Statera Restaurant – Emerging From Central’s Shadow

I realize that I’ve been ignoring Statera restaurant. Or rather, that I haven’t been going there enough. Part of the problem, I think, has been that I forgot that they are open for lunch (their dinner service doesn’t start until 8 p.m. which is way past my bedtime.) But, their lunch is Tuesday-Sunday, 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. I think I’ll go more often for lunch. It’s located at Av. Mariscal La Mar 463, Miraflores. The place doesn’t look so big from outside so it’s easy to miss.

The reasons that I recommend Statera are:

It’s possible to eat there without planning for months out, as one has to do at Central.

The tasting menu is half the price and half the time.

The bartender is superbly skilled.

The owner, Andres, is a young chef who worked as Central’s Research and Development chef for two years. He also worked at Noma in Copenhagen. Plus, he speaks English and is personable (and he remembers the critique of his clients). He continually changes his menu, but has managed to keep menu items that worked well (like the pumpkin done in three ways — completely vegan — even though it tastes like fois gras).

While I send people to Statera if they can’t get in to Central, I think that Statera actually manages to embody the “nueva andina” cuisine better — combining both the beauty of presentation and imaginative use of local ingredients, while also providing food that is delicious and of normal portion size.

If for nothing else, go for the black aguaje butter and bread (see photo).

And before it becomes impossible to book a table.

The Best Things About Expat Life in Lima – Or, It’s Always Avocado Season

In celebration of Peru’s independence days, “fiestas patrias,” (July 28 is independence day and July 29 is a holiday for the armed forces and police), here is my posting about what I think is great about living in Lima. As I did for some of the other places I have lived, I have already written about what I don’t like about living in Lima. Before living in Lima, I had visited more than five times as a tourist. The first time was immortalized in this blog posting. Now that I’ve been here for more than a food-frenzied weekend, the following things are what I like about living here.

The food scene: The restaurants. It seems like every week, there is a new restaurant opening, and thanks in great part to Gaston Acurio, the culinary scene has become part of the national identity. There are fancy-foamy-intellectual dining establishments, fast food franchises, family-run restaurants, neighborhood favorites, and hole-in-the-wall secrets.

The immigrants: This is one of the reasons that the food scene in Lima is great. Thanks to the Chinese (Chifa is a normal word here for a Chinese food and restaurant, and it is as ingrained in the local food choices as hamburgers), the Japanese (Nikkei is the word used for both the food style and the Japanese Peruvians — this month celebrating 120 years in Peru), the Italians, the Lebanese, and all the other immigrants who have been been contributing to the deliciousness in Lima. Thank you to the newest (those two Thai restaurant owners, those Pakistani and Indian guys, that American with the chocolate shop, and those three Swedish ladies, that Mexican guy, and the Venezuelans, and all of those others whom I have yet to discover… I’m looking at you, shawarma palace!). Plus, many of the Peruvians are domestic immigrants — from somewhere else in the country (bringing things like their delicious cheeses… which I’m told is called “country cheese”).

The Palta Fuerte (the palta fuerte is too delicate and buttery to be exported, I’m guessing): It is always avocado season. When buying an avocado, the vendor will ask the day and time that you plan to eat it so that they can sell you one that will be ripe at the precise moment that you plan to enjoy it. “Palta” is the word for avocado in Peruvian Spanish. No one in Peru says “aquacate” even if they may know what you are talking about. At a restaurant, you can ask for a side of palta and it’s totally normal, like asking for butter (but better).

The juice (plus fruit and produce in general): the lemonade (they offer it made with pureed lemongrass at most places), the passion fruit, the orange juice, the blackberry juice. Plus, the pineapples are delicious and the mangoes have a season (like Edwardian socialites). The Edward mango is especially yummy as it has fewer fibers.

The chocolate: Go to El Cacaotal. That is my one must-do for visitors, for newbies, for chocolate haters… now serving hot chocolate and coffee!

The cultural offerings and activities: cooking classes, chocolate tasting lessons, Cordon Bleu courses, surfing classes, dance schools, wine tasting lessons, the circus, theater productions, gyms, yoga, concerts, archery sessions, wine and paint classes, museums, open studio nights, expos, marathons, fairs, farmers markets, and almost any other activity that you can imagine in a metropolis (there is always something to do). Even comicon.

The walkability: they even have ciclovia. Yes, you can walk here. There are sidewalks, parks, and hiking trails.

