Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tanta - Brunch

In my mind, Peru was doing fusion cuisine before it became popular.  The country has had many immigrations and with those, they have integrated the cuisine into the cuisine of Peru.  One of the best chef's to show this is world famous Peruvian chef, Gaston Acurio, who has a restaurant in Chicago, Tanta and loves to teach the world about the cuisine of Peru.  I have been to Tanta before and really enjoyed it.  I decided to return for brunch before I make an upcoming trip to Peru and use it as sort of preview.  The restaurant is sort of linear with a long bar running into the restaurant with a ceviche bar at the end of it.  There is a two-sided banquette in the center of the restaurant with booth seating on the right side of the restaurant.  The wall behind the bar is a chalkboard with the recipe for a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru written large on it.  On the opposite wall is a series of very colorful paintings typifying the art and food of Peru.  Other than the paintings and the chalkboard, the general color scheme of the dining room is brown and the lighting is hung in a wooden ovoid cage.  We were seated at the banquette and started our brunch with a Leche de Tigre Ceviche.  (The picture above is not a picture that I shot or, I think, from Tanta Chicago.  I posted it to give people an example of what a Leche de Tigre Ceviche looks like.)  Ceviche is a preparation of raw fish,seafood, onions, and spices that is "cooked" (tenderized, actually) with lime juice.  I like ceviche and I have had Leche de Tigre (Tiger's Milk) Ceviche before although not at Tanta, so I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting.  We received a glass of milky white liquid filled with seafood and onions and corn, which actually, we kind of ate wrong.  It is supposed to be eaten like a shooter, pouring everything down at one.  As it was, we kind of took things apart and were left with the marinade which I then shot.  The ceviche had Cubed Fish, Red Onions, Peruvian Corn, Habanero Pepper, and a lot of liquid.  Even though we did eat it wrong, there was still a lot of marinade on the fish, corn, and onions, which provided an intensely sour flavor and tender fish.  I drank the marinade on it's own and I could see why that people would think that it provided prowess and energy, because drinking that much lime juice at once definitely woke me up and cleansed my palate.
Our next starter were called Los Picarones.  They were Warm Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Fritters served with Spiced Chancaca Syrup (a syrup made from unrefined Cane Syrup) and topped with Powdered Sugar.  The fritters looked like deep fried doughnuts, round and with a hole in the middle.  This could also be expected of pumpkin fritters, I guess, because they are essentially hollow.  In any case, they were crunchy, and sweet, with a squash texture and a pumpkin flavor.  The Chancaca syrup had a caramel flavor that went really well with the fritters, and they were enjoyed a lot, both with and without the syrup.
For my main course, I went with a spin on a very popular breakfast dish, or I should probably say a spin on several popular breakfast dishes.  The dish was called Chicharron Waffles and consisted of Belgian Waffles, Crispy Pork Belly glazed with Panca Chili Honey, and a fresh Berry Compote with Strawberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries and topped with a little Powdered Sugar.  The waffle was thick, with a crunchy exterior and a light and airy interior.  The pork belly was also very thick with a crispy skin.  The meat itself was fork tender, and sweet like good pork is supposed to be.  The glaze was subtle, but it was there, and it added a sweet and slightly spicy flavor that went well with the pork belly and tied well with the fruit compote.  The fruit was very fresh and tasty, although it did make me wonder where it came from as they were not growing in the midwest in February.  Despite the fact though, that the berries were not midwest seasonal, it was very good and a very good finish to my meal.  The food was very good, the staff was very friendly, and I will definitely have to return, after I return from my trip to Peru.     

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