Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eating My Week Out of Ayacucho

We spent a week in Ayacucho, Peru, for this medical mission (see
We worked our tails off but it was very gratifying and fun :) I encourage anyone interested to check it out!

I was working all day long the whole week, so the only real meal (besides the complimentary breakfast at the hotel) was dinner. Oh, I also occasionally manage to get a couple of empanadas on the way to work!

The first day we got there though, we got a tour to see the ruins of the Wari tribe. On the way back we stopped at a local market, where I tried a traditional/local dish, cuy. What is it you ask? It's a guinea pig ...

The first night, we went out to eat - surprise, surprise - pizza. We went to a small place called Antonino's which is pretty popular - at least among the mission participants as far as I can tell.

We also went to another favorite - El Nino, which offers an extensive menu of Peruvian food (and also, pizza).

Then it was time to try the Peruvian influenced Chinese cuisine - Chifa.

On our last night, we couldn't figure out where to go, so we ate at our hotel, Hotel Santa Rosa, which actually has really good food! Should've eaten here more ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lima: Antica, a rustic Trattoria

Our last night in Peru, we waited at someone's home in Barranco until it's time to go to the airport. I really wanted to go to Astrid y Gaston, or Rafael - but we were short on time and these places don't start serving dinner until 7.30 pm. We decided to go someplace nearby (walking distance) in Barranco.

Again, most places in Lima do not open until 7.30 pm for dinner. We finally went into this Italian place that was open, Antica Trattoria. It's a cozy, rustic place that reminds me of both a ski lodge and a wine cellar. When we came in, there was no other customer. There was someone behind the counter rolling the dough for this bread which we later had fresh from the oven:

I don't need to tell you guys how good a bread fresh from the oven is. Also, the olives that they serve with the bread were amazing! I've been growing tired of olives lately but these ones reminded me how scrumptious they are.

We had a big (BIG) lunch at La Mar earlier, so I just went with sharing some bruschetta.
Someone else ordered this one and I couldn't figure out what it's called.
Anyway, it was delicious, but I may be biased because of the melted cheese ... The bread that they use is also good.

This one, I believe, was the 'Classic'. Diced tomatoes and basil. Basic and refreshing.
A couple people at dinner didn't have lunch so they went ahead and ordered the Osso Buco, served with polenta.
The osso buco was tender and delicious. It is not as good as the best Italian places in Los Angeles, but is definitely one of the better ones I've had. All in all, this place is up there with the GOOD Italian places in LA.

It's kind of amazing how much Italian food we ended up having in Peru (Pizzas! They have pizzas everywhere! Every place in Aguas Calientes seems to sell pizza) ... but I was also surprised at how good they are.

Antica Trattoria
San Martín 201, Barranco
Lima, Peru

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lima: La Mar, Take One

Our first meal in Peru was at the cebicheria La Mar, one of Gaston Acurio's restaurants (chef/owner of Astrid y Gaston). Tons of great ceviche and other food - what could be a better welcome to Peru? We went back there for our last meal before leaving Peru again!

The seating is semi-outdoors and the sea breeze (La Mar is just a few blocks from the beach) makes it extremely pleasant.

For this first visit, our hosts took care of all the ordering - I tried to figure out what we had on my second visit. I still couldn't figure out everything, but I'll tell you guys as much as I can.

We started with some "cauza" which was mashed potatoes topped with a variety of seafood cocktail.
They were good, but really, I'm just waiting to have some ceviche:
We had the ceviche "mixto" which contained scallops, squid, fish, shrimp, and abalone - with some potatoes and corn in their classic "leche de tigre". Best ceviche I have ever had. And the second plate of the exact same dish that we ordered was just as good ;)

We also had one of the "tiradito" - which is Peruvian carpaccio, basically. I wasn't able to figure out what this particular one was called on the menu, but it was delicious:

We also had some langoustines, served with mushrooms. Both the langoustines and the mushrooms were amazing, IMO. I tried ordering this again the second time around, but couldn't find it and accidentally ordered "langosta" instead.I didn't know at the time that that meant lobster ... oh well, I guess I can eat that too O:)

I'll say this again ... the mushrooms were also just absolutely amazing.

We also had some sort of grilled tuna and octopus. I thought this dish was just okay. It was good, but nothing special and is the weakest out of everything we had that day.
We also got some sort of Peruvian rice dish - similar to Paella, and I absolutely loved it. I tried looking for it again the next time but couldn't figure out which one it was.
Since we were sharing, I didn't get too much of this rice dish and now I'm just drooling while writing this ....

During our first visit we had the lucuma+chocolate cake for dessert.
I liked this cake a lot that I bought lucuma gelato later on - but apparently I don't really like the actual lucuma fruit or the gelato. (The lucuma yogurt they sell in the stores is yummy though).

We also got the cherimoya with some sort of milk/sugar cream.
This was delicious and everyone liked it. Some of them have never had cherimoya before so this was a good intro.

If you make it to Lima, don't you dare leave without first coming to La Mar.

La Mar Cebicheria
Av. La Mar 770
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Phone: 51 1 421-3365
Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 12:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fries with that Guinea Pig?

I took this title from a T-shirt we saw somewhere in Cusco, Peru.
Yes, guinea pig is a typical local fare in Peru. And yes, I tried it (how can I claim to be a food blogger otherwise? Seriously).

I tried fried guinea pig (aka. "cuy") in a market near Ayacucho, Peru on the way back from a tour to local ruins of the Wari tribe. I got 2 fried thighs (see the feet? Uh huh ...) served with corn and potatoes.
How was it, you ask? I have to admit I liked it. Some people who got the white meat part did not and said that there is not much meat. It's true that there isn't much meat, but the meat that was there tasted like tender rabbit meat. The skin is crunchy - although it was more disturbing to eat than the meat ...

I also have to admit that I took the feet off before I can proceed to eat it. And that I could not stare at the buying/selling transactions of the live cuys taking place in front of the market, in the same way that most people do not want to see cows actually slaughtered before eating their rib eye steaks ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lima List

We spent 2 days in Lima, but overall we didn't get to try out /too / many places. The reason being our first meal was at La Mar Cebicheria - which equaled a 3 or 4 hour 'lunch' which prevented dinner, and it was sooo good we had to come back on our way out of Peru!

For the last meal, we were short on time and since most places don't start serving dinner until 7.30 or 8 pm we decided to walk around the neighborhood of our "base" in Barranco, and finally stopped at a cozy Italian nook Antica Trattoria.

When I come back next time though, I really wanna try Astrid y Gaston, Rafael, and Rodrigo :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

SF Dine About Town Starts!

The San Francisco Dine About Town starts today!!!
Guys, go and enjoy the prix-fixe deals while you can. Too bad I can't make it :( I really want to go try out these places while I can get good deals ... A16, etc *sob*

Anyway, check out the restaurants at the OpenTable site
Duration: June 1 - 15, 2008
Pricing: $21.95 lunches, $31.95 dinners; prices are per person and do not include beverage, tax or gratuity

Report back to me ... lemme know what I missed out on!