The neighborhoods: I like that there are actual neighborhoods, farmers markets, barrios, districts, parks, malls (mega ultra modern and local “centro commerciales”), and the coast (its own microcosm).

The positive attitude toward expats/foreigners: Generally, as a foreigner, I don’t feel hate or suspicion from the locals. The Peruvians are,  generally, pro-American culture, and certainly pro-European culture. While most Peruvians don’t approach/talk to foreigners, they also don’t harass them and follow them around (as would happen in other countries where I have lived)… It’s funny, the little things one appreciates. As a foreigner, one can have a life here without being a circus act.

The security: I am completely amazed to see people out jogging, with headphones on, at night. Granted this is along the more patrolled streets but I am still amazed. Utterly. Amazed. Every. Single. Day. Really. Still. Ah-maze-ed.

The view of the ocean: Yes. It’s amazing. Beaches too. If one likes sand.

The public toilets: Almost all grocery stores and malls have public toilets. One has to remember to not flush the toilet paper, but, at least they have toilet paper, although, not always in the actual stall — so get it beforehand.

Delivery: Like in Bogota, almost anything can be delivered.

The taxi prices: $2 for a basic short ride of a few miles. Sometimes $7 for an hour’s ride.

Help: there is always someone to carry the groceries, the taxi drivers help with luggage, the doormen help with stuff, and domestic help is a normal part of life here. I’ll write more about that in a separate posting. Aside from the domestic cleaners, there are nannies, gardeners, drivers, porters, dog walkers, DJs, caterers, dishwashers, movers… you name it. I have an “event tech” whom I hire for parties. I may change that title to “event engineer” as engineer seems to be the new generic term for “trained” (I was chatting with a taxi driver who told me that he used to be a “production engineer” — he potted yogurt in a lab. He chose to drive a taxi because the yogurt potting only paid $670 per month, double the minimum wage, but he makes double that as a taxi driver, even though he works double the hours. But, at least, he is his own boss).

The prices for dental care: as with most things, one can pay lots of money for dental care, but one can also get good dental care for $17 (cleaning and checkup). But, if one wants to pay $170, one can. Many of the dentists have trained in other countries and their certifications in those countries may not be valid here.

The prices in general: from picture framing to groceries, to clothing alterations, to the above mentioned items.

And, did I mention the palta?

Chicharron – Chicken Fried

On a Friday morning, or actually any morning, I hear the delightful anticipation as Limenos get ready for “chicharron “day. Chicharron translates to pork skin or crackling. In Peru, a “pan chicharron” is a sandwich, but with more than just crackling, as it actually is a “pork roast sandwich”. The sandwich is a fresh white bun with slices of pork roast including the crackling, deep fried sweet potato slices, and “sarza criolla” and spicy mayonnaise. “Sarza criolla” is “salsa criolla” or “creole sauce” which in Peru is thinly sliced red onion dressed in lime juice. So not a sauce at all! But it is a “dressing” for the sandwich. The spicy mayonnaise is made from a thin mayonnaise (more like a salad dressing in consistency than a spreadable mayonnaise) mixed with a Peruvian chili sauce (or pureed chilis).

“Chicharron” is also used to refer to anything that is batter fried. In the U.S., dishes are often called “chicken fried” when referring to batter fried as in “chicken fried steak” In Peru, “chicharron de pescado” or “fish pork cracklin” is batter fried fish. Anything can be a “chicharron” but when not pork, it’s usually used about fish. The trend at many restaurants is to top off a ceviche or leche de tigre with a few pieces of “fish crackling.” Or one can simply order the “fish crackling” on their own (as in the photo from La Leche, where they serve the fish crackling with fried yucca, making it “fish ‘n chips”).

Best Fries in Lima

The best fries in Lima? Many restaurants take pride in their fries, especially in using “native” species, which is odd as they are all native (Peru is the origin of the potato). But, more to the point, restaurants are branching out instead of just using the usual yellow potato. The common Peruvian yellow potato is small and is not well suited to fries. This makes the efforts of Juicy Lucy and Bao more impressive. Another fashionable potato these days is the Huayro. Most places make good fries as fries are an integral part of two of the most popular dishes: lomo saltado and salchipapas.

Here are a few of the places that I recommend:

Osso: Yes, I think they might be the best. They are made from large yellow potatoes. The fries are big, hot, crunchy, hard, floury, yellow like out of crayon box, and screaming for mushroom sauce!

