Alright, team. Presumably by now you know the drill. Food descriptions accompanying as many photos as I can force my lazy self to upload to make you all so ridiculously jealous that you didn’t go with me. Whilst I go schedule a thousand root canals to deal with all my new cavaties, you kids enjoy.
Startin’ Sugary: Manjarblanco products
Previously mentioned in my Mistura Ambiance post, before leaving this gigantic festival of salivation I made sure to drop by the huge Nestlé-sponsored booth selling all manner of products made from or including manjarblanco (manjarblanco= Peruvian version of dulce de leche, remember?) The very first sample I had of it at Mistura was a pure bite of the stuff–whilst walking around the Gran Mercado my friends and I each received a free spoonful sample from some of the vendors, and while I didn’t take a photo, I DID almost pass out from love. For those who have never had dulce de leche/manjarblanco it can be compared only to caramel, but that really is stopping short of the full deal. Manjarblanco is much softer than caramel, though I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call it creamy. It’s also sweet but not in a way that makes your teeth hurt, as caramel can, and for whatever reason whilst recalling these memories my mind seems to want to compare it to a shortbread cookie in the sense that it just kinds of melts in your mouth. (Hate me yet?)
Empanada de Manjarblanco
Firstly, please excuse the above photo quality. As you can see, it was actually night by the time I sampled this product and then whilst consuming it I was unable to stop shoving it down my throat long enough to take a photo of the innards…it was that good–props to the maker, Dulcería Millan, which can be found in Lambayeque, Peru. (Wait…shoot! That means they aren’t in Lima to be had all of the time!) Whilst empanadas are, traditionally, a savory snackfood, I’d say it’s pretty common now to see dessert emapanadas even in parts of the world outside of Latin America. This little fella was excellently done–the crust was flakey and sweet, as any good (dessert) pie crust should be. It was buttery and ever so pleasantly given a light coating of a sugar glaze that neither overwhelmed my teeth nor left me disappointed-I could’ve eaten at least four more of these if it weren’t for the fact that, at this point in the day, I couldn’t eat anything else, period. I was principally nervous that the inside was going to be overflowing with manjarblanco in a way that would just make it too much, but oh, not so! Ratio of crust to filling was perfect to give me the flavors of both without being overwhelmed by sugary filling or left hunting for it in folds of (admittedly delectable) dough. Mmm..here, have another picture of these babies all lined up to tempt you:
Though I was not originally aware of it when I picked out these chocolates (although you’d think I would’ve figured it out given that I bought them at the Nestlé stand) each of these little chocolate delights was filled in some way with manjarblanco. One was less obviously so, as the flavor was of the Andean fruit Lúcuma, but I presume it was mixed in somehow. (If you didn’t read about the last time I tasted Lúcuma, here’s a refresher: For a fruit, it tastes bizarrely like a sweet but VERY subtle combination of a latté and caramel.) Another had a manjarblanco-pecan combination filling (white with chocolate stripes), whilst the chocolate-curls covered truffled was simply chocolate-coated manjarblanco. To be honest, the fourth truffle I chose I’m fairly certain was just manjarblanco hardened EVER so slightly (to keep its shape) and dusted with cocoa powder. Delish. Here’s two more photos of all of these chocolates (and the ones I didn’t end up buying) simply because they were plated ever so prettily:
This is what Heaven tastes like: Chocolate Time!
Going to preface this by saying that between the Gran Mercado and the Rincón del Chocolate, I had about 2320938 samples of chocolate in various forms on Sunday. Absolutely none of them were anything less than wonderful, however, for wallet-sustenance reasons I didn’t buy most of them. I did, however, lose a lot of the ability to differentiate between chocolate products as I became so overwhelmed with love and addiction, so pardon me if I use the adjective “sweet” a thousand times in the next few descriptions.
Chocolate Cake: The real deal
So, this pastel de chocolate brought to you by Probarte represents a side of me that shall never die–a side that craves dense, deeply-chocolate, cakey goodness. (Slathered with thick amounts of frosting, by the way.) As some of you may remember, my first attempt at acquiring a good old-fashioned chocolate cake in Lima ended up being a bit of a surprise, as it was chocolate cake remixed into what I NOW know is the very popular “chocolate manjarblanco” cake. Perfectly scrumptious in its own right, but not really what I was going for. So, I was a little more critical when eyeballing this cake at Mistura…with a more well-trained eye, however, I was able to deduce that at least the frosting, if not cake, was not laced with manjarblanco, and decided to give it a whirl. Good decision! The chocolate buttercream frosting was piled on thick and creamy, which in my opinion is really the only way to do things properly, with a thin layer in the middle as well. Thankfully the cake wasn’t dry, either, which is always kind of a fear of mine in desert-ridden countries. However, the one bummer was that there just wasn’t a profoundly deep level of chocolate in this cake. Yes, that was the flavor in all aspects, but there are ways to intensify the flavor of chocolate in a cake which just…didn’t seem to be employed here. The frosting helped quite a bit, but in the end this was a “good” not “omgzamazing” chocolate slice.
