Well, despite what my host mom thinks, it would appear that I have been eating quite a lot recently. Or rather, eating out of the house a lot, which means…review time! But rather than writing separate posts for everything, I’m combining several cuisine tastings into one convenient update, not only to avoid annoying people, but also because I’m getting backed up on posts as it is. Whoops. So, without further beating around the bush, here are my reviews for Lomo Saltado, Churros, Tarboush Restaurant, Istanbul Turkish Restaurant, and some delectable street-cart sweets!
Lomo saltado is a pretty popular Peruvian dish than can be found in pretty much any restaurant or cafe in Lima. It is, essentially, steak strips sautéed with peppers, onions and potatoes (potatoes cut like french fries, as it were) and served with a heaping pile of rice. My first adventure with this dish was fairly successful, I would say. In the restaurant-studded district of Miraflores, after my visit to La Plaza de las Armas, I was wandering around hoping to hunt down some good, authentic grub for a cheap price. Right near el Parque Kennedy, tourist & restaurant magnet, I found a small strip of nameless cafes down a side alley, all serving more or less the same thing in more or less the same restaurant. (The name of the street escapes me at the moment, but for anyone looking, it’s directly across from the Ripley department store). I turned into the first one on the line, and instantly became that awkward gringa (whitey…specifically American whitey) that no one knows what to do with, because she clearly doesn’t know what to do. (Aka, though I saw a waiter, so I sat down & waited for someone to come over…pretty sure you’re supposed to order at the counter.) In any case, here’s the lowdown: my steak was, frankly, a weeeee bit tough/chewy. Whether it was the cafe, time of night, or even the tradition of lomo saltado, I do not know. However, the flavors were absolutely delicious. A little salty, with all of the flavors from the peppers, and hot steaming rice. It was a HUGE plate, and I pretty much cleaned it. Overall, definitely a good experience, and I shall certainly be eating lomo saltado again sometime. The price? 10 Soles, probably around $4. For the amount of food I got, I’d say that was a good deal.
UPDATE: Although I didn’t eat this particular batch, here’s a better photo of yet another plate of Lomo Saltado that a friend of mine had on another occasion. Bit less sketchy than photo one:
Now then. Onto the sweets.
Churros-Ok, so churros are more or less a ridged, elongated (fried?) doughnut (except, a bit more dense than a doughnut) with a filling. The most typical filling is caramel, followed closely by chocolate and in some shnazzy cafes I’ve even seen some that look like they might be filled with some sort of lemon curd. On a chilly walk home the other night from a nearby mall (Larcomar, simply went to peruse & peoplewatch) I saw these babies sitting in a little case at a stand in El parque Del Amor called Fruzión, which sells fruit juices/smoothies, coffee, hot chocolate (which I have sampled in the past by the way–very tasty & dusted with cinnamon!) and sweets. I was immediately sucked in, apparently very obviously-the girl at the counter asked me if I wanted a churro even before I opened my mouth…must’ve seen the drool as I stared. 😛 In any case, my churro was, alas, probably not SUPER fresh, but neither was it cold and stale. It was warm, and the chocolate in the middle was still oozing and delicious, and I was quite satisfied. However, I see street carts in parks selling churros all the time, and I’m willing to bet I can buy them there for less than the 3 soles I paid at Fruzión. (Although that’s still only like…$1.25. So whatever.)
Tarboush Arabic Restaurant–Located directly next to El Parque Kennedy on the Avenida 28 de Julio is Tarboush, a small cafe painted with a fantastically tacky bellydancer on the wall and signs advertising falafel and shawarma. Alright people, let’s get one thing straight before I continue-stop judging me! I know I shouldn’t be eating Middle Eastern cuisine already when I still haven’t tried even a SMALL percentage of Peruvian specialties, but I was sick & missing Jordan, & just wanted some comfort food. So there! (Also, apologies, didn’t have my camera with me so there are no pictures of the food, but I’ll try to take one of the restaurant later.) Anyways, the music playing was all American pop/recent hits, which made for an amusing experience. I ordered the Vegetarian Plate mostly because it came with hummus, & when it arrived there were 4 fairly large falafel, a small salad, some rather vibrantly yellow rice, and hummus. I’ll go ahead and say it, Arabic cuisine varies from country to country and even house to house, but this wasn’t QUITE like anything that I have ever had. It was tasty, but from my personal experiences not quiiite authentic (especially the hummus-I am a SERIOUS hummus addict/snob) but the bread was hot, the falafel were nice & fried, and all in all the taste was close enough so that I was content. The plate + water, by the way, cost around 18 soles-roughly 7-8 USD. Not bad for ethnic food. I’ve seen 2 other Arabic restaurants in my hood, so hopefully I can visit them soon.
