Mucilage Never Tasted So Good – Cacao Juice

Cacao juice tastes like nectar. Indeed, the Latin name for cacao is “theobroma” or “food of the gods”.  To learn more, you can read the wikipedia entry of this blog. In Peru, this juice is called “mucilage” which is the technical term for the white pulp that surrounds the beans inside the cacao pods.

I first tried this juice at Kjolle (co-located with Central), Pia Leon’s restaurant. It was a hot summer day and sitting in the tall open sheltered space of Kjolle was a respite from the bleeping traffic outside. While Kjolle makes many other fancy drinks, this unassuming looking drink (it has a watery whitish tinge) was a revelation. It tasted a bit like lychee, mangosteen, or green apples, but had a taste all magically its own.

The other place where I have tried it was at Maido. Their version was in a Gin and Tonic cocktail. I asked if they could make me a mocktail. They did. The presentation was beautiful and their version of this drink was thicker, so more like mucilage, than at Kjolle. People remarked that it would make a good dessert. It was a longer relationship drink as well because of the thickness and richness. They served it with a side visual of theobroma and its cousin the majambo/macambo bean which is whitish in color.

Majambo can also be roasted and eaten. It has a mild nutty flavor. I first tried them at El Cacaotal in Barranco. Since I wrote the blog posting about El Cacaotal two years ago, that store has moved and blossomed. It is a lovely place to just chillax.

On a side note, a friend was planning to make some cacao juice and it made me wonder how ones does that. There is a whole process which can be read about here. As this site mentions, there is already a company that sells packaged cacao juice, so I see it becoming more and more commonplace. Having looked up a recipe on Google, I’m not sure that it entails more than extracting the fruit, maybe blending it for consistency, and then putting through a strainer (this is the method for making juice here in Latin America).

M’s Adventures Lima Edition Nueva Andina Cuisine Tour – 3 Days

Bites to whet your appetite at Statera

Five years ago, I visited Lima for a weekend. My friend and her family, are my experts on Peruvian food and culture. She turned the weekend into a Peruvian food tour. Now that I have lived in Lima for a few years, here are my recommendations for a three-day food tour of Lima. Of course, if you plan your travel here around reservations at Central or Maido, then do that or go to one of the other places on my list of 100 places to try. This list is focused on showing your visitors some of the variety and best of “nueva andina” cuisine.

Must Do

El Cacaotal, Jr. Colina 128A, Barranco: Closed on Sundays. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate at this premiere chocolate “library” of Peruvian fine chocolates.

Dinner (open from 7:30 p.m. except for Cosme that is open from 6 p.m. Reservations are better but not requisite. Merito does not take reservations, show up at 7:20 p.m. and stand in line)
Statera, Av. Mariscal La Mar 463: The former R&D chef at Central, who also worked at Noma, opened his own place. All the inventiveness and intellectual complexity of Central but without the prices and hype.
Cosme, Tudela Y Varela 160-162, San Isidro (the other side of the street is Miraflores): Cozy and delicious.
Jeronimo,
Merito, Jr. 28 De Julio 206, Barranco: Venezuelan chefs who worked at Central = haute cuisine with a Venezuelan influence.
Half a fish at La Picanteria.
Lunch (these cevicherias, like all traditional ceviche places, are only open for lunch and sometimes breakfast)
La Preferida, Calle Julian Arias Aragüez 698, Miraflores: This original location is very local to this upper-middle class neighborhood. No tourists.
La Picanteria, Calle Santa Rosa 388, Surquillo: Internet-famous. Lots of food tours go here. Pick the fish and have it cooked two ways. Family style eating. Also serves non-fish.
Al Toke Pez, Av. Angamos 886, Surquillo: the chef is famous for being a Ph.D. who has chosen to honor his father’s culinary tradition (his father opened Matsuei) by opening a hole-in-the-wall.
Breakfast
El Pan de la Chola, Av. La Mar 918, Miraflores: Still my number one restaurant. This is consistently good food, good service, and world class
Cordanos, Jirón Ancash 202, Cercado de Lima: If you are touristing downtown, this former political moshpit near the main square, still serves atmosphere with good food.
La Isolina, Av. San Martin 101, Barranco: This place is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The owner is the son of Isolina, who opened La Red. La Isolina serves her recipes. The son has now opened Las Reyes in a tribute to his mom and her sisters (as in “the King girls”), all good cooks.
Las Vecinas, Jirón Domeyer 219, Barranco: Just down the street from La Isolina. Gluten-free, vegetarian, healthy, and all those other feel good options. Cute interior too.
Markets
Here is my list of eco-bio-farmers’ markets. If you want to buy the plates that you ate off of at the fancy places, shop at Jallpa Nina or Dedalo.
Ham and cheese with avocado added, at El Pan de la Chola.

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…

El Cacaotal Chocolate Tasting

29356627_10156205236974618_4501804735599032424_n****Updated address on March 21, 2020**** Chocolate tasting class? For as little as 60 soles (20 bucks) or 120 soles (40 bucks), you can learn all about chocolate, where it’s grown in Peru, where it comes from, how to taste it, what it should sound like, snap like, smell like, and so on… but, no fear, the class is not intimidating. AJ is clearly an expert (she really is — see below), but she is so warm and friendly that you hardly feel like you are sitting on a school bench.

497BF684-20B3-4B0E-8416-C67AD88394A6AJ is an American anthropologist who did her graduate degree in chocolate!  Then she opened up a shop to share the knowledge and help Peru’s chocolate field. Her shop is called El Cacaotal (cocoa field) and it’s decorated with dried cacao tree leaves and everything chocolate (or items in support of non-chocolate small entrepreneurs). The shop is located on Jirón Colina 128A in Barranco (two streets west from the Metro grocery store on Grau, down the street from a yellow corner building, and located upstairs next to Puna).

AJ’s chocolate tasting classes can be in English or Spanish and at the end, you will be in situ to buy chocolate! The chocolate is sustainable small batch delicious healthy dark chocolate, but you can ignore that if you want and just enjoy the delicious varieties of chocolate from all over Peru.

FCAF90F4-D7D3-4CD6-A90B-14E910A2AC62I emailed to set up a class for seven of us (she can fit up to ten in a class). Her email is: elcacaotalperu@gmail.com. Make it a thing you do when you visit Lima.

Ou5Ux2uwEyBZfzlMsIPcXoIhM67zsQJTGAB58a-3D31P5deqfMaw2YdHVbgZ76LNTkIHxZDGdKhhCZfGrPHdz18cZDhsJ-LiP_lg-f6-q4XCMAcueWscqwLNmtVTL1pLDbM27jYgtS530sBmBS649cJlmws8YXUgWVcq7ftE7jxoSNnWFeM1V31MU3Read a much more thorough article about her on Living in Peru

I’ll be too busy eating chocolate, because, did I mention that I don’t even really like chocolate? So I’ll be trying to find one that I really do like… And not just the world champion from last year… I’ll give them all a try! Even the (healthy, sigh) spreadable version.


Address: Jirón Colina 128A in Barranco

Email: elcacaotalperu@gmail.com