The last few years have seen Peruvian cuisine garner quite a following on the London foodie scene. I know I’m guilty of being biased but I’m so pleased that this magnificent country is finally piquing the interest of the world especially when it comes to one of my favourite things in life – food! Last weekend, to the excitement of my mum (and myself!), I was invited along to a very special event at LIMA Floral for the first in a series of collaborative events entitled “LIMA Presents”, to showcase the finest in Peruvian cuisine.
To mark this special occasion, Peruvian Chef Virgilio Martínez, owner of Central (the No.1 Restaurant in South America) and one of the prioprietors of LIMA London, was in town to host a collaborative lunch with esteemed fellow Peruvian chef, Erik Ramirez from Llama Inn in Brooklyn.
Walking through the doors last Sunday, the buzz amongst the staff was palpable. The restaurant was light and bright and the tables were beautifully laid out, in preparation for the gastronomic food journey ahead.
Mr O’T and I were greeted with a traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour welcome – the best kind of welcome if you ask me 😉.
If you’re yet to try a Pisco Sour then the next time you find yourself in a Peruvian bar or restaurant, give one a try. Made from lemon juice, egg white, Pisco and syrup, its the perfect blend of a sweet and sour cocktail. They’re not for the faint hearted though, so remember not to get too carried away if you have work the next day!
Before lunch was served, I descended down to the basement to scope out BAJO, LIMA’s Pisco bar. As luck would have it, I timed my visit perfectly to witness the cocktail making first hand.
After thanking the lovely bartender for being the perfect model 😉, I headed back up the stairs ready to experience the first dish of the afternoon, Japanese Bream tiradito. This wasn’t any old tiradito, no no. This was the most unique and exquisite tiradito I’ve tasted yet. Soaked in gooseberry, ginger, huacatay and poppy seed, this dish which was created by Erik, made for the most wonderful explosion of flavours.
The next dish on the menu was a lobster creation by Virgilio. Blended with cacao mucilage and squid, this dish had textures and flavours too complex to do justice to but what I will say, is that it was incredibly tasty and the most memorable yet unique Peruvian dish I’ve sampled to date.
The next plate to be served was perhaps the most surprising. Visually, I was a little underwhelmed but my goodness did I eat my words at first bite! A concoction of quinoa, sweet banana, bacon, avocado and cashew salad, the depth of flavours were wonderful.
Course number four was a soup like blend of warm scallops, vegetable roots and citrus. The scallops quite literally melted at first bite and whilst the flavours packed quite a punch, they also complimented each other well.
I love expecting the unexpected and I certainly experienced this with “Diversity of corn”, which was the next dish we savoured. A mix of different corn varieties, this crisp like dish which was accompanied by a sweet honey sauce, was so flavoursome, that I could have carried on snacking away at these bite sized pieces all afternoon.
The final savoury dish we enjoyed was short rib. The short rib was perfectly cooked but it was the combination of peas, cilantro and chicha de jora that really made this dish stand out.
Dessert was simple yet exquisite and consisted of cacao from Piura (a region in Peru), encased in an avocado.
It took a few attempts of me hitting my spoon to split the avocado open and unfortunately for me, my green Zara dress bore the brunt of my culinary efforts. The remnants of avocado mousse splattered all down the front of my dress but it was worth it and I would happily sacrifice fashion for desserts like this any day 😊.
Virgilio and Erik spent most of their time in the kitchen but they did also make an effort to chat to all the diners too which was lovely.
Our experience at ‘LIMA Presents’ was nothing short of fantastic. I can honestly say that Peruvian cuisine doesn’t get better than this. Not one dish fell short of the high standards set by both of these incredibly talented chefs. The only difficult decision as a guest, was picking a favourite dish!
At the end of my meal, I was lucky enough to spend a few a minutes with both Virgilio and Erik and I must say, they are two of the humblest and modest chefs you could ever wish to meet – British chefs like Gordan Ramsay really could learn a thing or two both in and out of the kitchen!
Have you every tasted Peruvian cuisine before? Do you have a favourite dish?
Maggie O xox
Please note that my dining experience at LIMA Presents was complimentary. All opinions are my own and were in no way influenced by my green dress incident 😉.