Central - Lima, Peru

Dinner - Friday, May 9, 2014

Rarely, a meal changes the way you think about food. For me, the most recent place that has succeeded in this regard was Saison (ca. 2011). And now, Virgilio Martinez has done it. This was a truly fantastic meal - every aspect carefully considered, every bite delicious. Central was, far and away, the best meal we had in Peru.

Like many of the modern high-end kitchens, Central has a research team - here, it is the Mater Iniciativa (read their blog/field notes here), devoted to rediscovering the ingredients of Peru and "linking the cultural and biological diversity of Peru with the culinary experience". It is the Mater's discoveries that drive Martinez's sophisticated, thoughtful cuisine. Tonight, the theme of our menu was Elevations - each dish a slice of Peru's many ecosystems, spanning the waters of the Pacific coast to the snow-capped Andean peaks.

Virú at Astrid & Gastón - Lima, Peru

Lunch - Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of Astrid & Gastón - the first child in what is now a globe-spanning empire. The restaurant, formerly situtated in Lima's Miraflores neighborhood, recently completed a move to the Casa Moreyra, a grand 300-year old house in the neighbouring (and equally upscale) San Isidro district.

To mark this new beginning, Virú is the theme of the restaurant's first tasting menu at Casa Moreyra - a journey through the five macroclimates of Peru in 26 courses. Gastón Acurio was overseeing the kitchen on this day - I gather this is fairly rare, and primarily due to the temporary absence of Diego Munoz.

ámaz - Lima, Peru

Dinner - Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is a pretty big deal in Lima. Trained in the USA and Europe in the 90s, Schiaffino returned to Peru in 2002. Two years later, he opened Malabar, which has received a fair amount of acclaim in the past few years. Known as a champion of "jungle cuisine", his newest venture is ámaz, where he has gone all-in with the ingredients from the Amazon. Not since our meal at Attica 2 years ago have I encountered so many new ingredients - I can readily say that Amazonian flora are much more palatable than their Australian counterparts. (NB: as it turns out, this meal was just the beginning of a week full of new discoveries - South America has so much untapped potential).