Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy BlogDay 2008! (And The Top Peruvian Food Blog Is...)

Happy BlogDay 2008!

If you're not sure what that is, you can read about it here.

This is a two-part post: the first has my BlogDay 2008 recommendations; and in the second, I reveal the top voted Peruvian food blog in the 20 Blogs Peruanos, 20 Peruvian Blogs, contest.

To bloggers and blog readers around the world: it's great to have a day to celebrate blogs and blogging. Blogs, and the digital media revolution in which we are living, truly represent a a change in the way people communicate, providing the ability for anyone with access to a computer to be creative and have his or voice be heard. Blogs allow us to read stories, share visions, and obtain perspectives on the world we might otherwise never know. Blogs connect people in the most disparate parts of the world, ultimately fulfilling our ancient need for self-expression.

Today, on BlogDay 2008, I searched for five blogs that interested me and gave me new information and a new window through which to view the world.

This year, I wanted to focus on the global nature of blogs, so I chose one blog each from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. All are in English. All have interesting links worth exploring.

First, right here from home, LA Taco, is a blog "celebrating the taco lifestyle." What does that mean? Mostly, lots of photographs of Los Angeles, ranging from Bruce Lee's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to a low-rider exhibition. It's very much a documentary of urban LA life, street art, culture, sometimes interspersed with posts about tacos.

I found Cuckoo's Call, a blog from India about "journey, enlightenment and song", because I was interested in reading about the Untouchable caste. Thanks to this post, I learned about a new film from India titled India Untouched: Stories of a People Apart. Nila Kantha Chandra also discusses corruption at the Calcutta Zoo, Indian society, politics, and poetry, and has some other captivating blogs at the profile page.

Sukuma Kenya is digital journalism from Nairobi. This blog believes "the mobilisation of minds, hearts and the application of imagination can build out of chaos and destruction something new, transcendent and meaningful." They denounce the salaries paid to the wives of Kenyan politicians; review Coming of Age, a Kenyan film about growing up during the Jomo Kenyetta era, and discuss Kenyan society and politics in general.

Babasiga is a blog about "Fiji stories, Labasa, South Pacific culture, family, migration, [and the] Australia/Fiji relationship". Written by Peceli and Wendy, who currently live in Geelong, Australia, they explain "Babasiga (pronounced bambasinga) is the dry land of the Macuata in northern Fiji - our place in the sun in Fiji. The town is Labasa and our village is Vatuadova and the beach is Nukutatava. We are part of the Wailevu Fijian tribe with relatives in Mali Island and Naseakula village." Recently, they've posted about daily goings-on in Suva, girls taking automotive courses at secondary school, and the Methodist choir competition, all illustrated with photos.

Lastly (but not least), from Lithuania, I recommend Laimikis, which in Lithuanian means "lucky catch" and is so titled because "
laimikis is people on the streets of Vilnius [and] street people from other towns and ... countries, a concept of street photography based on three principles: 1) the people of your town are no less exotic than personages from overseas; 2) every of them has his/her own story, which is much more interesting, than the comments of any expert; and, 3) street photography is a communication with passers-by and the way to pay a compliment, overcoming usual urban alienation." I love these type of blogs, with loads of pictures of places far away, where I can once again confirm, despite our outward differences, we really are all just the same.

That's it for BlogDay 2008!


And now.


The winner in the Food Blog category of the 2008 edition of 20 Blogs Peruanos, 20 Peruvian Blogs, is ....... Cucharas Bravas: Inspectores Culinarios!

Cucharas Bravas: Inspectores Culinarios (meaning something like: Intrepid Spoons: Culinary Inspectors) is an attractive, smart, and contemporary blog written in Spanish in which Pierina and Freddy review restaurants in Lima and Peru, and write about the general state of Peruvian cuisine. They have received numerous accolades (in fact, I believe this is the second year in a row they have won this prize) and have been featured in the Peruvian traditional and online media. I voted for them!

This blog, Peru Food, made it to the short list of top three most voted Peruvian food blogs, which was an honor in and of itself. Thank you to all who voted for Peru Food.

Pierina and Freddy have done a great job with their blog and deserve all the credit and recognition they receive.

Kudos and congratulations to Cucharas Bravas!

