Over the weekend, I went to Lima for a gastronomical tour to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. A lot of food was had, and I’ll start with blogging about my favorite meal of the trip, the tasting menu at Central. I had been to Central before, a little under 3 years ago, before it became no. 4 in the world with World 50 best, when it had a menu and not a tasting menu and I had loved it. I was however very interesting to see if my experience would compare, be below or above expectations. I am happy to report that it is not only as good, its so much better. I t was actually a completely different culinary experience. Where as before it was an amazing meal, now it was an absolute experience. Where as before we had really good food, here i was just amazed at the creativity and weirdness. There were so many ingredients that I had no idea and loved to learn about new things. The tasting menu is all about the different altitudes of Peru and what could be found there. The only negative of my visit, we weren’t going to be allowed to have the 17 course but only the 12 course given our party size, however, talk was involved, and we were able to have the full altitude experience. It actually made a huge difference because some of the additional courses were incredible and some of my favorites of the tasting. Also, because if you are already in one of the best restaurants you want to go all out! Side not of the visit, The Rolling Stones were above us and we didn’t even realize it!
Here is the pictorial evidence of what the Tasting menu had in store, and my thoughts:
ARANAS DE ROCA – Sargazo, Lapa Cangrejo (Spiders on a Rock: Sargassum, Limpet, Crab) – it was a spectacular little bite to start of with. This was actually my mom’s favorite bite of the day. Everything tasted like seaweed in a weird way and the textures were amazing
VALLE DE ARBOL Palta , aji Panca, Paico (Valley of a Tree: Avocado, Pancha Chili and paico) on top what i got, on the bottom the real non gluten free version. A cute three ways to look at avocado, but mine really was nothing spectacular, i think the bite that was special was the one that i didn’t get which was the avocado ash
DIVERSIDAD DE MAIZ – Maiz, Miel tumbo (Diversity of Corn: Corn, Honey, Tumbo Passion Fruit) this was one of the additions of the 17 course menu and one of my favorite bites. Great diffrent textures and contrasts of corn, it even came with a little corn leche de tigre which was amazing
SELVA ALTA – Yacon, Baston, Corteza (high Altitute Rainforest: Yacon, Baston, Bark) this was the biggest contrast of pretty plate not so interesting bite of the day. Usually the taste matches or exceeds the physical creativity of the plate. Here it didn’t, it was a charred yam, nothing more nothing less. the plate though, quite interesting
ESCAMA DE RIO – Churo, Gamita, sangre de Arbol (River Scales: River Snails, Gamita, Tree Blood) i loved this dish the perfect combination of creativity and really amazing taste. Also I couldn’t believe part of it was fish!
ALTIPLANO Y CEJA – Bread course basically. the bread had burnt coca leaves underneath which actually i think was the only negative part of the night, the bread wasnt as great and the smell was disracting and not appetizing. the little corn muffins were great though
SUELO DE MAR – Amejas, Pepino Melon, Lima (Marine Soil: Clams, Sweet Cucumber, Lime) Such good textures!
the dish also asked the question what the hell is a sweet cucumber … well our waiter answered our question with show and tell:
TALLO EXTREMO – Oca, Mashwa, Sauco (Extreme Stems) another good one with show and tell where they showed us where all the roots came from. A tasty dish, though not my favorite of the night
the source of the dish:
COLORES DE AMAZONIA – Doncella, Nuez, Pijusyo, Huito (Amazonia colors: Doncella, Bahuaja Nut) This one was a beauty to look at, although flavor wise, a few days later it definitely did not make an impact (can barely remember)
COSECHA Y RECOLECCION – Lechuga, Conchas, Granadilla (Harvest and Collection: Lettuce, Scallops, Granadilla) I actually really love grilled lettuce and that was a great surprise lying in the bottom of this pretty dish. The place was gorgeous and there were a lot of contrasting textures. I also love how fresh scallops were in Lima throughout and here it was no exception.
PESCA DE CERCANIA Pulpo, coral, Barquillo (close Fishing:Octupus, Coral, Barquillo) This was my sisters favorite dish of the night and it was in my top 3. Im obsessed with octopus so that was a given that I would like it, but most importantly that coral crust was just spectacular. THe texture was so weird and great I could not get enough.
SUELO DE LAGUNA Pollo, moraya, Cushuro (Lake Floor: Chicken, Moraya, Cushuro) I think this dish wins the award for the wierdest mix of ingredients and textures. The little caviar balls as i called them, described by chef Martinez as bacteria were little balls of amazingness. Also the foam was great and it hid some amazingly seasoned red chicken.
CORDILLERA BAJA Quinuas, Res, Airampo (Low Andes Mountains: Quinoas, Beef, Airampo) This was my favorite dish of the night. An amazing slow roasted short rib with different types of quinoas and quinoa milk (which i didn’t know existed but man was it tasty) A great combination of colors, textures and flavors.
BOSQUE AMAZONICO Pomarrosa, Pitahaya, Hierba Luisa (Amazonian Rainforest: Rese Apple, Pitahaya, Lemongrass, Sweet Pepper) this was my favorite of the two desserts but the picture came out all wrong. A great refreshing fruit plate, with a super aromatic Pomarrosa sorbet
ALTURAS VERDES Lucuma, Cacao, Chsco (Green Highlands: Lucuma, Cacao) To the left the original one, to the right my gluten free version. Im not a chocolate fan but this might be the best chocolate sorbet I have ever had.
VALLE ENTRE ANDES Raices, Sanki, Sacha Inchi (Valley between the Andes: Tuber, Sanki) the chocolates were so chewy and amazing (and i really am not a chocolate person). The root vegetable gummy was not to my liking at all.
MUCILAGO SOLAR Agua O.i – This was a cleansing water at the end, quite interesting, made form the bark of the cacao (or something of the sort , by this point I was to full to understand the explanations)
And to top off the night, one of the prettiest letters in chocolate I had seen, aka, the birthday cake:
the two menu comparisons (With the altitudes of each course):