As a complete change from his active and sometimes quirky Getaway
stories, Jules met up with chef extraordinaire Alejandro Saravia in Lima's Main Square Cathedral.
Alejandro is running 17-day gourmet tours of Peru, his home country. He now lives in Australia and embraces its melting-pot culture and relishes adding his own Peruvian influence to the food industry.
He travelled the world for eight years, concentrating on cuisine and cultures of many countries. Then came A Taste of Peru, an exciting adventure where guests experience the gastronomy and culture of the country. They are so passionate about food, Lima hosts a six-day International Gastronomic Fair every September.
Lima is described as the gastronomic capital of South America, thanks to its amazing seafood and some rather special beef. With a population of almost 9 million, Lima is a bustling city with a lot of surprises. Wadiques are restaurants specialising in just one dish.
Ceviche is a popular dish made from fresh, raw fish, marinated in citrus juice and spiced with chilli. Anticuchos is another favourite. Traditionally made with beef heart, you will find places using rump steak if offal isn't your thing. Garlic, vinegar, chilli and cumin give lots of flavour before skewering and barbecuing or grilling.
Choclo, the Peruvian word for corn, is grown exclusively along the coastal region and consumed in great quantities, usually smothered in butter and salt or huancaina, a rich, cheesy sauce. Potatoes are also loved with the same sauce.
Jules and Alejandro went to Surquillo Markets for their supplies. It's close to the popular tourist destination Miraflores and highlights produce sourced from the Andes to the Amazon. You wander along a red brick pathway lined with little stands selling exotic fruits you may have never seen before and an amazing array of nuts, vegetables more varieties of potatoes than you could imagine breads, cheeses, sauces and prepared meals. Many tourists buy food to enjoy as they explore the city.
Once they had bought the ingredients on restaurateur Sonia Baramonde's list, they headed to the fish market in the Villa Maria del Triunfo district for the day's freshest catch to include in their dinner party. Sonia's father Freddy helped in the selection and Jules said he was like a rock star in the fisherman world!
The dinner venue was Sonia's restaurant, one of Lima's most endearing and popular eating places. They prepared ceviche and served it to Sonia's family and a simple dinner was like a celebration.
The next day it was off to the Chorrillos district. The former fishing village just south of Lima was a deluxe beach resort until the late 19th century when it was wiped out by Chilean forces during the War of the Pacific.
Most people go there for the food, and shacks surrounding the fish market are excellent places to sample a variety of local dishes. Playa Herradura is a great beach spot in a small bay and the area is one of the best places to surf.
Back in the Miraflores district are the fifth century Huaca Pucllana ruins. The famous restaurant of the same name is in the compound of a 1500-year-old adobe pyramid built by Lima's original inhabitants, and is one of the city's greatest dining surprises.
Huaca Pucllana is a serene and beautiful restaurant offering respite from the busyness of the city. The menu is described as "creative Peruvian", and Jules recommends saving room for dessert, particularly the Napoleon. Chocolate mousse and passionfruit sorbet sandwiched in chocolate biscuits. He's still dreaming about it. You can eat inside or out and after eating, you can take a tour of the construction and the digs.
Wherever he was, Jules found he was always being offered the national drink a pisco sour. Pisco is a strong, colourless grape brandy grown in Peru and Chile, and both countries claim credit for inventing the drink. It's a blend of pisco, lime juice, egg white and bitters and is absolutely delicious.
Another thing you will notice is locals chewing cocoa leaves. It's said to combat altitude sickness in places like Machu Picchu.
If you have time between eating and shopping for food, Lima has some wonderful museums to explore. Anthropology, art, natural history, pre-Columbian cultures, science and religion are all there.
Lima, the capital of Peru.
Movidas Journeys' A Taste of Peru 16-day Gourmet Experience costs $8110 per person single or $6820 per person twin-share. The tour can be done in two stages. The first stage includes Lima, Inca and Nazca Lines and costs $4105 and $3560 respectively. The second stage includes Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca and costs $4315 and $3575 respectively. Tours run with a minimum of 10 passengers and include an insider's guide to Peru, airport transfers, accommodation, chef Saravia's lessons, meals, vineyard visits, gratuities and entrance fees. Tours are scheduled for August 31, 2011, and April 25, 2012.
LAN Airlines has flights to Lima from:
- Sydney $2549
- Melbourne and Brisbane $2669
- Adelaide $2879
- Perth $3069
Prices correct at July 9, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 1800 221 572
76-80 Clarence Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 853 752
A Taste of Peru
Ph: 0420 604 435
Visa: Australians do not require a visa to enter Peru. They do need a passport and return ticket.
Electricity: 220V at 60Hz using plugs with two flat prongs.
Time zone: GMT -5.
Currency: The sol.
Telephone code: +51.