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Oct 3, 2006 09:11 PM

just back from 5 weeks in chile, bolivia and peru

lots of other junk but lots of pics of great food. too many pics to photoshop color saturations but there you go.

lima was definitely the high light.
of the adventurous dining, my meal in the pueblo of tipon (near cusco) is where everyone goes for cuy and i had a good one done "al horno". including a sausage of potatoes and cuy innards.
i had huaytampo (jungle worms) on pizza at chez magy in cusco.
alpaca anticuchos on the street in cusco
cow hoof jelly at the central market in cusco
fried llama jerky in la paz (aka charquekan
)alien looking fried river fish in la paz (come on chile, give them a bit of coast!)
amazing anticuchos at condorito in a local area of cusco.
on the other side of the spectrum, my cabrito at astrid y gaston in lima, was one of the most memorable meat dishes ive had in recent memory. perfectly glazed. perfectly tender, succulent goat. really, like no goat ive ever tried before...

astrid y gaston and his casual cebicheria "la mar" were definitely the highlights. anticuchos of octopus, the causa sampler plate, the la mar sour (made with aguaymanto - an amazon fruit). of course the cebiche (but you can get great cebiche at many places). the tacu tacu is wonderful. and lucuma juice!

had a concepty dinner at the very aptly named "malabar" (meaning to juggle). modern and playful with amazonian ingredients (very dimly lit restaurant so the pics didnt turn out). i found the food to be a bit fussy and trendy, and my rabbit dish was dry)

lots of street foods in la paz, which made me a bit ill (and i have an iron stomache)

great big bowls of uni (erizos) in chile (especially la serena at the amazing restaurant donde elbita), steamed and fried abalones, shellfish and grilled fish. nice meals and wines by the glass at liguria in santiago.

in touristy central cusco i enjoyed set lunches at ama lur. soup, salad, main, fresh fruit juice for about 2.50. otherwise it was super local style...

lots of fried meat everywhere, but particularly in bolivia

on top of that i bought jamon iberico, gran comodoro viejo tonel pisco, inca inchi oil - 2004 gold medal winner of paris world oils. the highest oil in omega 3 fatty acids made of a jungle plant, and great fruits like lucuma, agave, grenadilla at vivanda (sort of the whole foods of lima)

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  1. Very interesting. What was your chow strategy? Did you just go with what looked good, rely on locals, plan ahead?

    9 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      i had insider/local help in cusco (very helpful in locating good food), lima (helpful but obvious tips) and sort of santiago (my friend was a distinct non foodie). mainly i just tasted everything that looked interesting on the street and talked to a lot of people.

      1. re: modernist

        Any specific places in Cusco you would recommend? I'm going in 3 weeks, and the consensus on this board seems to be that it's overrun with tourist-standard pizza.

        1. re: AppleSister

          yes, the center is godawful. i heard inka grill is good for fine dining but i never ate there. i was mostly going local style where no gringos were. i heard the restaurant at MAP is good (museum of precolombian art) for fancy italian food.

          in the center i'd go to ama lur on plateros for set lunches. good food, very inexpensive. about 8 soles.
          los mundialistas for chicharron and adobo soup (very local style) on pampa del castillo on the north side
          eat at the market...
          a local foodie recommended loli adobo on saphi but my friend said no, go to mundialistas. i didnt try loli.
          for restaurants the best regarded local style places are la chomba and quinta eulalia. of course being in central cusco they wont ever be totally without tourists, but the food is good. at quinta get the lechon platter. it rules.
          eat cuy in the town of tipon.
          eat chicharron in the town of saylla.
          eat trucha. avoid tourist restaurants cuz the food royally sux. we tried a couple places in san blas but the food was terrible. there is some nouveau andean jungle food but i didnt try it.
          there are good street anticuchos of corazon de rez and alpaca on the street near inca farma on ayacucho both north and south side of the street from av el sol.
          going north on maruri from av el sol on the east side about two blocks up youll see an old guy selling tamales. my local friend said these are the best in town.
          same friend took me to el condorito anticuchos in a very local part of town way east on avenida de la cultura (the longest street in cusco). they were good anticuchos.
          i did have pizza once at chez magy (on the rec of a peruvian) i ate it with huaytampo worms.
          if you go real local style, but not particularly tasty there are cheap joints on av tullumayo east of cabra cancha. you can get three course meals for 60cents. you will be the only non cusqueno there.

          alpaca is sort of mainly a tourist food. it isnt really popular with locals although many do like the meat. i think its very good.

