma meringue,
covered in a lúcuma cream and shredded chocolate

Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Mousse, chocolate base, topped with shredded chocolate
Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Soufflé Cake, stuffed lúcuma and fudge cream,
covered in lúcuma cream

Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Cake, chocolate chiffon filled with lúcuma and fudge cream,
convered in lúcuma cream, decorated with chocolate details

Photo: Tortas Marconi

I think I better go and have some lúcuma now.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On The Blogs: Peruvian @ SaltShaker

Peruvian food seems to be everywhere these days. On The Blogs is a new feature here at Peru Food in which I comment and link to what other bloggers are writing and posting about Peruvian food.

Dan Perlman's green causa, Buenos Aires
Photo: SaltShaker

Dan Perlman is an American living in Buenos Aires who has both a gastronomic and personal interest in Peru and Peruvian food.

He's quite the renaissance man, running a gamut of businesses including one in which his home becomes a dining establishment, as well as blogging about food at SaltShaker.

Cebiche de Conchas Negras, a dark clam ceviche, Trujillo
Photo: SaltShaker

He's written a fair amount about Peru and Peruvian cuisine. On a trip to Lima, he wrote about Javier Wong and ceviche de conchas negras at this post.

He has also waxed on the birthday of Peruvian poet César Abraham Vallejo Mendoz and created a Peruvian dinner for the occasion, which he documented here.

Cangrejo reventado, burst crab, Trujillo
Photo: SaltShaker

He raved about the cangrejo reventado, burst crab, he had on the beach near Trujillo and recreated the dish at this post.

One of his most captivating posts is about his trip to Trujillo to visit his in-laws where he ate at a small local eatery called El Paisa and where he was invited to share in the warmth of a Peruvian family meal, about which he writes here. After last year's earthquake in Peru, he worried about his in-laws; fortunately, they were all OK.

At a post about how he's always getting asked to provide spicy dishes at his Buenos Aires dinners, I found the great picture of Dan's green causa which starts off this post. The full article is here.

To find out more about Dan, read his blog, SaltShaker.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2 Years Old: Happy Birthday Peru Food!

Al final, tengo un comentario en español.

Two years I began this Peruvian food blogging adventure on a lark; I like writing, I had started my fledgling blogging steps, and I am passionate about Peru. I thought it might be fun to write about Peruvian food, since it seemed a lot of people were beginning to talk about it. And, a blog seemed an easy way to do it. Peru Food was born.

Little did I know that two years later I would have tens of thousands hits and have been visited from people over 180 countries. Over these two years, I've received countless e-mails and comments (not as many comments as I'd like though, so don't feel shy about leaving yours!), I have learned so much about Peruvian food, and most importantly, as a result of this humble blog, I have met many interesting people, some via e-mail only, and others in real life. More than one, I now consider a friend.

So far, it has been a great two years of this blogging life.

I always get asked the following questions when asked about this Peruvian food blog: Are you a chef? No. Do you own a restaurant? Negative. Do you import or sell Peruvian food products? Not at all. What part of Peru are you from? Actually, I was born in LA. So, why do you this? It's a hobby that has become greater than me. Long-time readers know I take the occasional hiatus from blogging, but I always come back because of you, and because I am still committed to writing about Peru, its cuisine, its culture, and ultimately, its connection to myself.

Some of you know I am teacher of little ones, so if I disappear now and again, I'm probably just too exhausted to research and write and post. Bear with me.

Thanks for making Peru Food what it is today: one of the main sources of information about Peruvian food in English on the Internet.

In closing I just want to acknowledge two women who have a hand in this blog: one is my late grandmother with whom I grew up in the central Andes who instilled in me a love of Peruvian food and culture. The other is my mother who marvels at what I do with this blog, but who always told me: You should be a writer. This blog could not exist without their influence in my life.

And now, go out and eat some Peruvian food! And, toast with Peruvian pisco, but as I said in my very first post here, the first sip is ALWAYS for the Pachamama.

And, I know that cake isn't Peruvian but the good folks at Pink Cake Box are very good at making clever and eye-catching cakes, and were kind enough to allow me to use their picture.

