Tag Archive: Huaca Pucllana Lima Peru


Culinary Lima

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

Lima boasts three of the world’s Top 100 restaurants, and for good reason.

Top chefs have discovered Perú’s wide and distinctive selection of native fruits and vegetables, and fresh seafood, and are whipping up stunning menus with them.

During my 13 days in Perú, I’ve run already run across some tasty and intriguing local delicacies, first among which is the ubiquitous quinoa, which appears in everything from soups and salads to crusted meats and even beer.

I’ve also had a chance to try alpaca steak, Andes mountain trout, and the refreshing chicha morada beverage.

Today, though, is a foodie fantasy that takes us through the markets and kitchens of Lima to see, make, and taste some of their most popular offerings.

The tour is operated by the Lima Gourmet Company, and its foodie tour groups are restricted size to no more than eight persons in order to afford ample time to chat with vendors and chefs.

Our Lima Gourmet guide for the day is David Candia, who’s also studying to be a sommelier

 

Latte masterpiece at Cafe Bisetti, Lima, Peru

Latte masterpiece at Cafe Bisetti, Lima, Peru

The day begins with coffee at Cafe Bisetti back in the Barranco District.

 

The dining room is done in a sleek Euro style, but there’s a quaint Spanish colonial courtyard out back, and on the way to it we pass the room where nothing but organic coffee beans are being hand-sorted.

 

The latte looks almost too good to drink.

 

This morning we’re drinking breakfast nearby at La Bodega Verde, which is well known for its lúcuma smoothies and shakes.  They may look like plain vanilla, but the flavor is a delicate blend often described as maple +sweet potato.

This nectar comes from Perú’s native lúcuma fruit, also known by the English name “eggfruit” because its flesh resembles a hard-boiled egg yolk in texture and color.  Its use in Perú pre-dates the Incas, and is today is so popular that Starbucks has added it to the menu here.  It turns out that lúcuma is not just about a great taste.  It also packs high levels of B-vitamins and carotene.

The San Ysidro Market is where the pickiest of chefs go each morning for the best and freshest  produce and seafood.

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

 

David walks us first through the stalls of the produce vendors, introducing us to tropical fruits and vegetables and giving us an opportunity to taste each one.

Lima Gourmet Company's guide David Candia

Lima Gourmet Company’s guide David Candia

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

Next we visit the fishmonger, who shows us fresh fish and shellfish, explaining what to look for in the best seafood.   A photo on the back wall of his stall shows him at the same work more than twenty years ago.

Fishmonger, San Ysidro Market, Lima. Peru

Fishmonger, San Ysidro Market, Lima. Peru

Scallops at the San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

Scallops at the San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

Fresh fish and shrimp, San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

Fresh fish and shrimp, San Ysidro Market, Lima, Peru

 

We arrive at the Embarcadero 41 restaurant well before the lunch so that the staff can give full attention to explaining and demonstrating their preparations, then guiding foodies through a hands-on preparation of their own.

Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

 

 

First we stop by the bar and the restaurant’s cocktail artist for the secrets if Peru’s Pisco Sour.

 

 

Pisco is a grape brandy that reminds me a lot of grappa, but it’s made without the skin of the grape and packs a seductively smooth the punch.

 

 

We taste some aged and infused varieties of pisco, but it’s the crystal clear version that’s the star ingredient in Perú’s national drink, the Pisco Sour, which combines pisco, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white, shaken and chilled into a frothy concoction.

Making cevich at Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

Making cevich at Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

 

 

The star attraction at Embarcadero 41, though, is the ceviche.

 

This restaurant is so fanatic about the using the freshest fish in its ceviche that it closes after lunch rather than serve the morning’s catch for dinner!

 

The chef walks us through the preparation before we get to make our own.

 

 

Ceviceh at Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

Ceviceh at Embarcadero 41, Lima, Peru

 

 

 

I’ve had ceviche all up and down the Pacific coast, and Lima’s ceviche indisputably puts them all to shame.

 

They use only white fish, and it’s served along with Perúvian corn and yam, and garnished with red pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

Huaca Pucclana restaurant and ruins, Lima, Peru

Huaca Pucclana restaurant and ruins, Lima, Peru

 

 

 

Ceviche, though, is only the appetizer.

Today we return to the Huaca Pucclana ruins visited yesterday, but this time to the restaurant of the same name which sits at its doorstep, where the food is as incomparable as the setting.

 

 

Sampler, Huaca Pucclan restaurant, Lima, Peru

Sampler, Huaca Pucclan restaurant, Lima, Peru

The waiter presents us with sampler portions of more items than we could otherwise possibly eat.

It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite from among the entrees (although the Beef Heart may have been the first among equals!).

 

Pictured here, they are – clockwise from top left:

  • Causa Rolls, made of yellow mashed potato stuffed with avocado and salmon.
  • Beef heart with fried corn.
  • Broiled scallops with parmesan cheese and lemon butter.
  • Barbecued octopus on native potatoes, fava beans and corn.

 

Selections from Peru's Cumbres microbrewery.

Selections from Peru’s Cumbres microbrewery.

We chat with the sommelier about Perúvian wines, but I can’t resist asking about craft beers, and I’m glad I did.

I end up ordering one of each and inviting everyone at the table to join me in a beer tasting.

Two uniquely Perúvian twists on the brew were most memorable.  One is made from toasted quinoa, and the other is infused with the flavor of the chicha-morada which I had a chance to try in Ollantaytambo.

 

Dessert sampler, Huaca Pucclana, Lima, Peru

Dessert sampler, Huaca Pucclana, Lima, Peru

 

 

 

The dessert samplers are served up in shotglasses as “dessert shooters,” but if the portions were modest, the tastes were not.

