I didn’t spend as much time in Cuzco as in Lima but I had some fabulous food. Highlights include :
Another Gaston Acurio offering. One side of the menu provides Cuzqueñan-ish crowd pleasers – pizza, pasta, burgers – and the other is devoted to full on Cuzqueñan cuisine. I was really tempted by the alpaca curry from the basic side but wanted to push myself so ordered from the deep end and got grilled alpaca with quinoa al ajī amarillo. I regretted it. I am not the most carnivorous gal and it was just a lotta meat. Perfectly cooked, seasoned to perfection, delicious fresh vegetables but just so. much. alpaca.
The dessert though! Let’s talk. I had a tumbo con fresas. Banana passionfruit mousse with manjar ice-cream, strawberries, anise scented foam with a crunchy quinoa cookie. Enough exotic ingredients that I felt like I was being a cosmopolitan grown up, but really I was being a little kid eating a tutti frutti ice cream sundae.
Sa Rang Che
I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon this place. Hidden away in a courtyard with crickets chirping and a dusty door, it didn’t look promising until I stepped inside to find tables full of elderly Koreans. It had to be legit.
I wanted to venture beyond my usual order of bibimbap and was recommended the jeyuk bokkuem, or pork bulgogi. Spicy pan fried pork belly with sticky rice and all the trimmings. What I love about Korean food is the attention to detail, and how sometimes the freebie side dishes are the best part of the meal. The soybean soup was unusually rich and dark. Once I reached the bottom I realised this was due to the addition of anchovy. I just love little touches like this. You know the chef cares.
I usually like to linger over meals while on holiday and cherish every mouthful but the pork was so juicy and succulent, the kim-chi so crunchy and juicy, I devoured it like a mukbang superstar.
I went back a few days later to get the bibimbap I had been thinking about. I must admit I was disappointed. To me, the whole point of a bibimbap is to have it in the cast iron pot that comes out sizzling so the rice on the bottom goes nice and crunchy. This was served in a regular bowl. It was a nice meal, just not the bibimbap of my dreams.
I heard about this place from a French girl I met on a hike. She said they did the best beurre salé she ever had outside Brittany. I went to check it out and from that day forward it became my Cuzco breakfast spot. Buckwheat crepes, freshly squeezed juices, fabulous coffee and a very economical lunch menu, with a sunny terrace.
I will dock a few points for service. I have a pet peeve. That is, when I speak Spanish (quite competently, if I may say so myself) to people, and they answer in English. The front of house staff here love to do this. I’m sure the intention is to be welcoming but it pisses me off. I politely explained that I wanted to practise my Spanish while in Peru but they just didn’t listen! It goes to show how good the crepes were that I went back so many times.