Sunday, August 1, 2010

Puro Peru

We are travelling to Peru in November for both a vacation and a volunteer assignment similar to what we have done in Brazil in the past. Friends from work suggested that we sample some Peruvian food in advance of our travels. The wife of one coworker is from Lima and another coworker has travelled in Peru and loves the cuisine. They compiled a list of their favorite local Peruvian restaurants for us to explore.So Saturday night we chose one at random for our first Peruvian dining adventure and headed to Puro Peru in Sunnyvale.

Our waitress recommended we start with traditional Peruvian drinks. I chose chica morada, a purple corn juice, because it sounded unlike anything I had ever tasted. Larry chose maracuya, passion fruit juice, which we often drank in Brazil. The chica morada was quite unusual. It was syrupy and sweet, rather like corn flavored Kool-Aid. They brought us a corn snack, very salty and crunchy, similar to unpopped popcorn except not so hard that it would break your teeth. It was pretty tasty and I thought it improved the flavor of the corn beverage.

For our first course, we ordered choros a la chalaca – mussels with red onion, cilantro and lime. Larry had never eaten mussels before, so this was a leap for him. We both enjoyed this appetizer. The tart combination of lime, red onion and cilantro was so good, I also ate most of the salad greens that came with the mussels, probably intended for decoration.

Larry ordered jalea which is fried shrimp, octopus, calamari, scallops and yucca with salsa criolla. The salsa criolla is a traditional Peruvian condiment, very simple, with a lot of punch. It consists of red onion, lime juice, cilantro and peppers. I will definitely try this one at home. So easy and SO good if you like spicy flavors.

At the suggestion of my friend, I ordered lomo saltado – beef with onion, peppers, tomatoes and French fries in a soy sauce. I found the French fries in the mixture a little strange, but that’s the point of trying new dishes from other cultures. I want to know what people eat in other parts of the world. Except for the organ meats. I don’t really want to try those.

We were also served an excellent spicy dipping sauce called rocoto. This is another traditional sauce that is served with any meal for Peruvians who like to add some spice and heat to their food. And since we do, too, I’ve looked up a recipe for this as well.

The food was good and the restaurant staff was so friendly and accommodating that if our experience at Puro Peru was an indication of what lies ahead, our trip to Peru will be an outstanding adventure.

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