I’ve been trying to decide how to approach describing our visit to Lima, Perú. We were only there for three days, but I have hundreds of photos and it seems like we experienced a week’s worth of events. So I’ve decided to break it into three parts: Walking in Lima, Historic Lima, and this first entry, Delicious Lima.
Maybe it was just because we had been on a strict diet regime before our Inca Trail hike, but the number one thing that impressed us about Perú in general and Lima in particular was the food. I would have to say I had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in Perú – and I’ve been to France and Italy. From the combinations of flavors to the beautiful presentations, I just cannot say enough about the gastronomic joy that is Perú.
We didn’t have to go far to have our first great meal in Lima. After checking into the Hotel Estelar Miraflores, all we had to do was take the elevator up to the rooftop restaurant, for a great view of the city to go along with our dinner. Here I couldn’t resist having one last alpaca steak, this one sautéed with vegetables and served over a tacu-tacu.
If you have never encountered tacu-tacu before (and if not, your life is a little less bright than it could be), it is a side dish that started out as a way to use up leftover beans and rice. Details vary with the region and the chef, but at its heart you have a kind of patty made from rice and refried beans. I have tried it in several places, and each was uniquely delicious.
Our lunch the next day was in the neighboring barrio of Barranca, where we walked down by the famous Bridge of Sighs and tried Restaurante Javier. There I ordered the “Seafood Grill”, and Rita had a salad with chicken.
Another notable dining spot we found was in the historic district. It was pointed out to us by a local, and it was just the kind of spot we like to find – we were the only tourist in the place. At the Restaurante Don Juan, just around the corner from the Plaza de Armas, Rita had her first tacu-tacu. And it was gi-normous.
For myself, I had a great example of a popular Peruvian dish – an el pobre. In this case, mine was parillada del pobre, which translates roughly as “poor man’s barbecue. As you can see by the picture below, this is a slightly ironic name.
Some of this platter is hidden by the fried egg on top, so let’s break it down. There is grilled chicken, hot dogs, pork, and beef, sitting on top of fries, rice, beans, and plantains, topped by a fried egg with a little bacon cap. I’m told that meals like this are called el pobre in reference to the 19th century, when only the wealthy were able to get vegetables. So any meal served with just meat and carbohydrates is considered “poor man’s style”.
Whatever it is called, it was fantastic. The only downside was we were so stuffed after lunch, we just had small salads for dinner that night.
However, we made up for it on our last day. We had late a late flight to our next stop, Montevideo in Uruguay, so we had to check out shortly after breakfast and have the hotel hold our bags until it was time to go to the airport. We had one more culinary marvel to sample, one that we had heard about and seen on YouTube, and knew we had to try it. So we spent a few hours on our last roam about the city, and then took a cab down to the beach to have a late lunch at La Rosa Nautica.
La Rosa is very popular, and dinner seating often fills up early, so lunch is a great time to go. We were able to get a nice table with a water view with no wait at all.
This is a truly hedonistic place, definitely not somewhere to be worried about diet or restraint. We started right off with ordering Pisco Sours, and then looked over the menu with glee. The glee soon changed to frustration – everything sounded great! How to choose?
Well, the best way to choose is NOT to choose – so we went with a combination appetizer platter to start things off. This was nine different samples of various ceviches, seafood wraps, and causitas on the menu. It tasted even better than it looked!
Picking the entree was not easy, but with our second order of Pisco Sours on the way, we bravely soldiered on.
Rita went with the sea bass lunch above, served “A la piedra“, which of course means, “on a rock”. As you may be able to tell in the picture, that dark mass under her filet is indeed a hot rock.
I decided to be a little more traditional, and selected the dish that carries the restaurant’s name, the Rosa Nautica Sea Bass.
This was the kind of meal that is a delight to all of the senses. We were listening to piano music, smelling wonderfully prepared food, presented in a pleasing way to the eye, and with a taste to die for. We were just sitting back from the table, nursing the last of our Pisco Sours and wondering how we could ever top a dining experience like that, when the waiter approached with the dessert menu.
Well, in for a penny, in for gaining a few pounds. Once again we put on a brave face and, and with stiff upper lips, made the hard choices.
I went for the oh-so-healthier-choice of Mandarin Orange Crêpes, with Napoleón liquor, vanilla ice cream and caramelized orange peels.
Sure, that was a tremendous splurge (both in calories and cash), but it was a fitting last meal for our first visit to Lima, Perú. If you love good food, you owe to yourself to plan a visit.