We are entering the dog days of summer, and it has been HOT in Chicago. Naturally, that means we have been filling up on a lot of Italian ice, ice cream and paletas. However, if we were in Peru, we would be enjoying cremoladas! Cremoladas are a Peruvian iced dessert that falls, texture-wise, somewhere between shaved ice and sorbet. When we were in Lima we visited the original Curich Cremoladas (Calle Bolognesi 759, Miraflores 15074, Peru), credited with inventing the treat when the Curich family from Croatia opened their shop in Lima in 1942. There are dozens of flavors available, though we are partial to lucuma and passionfruit. It is fun to sample some of the unique fruit flavors at Curich like naranjilla (known as lulo in Colombia), arazá, and cocona. Curich’s creation caught on, and, now, you will find cremoladas all over Lima. Check out a video of cremoladas in production from El Comercio. Turns out, despite the name, there is no cream at all! Lima Easy has a simple recipe to make your own cremolada.
Tag Archives: Lima
M is a ceviche aficionado, so we did a lot of research to find the best ceviche in Lima, Peru before we arrived. In terms of Ceviche, anyone visiting Lima is absolutely spoiled for choice. Ceviche, which is basically an art form in its native Peru, is simply raw fish or seafood “cooked” in citrus juice and chiles (known as “tiger milk”). However, in our research, we found a few ceviche-centric picks that rose to the top, including El Mercado (Hipolito Unanue 203, Lima, Peru) in the trendy Miraflores neighborhood. Mercado is the brainchild of chef Rafael Osterling, and it is known for offering both traditional and nouveau takes on ceviche.
There are no reservations accepted at El Mercado, so in order to get a table, people line up outside before opening time (maybe using the word “line up” is too strict) to get a table. We heard that lunch was an easier sell than dinner, so we waited outside for the restaurant to open for about 45 minutes. When the restaurant finally opened up at 12:30 we were among the first 20 to get in – and we were very happy to have secured a table (though, to be honest, the restaurant wasn’t full at that point, so we probably could have just arrived when it opened, but YMMV). The restaurant itself was partially open to the elements, and live trees grew straight through the floorboards. We enjoyed the woodsy, convivial environment, and it really felt like you were eating outside. We also liked that there was an open window to the kitchen where we saw a bevy of female chefs at work.
We were surprised by the sheer size of extensive menu of tiraditos, causas, ceviches, salads, sandwiches, sushi and more substantial wood-fired dishes like lobster and whole grouper. If your taste is not necessarily for ceviche, there will still be dozens of options for you. There are inventive starters including a suckling pig spring roll and scallops in spicy ceviche “tiger milk.” Despite all this choice, we were most intrigued by the two classic categories of Peruvian appetizers: tiraditios, thinly-sliced fish with citrus; and causas, Peruvian potatoes mixed with chilis and other fillings like fish and avocado. We decided to sample the Causa Tumbesina, with yellow Peruvian potatoes, shrimp, crab and avocado (42 Soles), which was a delicious mixture of textures and mild spiciness that we were not expecting.
However, the stars of the show are Mercado’s ceviches, of which there are 8 varieties, inspired by different areas of Peru, and the ingredients local to each region. In a dish with relatively few component, every element of the ceviche has to be absolutely perfect, and M certainly has a critical eye for ceviche. Unique options included the “Galactic ceviche” with Lemon Sole, Bull Crab, and Scallops Cooked in Lime Juice and Sea Urchin “Galactic Milk.” We selected two different types of ceviche: the classic Lenguado (55 S): Lemon Sole in Lime Juice, Chili “Tiger Milk” Red Onion, Cilantro, Iceberg Lettuce, Sweet Potato & Corn and the more avant-garde Norte-Norte (54 S): Sea Grouper, Cockles, Shrimps, Green Banana Majado (fried mash) & Chili.
The seafood in both ceviches was super fresh and delicate, and was some of the best fish we had ever tried. Each was garnished simply with large Peruvian corn kernels- choclo– and mashed sweet potatoes or plantains. The flavors of each ceviche were clean, simple and not over-complicated. M admired the technical perfection of the Lengaudo ceviche, with its perfectly uniform slices of fish, and just the right amount of onions with a pungently citrus-y tiger milk that was not overpowering. Mercado’s rendition was basically a template for everything a classic ceviche ought to be. We were struck by the purple color of the Norte-Norte ceviche, and the tantalizingly smoky flavor of the chilies. Upon consideration, M deemed the Lenguado as his favorite ceviche of the trip. We would highly recommend Mercado for all things seafood, but if you are ceviche lover, it is a must-try!
There is nothing we like more than a good bakery, and we stumbled upon a great one in Lima, Peru’s Panadería El Pan de La Chola (Av Mariscal La Mar 918, Miraflores 15074, Peru). The closest analogue to El Pan de la Chola we know of is Zak’s Bakery in Miami. Like Zak’s, El Pan de la Chola, is a bright, airy bakery which serves up breads, sandwiches and coffee in a friendly rustic-chic environment to a enthusiastic crowd of local and expat cognoscenti, students and families. The bakery is run by a British expat, Johnathan Day, who realized his dream of opening a bakery in Peru.
We are back from the culinary wonderland that is Peru, and what impressed us the most was the obsession Peruvians – especially Limeños – have for quality food, from the corner sandwich shop to the finest dining. So we started our adventure on the humble street corner with one of the many Limeño food obsessions, the sandwich. In Lima the classic sandwich is the chicharrón – fried pork, sweet potato slices and onions on a bun – and sandwich shops serving this variety and many others are on every corner. In our hunt for sandwiches in Lima, one name that kept popping up was La Lucha, a much-hyped sandwich place with locations throughout Lima (we visited one of the locations near Parque Kennedy in the Miraflores neighborhood – Av. Diagonal 308).
La Lucha does a wide variety of “criollo” sandwiches, including the famous chicharrón. Other options included roast chicken, roast turkey (surprising!), roast pork, tuna, jamón Serrano, country ham and steak, cheese and avocado (between 6.8 and 17.3 soles). We ordered a roast chicken, since that is one of our favorite Peruvian staples (and you will see rotisserie chicken places everywhere!) and a classic chicharrón. The La Lucha location we visited was a walk up counter where you placed your order and paid at the counter, and later received your food at your table. La Lucha was packed with hungry students from the nearby university even at the early hour of 5:30 PM (much too early for a Peruvian dinner!), and the vibe was lively and colorful.
Not long after ordering we received crusty rolls piled high with juicy roast chicken and cracking pork and sweet potato. They definitely didn’t skimp on the fillings! Though the sandwiches were delicious, what may have been the real star of the show were the fries made from the celebrated huayro potatoes, which were skin-on, crispy and piping hot. These were some of the best fries we have ever had, which makes sense given that potatoes are originally from the Andes. Plus, the fries came with all manner of dipping sauces (mayo, tartar sauce, olive, aji pepper, etc). La Lucha is also an excellent place to dip your toe into more unique Peruvian fruits including aguaymanto (similar to a ground cherry) and granadilla (similar to passion fruit) through a variety of juices and smoothies. If you are thirsty you can also get chicha, pisco or coffee. But most impressively, none of these sandwiches cost over $5 US! If we lived in Lima we would come here all the time. La Lucha is the perfect place for a quick, delicious meal, and to get a taste of what real Limeños eat on a daily basis. It’ a delicious introduction to Peru!