Foodventure days are some of my favorites while traveling! Ok, I may have made that word up, but you know exactly what I'm talking about: Food + Adventure. Lima, Peru is an amazing city that portrays its past, present, and future in its architecture, culture, and food. Centrally located on the coast of Peru, Lima's cuisine draws on flavors and ingredients from the cold Pacific Ocean, high-altitude forests, and arid deserts. Having access to these amazing ingredients means foodies will be pleasantly rewarded.
Breakfast at El Bigote Coffee & Waffles
My food adventure was on a January evening, but I managed to find a small cafe next to my apartment serving up some fun combinations; like what I got: a waffle with bacon cooked into it!
My taxi from Miraflores to central Lima took about 45 minutes due to traffic, but I gave myself plenty of time knowing that there would be some amount of traffic.
Seco Con Frijoles at Soperos Unidos
I met my guide at Soperos Unidos, which gave me historic deli vibes, even though this is a soup shop. Let me dissect this meal for you. Frijoles are stewed beans and seco is stewed beef. So Seco Con Frijoles is literally stewed beans with stewed beef served with rice. I am underselling it right now... In reality... this is one of the best things I have ever eaten!
The beef was so tender it was like stringy butter in my mouth (if that makes any sense). The rice was perfectly fluffy with enough bite to contrast the super-soft beef but still soak up all that yummy goodness. The beans were excellently creamy and flavorful even though they look deceptively bland. This was all washed down with a pisco sour, which I found myself enjoying many times over during my time in Peru.
We walked for a bit, admiring the beautiful central plaza in Lima, Plaza de Armas, to our next stop.
Craft Beer at Cerveza Craftsman
We hit up a local craft beer bar near the plaza to try out a few different beers. Needless to say, I didn't take that many photos of the selection because I was enjoying my favorite pastime of beer drinking... Like the sign says, "Save Water Drink Beer"! I did try one of their tequeños, which if you have never had a tequeño I don't know if you can say you are actually living. It's a Venezuelan snack of a soft dough wrapped around a slightly salty firm cheese. It's basically the South American mozzarella stick (please don't hate me).
Churros at Churros San Francisco Sac
Growing up in the theme park capital of the world, Orlando, churros is somewhat of a staple. I've never had churros like this before! These weren't dough pressed through an icing tip from a bag. These were freshly prepared dough that is rolled into shape and fried right in front of you. The hot churros come directly from the fryer into a bed of sugar for just the right amount of sweetness to stick onto the hot dough. This tiny stall was pumping these out and there was still a line around the corner! This was the perfect little snack before getting something a bit more substantial.
A Sampling at Restaurante Cordano
Restaurante Cordano is a historic restaurant next to the Presidential Palace that has been feeding heads of state, diplomats, and hungry tourists like myself since 1905. Walking into this space really feels like taking a step back in time... When you enter, you are greeted by a big ham and blocks of cheese in the window, probably to make sandwiches, but for me, it was telling me "you're gonna love this place".
I can just imagine the conversations that must have been had in this shop over some of that delicious looking ham and cheese and some pisco sour... I knew I was in for a treat.
The first thing we sampled was a traditional Peruvian drink called Chicha Morada. This is a smooth and tart beverage made from a purple variety of corn grown in the Andes. It was quite tasty and has notes of clove and a hint of cinnamon. It was quite refreshing and this would not be my last time having it while in Lima. Below you can see a piece of the purple corn that is used to create this beverage.
I was then brought out a couple of dishes to try; first up was Ají de Gallina. Ají is a yellow Peruvian pepper that forms the base of the creamy sauce for the gallina, which is a stewed chicken. It is traditionally served smothered in the sauce with boiled egg, black olives, and boiled potatoes, alongside some white rice. This may seem like a strange combination until you've had it. This dish is true comfort food, Peruvian style, and I have wanted to have it several times since coming back from this trip.
Next up was one of my favorite sandwiches I've ever had (and had several more times while in Lima) Pan Con Chicharrón! This sandwich is simple, as most great things are, but this is a great example of where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Start with amazingly fatty, tender, yet crispy-skinned pork - the chicharrón - and accompany it with just the right amount of raw red onions. I think everyone can imagine this!
The onion is fresh and crisp and sweet, paired with the somewhat salty pork. Ugh, so delicious. While the obvious next ingredient would be some sort of creamy condiment, no, Peru does it better: thinly sliced baked sweet potato! Why don't we use sweet potato as a condiment?! The potato is starchy and sweet and spreads on the bread as you take each bite. Just perfection!
Lastly, the roll - the pan - is an important part of all this. It is soft in the middle with just enough of a crust on it to hold all these fabulous ingredients inside so that each bite has all of the same components as the one before. I don't think I have to tell you that a few nights later (or was it later that night...) I found a sloppy shop that sold this, which was perfect after sampling lots of local craft beers in the Mira Flores district.
Malecon Del Remic
This is totally not food-related but was part of my experience from this evening foodventure. We stopped by a historic park that has ruins of the city walls alongside a river that marks the extent of Lima and served as a natural defensive barrier to any would-be intruders. This area had a small museum, which was closed when we were there, and also a nice plaza and a statue. It was pretty neat to see some kids practicing a traditional dance of the Inca people and I thought, although not food-related, would be worth sharing with you. Enjoy (especially the little one who stole the show)!
Street Food at Parque Rimac
As the sun set on Lima, we followed the Rimac to a plaza between the bridges Puente de Piedra ("Stone Bridge") and Puenta Rayita de Sol ("Ray of Sun Bridge") for some street food. It seems like everyone knew to head to this plaza as the place was super lively with music, dancing, and vendors of all types.
First up was something that I had been wanting to try but is not for those with a weak stomach. Anitcuchos is grilled beef hearts and while that sounds somewhat terrifying it was so delicious! There were many vendors who had their variation but in general, it is marinated beef heart grilled on a flat top and basted with their special blend of spices that is applied traditionally with a corn husk "brush". I opted to go all-in and had a bunch of other animal parts that I can't really be sure specifically what they were...
After this savory snack of innards, we went for something a bit tamer. Picarones are a Peruvian donut, essentially, made up of fried dough containing beer and either pumpkin or butternut squash. These were very tasty and had a good fermented note to it that I enjoyed. They are served with a very thin syrup which was only slightly sweet.
I washed all this down with emoliente, which is an herbal tea said to have medicinal properties. I haven't nailed down exactly what's in it, but one website said that there are several varieties but must at least contain toasted barley, flax seeds, dried horsetail (never heard of this but apparently its an herb), dried grass, and llantén (plantain leaf).
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