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Off Topic: Feast Day of Saint Rose Of Lima, August 30

Once again, it is the Feast Day of the first Catholic Saint of the New World: St. Rose of Lima, Patroness of the Americas and the Philippines.

Today in Lima, the faithful will be visiting her sanctuary in colonial Lima, as well as the town of Santa Rosa de Quives, where she spent her teenage years.

Processions in her honor will take place all over Peru.

Procession of Saint Rose of Lima,
as the image enters Santo Domingo Church in Lima, where she is buried.

To read more about her life see this link.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Most Awaited Restaurant Opening: La Mar Cebicheria Peruana In San Francisco

For almost two years we've been hearing that Peru's most famous chef, the inimitable Gastón Acurio, was opening a branch of his La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in San Francisco.

I've received countless e-mails asking me, "When will it open?" "When?" When?"

Finally, I believe I have a conclusive answer (fingers crossed).

There is quite a buzz about this restaurant opening, the first time Gastón has opened a branch of one of his unique Peruvian restaurant brands outside the Spanish-speaking world.

Located just steps away from San Francisco's historic Ferry Building, La Mar Cebicheria Peruana will be located at Pier 1½, on San Francisco's Embarcadero.

The property is owned by San Francisco Waterfront Partners, and this project is expected to become the Mecca of high-end Peruvian cuisine in the United States.

The space is huge, a total of 11,000 square feet: 8,000 square feet inside Pier 1½ and another 3,000 square feet outdoors on a patio fronting San Francisco Bay.

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to eat at any of Gastón's venues, whether in Lima, Santiago, Quito, Caracas, Bogotá, Mexico City, Panama City, or Madrid, knows that quality and innovation are hallmarks of his cuisine. He is the consummate culinary perfectionist, and Peru's best ambassador of Peruvian cuisine.

Why call it La Mar Cebicheria Peruana? Gaston's first La Mar opened in Lima's Miraflores district on Avenida La Mar, which dead-ends at the Pacific Ocean, and has since become a prime culinary corridor.

In Spanish, '
la mar' is a poetic way to refer to the sea, which differs from the common appellation of 'el mar'. And, in keeping with the Peruvian spelling, 'cebichería' is spelled with a 'b' and not a 'v'. And although, 'cebichería' is correctly spelled with an accent on the final 'i', in this manifestation, that written accent mark has been dropped.

No one has done as good a job of documenting the progress of San Francisco's La Mar than Eater SF, from which we are republishing the following photographs. At their site there is a wealth of information about the details on the development of this exceptional project.

Oh, and the opening date? According to the property owner's website, the most recent date for the grand opening is September 18.

We can't wait. How about you?

All Photos: SF Eater

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On The Blogs: Lima Cafés @ Professor Zero

Photo: etringita
Professor Zero is the nom de plume of an academic living and working in Peru, who explains: "I blog pseudonymously because I want to write in a voice other than my academic one, because I secretly want to be a journalist and memoirist, and because 'journaling' has always seemed solipsistic to me."

Her blog, also named Professor Zero, reads like a collection of essays examining life in Peru, culture, race, literature, among other topics. Her posts are sometimes scholarly, other times more practical, always thoughtful and captivating.

She has kindly allowed us to republish a recent post about cafés in Lima, and between her post and her reader's comments, emerges a good list of places to visit, some with Wi-Fi, others without, where amidst the hubbub of the city, a good cup of coffee and solitude can be had. (For an older post about Lima cafés, click here.)

Feel free to continue to add to this list by leaving a comment, either here or at the original post at Professor Zero.

Note: When Professor Zero mentions Lima 1, she is referring to historic Central Lima.

We already know that of things one can have done to oneself at low prices in Lima, I prefer acupuncture over beauty services. We also know that I almost never go to restaurants, and that when I do, they are cheap ones, that I like Lima 1, and that I shop in the central market although the rest of my household is afraid to go in.

I have also nearly given up on the bus system, in favor of cabs, until further notice (i.e. until they finish the current obras [construction projects] which cause so many main arteries to be torn up and incapacitated) - because it just takes too long to ride buses around all the detours and through the congestion, because I am too lazy to re-learn all the road maps so that I can be an efficient taker of buses in these circumstances, because I can, or am willing to walk further than people from Lima can or are, and because, when faced with the choice of taking two buses at 1 nuevo sol apiece or one cab for 5 nuevos soles, I go for the cab, saying, “It is just a dollar” (really it is a little more, and over time these dollars add up, but still [and notice, I think in dollars because it is in dollars that I am paid]).