I should, however, make note that we still ate it all. Happily. And by we I mean mostly me after the other two had a couple of bites. (Which they ate with chopsticks, by the way. Badass.)
Mixing it up with Chocolate Sushi
I know I’ve already mentioned eating some pretty weird things at Mistura, but don’t be too thrown off by this one, folks–the “Sushi” part of this name is completely based off of the presentation, NOT the ingredients! So, everybody can breathe a sigh of relief now. 🙂 That being said, this was one of my FAVORITE finds of the entire day. Chocolate Sushi is a new company in the process of opening up a store in Calle Jr. Buenaventura Aguirre in Barranco, but until then you can look them up on Facebook or at www.chocolatesushi.pe to have orders shipped to you! And what exactly do they sell, you ask? Well, these ingenious creators have more or less come up with an adorable way to market fudge. Each “roll” has at least two different flavors, separated by ittttty bitty almost undetectable grains of what could have been quinoa, but I’m not really sure. (They were that tiny and were clearly there to separate the layers, and provide some texture/sushi imitation.) Each box of ‘sushi” comes with 9 pieces…at Mistura they were random assortments (so when I bought my own private box to take home later, I had some new combinations!) but I’m sure if you’re ordering you can specify. Some of the flavors made me think that certain colors (white/green) were actually not chocolate, but cheesecake, or something very similar. A piece I had that was white in color, for example, very much tasted of cheesecake, and another piece that had an outer layer of chocolate fudge was sporting a mint-green center that actually tasted a lot like key lime pie…but obviously not with a key lime pie texture. Anyway, I went ahead and abandoned the cute chopsticks they throw in with every box, because these little mouthfuls of creamy, smooth fudge were WAY too good to waste any time…and for those of you who don’t know, I’m TERRIBLE with chopsticks despite a thriving passion for Asian cuisine, so usage of said appendages most certainly IS a waste of time, in my opinion. I can’t wait until the next time I go to Barranco so I can get my hands on some more of these–they are seriously delightful!
Like I’ve already stated, there were many samples of pure chocolate floating around my day (or spinoff products like some fluffy chocolate Madeline’s (called magdalenas here) or hot chocolate) and frankly my memory just doesn’t differentiate between all of them, and with one or two I unfortunately didn’t take pictures. So this is going to be a relatively fast conglomeration of the chocolate products I DO remember:
Slender: (No Picture) Slender is an organic chocolate company that specializes in chocolates with lesser calories and occasionally no sugar. Yes. That sounds like a sin, right? Well, it just so happens that…sugarless chocolate still tastes BRILLIANTLY sweet! Or…wait. I should rephrase this. Chocolate sweetened with isomalt rather than sugar has less calories and still maintains that wonderful addictive note we all crave. I only ate a sample of this, but it was the completely sugar-free version and was so good that I bought a little bar to take home to Laura, as she has a very health-conscious diet. She loved it too! Slender products are made in Peru, and you can either find them in stores like TOTTUS, Farmacia UNIVERSAL, or La Tiendecita China…or just go to slenderperu.com.
Xocolatl: Found on Calle Manuel Bonilla in Miraflores, this chocolate store is set to be stormed by one Very Hungry Becky in the Very Near Future. Their display at Mistura was absolutely killer (I’ll post photos of it later, promise!) , with all kinds of hand-painted chocolate truffles for sale along with larger bars of chocolate & other goodies. When at the end of my day, I realized I only had a few Nuevos Soles left on my Mistura ‘credit card’, and decided to just snag one last chocolate bite to take home–so I went to Xocolatl and grabbed a peanut-butter filled chocolate ball. I didn’t eat it right then and there, hence the lack of photos, but I’ll go ahead and say that the inside was creamy and delicious, though no, it didn’t taste like a Reese’s. But…*deep breath* sometimes…that’s okay.