Quisso: The fries are slim like that place with the arches. The fries are fresh cut like in Five Guys. They use the Huayro potato. When the potato is fresh cut and dropped in the fryer, the liquid escapes like firecracker champagne bubbles all along the surface of the fries. Bonus is that these fries are then covered in cheese.

Bao?: small wedges of round Peruvian yellow potatoes fried hard to give them that oven roasted feel.

Cafe A Bistro: I’m told that this places does great fries. Possibly one of the most charming things about this cafe is that it it located next to a gas station.

Merito: They make yuca fries. The yuca/cassava is a root but if soaked ahead of time, it makes a great fry. The ones are Merito are enormous.

Chocolate Chakra Ceremony

With the annual Peruvian chocolate expo, Salon de Cacao y Chocolate, coming up July 11-14, I’m reminded of a “first” I had in the Peruvian gourmet chocolate store, El Cacaotal, last year. One day, while in the store, I got chatting with a Danish tourist. She was in El Cacaotal to buy chocolate for a “chocolate ceremony.” Apparently, in Denmark, there are people who get together to drink hot chocolate and open their “chocolate” chakra. It can be super dark in Denmark in the winter, so getting together to drink hot chocolate sounds like a good idea.

The Salon de Cacao can be overwhelming. One should be prepared that one can get “out-chocolated” — at some point, one just needs a break from sampling chocolate. I think I reached the limit at about 20 last year. Wonder what it will be this year…

Delivery in Lima

Like the famous cats (“if I fits; I sits”), if it fits on the back of a bicycle or motorcycle, then it can be delivered. The biggest delivery services in Lima are UberEats, Rappi, and Glovo. But, it seems like everyone has a delivery system, including some of the vendors at the local markets (and as in the photo, a mystery). The major delivery services charge a small fee for delivery, either fixed (Glovo charges 5 soles) per delivery or variable depending on distance (Rappi), and loyalty programs (30 soles unlimited per month). It is also possible to pay via credit card but some of the apps do not accept non-Peruvian credit cards. [An aside: I use cash only and give a tip, so one day, it was with some surprise that I found my purchasing blocked because I “owed” two cents. This must have been a typo, but, I still had to email for several days with the customer service center (that’s when I found out that Glovo is a Spanish company). They did erase my two cent debt, but this glitch in their system lost them a regular customer for a month.]

It is not just restaurant food that can be delivered. One can also buy groceries and other items. After the day in Wong when I saw that Rappi had their own shoppers and a dedicated cashier, I started using Rappi for heavy deliveries (after I learned that 10 pounds is the weight limit for a Rappi delivery). The apps also have features where the client can repeat a previous purchase making it much easier to find that pepperoni pizza (Antica has the closest to U.S. style pepperoni — not the pizza, but the pepperoni).

For a person with no car, it’s worth using delivery service rather than spending the money on a taxi. That said, delivery time is usually 40-60 minutes but it is also possible to make appointment times for delivery (even up to several days in advance). I have heard horror stories of people waiting for hours for a pizza, but haven’t had too many of these experiences myself. More annoying to me is when the product is not available and this then leads to “communication” about replacement products.

While many drivers find the armies of Rappi and Glovo deliverers annoying, one of the positive outcomes is that many of the housebound (I heard about a widow who now uses delivery instead of venturing out in traffic), have the commercial world at their fingertips. Home access is not new to Lima, as the bakers, knife sharpeners, and others have been making their rounds since the invention of the bicycle. Probably longer. The white carts contain baked goods.

On a funny note (or “first world problem” category), because many of the delivery boxes are carried as backpacks, often the food will have slid down to one side (like the aforementioned pepperoni, which I have found all bunched up with the cheese in one corner of the pizza, making a get-away over the crust).

 

Where to Slurp Ramen in Lima

Ramen is more than just instant. It’s gourmet too. In the previous year, I went hunting for gourmet ramen in Lima… A Nikkei food festival is happening this weekend in Lima so you could go hunting as well. Below is what I found on my search:

Tokio Ramen: Probably the best in Lima. It’s all by itself over in Jesus Maria. **** update October 19, 2019**** Tokio Ramen has opened a new location in Miraflores: Calle Coronel Inclán 235.

Noruto: Was a reliable go-to place for my Nikkei friend (Nikkei refers to the Japanese restaurants as well as the Japanese-Peruvians).