The other extremely bourgeois thing I do is sit in fancy cafés, the topic of this post.

I want to know about more of them since I currently only go to three and a half on a regular basis. (I used to go to various others in Lima 1, but I do not live there now. There are other cafés I go to occasionally, but which I think of more as bars or restaurants and suspect it would be invasive of me to use as offices). Because I only go to three a half and want to go to more, we are having an open thread on fancy cafés of Lima (good and bad).

Disqualified from the outset are Starbuck’s, the McDonald’s café (yes, it serves espresso), any café in a mall, and the café of the bookstore CRISOL. This last café looks good but is ultimately too flashy, and the wait staff appears never to have been customers in a café, so they do not know what they are doing. Now I will review the cafés I like.

Photo: Steve Burt
The HAITI on the Parque Kennedy is the most traditional and is probably everyone’s first choice. It’s an old fashioned café like those in Spain, with a professional wait staff and a varied restaurant menu too (expensive). Café con leche is currently $2.25 here and, give or take a few cents, in all other cafés of this level. This café is good for conversation and for reading, for study groups, and for writing in notebooks. I do not think it would look right there to set up a laptop, and I have not seen people do it; for me it is too noisy and busy there to be writing on a laptop, anyway. Maybe one could at a back table, late at night. It might be possible to hook into the wi-fi hot spot that is the park. The HAITI always gives change in brand new coins, which is fun.

A friend always goes to the CAFE DE LA PAZ on the other side of the Parque Kennedy. Having obviously been named after the CAFE DE LA PAIX in Paris, which is somewhat right bank, shall we say, this café appeared too expensive to me for years. However, it is superior to the HAITI in that its infusions ($1.85) are made of real herbs and grasses, not tea bags. It has a lot of tables outdoors that are well enough covered with umbrellas so that you can really sit there in the rain, and these tables are pleasant at night with candles. To go by myself or to read or work, though, I still strongly recommend the HAITI. The CAFE DE LA PAZ, although good for what it is, is the least useful to me of the cafés under review here, although perhaps the inside seats, during the day, could be useful for my purposes. I am rating it third, and its neighbor right next door whose name I forget but which is very similar, fourth. Both, I am assuming, are able to catch the public wi-fi.

The HAVANNA, on Miguel Dasso in San Isidro, has the very great advantage of being next to the LIBRERIA VIRREY bookstore. This, in addition to its wi-fi and its comfortable chairs, place it second, as a marvelous place to study, read and write, despite (or perhaps because of) the overly bourgeois aspect of the neighborhood which truly forces one to concentrate on one’s book (although they also have a good set of current newspapers and magazines on a rack for you to read). This café, however, is part of an Argentine chain and shows worrisome signs of Starbucksification. The wait staff is semi professional, trained by HAVANNA to push the addition of caramel syrup and other things like that to your coffee, or to supersize it. They want you to order their pastries and chocolates, or a four dollar tray of chocolates, juice, and coffee. Unlike the other cafés reviewed here, they do not have a full restaurant waiting behind the scenes, but they do have expensive breakfast and merienda [tea time] sandwiches, and they want to sell them. Whenever you order, numerous suggestions for additions to your plan will be made. You have to negotiate and insist, no, I really only want an espresso (or whatever it is you want).

Because of the areas they are in (RITZY), a lot of foreigners go to all of these cafés, but most of the clientele is still local. I may be overly suspicious but I think I have seen some rendezvous related to discreet, very high class sex tourism take place at the HAVANNA. And as I say, I used to have various haunts in Lima 1, but I have lost them (and wish to restore them). Perhaps I should buy an old building, restore it as a marvelous café, and live upstairs.


Jon, August 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm:

I like all the three you mention, for different reasons. The Café de la Paz is the place for a pisco sour, I reckon. (At least in Miraflores.) The Haiti is the place for people-watching. And Havanna is the place to look over the books you’ve just bought at the Virrey.

