Fork ‘N Tasty: Peru

Peru is the birth place of so many foods. Potatoes, corn, quinoa and many peppers and chillies all originate from Peru. While here we ate in a huge variety of places, from Chinese joints (chifas) to world class restaurants and pizza at the base of Machu Picchu to making our own traditional Peruvian food.

Central – Lima

This was a bit of a bucket list item. To visit and eat in Central, one of the Top 5 restaurants in the world, number 1 in Latin America, was a dream come true. And this was before the episode of Netflix’s Chef Table with Virgillo Martinez was filmed!

The brainchild of chef Virgilio Martinez, the best restaurant in Latin America and at the time number 4 on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list. We got all dolled up and set off full of excitement. We had booked this back in December so it felt weird to finally be going. The maitre’d sat us right beside the glass wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, so we could watch all the action as the amazing creations were made.

The 17 course Mater Elevations menu was an unbelievable culinary experience. Each course comes from a different level of altitude, from -5m sea snails to potatoes grown at 3800m in the mountains. All the dishes contained native Peruvian ingredients and each plate came out like a work of art. The servers explained what each element was and recommended ways to eat them. After 14 courses, we were both starting to get really full…thankfully the final ones were desserts!

Highlights included an incredible hot cornbread with smoked butter, tricolour quinoa with tender slowcooked beef, three different root vegetables in a scrumptious elderberry sauce, and the cocao, maca and lemongrass gelato. One of the best things about this was Virgilio coming out, introducing himself and explaining some courses to us.

Chifas – Various

Lost count how many of these we ate in! A chifa is essentially a Chinese restaurant in Peru. If you need a decent, cheap feed head to one of these. Admittedly they are generally not the most attractive looking places and the sweet and sour chicken looks nuclear but make no mistake the food is great! Usually you will get a wonton soup, main course, mountain of rice and a drink (get the Inca Cola) for a couple of bucks.

Peruvian Cooking Class – Cusco

In Cusco we decided to become professional chefs and signed up to do a course with Peruvian Cooking Classes. We were really impressed with it – you can pick from a choice of menus and adapt it to suit you. We chose to learn how to make a Pisco sour to drink, quinoa soup as a starter, aji de gallina for main and chocotejas for dessert. These are all native Peruvian dishes and are all delicious! It was just the two of us in the class and our chef began by bringing us to the local San Pedro market to buy ingredients and teach us a bit about local foods. She also bought some Peruvian fruit for us to taste before we got stuck into cooking.

Aji de gallina is basically shredded chicken in a creamy, slightly spicy yellow sauce made from chillies, onion, garlic, peanuts, crackers, milk and cumin. The dessert was really simple – the chocolates are filled with pecans and dulce de leche – and the Pisco sours were very, very strong!! The best bit of the whole 3 hours was getting to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labour for lunch!

Chelawasi Public House – Arequipa

After a long night travelling, little sleep and a day in the Arequipa sun you need some comfort food. When you just want some nice food a craft beer and burger bar is perfect! Chelawasi Public House is run by a bearded guy from Oregon who knows his way around all the Peruvian craft beers available and they make a pretty tasty burger!

Ceviche – Various

Make sure you try Ceviche. This local fish dish made up of raw white fish, chillies, onions and lime juice is a Peruvian delicacy. If you can try it in different places as each region does it a little different.

Peruvian Pastries – Everywhere!

Everywhere we went we tried different desserts and pastries.

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