Kaikan: the ramen was actually better than at Norutu, even though the restaurant is part of the same chain.

Takuenn. Tried sushi. Soup not a thing.

Maido: this is often the best restaurant in South America (according to 50 Best Restaurants) but it is Japanese fusion so they also have ramen. It is served with a large rustic ladle, but I didn’t think much of the soup.

Tzuru: I can’t recall so I think it says it all.

Cosme: When I saw the ramen on the menu, I had to order it. It was not good. I ate the pork belly but that was it. When I didn’t eat it the rest, the staff took the dish off my bill even though I didn’t ask them to.

Korean restaurants: The Korean restaurants have ramen as well. I’m guessing that it is also made from instant noodles. The Koreans make a popular version of instant spicy ramen.

Happy slurping!

Mex Tex-Mex Rex in Lima

c-_48JtHj6YPF4O0yyJB8VCgeDCscvwItQ-lj1ynpFeSfd3mG-ViE08sMrsrS06uHfhuWguglBz9dLSuPaMDff3i3HFtIpDj6yeY4fu8tXU5aU-LtiRD43mHa8geBMNn8_25nN3n9TsTeeSohLe3aSp3d7BRn38rTqKBJi6lClsPoP-Ln3RQhL37jaB2MSw_VRvdWXl23KgnmJRjDgaRUZNnGoZtcQaIn the eight years that I’ve been writing this blog, one of the prevailing questions I receive is, “Where is the best Mexican/burrito/taco place in town?” To quote the Princess Bride, I will not get involved in a land war in Asia by discussing the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex and will leave that for others to parry. Instead, unless you can go to Mexico, let’s sally forth to my roundup of “Mexican” in Lima.

Los Meros Meros, Tacos Mexicanos, Jirón Peña Rivera # 179-A, Surco: This place feels like a hole-in-the-wall because it sort of is. The male owner speaks with a Mexican accent so for those who take this as an indicator of authenticity, there’s that. The photo montage at the top is from here.

Frida, Calle Gral Mendiburu 793, Miraflores: Elegant and large, this is a proper sit down place over in the west end of Miraflores near La Mar. People love the Baja California shrimp taco.

_tyvONoQw0wvwscb0jyzWmRNVife1rOI-Tyx5-HrA61IIFEB-vPt_IYGmKNIjHqxXcS-4Grv-bu3K_46XjP_9m6azQR7WXCpbmb8DxaDBQHJjdWxG_eTbVqY8GnukYzaJgriL13c4HHXjKLbo45FvL7dUYFxQyWc_erHc5s07Yt-rIs73A9QEGZQJDaG3rl9FfOzxo1zXxH92jxjMfr-UeZJp_WIy5FEl Mexicano, Calle Manuel Bonilla 248, Miraflores: Located down an off-street from Parque Kennedy (with a new location about to open on Benavides out in Surco), this restaurant is well geared to tourists with its English speaking waitstaff and all you can eat and drink options (on the menu, they ask you not to go out and throw up…)

The Burrito Bar, Av. Almte. Miguel Grau 113, Barranco: It’s in Barranco and quite popular with those who miss burritos from the U.S.

Chinga Tu Taco, Av. Mariscal La Mar 1300, Miraflores (plus other locations): A casual offering from the owner of Frida.

JV3KmSdFLZ6uBvV54XWE6wN7n-bJ9rwhaORzpAQJnJCaib35j1hUV29jzLS7DrduKZqQ0pTauYtURlMow9PRx_QKWEyYoFrlR2Ctug1ATxC1c1PPxm_h6kvuSsQM2UOZGYnqSs0kpqFTy_IBDPgl9Tsiw_Tt-o5p8YfFTbvhyginpvBHWvD3D2q_F-QsOoOihVq8otyeZbg4CmYTmTjx5yV5x_rH9WlAnd for those who miss Chipotle… you could always try Picogallo. I’m told it’s the closest to Chipotle that you will find here.

But, frankly, these days, most places in Lima seem to offer tacos, nachos, burritos, or wraps. But probably not what you miss from your hometown.

Just a thought: As this week is Easter Week or “Semana Santa” (holy week) in Peru, we’ll see what is open…

10 Best Burgers in Lima

*******Update October 19, 2019****** Since Peruvians love hamburgers, it’s hard to pick the best, since there are so many burgers to try… But, for the fun of it, I will. At most places, the meat patty is about 250 grams. Peruvians like a meaty burger. Not thin patties.