You’ve missed out the ritziest of all: The Tiendecita Blanca, opposite the Haiti.

The good thing about the Haiti is that you can snag the free Wifi from the McDonalds next door.

The place I like most to work (and I sometimes spend hours and hours there) is Café XXI, on Larco (I think it’s called… a few blocks away from the Haiti). This is quiet, the waitstaff don’t bother you. The only thing is that it doesn’t have wifi.

There’s a new, trendy place further towards the sea, the Café Zeta.

And don’t forget Café Café.

In San Isidro, the News Café.

I made a habit of doing a tour of the fancy cafés once a week, book and/or laptop in hand.

profacero, August 18, 2008 at 10:30 pm:

Jon, thanks a million!!! Café Café, I keep forgetting, Tiendecita Blanca, I walk by constantly and never figured it out, News Café, I keep hearing about but never go, Zeta, I’ve never even seen … obviously there are reasons to hang out more in Miraflores and S.I. !!! I’m obviously bourgeoise BUT not the type of bourgeoise for my current neighborhood, I need to get café busy!!! XXI, that sounds like the #1 best - there are good reasons to exile oneself from wi-fi part of the time.

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

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kotosh At Kamiyama Peruvian Food & Sushi In Lomita.

Lomita is a small town tucked between the Harbor Freeway and the Palos Verdes Penninsula in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, and a place I had only passed through prior to visiting this unique Peruvian Japanese restaurant.

A Nikkei Peruvian friend of mine, who knows I love seafood, first told me about Kotosh At Kamiyama, and insisted I had to check it out.

One of the defining features of Peruvian food is the fact it is a fusion cuisine, borrowing and melding elements from native pre-Columbian, Spanish, African, Italian, and Asian traditions. Peru is home to a large community of Nikkei Peruvians, Peruvians of Japanese descent.

Having said that, it is no surprise that Kotosh (named after the temple of the same name in the Huánuco region of Peru, which at 5,000 years old is among South America's oldest) offers both traditional Peruvian cuisine as well as Japanese sushi.

One of the hallmarks of this restaurant is the quality of the ingredients used as well as the friendliness of the staff, many of whom are Japanese Peruvians. Despite being a compact space, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

On both occasions I visited, Kotosh was full. There must be a reason so many people make the trek (or should I say pilgrimage?) to the unremarkable, and a bit hard-to-find, mini-mall where it is located.

Quite frankly, if Kotosh were not so far from where I live, I would be a regular customer, and eat my way through the entire menu.

I'm not Kotosh's only fan.

In a recent review, The District Weekly, says, "Even if you were to erase one country from its cookbook, Kotosh would function just fine—better, in fact, than other restaurants that focus on a single cuisine. More remarkable is that the restaurant truly does work best with both, easily breaking the boundaries of typical fusion food."

Circle of Food writes, "It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been to Kotosh and the food memories are still floating around in my head." At Insider Pages, reviewers call Kotosh, The Best of Two Worlds.

Finally, if you prefer the Japanese side of the menu, Jonathan Gold, one of Southern California's most well-known food critics, calls Kotosh, "a cheerful South Bay sushi mecca."

Numerous reviewers at Yelp sing Kotosh's praises. I particularly enjoyed this:
"I've stayed away from this place for a long time. Peruvian and sushi? It just sounded like all kinds of wrong.

"Not so," a coworker of mine informed me. In her foodie ways, she went on to describe the delicious dishes. Still, the idea of this combo scared me.

Finally one night, I was in the mood for something different. So, to Kotosh I went. And waited. And waited. It seemed like an excruciatingly long time before I got to put my order in on a Saturday night.

That's when a patron approached me. "Give this place a chance," he said. He went on to say he probably would have left if he were me, but that I should stay because "the food is rockin." Then he recommended the tallarin saltado (spaghetti with sauteed onions and tomatoes) and the Peruvian Slur (crab asparagus roll, topped with salmon, avocado and the tasty Peruvian green sauce).

Fair enough. At his enthusiastic recommendations, I ordered them. Then, in time, I devoured them. There was not a scrap to take home to enjoy later. I was that greedy and it was that good! The patron had been absolutely right: The Food is Rockin!!!