Ahora en español...un poco más breve pero igual de sentimiento. Quiero agradecer a todas las personas que han llegado a este humilde blog que comenzó como un pasatiempo y se ha convertido en algo más grande que yo. Gracias por leerme, por apoyarme, por los correos, los comentarios (aunque más comentarios ¡siempre son bienvenidos!) A través de este espacio virtual he llegado a conocer a muchas personas, algunas sólo por correos, otras en persona, y otras que hoy en día considero amigos y amigas.

Mucha gente me pregunta: ¿Eres chef? No. ¿Tienes un restaurante? Tampoco. ¿Importas o vendes productos peruanos? Menos. ¿De qué parte del Perú eres? Mmmm, nací en Los Angeles... Entonces ¿por qué este blog? El blog nace de mi pasión por el Perú, tierra de mis padres y mis antepasados, de mi curiosidad por siempre aprender sobre él, y de difundir lo que aprendo. Nace de mi afán por redactar. Y de tratar de entender, por medio de su cocina y su cultura esa parte peruana que existe dentro de mi.

Algunos saben que soy maestro de los bien pequeños, por lo tanto, si a veces desaparezco, es sólo que estoy muy cansado para investigar y redactar. Pero siempre regreso a Peru Food por una sola razón, ustedes los lectores de esta página. Gracias por todo.

No podré concluír sin hacer mención de dos grandes influencias en mi vida que de alguna forma están presentes en este blog: mi abuela, ya desaparecida, con quien viví algunos años de mi niñez en la Sierra Central, quien me inculcó un amor por el Perú y por la comida peruana, y mi madre que alucina con este blog, pero que simpre me dijo: Hijo, escribe.

Y ahora a comer algo rico y peruano, pero primero brindando con buen pisco del Perú ... pero, como dije la primera vez que escribí algo en este blog, cuyo enlace les dejo aquí, el primer trago siempre es para la Pachamama.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Friday, January 25, 2008

Marinera Time! The Annual Marinera Competition In Trujillo

No, I'm not posting about the Italian spaghetti sauce...

As long as I'm promoting Peruvian music and dance this week (see here) let me remind you this weekend, in the northern Peruvian city of Trujillo, one of Peru's most exciting dance competitions takes place: the annual National Marinera Competition.

The Peruvian marinera is the beloved dance of coastal Peru: grandiose, elegant, and technical, it inspires all who view it. Every year in January there is a national competition in Trujillo which brings together the best marinera dancers in all of Peru and even from abroad.

Like so many others, I love the marinera and its music. Here at Peru Food, I've written about this dance before. Last year, I posted regarding the 2007 edition of this competition at this post. I also wrote about Mitch Teplitsky's film, Soy Andina, the story of a Peruvian American dancer who travels from Queens to northern Peru to learn and live this dance. That post is here.

Now, the National Marinera Competition has rolled around yet again, and though I'm not going to discuss its history, I want to make mention of the event.

The marinera is a thrilling dance: just hearing the initial sounds of the drumroll as the marinera starts makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Here is a videos in three parts of last year's National Marinera Competion, featuring the winners of the Group Choreography category, meaning they performed marinera as a group.

Enjoy it!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Pisco Sour Recipe: The Illustrated Japanese Version

Giancarlo, our Peruvian friend in Japan who writes at Desde Japón, has devised the easiest ever pisco sour recipe: the illustrated Japanese version.

Check it out.

(Click on the images to get the full effect.)


Images: Desde Japón

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perú Negro: 2008 USA Tour

As I mentioned when discussing Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge in Los Angeles at this post, one of the owners is the manager for Peru's leading Afro Peruvian dance and music troupe, the legendary Perú Negro.

Here is the latest information about the 2008 US tour of this unique group and I strongly urge everyone who reads this blog to walk, fly, run, or take a plane to see them. You will be in for a unique and extraordinary evening.

I'm going to cut-and-paste directly from Vivir Latino, something I never do, but they got the press release before I did!

"The Grammy-nominated 20-piece ensemble known as Perú Negro launched a new CD, Zamba Malató. To accompany the release they are on the verge of starting a 45 city across the US over the next three months.