1. Don Doh: Given that one of the co-owners is the butcher who runs Osso, I’d expect the burger to be good. The black bun is slightly chewy and moist due to the squid ink that makes it black. Inside the burger is a good 200 grams and made with chopped kimchi.

eOuAOrXFdlc-4jKO1bsCulBcoIO8r1bTGDSBk5tZXMQa3qWuC_wy1xnBE3Nl69pvYZ_IM4Y244665Tm-dCl1cZz5oa0gqoSCrn575220GTIsm_viYgKD4PB1Lcu9WrW4cBMJcqIe-0oMR65EG6izFCPSLlct9MGiS-zCpbTYZAoRqdrurCFXDS2T0szn-hBztf1DS3taNW6D2d1LVvhW-AlJOlGJcvk2. Osso: It’s a steak house so they should have a good burger. The burger is actually a chopped steak burger. It’s meaty. But, the fries are what makes me keep coming back.

3. Sushi Pop: Thin and made from Angus beef. The patties are more like Five Guys in the U.S. As you can see below, it’s hard to find the patties under the cheese, sauce, and fried onion… but the meat was good even if it was hard to find. Next time I’ll get it without the sauce. Sushi Pop serves the burger on a “bao” or steamed bun.

7in9K6JkiL6u3bt7r7cJQouG4EaFCGFXpfrEn79uYpEMUV8FoRPJeFPBpX42AcLxR7td1EhD0IX7sAwcMfd5pA1SfPdWqoyWQixj2134BrL-Pla3oDtXfMpXWAEOx7Jr-1Z41bKlSX2v_JOZSEQXvuS1O-isabMwP_z971mE5D8xdCYFANAp58cSCsy__WHSMcPZ6u-mn2sNYHAGAvE7wVCexLU2Kso4. Cosme: The burger is good.It’s just another secret thing about Cosme.

5. Papachos: They no longer have a Wagyu or Kobe. The “luxury” Angus burger is a solid burger.  I’m told that many think that the burgers are too salty. I didn’t think so.

6. Juicy Lucy: This burger isn’t that large but it’s a solid tasting burger. The fries are local round potatoes. (This chain is from the same owner of Carnal so at Carnal you can get the sinfully delicious version of the juicy lucy.)

7. Bon Beef: The burger is a burger much like at Fridays or Chilis. Bon Beef is that sort of place.

8. Django Burgers, Hipolito unanue 101, Miraflores (10th block of Ejercito): good burger. so so fries.

Okay, eight. Then there are these other places that have been recommended to me or that I have been to:

Cafe A Bistro: This gas station bistro was recommended to me for their burger. I thought it was okay until I hit a piece of cartilage (set the grind on a finer size!). Then I stopped.

El Jefe: It’s a burger but I didn’t find the meat tasty and it had that mealy cardboard texture that makes me think of certain fast food chains…

Food Rockers (not Fuddruckers): Located a bit off the beaten track in San Borja, this place has a burger but it’s the black ice cream that’s worth the visit. More about that in another blog posting.

Quisso: First raclette based restaurant in Lima. They melt cheese on everything including an artisanal burger freshly ground for the restaurant.

I have not been to this place but, Hamburguesas Artesanales, Av. Gral. Eugenio Garzón 977, Jesús María, won the 2018 Burger Fest.

Top Ten Restaurants in Lima

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The artichokes at Jeronimo.

Six months ago, I posted my top ten restaurants in Lima (that one was based mainly on the insider knowledge. Shout-out to her!), but as I’ve been going to other restaurants on my own, here is an updated list. It is still based on the following: good food, good service–every time, all the time. I’m highly allergic to places that are so famous that it’s impossible to get a reservation (or use a reservation system that puts me right off my dinner). My list is of places that serve Peruvian and “international standard” food (as in, everyone serves a green salad). So, to the list!

