4 July 2016
My countrymen back home are celebrating the country’s 240th birthday with BBQs and other flag-waving stuff, so I decided to do something different — being here in Peru.
I got into town the previous late afternoon, and Sundays are tough for dinner in Lima with places closing up early. I ended up having some chifa (Peruvian Chinese) at a place a few stops on the Metropolitano rapid bus from where my hotel is located, and sadly it was oily and expensive… Oh well. But that was sorted in the hotel bar doing a tasting of various piscos from all around the country (nice and neat!), as well as a few local gins that are quite interesting in its botanicals. Back at sea level, so almost no hangover!
But today, I wanted something authentic and local, and it being early in the day I went for ceviche — it is my first day here in Peru. I heard of a place called La Picantería and I headed off on the Metropolitano again out of the über-wealthy Miraflores to a far more modest neighbourhood in Surquillo.
I had to wait as they got ready but was soon seated. My waitress, Kimberly, turned out to speak English absolutely fluently — I found that out when I was frustrated over the menu and how a lone diner would eat stuff that is commonly shared; plus, I don’t want that Tábula excess disaster again. But she had an evil grin and said how about a tasting menu, the “Experiencia Picantería” and I said why not. This place doesn’t open for dinner, so I guess it’s normal to have a tasting menu at lunch…
She turned around quickly and asked if I liked alcohol…and I now returned the evil grin, and she said she’ll take care of me for that same price. How nice is that! And within a minute she returned with 5 glasses of different types of fermented chicha. Oh my!
I was enjoying them slowly when she reappeared with a bib…oh this is gonna be fun! She was perplexed why I was drinking slowly as she soon appeared with a glass of pisco sour, and my first dish…
Oh my, tongue! Lovely texture and flavour, far better than the stuff at Tábula. One of my favourite things, but I thought…that glass of pisco sour is the pairing for this? Oh my! This is gonna be more than fun! At this point I drained the pisco sour and finished several of the chicha, and she returned with a nice glass of Spanish white and soon the next dish…
Oh my, crab! The flesh is so clean and nice raw, soaking in that sour and peppery goodness. They asked if I liked spicy and I said yes, so this was full on hot. Excellent, with this lovely crab. This was a thick guy so no way I could crack this with my tooth, but I got as much meat out of this as possible. Oh, beautiful!
This was turning out to be a spectacular lunch! And more wine and the next item, a whitefish lightly grilled over corn leaves.
I didn’t quite get the name of the fish (so if anyone can help!), but it was delicious, full of richness. Grilling this quickly on the corn was quite nice. Lovely! Then next (and more wine!) is the same fish, but nice and raw…
Mmmm, this is rich and solid stuff. Lovely, with a bit of fried collar on the side. If anyone knows what this fish is please let me know! But what lovely fish!
More wine, and we move into something totally unexpected — but one of my favourite things in the world to eat.
Yep, a lovely piece of grilled tripe. Perfect texture, perfect flavour. A bloody fish restaurant has just made the best tripe I’ve had in years. Damn… Kimberly smiled seeing my face eating this. She changed my wine to another white and brought me the next dish, a nice rich soup.
I like the touch of acid in this, it works because it’s not overwhelming and the spices balances it out. Plenty of seafood inside so it’s nice and filling. Then an unexpected glass of red and I could guess what was coming…
The duck. This place is also known for its duck, and this was a nice wee portion. Very rich, wild ones from the north I heard. It’s a solid dish, and works quite well. But it’s also heavy, and I’m pretty full now. Kimberly asked how I was doing, and I said I was about done, so she said one last dish…
I think it’s the same fish (again, help if you know what it is, I’m not good with local fishes in South America!), but fried with a nice helping of yucca. It’s almost too much and after that duck, it was a little hard to finish this heavy portion. I was spent…and the drinks have helped quite a bit!
After a nice after-lunch drink, I was spent…and swelled! I had to settle up and thanked my excellent server for this feast! An excellent, unexpected surprise for lunch!
Wow, this was fantastic. I was so full at the end… Lots of people watched my table all meal and I felt like a little prince in the corner with a feast. And this was indeed a feast. Fabulous quality stuff, done simply and honestly. This is what I was looking for in my travels, especially the lunch slots.
This will go down as one of the best lunches of the year. Heavily recommended, and you get to see a little of the real Lima in the process of getting there. Take the bus, get some local flavour before you really get to enjoy the local flavour!
Francisco Moreno 388, Surquillo