Since then, I have been back and have enjoyed other delights. The Peruvian food makes my taste buds dance in joy. The sushi is also very good and fresh. The staff is friendly, and even when super busy (like my first Saturday night experience), they will greet you with a smile.

I've just learned to order ahead..."

Leche de Tigre

On our recent visit, I had to order leche de tigre, which is off the menu, but the staff was more than willing to prepare. Literally, Tiger's Milk, this is a glass of the juice in which the ceviche is marinated, a tart and spicy marriage of lime, garlic, and the Peruvian hot pepper rocoto that explodes in the mouth and opens up the taste buds.

Tiradito de Lenguado

We also sampled the sashimi-like halibut Tiradito de Lenguado (at our initial visit we tried the almost sinful Tiradito de Atún, with tuna sliced so finely it melted in our mouths).

Tiradito de Atún
Photo: Rosheila Robles at The District Weekly

The Ceviche de Pescado is excellent, the fish is fresh and firm, and not too spicy. In case you want to tart it up a little, there is Kotosh's version of the ubiquitous ají verde, Peruvian green hot sauce, which is a bit milder and creamier than at other Peruvian restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Ceviche de Lenguado

We also ordered the classic Lomo Saltado, which itself is a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisines. It was a solidly prepared dish and the meat was a bit better quality than in many other local Peruvian restaurants.

Lomo Saltado

The crab-stuffed Spider Roll was the perfect complement to the Peruvian dishes. And there was an Arroz Chaufa de Mariscos, mixed seafood fried rice, that was so good it disappeared before we had a chance to take a picture.

Spider Sushi

People rave about the Peruvian Slur roll, which is a crab and asparagus roll, topped with Norwegian salmon, and a dollop of Peruvian green hot sauce, as well as the Tallarín Saltado, which is stir-fried spaghetti with onions and tomatoes and your choice of chicken, fish or beef.

They're on our list for a future visit.

Photos (unless otherwise noted): Canelita

Kotosh At Kamiyama Peruvian Food & Sushi
2408 Lomita Blvd., Suite #C
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 257-1363
Website: Kotosh

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off Topic: BlogDay 2008 On August 31

Blog Day 2008

It's that time of year again to celebrate BlogDay, the brainchild of Nir Ofir who started this global blogging event in 2005.

In an interview, Nir explains he started BlogDay because he "noticed ... that blog readers usually stick to their regular blog reading list and don't go and search for new blogs to read. The overflow of information is the main cause for that - it is just too hard to find new good blogs to read [so] I decided to create a day ... for bloggers to recommend other blogs to their blog visitors."

If you're a blogger, or a reader of blogs, it's easy to participate. Here's some further information and what you have to do:

What is BlogDay?

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.
With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

What will happen on BlogDay?

One long moment on August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post recommendations of 5 new Blogs, preferably Blogs that are different from their own culture, point of view and attitude.

On this day, blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.

BlogDay posting instructions:

1. Find 5 new Blogs you find interesting.

2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2008.

3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs.

4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st).

5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link:

and a link to the BlogDay web site:
Peruvian bloggers are celebrating BlogDay 2008 on August 29 with an event that hopes bring together as many Peruvian bloggers as possible, further information about that event can be found at this link.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Peruvian Food Video: Even Nerds Like Peruvian Food

We've been having some major problems with our OS in these last few days, so many it might be time to ditch this CPU for a new one.

Given that fact, we can certainly appreciate a nerd tekkie geek right now, someone like Chris Pirillo, Internet nerd personality if ever there was one.

A few months back, Chris read an e-mail from Peruvian geek Arturo Puente, who turned him on to his top five Peruvian food dishes.

Watch Chris read and discuss Arturo's list in his own inimitable style, weird accent, hiccups, and all.

And, if this blog disappears in the next few days, now you know why. Sigh!

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On The Blogs: Puno Restaurants @ Audre & Dimitri's Traveling Love Affair

Audre and Dimitri continue their love affair with traveling, which they document at their blog, Audre & Dimitri's Traveling Love Affair.

They, and their unique story, were originally featured at Peru Food at this link.

Currently living in Cuzco, they recently posted about their culinary adventures in Puno, the Peruvian city known as the jumping-off point to explore Lake Titicaca.

Their restaurant reviews are always very detailed and highly informative.