  1. El Pan de la Chola (in the “international standard” cafe/bakery category): Still at number one, despite being a “bakery and sandwich shop.” Consistently delicious. Good service. Every time. They now have salad, and they have wine and beer. Try it for nighttime and enjoy the completely hipster vibe.
  2. Cosmé (also in the “international standard” but they also serve ceviche and other Peruvian dishes, and at night!): Still the unknown place I take out-of-town visitors. Still love the red cabbage salad. Best “secret” place as they seem to do zero publicity. Open at 6 p.m.
  3. Jeronimo (In the “international standard” category and world class): Yes, they use an annoying reservation system, but, go right when they open up at lunch, or sit at the bar. This was the first restaurant opened by Moma Adrianzen, who has since brought Chinga Tu Taco and Frida to the Lima food scene. Jeronimo is a world-class restaurant of the caliber that you would find in London, San Francisco, New York, Melbourne, etc.
  4. BEST NEWCOMER: Mérito (Venezuelan chefs making fusion Venezuelan-Peruvian): Straight in at number four. They have only been open for six months (it’s been an active six months) and their menu is fairly small. Delicious food. Great service. Only one dish was not perfection. The longest yuca fries I’ve seen in a long time. Lots of pea shoots pepper almost all the dishes.
  5. La Preferida (a classic Peruvian-Italian bodega, with game!): It would probably be number one but it’s not open for dinner.
  6. La Mar (Gaston Acurio’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch, till 5 p.m.
  7. El Mercado (Rafael Osterling’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Go at 12:15 p.m. and wait in line. The shrimp mini burger is superb.
  8. La Picanteria (a cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Located in the “some day I’ll be the hip area of town” Surquillo, just two blocks behind the central market.
  9. Osso: (Also, “international standard”, and yes, as event though it’s a steakhouse, they have vegetarian options and not just salad.) The location in San Isidro is so large that you will most likely get a table, even at night.
  10. Osaka (a Peruvian-Japanese “Nikkei” place with a uber-hipster locale in San Isidro): The tuna with foie gras keeps Osaka on the list (although I wish they would turn on the light — the mood is clearly wasted on me).
  11. La Isolina (brought to you by the sons of La Red cevicheria): Serves old-fashion home recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  12. La Red (the cevicheria that started it all): The legend. Only open for lunch.
  13. Taller Razeto (Italian): This would be higher on the list but it is located out in La Punta and it’s a journey to get out there. Still, some of the best pasta and pizza in Greater Lima.
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Foot long yuca fries from Mérito served with a vibrant Andean herb sauce.

And yes, again, I’ve been to Central, Maido, Rafael, and Astrid y Gaston. If you want to try a up-and-comer a la Central, try Statera. It’s the newest offshoot of Noma/Central style food. Foam, baby, foam!

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The edges of the octopus was crunchy like potato chips.

I eat regularly at a few other places, but as the food is not Peruvian (even if they have adapted some of their dishes to accommodate the tastes of Peruvians), I’m not including them on my list. Yet.

  • Dhaasu (zero fusion here, but using local ingredients).
  • Viet
  • Dae Jang Geum
  • JingXian

I’ve also finally activated an Instagram account for M’s Adventures: madventures.me #madventuresdotme

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Lemon merengue pie at Jeronimo. Not just tasty, but also inspired.

 

Secret Eco-Rooms With A View of Gocta Waterfall

fullsizeoutput_1ebNo that you have done Machu Picchu, you want to do the next big thing… Kuelap, the Gocta Waterfall, and so on. Then, the question is where to stay. The secret, secret, place to stay in Gocta… no, not that one… is… Gocta Natura. But only if you like “natural” and bohemian (and no WIFI). This small organization will give you ALL the FEELS. Warm, fuzzy, friendly. Gocta Natura has five cabins in the woods overlooking the waterfall. The price is per person and they employ a gourmet chef. Like I said, ALL. THE. FEELS. You’re gonna love it. If you like rustic, eco-friendly. If not, stay at the famous Gocta Lodge hotel located up the hill behind Gocta Natura. (Note: I have not stayed at either of the Goctas. This is just based on the rave reviews of someone I know who is “in the know”.). To see the waterfall up close, you can ride a horse for part of the hike, as it may be hot and sweaty. Then, once you have seen “the nature,” you get to go back to your peaceful cabin and enjoy gourmet cuisine.

fullsizeoutput_1ecThe closest village to Gocta Waterfall is Cocachimba. It’s got a village green and the village doesn’t seem to consist of more than the buildings surrounding the green. The Gocta Lodge is at the end of the village behind a high wall. To get to the Gocta Natura, you have to walk the path on the way to the waterfall. Cocachimba’s altitude is 4,000 feet above sea level, making this village a better place to sleep if you suffer from altitude sickness. Chachapoyas is at 7,600 feet (2,300 meters) and Kuelap is 10,000 (3,000 meters).