Ooh! Ooh! Check it out, I actually have a (blurry) picture to go with this one! That would be because one of my friends also grabbed himself a little chocolate bar from this joint. Like Xocolatl, Roselen Chocolatier had a beautiful, beautiful chocolate display at Mistura. They has such amazingly detailed, hand-painted chocolates in such a variety of shapes and flavors and even colors that I just didn’t know where to point my camera first! Definitely lives up to the “gourmet/artisan” claims printed on their flyer. Anyway, our chocolate pieces were filled with caramel and pecans covered in a smooth, thick layer of milk chocolate that left no traces of disappointment. (A mouthful of caramel and chocolate rarely does.) This gourmet chocolate shop, however, appears to operate solely by delivery/ordering, so to take care of that I advise you to get yourself over to www.roselen.com and see what all of my fuss is about!
Wrapping it up: Sweet Libations!
Close to the end of our evening my friends and I decided to return to the Rincón de Pisco y Café and pay homage to Lima’s beloved national mixed drink, the Pisco Sour. However, upon looking at the selections at the bar, we then decided to go for a variety of drinks so that everyone could have a taste of more than just one option.
Pisco Sour: We’ll start with the traditional. One of my friends decided to stick to the plan and order this drink (which I then proceeded to only take really bad photos of…if you need to form an image in your mind, it’s a drink white in color, or really, foggy-looking). I’m a little glad I didn’t, because maaaan they’re kind of strong. Not terribly so, or I never would’ve been able to take more than a sip (yep, I’m THAT kind of girl…I like my drinks fruity and without that fire-going-down-my-throat feeling, thank you very much!) but there’s definitely that hard-liquor taste going around. Pisco, by the way, is a grape brandy, and a Pisco Sour is that brandy + lemon juice + syrup + ice+ egg white. Yes, you did indeed read that last bit correctly. So vegans, stay away! Anyway, one can obviously adjust the amount of lemon juice and syrup added to make the drink a little sweeter, and I’d say the version my friend ordered was probably somewhere in the mid-range. Despite having done NOTHING but fill our stomachs with food all day, he got rather red in the face and hot RATHER quickly, so that might tell you something about the effects of drinking one of these suckers…
The Chicha Sour is another Pisco-based cocktail. I have mentioned my enduring obsession with Chicha Morada, a non-alcoholic sweet fruit juice made from purple Peruvian corn, more than once. Chicha Sours employ Chicha Morada syrup/the drink itself as the secondary beverage in addition to Pisco, and much like the Pisco sours also include an egg white, ice, and some other ingredients I’m sure the internet can tell you about. (I can, however, tell you that these drinks are shaken, not stirred. ……..Don’t kill me for that.) The Chicha Sour shares the dark purple, almost burgundy hue of the chicha morada, but similarities don’t go too much farther than that. Or at least, not in this particular version–the sweetness of the chicha morada was very much minimized by the bite of the Pisco, even more so than in the Pisco Sour. While my friend definitely enjoyed this drink, a few sips of it were all that I really wanted. It wasn’t disgusting, just not cohesive enough with my tastebuds to be worth investing more brain cells in it.
The Machu Picchu
What? Don’t look at me/your screen like that! I told you I like girly drinks…and what could be more girly than a multi-colored cocktail named after an iconic archaeological world treasure? Not much, I tell you…not much. Although I watched this drink being made, my pathetically under-developed bartending skills could hardly decipher what was going into this drink…luckily, google has got my back on this one, so I can now present to you the Machu Picchu as yet another Pisco-based drink, combined with mint liqueur, orange juice, and grenadine syrup. If those ingredients didn’t just make this clear to you, that means I enjoyed a very sweet, fruity beverage-just the way I like it! Honestly, I had eaten a mountain of food which probably helped to absorb the alcohol, so I can’t really say if this drink just doesn’t have a high alcohol content or in this particular circumstance I was just able to take on a lot more, because this drink was so much to my liking that I downed it pretty quickly without feeling even lightly, slightly buzzed. (Probably had to do with the food, though I’d still say this cocktail goes easy on you.) I’m glad I ended up picking my beverage based on the prettiest display, because I ended up liking it the best out of the three. Ten points to me!
So that’s it for the lengthy descriptions of food from Mistura. I just want to reiterate again what an amaaazing experience it was, and I encourage anyone who ever has the chance to GOGOGO (with friends) and take advantage of such an amazing compilation of food and drink from all over. Next time I post about Mistura, it’ll pretty much just be other photos from the event that I feel like people might enjoy viewing…until then, lovelies, ciao!