These excerpts are about one of their favorite restaurants in Puno:
"We were in Puno for about a week and ate out for every meal. While Puno is not the gastronomic capital of Perú, we had some very nice meals.

Our Favorite: Casa Andina Private Collection Puno

We went to this restaurant twice and had two good meals.

It's a little out of town, but the taxi ride is only S/.8 at most. The room is lovely, with 2 fireplaces, and the service is quite good.

We shared everything and ordered a Peruvian Tacama Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc + Vigonier (S/.50) that was surprisingly good.

At one of our meals, our starter was the Raviol de ragout cordero con gelatina de menta - Muña y jugos del cocción (S/.30). It was one big lamb ravioli and it was delicious. The reduced sauce was very good.

For our main dish, we shared the Trucha de lago en chutney de recotos y manzana sobre mini tacu-tacu de pallares (S/.38).

It was very good even though the trout was too dry for our taste. The tacu-tacu de pallares is a purée of pallares, which is a delicious white broad bean.

I really like pallares and have started to make a dip of pallares at home as an aperitivo.

Wikipedia translates pallares as lima beans or butter beans but I'm not sure that's correct.

The chef came to our table (which we love) to ask us about our meal. That makes a meal quite special for us.

For dessert we shared the Caneloni rellenos de mousse de caramelo y castaña camotes confitadoes en miel y gelatina de Bailey's (S/.25). The dessert was unusual and we liked it.

We had one agua (S/.7) and one tea de muña (S/.14). Tea de muña is made with a local herb that looks and tastes like oregano."

Audre and Dimitri discuss some of their other favorite restaurants in Puno, as well as restaurants that were barely passable, and their do-not-go list.

They even post a recipe for
Sopa Incaica, an Inca-derived soup, as served at one of their favorite restaurants.

To read the full Puno restaurant review, visit the Puno post at Audre & Dimitri's Traveling Love Affair.

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

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peruvian Food Photos: A Visit To Chala

In all of greater Lima, perhaps the most romantic spot is the Bajada de Baños, the natural ravine that leads from the main square of the Barranco district down to the Pacific Ocean.

Chala is located in the Bajada, in an historic adobe house with a wide wooden veranda that sits along the cobble-stoned pedestrian walkway which leads from the plaza down to the water. Overhead crosses the most famous bridge in Peru,
El Puente de los Suspiros, The Bridge of Sighs.

These photos, courtesy of Peruvian food fan Rich Friedman, are from his visit to this Peruvian coastal fusion cuisine restaurant that blends traditional flavors with a contemporary style.

Rich photographed two dishes at Chala.

The first is of sesame seed-covered
ají de gallina croquettes, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with an ají panca sauce.

The main dish is an asparagus-stuffed, pepper-seared tuna steak served over a bed of tomato
concassé and diced avocado marinated in ají limo, with yuca chips on the side.

More information about Chala at their website.

Photos: Rich Friedman

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Peruvian Food Video: Food And Fashion At Cuy Festival

Caution: This post not recommended for the squeamish.

Yesterday's post about the Amazonian grub suri, reminded me the Third Annual Cuy Festival had just been held in the town of Huacho, about 150 kilometers north of Lima.

Or, maybe I just have bizarre Peruvian foods on my mind.

We've posted about cuy many times before at Peru Food. Shhh! It's the lowly, yet cuddly, guinea pig.

But this video of the Third Annual Cuy Festival held recently in Huacho takes cuy to a whole other level.

We must say the festival got a lot of publicity: it was picked up by ITN, The Telegraph, Anderson Cooper, and Sky News, among others.

Yes, it
was billed as both a Fashion Show and Cook Off by the town of Huacho, and ... well, why don't you see for yourself:

Video: ITN via LiveLeak

Personally, I like cuy but I don't want to see it dressed up before I eat it.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Amazonian Grub: So ... Suri

News Flash: Suri is not just the name of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter.

In Peru, suri is the name for the larvae, or grub, of Rhynchophorus palmarum, a palm weevil commonly found in the Amazon.

You probably thought the most bizarre food eaten in Peru was cuy.

You were wrong.

In the Amazon, people love to eat suri, those Amazonians grubs, and having had them myself, I can tell you why: they're both delicious and nutritious.