Istanbul Turkish Restaurant-So, today I ventured out to explore the neighborhood of Barranco–Lima’s more bohemian/artsy district, with my compañero (language partner) from the university. My language partner studies Turkish/has been to Turkey, & is friends with the owner of this particular restaurant (there is also one in my ‘hood, Miraflores, but I haven’t seen Barranco yet so he wanted to show me around). So I knew this was going to be a good joint right off of the bat, because he promised me it was authentic. The atmosphere inside is lightly Middle Eastern (bit of hanging fabric/lights) without being too tacky, and you can choose to either sit at tables or on a few floor mats with ankle-high tables to serve you. We vouched to hangout on the floor. 🙂 Aside from food, one can also get Turkish Coffee, Turkish Apple Tea or Black Tea, Arguileh (hookah), and other alcholic beverages as well. I vouched for the black tea, which is essentially like any standard tea you would find in the Middle East. (Must try the Apple next time though!) The menu was mostly different types of kebab & falafel sandwiches, with different combinations of sides, salads, and some larger entrees as well.
I was torn between just ordering an appetizer plate of hummus (like I said, addict. Although it is WEIRDLY expensive here–more than a sandwich!) and a Dürüm-which is basically kebabs (lamb or chicken) with a little bit of tomato/onion/lettuce wrapped up in flatbread with sauce. Ended up taking my language partner’s advice and getting the Dürüm Adana (fairly sure that’s its name) which had just the TINIEST hint of spiciness to the meat. These were also served with an additional yogurt sauce & spice you could throw on. My friends, that was one tasty sandwich. ESPECIALLY with the yogurt sauce-it was particularly light & refreshing on the meat, but it didn’t quite taste like tzatziki sauces I’ve had in the past. I wish I could describe it better, but without the ingredients…le no. My meal ended up once again costing about 18 soles, and for food that tasted that good, I would definitely pay it again.
Streetcart Sweets– So, to end our wanderings, my language partner & I stopped by a streetcart on our way out of Barranco. The streetcart, as you can see from the photo above, was selling Arroz con Leche (rice with milk-basically like a sweet rice pudding), Mazamorra, Arroz Zambito, and Chicha Morada. My partner got a combination of arroz con leche & mazamorra, whilst I opted for arroz zambito and mazamorra. What’s that, you say? What the hell are these things? Why, I’d be delighted to enlighten you, friends!
Mazamorra & Chicha Morada are both derived from corn–purple Peruvian corn, that is, giving both a very dark purple color. (Although according to Wikipedia, mazamorra exists in different forms in different Latin American countries) Chicha Morada is a beverage sweetened with cloves & cinnamon, and I didn’t test it so that’s all I can say on that matter. Mazamorra, however, is also sweetened with cinnamon/cloves/the like, and thickened until its texture becomes quite gelatinous–thicker than a pie filling but definitely not like jello. Gloopy, I suppose, is the best way to describe it-but don’t let that throw you off, this stuff is quite tasty! Mine also had some kind of fruit pieces in it. The flavor isn’t particularly robust-it’s very smooth and without any kicks, but still sweet and a good accompaniment for the two types of sweet rices. Speaking of which, my arroz zambito? It is, at its core, the same thing as arroz con leche-a sweet rice pudding. However, this kind is flavored (& therefore, colored) with a local type of brown sugar, and therein lies the difference. This particular blogpost can tell you a little more about the specific difference (& also the racial connotations of the name, of which I was not aware until…well…right about now.) My arroz zambito was also topped with a little cinnamon, which added a nice touch. Both of these things together came in a rather large cup, and this is definitely not a light dessert–however, it was sweet and yummy and not so heavy that I felt stuffed, and so I walked away 2 soles poorer, one set of tastebuds happier. Definitely something to sample if you’re ever in Peru!
And that, my friends, is the end of this tasty update. Hope you’re not drooling all over your keyboards now…