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Entries in Peru (17)

Saturday
Dec312011

Happy New Year 2012 and the Mayan Apocolypse?!

Thanks as always to my family, friends, readers, ad hoc editors, fellow bloggers, and foodies from Coast to Coast and World Wide on the Internet for supporting The Cured Ham.

Although the Mayan Apocolypse is coming in 2012, I'm sure I'll be eating well right up to it. Just like I was during Y2K. Machu Picchu was cool though. The Mayan culture certainly knew how to build.

Thursday
Jun232011

Limon, Fresno

First impressions make a difference. My first impression of Limon was a proper welcome and a surprise; they opened the front door for me.

While we were warmly greeted at the host station, I didn’t get any sense of intimacy or warmth in the restaurant as we sat down in the cold, industrial type space. Tables and chairs are quite basic, with no butcher paper or linens adorning any tables. No booths or anything cozy, simply 2 and 4-top tables arranged efficiently as possible.

As my guest and I were having wine, lovely stemware was presented for a rather common Albarino. With my recent experience using antiquated stemware at The Ripe Tomato, the use of Schott Zwiesel stemware at Limon was a treat. Other service touches that seem to contrast the cold space; servers were attentive, helpful, regularly refreshing silverware with each course, used a splash cover when refilling our water glasses, and always refilled wine. Service was professional with the questions that we asked easily answered by our server.

To start our meal, the house special ceviche of fresh halibut, calamari and prawns marinated in rocoto, red onions, fresh lime juice, served with yam and Peruvian corn. When the dish was presented to the table, it’s exactly as I remember it from my recent trip to Arequipa, Peru in terms of overall basic ingredients, right down to the Peruvian version of corn nuts. The curing liquid had wonderfully bright acidity, but wasn’t overpowering. Where Limon differed from its Peruvian counterparts was the attention to detail with regard to how both the halibut and onions were sliced. Limon crudely and unevenly sliced both the onions and the fish. Why am I so picky about this? Thick pieces of onion are unwelcome with such a delicate dish. Onions should be cut as thinly as possible in half-moons, not some diced, some chopped, some whole rounds. Additionally, roughly, unevenly, and partially cut halibut on a fish that’s easily cut and squared off is just plain lazy prep. I’m being very tough on Limon with regard to the details here because all the elements of flavor, freshness, and presentation are there.

The second starter, Anticuchos de Carne or grilled adresso marinated beef skewers served with roasted potatoes, huacatay (green) sauce and Peruvian choclo were fabulously tender, well-seasoned, and simply made my mouth happy. The beef was cooked to order at exactly medium rare. The depth of flavor in this beef was outstanding. I might actually crawl over broken glass the find out what this “adresso marinade” is. The roasted potatoes were crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle and well salted. Great dish! I could make a meal out of 3 orders, that’s how much I liked it.

We decided on two seafood entrées, salmon and sole, which also happened to work well with the light white wine we ordered. Escabeche de Pescado, or pan-seared fresh Petrole sole marinated in an aji amarillo escabeche sauce, served over roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sole can often be the wimpy fish at the table; usually under seasoned, overcooked, and homogenously prepared with salt and pepper in butter. Not so at Limon. The Petrole sole jumped off the plate with flavor and spice, but didn’t take away from the delicacy of the fish. Well thought out and executed.

Pan-seared salmon served over chimichurri roasted potatoes and topped with sautéed spaghetti squash. The standout here was a seasoned crust on the skin of the salmon, again a rarity in most restaurants in Fresno. The salmon was fully cooked through, but was not dry. Proper cooking technique is needed to achieve this crispy skin and fully cooked interior of the fish. The other garnish on the plate did not distract from the focus on the salmon. The kitchen wasn’t slammed when they served each of our fish dishes, so if anything, I’d like to see how the kitchen handles a lot of diners at once and if the same skill and attention is paid.

Overall, my experience at Limon was very good. I liked each of the dishes as they were presented, flavors were good, and technique was solid other than for the rough cut ceviche. However, the regular reminder that the space you’re eating is resembles a corporate cafeteria rather than a warm or even contemporary dining experience is troubling for long-term success in Fresno. I hope the owners can spice up their space on par with the food and service.

Go to Limon for the beauty of the presentation, the quality of the service and the excellence in food. 

Limón on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Feb232011

Fuy Jou, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

 

Fuy Jou in Lima came recommended to us by a Chinese-American Seattle family visiting relatives in Lima that we met at dinner the night before at Panchita. The joys of being a friendly traveler.