          1. re: modernist

            Wow, millon de gracias. I have no idea what half of this stuff is, but that's never stopped me from eating anything before. You don't mention whether the worms were any good. Now to learn a bit more Spanish before I leave...

            1. re: modernist

              Hey Modernist,

              We ate at MAP... it was pretty good.. there was definitely some Italian dishes but I would describe it as more of an Andean-Meditteranean fusion place. Souther France style soups... Tapas, Pastas etc.,

              I did have one of my few Alpaca experiences there... it was good... but underwhelming.

              Also...I should just let people experience it for themselves... but if you get suckered into ordering Peruvian wine you will not be happy. There was plenty of inexpensive, nice Chilean wines to go around.

              I STRONGLY DO NOT RECOMMEND Quinta Eulalia.... this is the place were the locals eat on the weekend...

              > Foods were bland & rancid... no flavor development whatsover. Deep fried unseasoned chicken & the worst fried potatoes we ever had.

              > The boiled Corn Kernels with Andean Cheese were not recommendable.... the Corn was fine (but my wife got the Runs from it.... it took her 9 months before she was willing to give regular old Grilled Corn another shot) & the Andean Cheese was plain terrible... kind of like eating raw Tofu.

              > The Cusquena beer was just as good as anywhere else.

              > Finally.... the very unhygenic bathrooms permeated their small to the dining area.

              This was supposed to be native Cusquena cooking... all I can say is this is Rural England in the 1990's... serve you Tang when you order Orange Juice BAD!

              We were so sick & tired of the food in Cuzco that we finally took refuge at a Swiss owned Organic place on Cuesta San Blas. Food was pretty good particularly the Quiches, Crepes & Desserts (they had a very memorable cake named after someone famous that I cannot recall) but don't order the Steak its like eating at Sizzler.

              I don't recall many other good meals in Cuzco... probably because my appetite was just gone.

              I did enjoy the restaurant at Sonesta Posada del Inca - Yucay... I even had the Cuy Legs there (Guinea Pig).

              Our favorite Andean town - by far - was Ollantaytambo (aka Ollanta).... food was pretty decent at a couple of places... by then we were basically having Ensalada de Palta (Avocado Salad) & Pizza almost exclusively.

              The worst experience was at Macchu Picchu... we ate at the restaurant of the 5 Star Macchu Picchu Lodge (only hotel within the archeological site)... food was good enough, although the service was bad... but my wife got a bad case of food poisoning from their Risotto (I had a little bit of Risotto & only got a little bit sick)... she then lived off Saltine crackers for the rest of the trip. It was so bad... she almost cried from joy when she bit into a Quarter Pounder at the Lima Airport McDonald's.

              Trust me you want to avoid that Risotto.

              We had our best Peruvian meals in Lima particularly at the restaurant that sits off a pier in the relatively upscale Miraflores neighborhood... Soups & Ceviche were good. And the best meal, & best dining experience was at the restaurant at the Huaca Puclana archeological site. The night was just magic and the food was pretty damn good.

              Overall our Peruvian dining was pretty dissappointing. We had really high expectations after having some pretty decent Peruvian food in California... and then hearing all about Nuevo Andino... blah, blah.

              In my particular experience Peruvian food is substantially better in the States than in the home country.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                ill agree that the food in the south is not a gourmands paradise. lots of fried meats, potatoes and corn, stews, pollos a la brasa, however i still found the local style food hearty and flavorful.