The name of their new album, Zamba Malató, refers to an old chant sung by black women as they performed their daily chores. The album, released on Times Square Records, is the long-awaited follow-up to their last release for the label, 2004's Jolgorio. It continues the wildly celebratory Afro-Peruvian carnival of songs and dances that trace their history to the arrival of African slaves in Peru in the 1600's.

Ronaldo Campos de Colina started Perú Negro over three decades ago as a 12-person family troupe and directed the ensemble until his death in 2001. At first supported by the government, cultural and political upheaval in Peru made it impossible to tour there, and the group now makes its living touring abroad.

Now featuring a 20+ person touring ensemble that includes members of the Campos clan, Perú Negro has drawn rave reviews from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and others. Their repertoire is as complex, unique and exhilarating as Peru's own rich cultural history. The group has now become the standard for Afro-Peruvian music, emulated by other groups in Peru and achieving the official title of 'Cultural Ambassadors of Black Peru' by the Peruvian government.

They run their own school in Lima, developing the next generation of performers in a junior troupe of dancers and musicans called Perú Negrito. They have performed around the world, saving from extinction the African music and dance forms that are related to, yet distinct from, Puerto Rican plena, Haitian voudou, and other African American hybrids.

Perú Negro's live show features a brilliant cross-section of African-descended styles that had all but disappeared from Peruvian culture by the 1950's. Those dances include the celebratory festejo, the sensual landó, the slave protest songs called panalivios (banned by the Catholic Church in the 18th Century) and the tap-dancing zapateos. African diaspora instruments also include the djembe (the single headed goblet drum from West Africa) and the batá from Cuba; however, the centerpiece of rhythm is the cajón, or crate drum, a percussion “instrument” that traces its birth to Peru's slave quarters where traditional drums were banned by slave owners and the Spanish Inquisition, and now are a staple of most Latin jazz and flamenco groups.

For the 2008 tour, the group will feature new material from Zamba Malató, as well as their acclaimed reinterpretations of classic Afro-Peruvian songs. But, on the album, the focus is on creating new material that builds on the past with equal parts innovation and respect. Weaving Peru's complicated past into the world's complicated present is the genius of Perú Negro, one of Latin America's musical treasures."

The dates and location of the tour are as follows:

1.24.08 8PM Community Theater at the Mayo Ctr Morristown, NJ
1.25.08 8PM Proctor's Theater Schenectady NY
1.26.08 8PM City Center New York, NY
1.27.08 3PM The Concert Hall Purchase, NY
1.28.08 10AM The Concert Hall Purchase, NY
1.29.08 8PM Chandler Center for the Arts Randolph, VT
1.30.08 2PM University Theater New Haven, CT
1.30.08 8PM University Theater New Haven, CT
1.31.08 TBA University Theater New Haven, CT
2.01.08 TBA Zellerbach Theater Annenberg Center Philadelphia, PA
2.02.08 8PM Center for the Arts Concert Hall Fairfax, VA
2.05.08 10AM Bardavon 1869 Opera House Poughkeepsie, NY
2.05.08 12PM Bardavon 1869 Opera House Poughkeepsie, NY
2.06.08 10AM Ulster Performing Arts Center Kingston, NY
2.07.08 TBA Weston Auditorium Fitchburg State College, MA
2.07.08 8pm Weston Auditorium Fitchburg, MA
2.08.08 Pollack Auditorium Monmouth University W. Long Branch, NJ
2.09.08 8PM The American Theater Hampton, VA
2.10.08 3PM The American Theater Hampton, VA
2.14.08 TBA Porter Center Brevard, NC
2.15.08 11AM Porter Center Brevard, NC
2.15.08 8PM Porter Center Brevard, NC
2.16.08 8PM Rialto Center for the Performing Arts Atlanta, GA
2.17.08 3PM Newberry Opera House Newberry, SC
2.20.08 10am Sunrise Theater of the Performing Arts Fort Pierce, FL
2.20.08 7pm Sunrise Theater of the Performing Arts Fort Pierce, FL
2.21.08 TBA Carnival Center Miami, FL
2.21.08 TBA Carnival Center Miami, FL
2.22.08 TBA Carnival Center Miami, FL
2.22.08 TBA Carnival Center Miami, FL
2.23.08 TBA Carnival Center Miami, FL
2.23.08 8PM Ziff Ballet Opera House Miami, FL
2.27.08 TBA Grand Opera House MSU Riley Center Meridian, MS
2.27.08 8pm Grand Opera House MSU Riley Center Meridian, MS
2.29.08 TBA Rosa Hart Theater Lake Charles, LA
3.04.08 TBA Macky Auditorium University of Colorado Boulder, CO
3.05.08 8PM Community Concert Hall Durango, CO
3.06.08 8PM Albuquerque Journal Theatre/Disney Center, NM
3.07.08 8PM Lensic Theater Santa Fe, NM
3.11.08 9:30 McCallum Theater for the Performing Arts Palm Desert,CA
3.11.08 11AM McCallum Theater for the Performing Arts Palm Desert,CA
3.12.08 10AM University of California Santa Barbara,CA
3.12.08 1:30PM University of California Santa Barbara, CA
3.12.08 8PM Campbell Hall, University of California Santa Barbara, CA
3.14.08 TBA Turlock Community Theater Turlock, CA
3.15.08 8PM Royce Hall Center for the Arts Los Angeles, CA
3.16.08 3PM Harman Hall, Cohen Performing Arts Ctr San Luis Obispo, CA
3.18.08 TBA Ross Ragland Theater Klamath Falls, OR
3.18.08 8PM Ross Ragland Theater Klamath Falls, OR
3.19.08 8PM Jackson Hall / Mondavi Center Davis, CA
3.20.08 8PM Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3.22.08 TBA Silva Concert Hall / Hult Center Eugene, OR
3.25.08 TBA Laxson Auditorium Chico, CA
3.25.08 8PM Laxson Auditorium Chico, CA
3.27.08 TBA Newport Performing Arts Center Newport, OR
3.28.08 8PM Washington Center Olympia, WA
3.29.08 7:30PM Edmonds Center for the Performing ArtsEdmonds, WA
3.30.03 5PM Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum Pullman, WA
3.31.08 10AM Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum Pullman, WA