Grubs are eaten in many parts of the world, particularly in the tropics

In Malaysia, people eat the sago worm, in Central Africa grubs are a highly-prized source of protein, and here in California any wilderness survivalist will tell you to search for grubs if you're ever lost and hungry in a forest.

In fact, many experts feel that grubs, and other insects, are one way to combat world hunger.

While grubs may not make an appearance at local restaurant near you anytime in the near future, they're certainly available in Peruvian Amazonian cities like Iquitos.

The reason is simple: they're very prevalent because their main food source is prevalent as well, the aguaje palm, Mauritia flexuosa.

Photo: Wiki

Photo: Wiki

In the Amazon, there are countless aguajes. In fact, because of their ubiquitousness on the Amazonian landscape, the aguaje is often considered one of the symbols of the Amazon, which is why there are so many Amazonian restaurants called El Aguaje or El Aguajal.

Aguajes thrive in flooded soils, forming a dense gathering called an aguajal. Of course, they're susceptible to many types of insects, mainly the palm weevil, called a cocotero in Peru.

The cocotero bores deep holes in the trunks of the aguaje, where it lays its eggs. When the egg hatches, the grub, suri, appears and starts eating its way outward through the spongy wood. The more palm bark it eats, the fatter, and oiler, the suri becomes. The suris are then harvested, and cooked, usually roasted.

If the suri is not harvested, it reaches adulthood and becomes a cocotero, starting the whole process over again. However, aguajes are now being grown as a a cash crop since their fruit is highly marketable. So, in a way, eating suri is a way of helping the Amazon and its economy.

In Iquitos, suri can be eaten at the Mercado de Belén, as well as the port of Nanay. Often they are prepared like anticuchos, brochettes on a skewer, and grilled over hot coals. Many tourists who come to the Amazon enjoy sampling suri.

So, what do they taste like? They're very rich-tasting, soft, mushy, and simply delicious.

It doesn't surprise me considering palm oil is also very flavorful as well as being rich in beta carotene. I've been told suri has curative properties, as well.

Usually, suri are served anticucho-style, but in conducting research for this post, I came across another recipe for suri.

If you have any grubs around, this may be a way to wow your guests at your next dinner party with this dish from Recetas Ricas de la Selva Ucayalina:

Chicharrón de Suri

Ingredients (feeds 6)

1 kilo of suri
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 cup vegetable oil
5 green plantains
Salt to taste

Preparation: Wash the suri well and season with the crushed garlic and salt. Let rest 20 minutes. Fry in hot oil. Separately, boil 4 green plantains (can also be fried plantains). Serve suri with the plantains and a cocona salad.

Finally, what would this post be without a video showing suri in all its facets, alive, grilled, and ready to eat?

The following is from Enlace Nacional, and lasts just 01:40, but gives you the full effect. My translation of the transcript appears below.

Anchor: In Iquitos, a traditional food with great nutritional value is suri, a larvae found in the aguaje trunk, which due to its overpopulation is being sold by residents in the lower Belen zone. The normal price is 50 cents [of a Peruvian sol] for each one.

Reporter: Are you familiar with suri? Do you know its nutritional value and where it comes from? This morning, our cameras in Loreto [Iquitos] went to the Belen Market in search of this delicious regional food. Suri looks like a worm and is found in the trunk of the aguaje. Suri is one of the tourist attractions of Amazonian cuisine.

As we see here, we have suri prepared an anticucho, here we have fried suri ready for sale; and here,. we can see them live. This is a type of sawdust in which they can stay alive for a number of hours.

Suri is also considered helpful in fighting bronchial infections in children.

Man with child: Yes, after cooking them, you take out its fat and give it just like that, they told me to give it like that.

Reporter: We talked with Cristina, a young suri vendor whose parents have been in the suri business for a number of years.

Cristina: Yeah, there are probably 200, 250 suri here.

Reporter: 200, 250 suri. But, there are a lot of people who eat them live, aren't there?

Cristina: Yes.

Reporter: Have you ever eaten them live?

Cristina: No.

Reporter: Why not?

Cristina: Because I'm afraid to eat them alive.

Reporter: Do they bite?

Cristina:Yes, they bite.

Enjoy suri! And remember, eat suri, save the Amazon.

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