Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dining in Cusco, Peru

 I recently made a trip to Peru and spent three days in Cusco.  While all of my breakfasts were covered, as was one buffet dinner, there were a few restaurants (recommended to us if not brought  there by our tour guide) where we ordered on our own.  While Cusco is a fairly large city, most of the main places to see were on Av El Sol and Plaza de Armas (the public square).  Our hotel was on Av El Sol so most of the stuff that we would want to see was within walking distance.  The first two restaurants that we went to Limo and the Inka Grill were small second floor restaurants on the square.  Limo, the first restaurant we went to, was a Peruvian restaurant that focused on the Asian side of Peruvian cuisine.  The space was both rustic and Asian, with a lot of wood and the food focused a lot on seafood.  I started out with an Octopus Tiradito, octopus marinated in lime juice to make it tender and served with corn, sweet potatoes, and served in an olive sauce.  It was a very nice presentation with tender, octopus, crisp vegetables, and a very sour flavor and I really liked it.  For my entree, I went to the Chinese side of things and had a Chauffa which is Peruvian Fried Rice which had vegetables and shrimp and was seasoned with sesame.  This was very good and flavorful, but after the tiradito, it left me very full.
 Limo we went to for lunch.  For dinner, while I didn't really need it, I went out again to a restaurant that featured a menu that was very whole animal and farm to table, the Inka Grill.  I decided to eat light and ordered a couple of skewers, Alpaca and Anticucho.  They were served on banana leaves with Potatoes, Peruvian Corn, an Arugula Salad and a Yellow Pepper Sauce and while they looked similar, they were very different.  The Alpaca, texturally was like any other grilled meat.  As far as flavor was concerned, it reminded me of lamb or goat and I liked it.  The Anticuchos, being marinated beef heart was very different texturally.  It wasn't as fibrous as regular steak was and was pretty dense and firm.  As far as flavor was concerned, it did have a bit of a minerally iron flavor, but it wasn't nearly as strong as liver is.  I did really like it and while I could see that it might be an acquired taste, I would definitely have it again.

On the last day we were in Cusco, we were brought to Valentina's for lunch, which was on the other side of Av El Sol.  At the beginning of our meal, we were given a demo of how to make a Causa, a mixture of Mashed Potatoes and Shredded Chicken covered in a Yellow Pepper Sauce which we were served for our appetizer.  My entree was Lechon, a Fried Pork Leg, which was served with Stuffed Yellow Peppers, and a Cheese Stuffed Tamale.  We were also served a side of Choclo, or Peruvian Corn.  While we were eating, a Peruvian band came in to play and entertain us.  All of our meals were very good and I really enjoyed them.  The food was definitely a good part of our trip in Cusco and I would definitely return to any of these restaurants.   

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