Lima, a food lovers paradise.
After more than 36 hours spent in transit and on two overnight buses we arrived in Lima, Peru where we were awoken by the sound of a rooster “cock-a-doodle-doodling”. At first we weren’t sure what was happening but sure enough in the very first row of the bus was a local woman with what I would call a “pet” rooster on her lap. We’ve come to expect some sort of animal on our buses but were somewhat amazed at how she managed to sneak a rooster onto the bus and keep it quiet for 8 of the 9 hours on an overnight bus. The icing on the cake was that right in front of her seat was a large sign that said no animals, this obviously didn’t deter her at all.
Having been in Ecuador and Colombia for the past 4 months where the food hasn’t overly excited us we couldn’t wait to get to Peru where we’d been told from multiple people that the food and the variety is truly amazing. To fully immerse ourselves in the food culture right away we took a night time food tour with Lima Gourmet and was absolutely blown away by what an incredible experience it was. We were able to experience fine dining at numerous restaurants that highlighted the best of the Peruvian food. Our guide Jossy absolutely made the experience for us. Her passion to her culture and the Peruvian food truly showed with each new place we went to. She is a fantastic guide who truly knows how to capture everyone’s attention and get the whole group to interact and enjoy each others company and the food.
So what did the tour consist of? We started off our tour at La Trastienda Restaurant where we had our first official Pisco Sour cocktail and boy was it delicious. The cocktail, coupled with an amazing waterfront view kicked this tour off on the right note. They educated us on the history and different kinds of Pisco and then taught us how to make the perfect Pisco Sour. Having tried quite a few pisco cocktails we can both agree that this was by far the best one we’ve had.
Our next stop was the restaurant Amaz where we were brought down into our own party room and were taught how to make vegetarian Cebiche. It was a hands on activity and really interesting learning how to make the dish without seafood. Don’t get me wrong I love a traditional seafood cebiche but fresh fish isn’t always so easy to come by in some parts of the world so knowing a way to use a plain ingredient like plantains and turn it into a delicious and easy dish was fantastic. After our Cebiche we were given some yummy chicken skewers and an Amazonian rice dish “Sacha Chaufa” which was delicious (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t really enjoy rice dishes).
After Amaz we were taken to La Huaca Pucllana which is a gourmet restaurantlocated right next to Incan ruins. The story goes that at this location they used to sacrifice women to the Goddess of the Sea to help please her during El Nino, lucky for us no sacrifices were made during our visit.
Here we were served 4 different dishes to try which included beef heart (which we were sneakily told to eat the meat first as they are best eaten warm and somehow the word “heart” was omitted until after everyone had finished sampling and complimenting how delicious it was). As we were finishing up, not to mention bursting at the seams, they brought out 4 different samples of desserts, each one better than the previous. I think most of us had unbuttoned at least our top button of our pants by this point.
And then, as we were all licking our bowls clean we were told we weren’t done yet! Our last stop was at Crem dela Crem gelato and ice cream parlour in the trendy neighbourhood of Barranco. After being “conned” in to getting the best chocolate gelato with real slivers of mint we took a walk around the bustling neighbourhood. The streets were full and there was live music playing while people were dancing around. The atmosphere in the area was so much fun. We were told a folk story about the Bridge of Sighs where you hold the hand of your partner and hold your breath and walk together the whole way across without taking a breath (30m or so) and you’ll have luck in romance together. And for those of you single folks, you were granted one wish if you were able to hold your breath the whole way across. So Piet and I linked hands took a deep breath and walked the whole way across so I think it’s safe to say you will be seeing more and more of our adventures to come. It was truly an incredible night that we got to experience.
After eating at all the amazing restaurants in our night time food tour we decided it would be amazing and very beneficial to brush up on our cooking skills and learn how to make a couple of traditional Peruvian dishes. We booked in with Sky Kitchen who has an amazing rooftop kitchen that overlooks Miraflores and is decked out with all the latest kitchen gizmos and gadgets, not to mention it is impeccably clean. From the moment we arrived we could tell that every detail was organized and well thought out. What we loved is that the class size was smalland very personal, there were only 4 of us and 2 instructors. Diana and Yurac were awesome at making the class fun and enjoyable as well as educational. We made 4 different dishes starting from Papa a la Huancaina which is a type of potato dish with this delicious sauce made from aji amarillowhich is a typical pepper used in many of the Peruvian dishes that has a bit of spice to it. We then went on to make Cebiche (one of our favourite dishes) and Aju de Gallina (a nice chicken dish) and finally finished with Pasatel de Choclo Dulce which is a cake made from corn and topped with chocolate sauce. All throughout the class Diana and Yurac explained each step starting with the history of the dish and then how to prepare each ingredient properly to finally how to plate the dish- apparently you aren’t supposed to just throw it all on a plate in a pile and serve it to someone! They made everyone feel comfortable and included every step of the way. We were chopping and dicing up a storm and I learned that Piet is fantastic at chopping onions as finely as possible and it seems he will be doing that more often at home now! Once the dishes were broken down step by step, we realized they weren’t as hard to make as they looked and we can’t wait to test out our new skills and cooking abilities when we get home. A bonus was at the end of the afternoon the recipes were emailed to us even before we left the class.
We stayed at the Lucky Lodge in the Miraflores district in Lima which was in the perfect location for us to be able to walk anywhere we wanted. It’s only a fifteen minute walk to get to the malecon which had some of the most spectacular views as it’s located up on the rock cliffs. The lodge itself is quiet and very clean and they have the best wifi we’ve experienced in a while. Pamela, their manager is super friendly and always looking to help direct us to wherever we wanted to go. It was an added bonus that they have a restaurant next door, Mama Olla, which serves a delicious breakfast. We highly recommend their strawberry fruit smoothie as it is freshly made every morning and so yummy!
We were really surprised with how lovely Lima was and can’t wait to return. We often don’t know if we will love big cities because they are just that “big” but we loved our time here. We actually wished we had planned for some more time to spend exploring some of the other neighbourhoods so who knows, we may just have to make a stop here on our way to someplace new in a few months.
Next Stop: Huacachina