Monday, February 17, 2014

Impromptu Peruvian Tapas Tasting

Saturday morning was for sleeping in and taking things super slow. With no real plans for the day, we saw an ad online for a tapas tasting at a Peruvian restaurant close by and decided to check it out. The place itself was tiny and didn't look like anything special. Both Nacho and I agreed that, had we not seen the advertisement, we would never think to try the place out. But we gave it a chance and were not disappointed. We were lucky to have showed up early, within the hour the place filled up with people from all over the world. Nacho and I were able to grab two seats at the bar while there was still space!

We started firstly with ceviche, which just happens to be one of my favorite foods of all time and also what comes to my mind when I think of Peruvian food. It was delicious. For those of you who haven't tried ceviche- you must! It is fresh and simple- consisting pretty much of raw, local white fish marinated with lime juice and red onions. We ended up chatting with the chef for some time (enough for him to order a beer for himself from one of the waitresses as we spoke..) and he told me a detailed step by step guide to how to prepare the ceviche. It sounds simple enough and I can't wait to try it out for myself! (now that I know the secrets) ;)

Next we tried a traditional Peruvian food called causa, which I had never heard of before. Apparently, because its ingredients are common and cheap and it is quite easy to prepare, the dish is one of the most popular throughout Peru. It is made mainly with mashed yellow potatoes and aji, which are both staples for the country. The aji pepper, which the chef explained to us, is not a spicy pepper but one with a warm, smokey flavor that really enhances many of the dishes. It comes in many different varieties, and it is an essential part of the local cuisine. The dish is prepared like a casserole, and the potato/aji layer is followed by a layer of a mayonnaise based salad- like a Russian salad. Sometimes there is a layer of avocado as well, and the dish is topped with hard boiled egg and a Peruvian olive. It was simple and tasty.

Ceviche on the left, Causa on the right
Lastly we tried a tapa called lomo saltado. Because of the large number of Chinese immigrants in Peru, it is no surprise that the two cultures have mixed cuisines. The dish is like a beef stir fry, one in which beef, onions, tomatoes and peppers are mixed with soy sauce and other spices and served over french fries and/or rice. It was delightful, the beef was tender and there was just enough soy sauce to create a tasty, flavorful sauce without overwhelming you with salt. And it was great to pair the tapas with a Cusqueña, a tasty, local beer from Peru. 

Lomo Saltado- didn't get to snap a pic of this one
 but thanks google images- it looked similar
Don't be fooled by the Heineken label-
those were delicious Peruvian beers
The tavern filled quickly with people from all over the globe. I heard an Australian, a Brit, some Americans, and another language I couldn't quite identify (maybe Polish?)- and of course Spanish! Although I'm not sure why, I love to hear people around me speaking a variety of different languages. I guess knowing that people from all over the world can come together to celebrate and enjoy the food and culture from one place makes me feel good, as though I am helping in a cultural exchange to better the attitude and increase the knowledge of everyone around me. It gives me energy. It was a nice, colorful way to spend an otherwise dreary, rainy Saturday afternoon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment