"Peruvians are obsessed with soccer and ceviche," says Lima born chef and food truck owner Carlos Ramirez-Roldan. He's an enthusiast proponent of Peruvian food and when we discovered we were both in Lima at the same time, we decided that we just had to meet up.
You may know Carlos from his Mr Papa food trucks in Canberra. I had first tried their offerings in 2015 and was instantly smitten with their chicharrones roll, made with the softest pork, sweet potatoes and an abundance of sauces (the Peruvian love of sauce is perhaps why I love the food there so much).
In 2010 he arrived in Australia with his and his family's background in hospitality. He counts renowned chefs Mitsuharu Tsumura and Virgilio Martinez as friends and every nine months or so he makes his way back to Lima for buying and research missions and to see his family. And these are three of this recommendations for eating in Lima!
El Taller, Lince
French technique with Peruvian ingredients are on show at El Taller, a fabulous patisserie that creates gorgeous macarons, chocolates, personal cakes and large cakes. Carlos takes me to the tiny petit four sized sized store in Lince.
There you can buy elaborate chocolates and stunning cakes like one with a huactacay (black mint) sponge cake, aguaymanto (physalis or cape gooseberry) and lime jelly. The "banana monkey" is delicious with a tart case filled with butterscotch, sauteed banana, rum, chocolate sponge and chocolate ganache.
But whatever you do try their Pisco Sour macaron, the perfect blend of a citrusy lemon, a touch of salt and white chocolate. The first thing I think about is my favourite childhood biscuit of a Lemon Crisp!
Siete Sopas, Lince
The name siete sopas means seven soups and the sign outside this 24 hour soup joint details the names of seven soups-one for each day of the week. Carlos explains that Siete Sopas is brought to you by the same people from the legendary La Lucha sandwich place.
Soups come in tall, enormous takeaway paper cups or as ramen sized bowls. There is quite a crowd at lunch-come around 1pm and there's a big crowd outside but late at night is when Siete Sopas comes alive. If you visit around 2am the street outside Siete Sopas teems with people.
We sit down and order a chicha morada, a drink flavoured with pineapple and spices given its natural dark purple colour from the dark purple corn. They bring a basket of fantastic bread baked in their wood fired oven as well as sauces and corn snacks. We try today's soup: the minestrone, admittedly not normally one of my favourite soups. I always find the pasta a bit too soft in minestrone and it's not very exciting.
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But here minestrone isn't the scarlet coloured tomato based soup - it's green with pesto flavours with a good textured penne pasta, chunks of perfectly cooked potato, radish and carrot. And one giant piece of soft beef to pull apart while you eat. Heaven.
Cremoladas Curich, Miraflores
Lima isn't normally known for its sunny days but if the weather is warm and the sun peeks out, head to Curich for a cremolada. A cremolada is like a granita but the key difference at Curich (the name of the Croatian and Yugoslav family that own it) is that they use Amazonian fruit in their ices.
Paddles to mix the cremoladas dated for each year
My favourite is the tuna (prickly pear) and the grenadilla which is a sweet passionfruit with white seeds (my favourite Peruvian fruit). You can also try fruit like ciruela, badea and aguaje, all delicious Amazonian fruits. You pick, they'll ladle some up in a cup and you can sip the cremolada directly from the cup.
Ladling up the cremolada from the freezer
Carlos explains that for Peruvians, cremoladas are usually made from over ripe fruit that needs to be eaten. Mums would make these for kids to enjoy combining just fruit and sugar. And when your friends would come over, they'd just help themselves to them straight from the freezer.
Thanks a million to Carlos for showing me some of his Lima favourites!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you tried much Amazonian food? And which stop did you like the look of the best?
Emilio Althaus 369, Lince, Cercado de Lima, Peru (plus other locations)
Open: 10-5:30pm, closed Sundays
Av. Arequipa 2394, Lince 15046, Peru
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Phone: +51 944 612 970
Calle Bolognesi 759, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Open 7 days a week 10am–10pm
Phone: +51 1 243438
LATAM Airlines is the leading carrier to and from South America with the largest network and unparalleled connectivity throughout the region.
LATAM operates seven one-stop flights each week from Sydney to Santiago, Chile, with onward connections to Lima, Peru. From 6 October 2017, LATAM will also offer three non-stop flights per week from Melbourne to Santiago, on board its next-generation fleet of 787-9 aircraft. For more information or to make a booking call LATAM reservations on 1800 126 038, visit your local travel agent or www.latam.com.