Photos and videos: Perú Negro

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Peru Once Again At Madrid Fusión

This week in Madrid, the world's leading chefs, food critics, restaurateurs, and foodies have convened for the sixth annual culinary extravaganza: Madrid Fusión.

Since its inception in 2003, Madrid Fusión has become one of the leading gastronomic events in the world.

The theme for this year's version is Gastronomy, the Internet and New Technologies.

For the fifth consecutive year, Peru has been proudly represented at this world-class gastronomic summit.

The venerable Javier Wong at Madrid Fusión 2008
Photo: RPP

Peruvian potatoes, ceviche, and Peruvian pisco were on hand at the Peru stand, always one of the big draws at the gathering.

Peruvian chefs such as Javier Wong (featured on this blog at this post) and Iván Kisic were on hand to prepare new interpretations of unique Peruvian specialties, adding to the current buzz about Peruvian food.

Coinciding with the UN's declaring 2008 The Year of the Potato (as reported here), Peru promoted itself as the birthplace of this global tuber, home to over 3,000 varieties.

Iván Kisic, current chef at Lima's Cala, prepared cutting-edge potato dishes, employing sophisticated techniques and innovative presentations. Meanwhile, Javier Wong, while true to the basic principles of traditional Peruvian cuisine, prepared new combinations and transformations of the classic Peruvian ceviche.

Johny Schuler, one of Peru's leading pisco experts, offered visitors to the Peru stand pisco tasting and demonstrations on the unique qualities of Peruvian pisco.

Among the cold dishes offered at the Peru stand were Causita criolla de camote y cangrejo y ají limo, a sweet potato causa with crab and key lime; Causita criolla de papa al pulpo en sus dos olivas, a causa with octopus and olives; a selection of scalloped Andean tubers in three classic sauces: rocoto, huacatay and huancaína; a Mini ocopa de langostinos bebe con papita nativa y su aceitunita, native small potatoes with baby shrimp and olive in an ocopa sauce; Bocadito de trucha ahumada y papa pachamanquera, an amuse-bouche of smoked trout and potatoes cooked pachamanca-style; and, the perennial favorite, Papita a la huancaína, small potatoes in a huancaína sauce.

