The Peruvian cuisine has had a good run in the last years, with cevicherías opening up
outside Peru in Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, Bogotá (Colombia) and even Madrid on
the old continent. The success of these places has encouraged the opening of cevicherías
even outside the Spanish-speaking countries like Lisbon, Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt. If all
or at least some of them are as good as in the motherland of the ceviche remains to be
seen, as the secret ingredient is the lime from the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. The lime is
small and has a natural sweetness, which most limes from other countries do not have.
Lima’s restaurants feature amongst the best in the world nowadays, evident in three
restaurants being amongst the top 30 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, with Central
restaurant ranking as high as No. 4.
Reason enough for us to go back to the cevicherías of Lima, but this time not only to the
highly rated, internationally acclaimed ones, but also to the suburbs where the Limeños
eat. So we ventured to La Victoria, a district located between two major football stadiums
where you’d expect sandwiches and hot dogs before, during and after the match. The
restaurant we were looking for is called Mi Barrunto, loosely translated as “my
neighbourhood” or “my quarter”. As always, the place was packed with locals, couples,
families, big tables, small tables, but no gringos in sight apart from ourselves.
The traditional opener is the pisco sour, and the one served here is a good one, not too
sweet, good and cold, frothy, with plenty of lime and the right amount of Pisco (a Grappa-
related spirit, the pride and joy of Peru). In the humidity of Lima, there are few things more
refreshing than a well-made pisco sour.
The chef, Augusto Aranda, one of three brothers who own the place, must have spotted
the gringos and paid our table a visit. He prepared pulpo a la parilla (grilled octopus) and
a causa con pulpa de cancrejo (mash potato and crab meat), followed by a arroz con
mariscos (shellfish with rice) for us. All of it was very tasty with the rich and intense
flavours of the seafood from the Humboldt Current of the Pacific Ocean and the
indigenous produce from the Peruvian rainforest.
Augusto Aranda (left), Chef at La Barrunto, Andy Rompel (right), in the rustic environment
of Mi Barrunto
Then, by way of contrast we ventured from the suburbs to the touristy neighbourhood of
Miraflores, to La Gloria restaurant, which may not feature amongst the top 50 restaurants
in the world, but most definitely ranks amongst the top ten in Lima, which means it
matches up well to some pretty stiff competition in town.
Instead of choosing individual starters and main courses for each person, we simply
ordered one starter and then main courses after another to share. The courses were
seafood classics, mussels, sole, tuna and clams, and meat classics that require a bit of
finesse to prepare, for instance lamb brain and sweetbread. All the dishes were well
plated, colourful, interesting and with artistic squiggles of sauce. But eye candy aside, all
were delicious. Here are the top performers amongst the ten courses:
Navajas (ensis macha) – pencil bait or razor clams, a rectangular shaped mussel
Sashimi de Lenguado – raw sole
Asado de Atun – Seared Tuna
Mollejas – Sweetbread
Sesos de Cordero – Lamb brain
Almejas – Clams
To gulp it all down, we enjoyed a mix of Argentine and Chilean wines, starting with:
1. Humberto Canale Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2011 (Rio Negro, Argentina).
Arguably the best Pinot from South America, which tasted blind, can easily be
mistaken for a Premier Cru from Burgundy.
2. François Lurton Humo Blanco Hacienda Araucano Edicion Limitada Syrah
2013 (Valle de Colchaga, Chile). Not the usual grape for South America, but a big
wine made by Master Lurton.
3. Humberto Canale Gran Reserva Merlot 2011 (Rio Negro, Argentina). This one is
great Merlot, with a big mouthfeel and blackberries, elegant and in balance with the
4. François Lurton Hacienda Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2011 (Valle
de Colchaga, Chile). For me the best Cabernet Sauvignon in South America with
big powerful black currant flavours almost reminiscent of a South African Cab. The
2011 follows the super 2006 vintage beautifully.
All wines were graciously provided by Señor Firdaus Madon of Xtreme-blue, a boutique
wine importer. Needless to say that these wines complimented the various courses
La Gloria is also famous for preparing cuy, Guinea pig, which is neither originally from
Guinea, nor is it related to pigs. Actually it is a rodent and indigenous to the Andes.
However, rather than serving a half rodent resembling a deep-fried rat the way it is
habitually prepared in the traditional restaurants high up in the Andes, La Gloria prepares
only the legs of the Guinea pig, which somewhat remind you of chicken drumsticks – much
more appetizing, indeed.