NBQ-zoYyUGKo-Kt9puXvQJLa8hJMnDM0VliVWZtYhqp7DvPBFXproGE46UnE18JMfilsFsfqY7WEt9GhZvu_wnxBSUFu7RY_o9VJLYF_1gZgZPUEf8fFZ3FhxUyTQfLmigOp6tMXuAJPVpiH8UGc9V9MGOnMi4BWRUWSXgmeXs5j4Iiod994erOl0CI7d_A1bUV19uNWUKn4yPVtwNaooyEboBogAbYI liked the drive up to the village of Cocachimba. Amazing views and amazing coffee. All along the road, locals were drying their coffee beans on tarps spread out in front of their houses. At one of the village restaurants, I had a delicious mug of coffee. When I asked what brand they had used, they explained that it was their own coffee, from their own beans, from their own tree. They weren’t showing off.

The photo of the fighting cocks was taken at a spot along the road to Cocachimba that had a spectacular view of Gocta waterfall. When I saw the location of the cages, I wondered why the owner of that house didn’t open a B&B in that location. I would think that tourists are a better source of income… and with fewer feathers?

Where to Eat Seafood in Lima

Recently, I got asked about suggestions for where to eat seafood in Lima.

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Eating seafood is an integral part of life in Lima. And no, it’s not all raw.

First, take the recommended fish of the day — it will be the freshest. Also, remember that salmon is not from Peru (in the highlands, they do have a lake trout which is similar). While they eat a lot of tuna here, it is more in the Japanese “Nikkei” style food, and most recently, in the rise of the Poke! Typical seafood dishes to try here are: ceviche (done in many ways but go with “el classico” — although now they do versions of ceviche with “pork rinds of seafood” = deep fried seafood) and tiradito (carpaccio of fish). The scallops are so tender that they’ll make you go weak at the knees (“conchas a la parmesana” is classic and resounding puts to bed any idea that seafood and cheese aren’t delicious together). Peruvians love soup of all kinds but I find many of them are too fiercely fishy for my palate. Most places will serve fish in various other styles including , “a lo macho” which is when the fish is served with manly red spicy seafood sauce — note: almost nothing in Peru is spicy like in Thailand — it’s just a touch of spice unless you eat one of the chili peppers).

Try some of these restaurants (and keep in mind that most cevicherias close at 5 p.m. or earlier as traditionally fish is only fresh for breakfast or lunch. I’m trying to think of when I’ve seen a Peruvian order ceviche at night). Lastly, Peruvians love franchising so don’t worry that many of these places are chains. I’ve listed the daytime places in relative order of “But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…” to “No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”

“But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…”

El Mercado (considered the best restaurant by many) – international star chef and this place usually ranks on the “50 Best” list. Line up at 12:15 or make a reservation.

La Mar (by Gaston Acurio) – I like this place because it’s got it all. Also good lighting for photos. Go at 12:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. if you don’t want to wait.

El Segundo Muelle (a seafood chain)

El Seniorio de Sulco (old school place that old-time Limenos go to)

Francesco (very old school)

La Red – my favorite old school place – part of the legend in making the Lima food scene so great. Also, they have a good “lomo saltado” for those who don’t eat fish. The sons of the legend opened La Isolina (located in Barranco and open at night) which also has great food, including fish.

La Preferida (this is my secret place for fettucine pasta with a creamy seafood sauce)

 

“No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”

La Picanteria – Internet famous. Good food too. One has to buy the whole fish by weight and then choose two methods of preparation. The inside of the restaurant is not scary but the location of this restaurant is in Surquillo right behind the market, so going there is probably by taxi. If you are the sort of person who visits the market (for photos and to try new fruits), then the restaurant is only two streets away (but hold your buddy’s hand when crossing the street, and look both ways).

La Leche – hidden gem in Surco and San Isidro.

Toke Pez (hole in the wall)

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If you want to eat seafood at night (most restaurants serve fish and seafood but serving ceviche at night is a sign of a modern restaurant catering to foreigners, or moving with the times since there is this thing called refrigeration):

Pescados Capitales – a chain of high-end seafood restaurants

Las Brujas de Cachiche – open late and has everything Peruvian on the menu

Cosme (also one of those secret places not on the “50 Best” lists). Not many fish dishes but they do ceviche, tiradito, and a cooked fish of the day dish.

 

Lastly, eating seafood in Lima may spoil your ability to eat seafood in other places.