A few months ago I was standing on top of Machu Picchu, in awe of the Incan legacy, tucked away in the Andes. What was even more inspiring was that the majority of Machu Picchu was a laboratory for agriculture where the Incas would experiment with different crops by growing them in micro-climates using terraces. Peru is also the land of 3000 varieties of potato, 200 varieties of corn and countless varieties of quinoa. The capital of Lima, too, a fascinating glance into a rich and varied history with magnificent edifices of a bygone era that modernity has embraced and kept intact.
Back in London, a wave of Peruvian gastronomy seems to have crashed with much gusto and one particular restaurant leading the way. Lima, in Fitzrovia was given form by Virgilio Martinez and is run under the watchful eye of his chef-friend Robert Ortiz. The most unfortunate thing about our lunch, though, was that having a 2.30pm table meant that when we were done with our food, we were told the kitchen was closed and we couldn’t have any dessert. No warning, no pre-ordering suggestions….just a straight no! Apart from that, the food did well to satiate us, though the general consensus was that the starters were outstanding, whilst the mains did little to impress.
Ceviche of sea bass, Andean cancha corn, tiger’s milk red onion: A delicate and perfect balance, just as I remember of the many ceviches I devoured in Peru.
Ceviche of artichoke, white onion, Amazon tree tomato, lemon, pink molle: a simple and tangy plate of artichokes (though the chokes themselves had been braised).
Octopus al olivo, white quinoa, red shiso, Botija olives: easily the finest octopus dish, hands down! Charred and crispy on the outside and ever so soft and delicate on the inside. Reminiscent of a perfectly cooked sweetbread.
Cured magret, foie gras, rocket, algarrobo honey: As far as duck and foie gras dishes go, this was as as good as any, though what relation this has to Peruvian cuisine is unknown to me.
Halibut huacatay herb, Andean grain aji mirasol, sorrel: Quite boring compared to the other dishes on the table. The huacatay is a native herb from the marigold family, with a pungent flavour with hints of tarragon whilst the aji mirasol is a variety of Peruvian chilli.
Suckling pig, amazon cashew, potato 4000 metres, pear: outstanding! No two ways about it!
Lamb shoulder, black quinoa, coriander, grape, pisco cinnamon: beautiful combination of lamb and semi-dried grape, while quinoa in any form is a joy to eat.
Desserts…well, I’ll have to make another trip for them! They all sound exquisite!
Recommend you go: 7