Hot dishes included Variedad de papas peruanas cocidas y sus salsa, cooked Peruvian potatoes and sauces; Mini papita amarilla al horno en salsa de ají de gallina, small baked potatoes in an ají de gallina sauce; Pastel de papa arequipeña con queso serrano, an Arequipa-style potato pastry with Andean cheese; and an Espuma de papa amarilla y jugo de chupe, a foam of Peruvian yellow potatoes in a chupe sauce.

Next year, Madrid Fusión!

Source: RPP

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fox Business News: Peruvian Food Recognized As One Of The Emerging Cuisines Of 21st Century

In the US market, the Peruvian food brand continues to expand, which is good news for Peruvian food junkies.

In an online article dated January 9, Fox Business News announces "the launch of the first major Peruvian restaurant franchise concept in the USA" with the development of "fresh gourmet Peruvian meals which are to be sold through major retail, specialty, and club stores nationwide" under the Inka Grill/Golden Choice Food © brand, according to Richard Damion, Chairman/CEO of International Food Products Group, the project developer."

Fox Business News concludes, "Peruvian food is about to take its rightful place as one of the world's finest emerging cuisines."

The complete article can be read here.

Sounds good to me.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge In Los Angeles

In keeping with the celebration of Lima's founding, I finally made it out to Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge in Tarzana, located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

There are currently dozens of Peruvian restaurants in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County metropolitan area, a far cry from what it was like during my childhood growing up behind the Orange Curtain.

Back then, finding a Peruvian meal other than one made by mom entailed a long trek up the 5 Freeway to a hole-in-the-wall in Hollywood where there were few tables, the requisite pictures of Machu Picchu and a couple of llamas, and home-style Peruvian food served by bona fide Peruvians who, back in the day, were also few and far between.

Fast forward to 2008, and there are now Peruvian places from Chatsworth to Torrance to Irvine. That's quite a territory. But, most Peruvian places I've been to (and I admit I haven't tried all the Peruvian places in metropolitan Los Angeles) tend to be mom-and-pop type places, usually with a very homey décor, a home-style presentation, a variable price-quality relation, and catering mostly to Peruvians (who also seem to be everywhere these days) and the smattering of foodies and cognoscenti in search of the culinary wonders of Peruvian cuisine.

Sadly, here in LA (unlike our neighbor to the north, the City by the Bay) there was no Peruvian place that seemed a bit more hip and upscale, with dishes presented in a stylized, more contemporary, manner.

At least, until now.

The new kid on the Peruvian restaurant block here in Los Angeles is Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge in the almost hoity-toity west San Fernando Valley area of Tarzana.

Lima is the brainchild of Javier Neciosup, Juan Morillo, and Henrik Strater,
a Puerto Rican and two Peruvians, known in the LA area as Latin American music promoters. They've worked with such heavyweights as Peru's Eva Ayllón and Morillo is manager of one of my favorite Afro Peruvian dance and music troupes, Perú Negro (who are getting ready to embark on a North American tour ... but more on that in a later post).

The partners conducted extensive research on the current state of Peruvian restaurants in the Los Angeles area (48 by their count) and knew if they wanted to stand out, they would have to do something different.

Under the direction of Chef Javier Chan, trained at Lima's Le Cordon Bleu and formerly of the well regarded El Rocoto in Gardena, they created dishes that maintain their authenticity but are presented with a contemporary twist. They decorated their locale (formerly a Persian cabaret) in a sophisticated, modern style. Admittedly, some of the décor could still be improved, but the overall feel is light-years from other Peruvian places I've been to in LA.

In keeping with the name, there is a welcoming lounge area as you enter, which leads towards a garden-like outdoor patio, perfect for dining in the balmy Southern California weather. In their main dining area, the tables and chairs could be improved, but they need to be easily moved because on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, the restaurant closes down and transforms itself into a nightclub featuring salsa and Latin American music.

What really sets Lima apart is the food and its presentation. On our visit, to get us started, we were treated to chifles, banana and sweet potato chips, accompanied by a very nice and spicy Peruvian green sauce.