A good walk from the hotel, Fuy Jou in located on the fifth floor of a multi-use commercial building in the Miraflores District of Lima. Not easy to find as we wouldn’t have thought to look up to the 5th floor, we walked up the stairs to a good size dining facility, with seating for over 120 people, set up that afternoon buffet style. Sure enough, for 35 soles a person about $13, it was all-you-can-eat Chifa. Not what I expected, but certainly welcome as a stage to try a variety of Chifa in Peru. One other thing, this place went from empty to fully booked in about 20 minutes at lunch, with several 6,8,and 10 top tables making more visits to the cold and hot station than I did. The difference here in Lima compared to the buffet line in Vegas, the lack of the grossly obese.

I made about 5 rounds of visits to the cold, hot, and dessert areas. The dim sum area of the hot section was a regular stop with classic pork shu mai and shrimp dumplings in mass supply. In the cold section, a simple sliced cucumber and garlic dish was one of my favorites; along with a Thai glass noodle salad which had some heat. In the hot section, stir fried green beans and garlic was tasty, as were the shitakes stir fried with soy and garlic. 

The flan to end my buffet fest was a surprising sweet treat. I real good flan, not over-gelatinized, or over-sweet, the flan was delicious.

Certainly didn’t expect a Chinese buffet for our afternoon lunch, but considering the variety and regular fresh plates coming from the kitchen, the afternoon turned out great.

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Friday
Feb042011

Sushi Bar at JW Marriott, Lima Peru

The Sushi Bar at the JW Marriott was a no-brainer when combined with our late checkout and late flight back to the States. Yes, Americanized, unadventuresome, and pricey by Peruvian standards, but easy.

Peruvian inspired rolls dominated our selections and the ubiquitous Cuzquena filled our bellies nicely. Traditionally wrapped sushi in seaweed and fresh local fish selection, however, the sauces and seasonings were more Peruvian than Japanese. Sauces that we had throughout the trip adorned many of the orders. The only sauce we didn’t care for was a creamy Ranch style blend. I don’t think we had Hidden Valley Ranch at any restaurant in two weeks. I’m exaggerating a bit, the sauce wasn’t Hidden Valley, but it certainly tasted like it. The pace of the meal was great, we weren’t in any rush to get to our flight and the flavor of all the dishes, minus the ranch dressing, was a deft use of fusion. Chef was there experimenting with appetizers and large sharing plates for the upcoming New Year’s festivities, which he was generous enough to share with us.

A good last meal in Peru.

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Thursday
Feb032011

Fory Fay, Arequipa, Peru

Ceviche for Peruvians is serious business and ordered only between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Just like most people’s first trip to Italy and the scorn one receives for ordering a cappuccino after 10am, same goes for ceviche in Peru. Luckily, the hotel clued us in on the local custom. When we entered Fory Fay at 11am, we sat down to a bowl of toasted corn kernels and immediately ordered a Cuzquena. I had high hopes for this place. When I suggested it to the hotel, they encouraged we not go to such a “local” place, which meant we had chosen the right place and obviously authentic.

   

Bowl of Ceviche and I do mean a bowl. Chunks of whitefish (perhaps corvina) shrimp, mussels, and one other crustacean. Plenty of thinly sliced red onion, copiousamounts of lime, and some green perhaps seaweed perhaps WaCatay an indigenous herb that’s has the flavor of both basil and mint. What shocked me was the amount of liquid used to submerge our fish. Almost a soup, the residual liquid from the cure was drinkable, of which I indulged. The addition of seaweed and sweet potato can also be seen. The sweet potato over a different texture and a bit of sweetness to contrast all the acid from the curing liquid.

 

Plate of frito misto or fried fish of the day. The same fish that was in the ceviche with the addition of calamari and an equally generous portion size. Good, clean fry job with nothing over or under done. I happended to like the onion salad a lot; it helped cut the deep fry flavor; although the batter was seasoned slightly. My comparison in recent memory was a small Italian restaurant in Noli, near Finale Ligure in Northern Italy. The fish was simply deep-fried. Fresh fish, hot oil, slightly seasoned batter that dresses the fish but doesn’t over-power it. The Peruvian’s in Arequipa are frying their fish properly.

This was our last meal in Arequipa before we board a flight to Cuzco two hours later. The ceviche and frito misto at Fory Fay was one of the best meals of the trip.

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