                my personal style was to avoid most gringo restaurants and go for "hardcore local style" places, where people turn around to check you out and then talk about you to each other in whispers as i was an obvious "chino". but for me eating was as much an interesting cultural experience as a gastronomic one... 30 cent sit down meals with slightly hard undercooked tasting rice and stewed tendony and tough lamb bits with potatoes. this definitely is not delicious food, but it is the food that the young men of cusco eat before working all day before taking night classes. cruising markets and street food is one of my favorite activities, even if the food isnt to our hygiene standards (i actually ended up buying disposable dishes and utensils in la paz, a move my biologist mother used to bust in asia back in the day - much to my embarassment)

                i evened cruised local chifas. not for the chinese food, which was not particularly tasty, but to talk to the local chinese guys and hear their story (i was told there are more chinese restaurants in peru per capita than any other non chinese native country).

                now lima is another story. thats where you go for food. the most sophisticated tongues are here from the high end to the low. more seafood dishes. coastal and northern peruvian cuisine for me, are much more interesting. fine dining is getting developed, the cebicherias are addictive. astrid y gaston, if it were in la, would be my new favorite high end restaurant. i didnt get the chance to go to the restaurant at the archaeological site or la rosa nautica, but i heard they were both good.

                if you are adventurous enough or have local friends, you might convince them to take you out to the very realistically rough and dangerous neighborhoods of callao (for seafood) or el cono norte (all day reggaet├│n parties in the streets). you have to be more than careful in some of these neighborhoods, and most middle class limenos themselves would never or havent been.

                1. re: modernist

                  Yes... La Rosa Nautica that was the place off the pier. And yes they were both good... but after spending $70 on lunch for 2 at La Rosa Nautica... I wasn't as impressed. Although... I really did enjoy the dinner at Huaca Puclana its definitely a place to go... The lit up Ruins a few feet away from you... a greater offering of Small Plates & decent Wine List plus one of the few places in Peru that has sippable local white brandy (forgot the name).

                  Finally... you reminded me of the fact that Peruvians call all Asian people Chinos... regardless of the ethnicity. I resisted the urge to correct them everytime they reffered to Fujimori as El Chino.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    the white brandy is pisco.

                    and they call many other people chino, even cigarette vendors and cab drivers. buddies call each other chino too sometimes. very odd.

                    so i was chino until i hit touristville cusco when suddenly everywhere i walked it was "konnichiwa!" then i was like, "soy chino!"

                    funny bit of trivia... when i was in greece, i mentioned the phrase "thats greek to me" for something that wasnt understood, and i asked what they said in greece, and the response was "we say, thats chinese to me!"

                    to respond to your other query from the other post, i liked the food in lima the best. although the abalones and big bowls of uni in chile were pretty rockin as well.

                    1. re: modernist

                      Thats funny in Mexico we have the phrases "better repeat it to me in Chinese" for something that is not well understood or "un cuento chino" or a "Chinese tale" to describe something a fantastic, but unlikely story.

      2. Dios Mio,I traveled in Peru and Bolivia several time in the 70's and 80's, collecting textiles and musical instruments. There was NOTHING to eat except Peruvian and Bolivian traditional foods. Saltenas (breakfast savory pastrys) in La Paz, lots of watery not great soups and stews in the market. Tasted cilantro for the first time hated it and wondered why everything tasted like soap.( Now I eat it by the ton). I lived on avocados, brazil nuts, fruit,(my first cherymoya) the ocasional cuy, gorgeous potatoes of every shape and color known to man, bread and trucha ( fish from Lake Titicaca ) in Bolivia and pretty much the same in Peru. Lots of made to order fresh juices. Best and only good thing in Cusco was roasted chickens and Lima had GREAT ceviche, so spicey that I got the hic ups (sp) daily at 12 noon when I ate my lunch from the same fantastic ceviche cart. I probably spent $100 on food in 4 months.Those were the days!

        Holy Cow! Risotto in Cusco? Next thing you know they'll be serving guinea pig in Rome! I am stunned and fascinated to learn that there are so many different cuisines represented there now. Oh yeah, I had a few free meals prepared by the Hare Krishna people in Cusco once in a while too which was fun but in no way delicious.

        1. GREAT food pics Modernist, really took me back to my traveling days in the 70's and 80's. You captured La Paz beautifully for me. Isn't the street life there the best?

          1. Nice post and nice pics. I hadn't thought about Liguria in a long time....I always got the ponche there (wine with fruit). I also liked your pics of Fuente Alemana in Santiago....good memories. Glad to see you ate lots of erizos too.

            Dave MP

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