Since everything on their menu looks quite good, we opted to start with a trio of appetizers: Choros a la chalaca, mussels served in the style of El Callao, topped off with fresh red onion and hot peppers, Langostinos en causa, breaded langostinos lightly seasoned with the Peruvian hot pepper ají panca and served on top of a delicate mounds of potato causa, all lightly drizzled with a sweet maracuyá sauce, and the pièce de résistance: an absolutely perfect Peruvian ceviche.

We accompanied our meal with a decent pisco sour, and Lima's own take of this classic Peruvian drink: a maracuyá sour. Maracuyá is passion fruit, and after one, I felt it was a drink I could feel passionate about. I would have liked to have seen other pisco drinks (I've been craving a Pisco Punch since I tried one in the other Lima for the first time back in September) and maybe they'll expand their drink repertoire in the future.

Our main dish, which was more than enough for two, was a tasty Arroz norteño de mariscos, rice cooked in a cilantro base and packed with all types of delicious seafood. Unfortunately, by the time the main dish arrived we were either too engrossed in conversation or too enamored of the pisco sours to take a proper picture. Oh well! It just means I'll have to go back there very soon, poor me!

Photo: Canelita

Photo: Canelita

My dining companion and I had to arm wrestle to see who would get to drink this little glass of pure heaven. On top was cancha, the toasted corn which accompanies most Peruvian meals, but beneath it was an exquisite leche de tigre, the tiger's milk, meaning the tart and spicy marinade of the ceviche, with little bits of seafood thrown in for good measure. I won. And, I didn't cheat. Too much.

We finished our long lunch with the perfect foil: a scoop of lúcuma ice cream, made from the sweet tropical fruit all Peruvians love.

As I said at the onset of this post, I haven't been to all the Peruvian restaurants in the Los Angeles area. I tend to save my money so I can eat to my heart's content (and stomach's galore) in Lima (the city). But, with Lima (the restaurant) so promising and so close by, I may be going to Lima even when I'm not in Peru.

Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge
19540 Ventura Boulevard, near Tampa
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 758-3902

Website: Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On The Blogs: Seattle Peruvian Menu Tasting, Beginning January 23 @ CHOW down, Seattle

Peruvian food seems to be everywhere these days. On The Blogs is a new feature here at Peru Food in which I comment and link to what other bloggers are writing and posting about Peruvian food.

CHOW down, Seattle, Seattle's neighborhood restaurant blog, is posting about a Peruvian menu tasting at Coastal Kitchen restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, slated to begin January 23.

Coastal Kitchen, which bills itself as "the quintessential neighborhood fish house," will be offering pulpo a la yerba, an octopus appetizer, as well as Peruvian cebiche.

The CHOW down, Seattle writer calls the latter "hands down" the staff favorite, consisting of, "A big mound of fresh albacore, tossed in a lime and cilantro marinade, ... served flanked by avocado as well as house made yam and purple potato chips." The main dishes sound just as good.

Read the complete post here.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

On The Blogs: Midtown Manhattan's El Sabroso @ Midtown Lunch

Peruvian food seems to be everywhere these days. On The Blogs is a new feature here at Peru Food in which I comment and link to what other bloggers are writing and posting about Peruvian food.

Midtown Lunch is a NYC food blog dedicated to "finding lunch in the food wasteland of New York's Midtown". The Midtown Lunch crew is very good at finding unique, often ethnic, restaurants, and in a recent post, they tell us about El Sabroso.

Click on the image to see the complete menu.
Read the sign above the door: Save Money and Eat Well Here.
Photo: Midtown Lunch

El Sabroso is literally a hole-in-the-wall, but a Peruvian food hole-in-the-wall, in the midst of Midtown Manhattan. It reminds me of little mom-and-pop run restaurants I've seen in the historic center of Lima. It's just a counter with some stools tucked into the corner of a freight elevator hallway!

I swear I've seen the same setup in the center of Lima.
Photo: Midtown Lunch

Appearances aside (although, there is a certain charm), the Midtown Luncher calls El Sabroso "a hidden gem" and has gone back more than once (always a good sign). The lady who does the cooking is Peruvian. Read the complete review here.

The tallarín rojo, red spaghetti, looks just like grandma's.
Photo: Midtown Lunch

If you want to know where El Sabroso is located, you'll have to read it at Midtown Lunch.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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