 

 

 

Pictured here, they are, from left to right:

  • Warm rice pudding mille feuille and algarrobina ice cream.
  • Lucuma mousse, crunchy quinoa, double chocolate.
  • Suspiro de Limeña with port, cookies, and meringue.
  • “Doña Pepa” cheesecake with sweet molasses and honey

 

It’s been a food-filled day that may have trashed any appetite for dinner, but for anyone who experiences cravings later, here are four restaurants worth considering (see TripAdvisor for ratings and details):

  • Astrid y Gaston (plan ahead, the reservation wait list here is weeks long!)

 

Beer afficionados can find more on Peru’s craft brewers here:

  • Sierra Andina is another Perúvian microbrewery that produces a good product in more traditional flavor profiles.

 

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Historic Lima

Evidence of pre-Inca cultures beneath Lima was unknown to Francisco Pizarro when he selected it as the capital of the Spanish viceroyalty of Perú, and the new capital barely survived its first year.

Archbishop's Palace, Plaza Mayor, Lima, Peru

Archbishop’s Palace, Plaza Mayor, Lima, Perú

In 1536, the army of Inca Emperor Manco II nearly wiped the city from the map during his 8-year insurrection.

Plaza Mayor, Lima, Peru

Plaza Mayor, Lima, Perú

 

The Plaza Mayor, focal point of is Lima’s Centro Historico, is one of Peru’s dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites.

It’s bordered by buildings constructed in the Spanish colonial style that include the Presidential Palace and Lima’s central Cathedral.

Government Palace, Peru's White House, on the Plaza Mayor, Lima

Government Palace, Perú’s White House, on the Plaza Mayor

 

Pizarro ordered the first Palace built shortly after the Conquest in 1535.

 

As elsewhere in Perú, the Spaniards placed it on the site of an Indian burial ground and shrine.

 

The Palace and its successors were the residence of Spanish Viceroys for nearly three hundred years, and later as independent Perú’s seat of government.

 

The current structure, built in the French Baroque style, was constructed in 1921.

 

Basilica Cathedral of Lima, Plaza Mayor

Basilica Cathedral of Lima, Plaza Mayor

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is the third church erected on its site.

Pizarro ordered the first one built in 1541, and it was constructed of wood and adobe.

He was assassinated within a year and buried within the Cathedral’s walls in an unmarked grave that went unidentified for nearly two hundred fifty years.

The Cathedral has been the seat of the Lima Archdiocese since 1546.

It contains more than a dozen chapels, and has survived partial destruction by at least three major earthquakes, most recently in 1940.

Hand-carved lattice work on the Archbishop's Palace

Hand-carved lattice work on the Archbishop’s Palace

Ornate balconies of hand-carved wood, a signature feature of Lima’s colonial architecture, are prominently featured on Plaza buildings, most notably on the Archbishop’s Palace.

The balconies’ design, of Moorish origin, reflects the contribution of yet another influence on Peru’s melting pot culture.

The Convento de San Francisco is only a two block walk from the Plaza Mayor, but the route passes by a picturesque cafe and bar that’s too irresistible to pass up.

Bar Cordano is one of many neightborhood bistros in Lima's Centro Historio

Bar Cordano is one of many neightborhood bistros in Lima’s Centro Historio

A peak inside of the Bar Cordano, Lima Centro Historico

A peak inside of the Bar Cordano, Lima Centro Historico

 

Front facade of the San Franciso Convent, Lima, Peru

Front facade of the San Franciso Convent, Lima, Perú

Two spectacular features of the Convento de San Francisco make it a must-see, and since interior photography is prohibited, it can only be experienced in the flesh.

 

One is a staircase cupola fashioned from Nicaraguan cedar in exquisite, Moorish-inspired patterns.

 

San Francisco Convent, Lima, Peru

San Francisco Convent, Lima, Peru

 

The other is its ossuary, an extensive catacomb from which archeologists have exhumed for display the bones of tens of thousands buried within the convent over the centuries.

Between the Centro Historico and Miraflores, foundations deeply dug for Lima’s new high rises have revealed ruins and relics of pre-Inca culture.

Pre-Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana, Lima, Peru

Pre-Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana, Lima, Peru

The Huaca Pucllana is a great adobe and clay pyramid of seven staggered platforms.

It first appears out of the surrounding mid-rises as a dusty mound enclosed by chain link fence and marked by the trails of dirt bikers who once used the site.

It covers an area nearly three city blocks wide and five long.  Excavation is ongoing.

Its name – which comes from Quechua word “pucllay,” meaning “game” – translates as “a place for ritual games.”

Huaca Pucllana was a major ceremonial and administrative center of the Lima Culture, a coastal society that flourished at the same time that Europe was descending into the Middle Ages.

One part of the complex contains pits where offerings of fish and other marine life were once made to curry the favor of the gods.

The other was an administrative area which contains adobe structures among which some walls are still standing.

Spaces between the bricks of Huaca Pucllana allow the structure to stretch during earthquakes

Spaces between the bricks of Huaca Pucllana allow the structure to stretch during earthquakes

Also uncovered here are relics of the earlier Wari Culture, including the first of their tombs to be discovered completely intact.

Its three burial shrouds held the remains of three adults – one of high station – and those of a sacrificed child.

With only two days of this trip remaining, I’ve begun searching for the threads that run through all that I’ve seen in Perú.

One of  the headlines is this:  A Perú visit which ends with Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas is like seeing the ruins of ancient Rome without its Greek predecessors or the European cultures subsequently built upon it.

Tomorrow’s plan is to visit Lima’s Barranco District, a Bohemian enclave tucked against the Pacific just south of Miraflores.  Read on