KRAVE restaurant's culinary trip to Peru
Peru has been on my bucket list for years. Visiting Machu Picchu, taking a photo with an Alpaca, watching Peruvian weavers dye large quantities of yarn and weave each beautiful piece with precision and challenging my palate and my stomach with local cuisine will all be part of my Peru experience. What many people may not know is that Peru was named “World’s Leading Culinary Destination” for the sixth year in a row by the World Travel Awards. Peru beat the big guns, China, Italy and Spain to take home the title. Lima is where all the action is with fantastic fine dining with several styles of local cuisine to choose from. Nikkei, a Japanese and Peruvian fusion which dates back to the 19th century when there was an influx of Japanese immigrants finding their new home in Peru, Criollo, which is home cooked, comfort food style cooking, and of course the ever so popular ceviche just to name a few.
I don’t know when I’ll make it to Peru so I was pretty excited when KRAVE invited a few of us to enjoy their second Peruvian Food Festival. World Class chef Chef Aristoteles Brena Jaime from the Peruvian restaurant Nazca 21, located in Panama, curated the menu for the week which was on everybody and their tanty’s social media.
I visited KRAVE on Friday night for the Pre Fixe menu. For my first beverage I had a Machu Picchu. Pisco, Amaretto liqueur, Passion Puree, lime juice and bitters which was refreshing, not too sweet with the perfect amount of tart. Pisco is a white brandy from Peru made from distilled fermented grape juice which I have now become friends with. I’ll be adding it to my home bar when I visit Peru.
My second drink was an off the menu item. All I can tell you is that it tasted like wild, uninhibited love ( you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about).
I took a sip of my friend’s Passion fruit pisco sour and was mind blown by how they incorporated one ingredient in particular, egg whites. The Passion Fruit Pisco Sour is considered as Peru’s flagship cocktail. The blended drink contains lime juice, simple syrup, ice, bitters, my new friend Pisco and egg whites which give the cocktail a smooth finish and a beautiful white cap. Fawncy!
Bread service was cheese bread and a Rosemary bread which was served with an infused red bell pepper butter. The Parse plat was great but the Rosemary bread was divine. Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs. Elegant, fragrant and charming, Rosemary is the Princess Diana of herbs and must be respected.
I took a risk with my appetizer. I am one of the 20 Trinidadians out of 1.3 million people and those living abroad who do not like Zaboca (avocado). The Causa Limena is a seasoned mashed potato terrine, stuffed with shrimp or chicken and avocado. Please note the thick layer of avocado in the photo. Surprisingly enough it was delicious, flavourful and had an interesting spicy kick to it. A plate of (active) volcano rolls were ordered for the table. They were amazing, and I’m sure had a bit of a Peruvian Nikkei twist, THE END.
We were given the option to try one of the dishes off of the festival’s lobster menu, Indecisive Ida (me) stared at the menu for a good 10 minutes unable to choose from the list of delectable dishes. KRAVE’s Belgian Executive Chef, Dominique Beens came to the rescue and advised that I choose the Lobster Caucau with garlic mashed potatoes and zucchini. It was also recommended that I order the whole lobster and not the half. I must say ordering a whole lobster for one person to eat was a toss up between being one of my best and worst decisions in life. Of course I couldn’t eat the whole thing (although I started off with the big belly energy stating “go big or go home”) but it turned out to be awesome breakfast leftovers.
The Lobster Caucau was warm in flavour, very comforting and tasted like home with it’s familiar cumin and turmeric spices. The beans, potatoes and meat of Cau Cau dishes are usually flavoured with red onions, Peru’s yellow aji pepper paste, cumin and turmeric. Cau Cau originated from the African slaves that were brought to Peru by the Spanish. Some even say that the African slaves were the Creole culinary pioneers of Peru since they were able to create delicious dishes from very little (sounds so familiar). Cau cau is one of the many Peruvian-Creole dishes served throughout Peru.
After trying my best to finish half of the lobster which was the length of half of my arm, I placed my dessert order, Suspiro Limeño. This dessert originated in Lima and is a staple in most restaurants. The custard style dessert is made with Manjar, Peru’s version of Dulce de Leche so it’s quite sweet. To be honest it wasn’t my favourite part of the meal but it did indulge my end of meal sweet tooth. The presentation of the dessert was beautiful and paired with a spoonful of Dulce de Leche ice cream and a bite size piece of what I think was a passion fruit or citrus flavoured cake.
KRAVE has been taking people on first class culinary journeys for quite some time by introducing them to unique cuisines without having to plan or book a trip. I strongly urge that you visit them when they have their next themed week. Trust me on this one, your tastebuds will thank you.