Peru is fast becoming ‘the’ destination in South America. The emergence of new hotels throughout the country was really just the start, but the recent arrival of some of the best boutique hotels on the continent makes this the destination of choice for 2014.
The destinations within Peru obviously remain the same with the old favourites such as; Arequipa, Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and of course Machu Picchu being the front runners.
The newest development is that of food tourism. Peruvian food has always been excellent, whether you are eating from a market stall or a top class restaurant, but the emergence of some of the top chefs from around the world basing themselves here has been a surprise. The best restaurants to look out for in Lima are;
Astrid y Gaston
The flagship of Peru’s most celebrated and successful chefs (Gastón Acurio and his wife Astrid Gutsche), this popular restaurant serves inventive variations on traditional Peruvian cuisine. Acurio is a master of both flavour and presentation. You can’t help but watch the kitchen door—each dish the waiters carry out is a work of art. Even a Peruvian standard such as lomo saltado (tenderloin slices sautéed with tomato, onions and aji peppers) gains a new personality here. The menu changes every six months, but is invariably original and delectable. Take advantage of the wine list—it’s one of the best in town. The colonial-style building is lovely, with grey walls hung with modern artwork, but you’ll spend most of your time ogling the food.
At Lima’s El Mercao Restaurant, the theme is old meets new—not just in the food, where acclaimed chef Rafael Osterling puts a new twist on classic Peruvian dishes, but also in the architecture. Opened in 2010, the restaurant is located in the city’s Miraflores district. The lunch only spot is more casual than his signature Rafael, though it still has an upmarket foodie feel with a long wooden bar, large chalkboard displaying the daily specials, and an open air dining room with a Playa de Asia style beachy decor.
This cool, semi-open air cevicheria on the site of a parking lot, where the waiters place orders on iPhones, serves updated, upmarket versions of the traditional lunchtime dish, ceviche: raw fish cured in a ‘tiger milk’ of lemon, garlic, fish stock, ice, garlic, celery, salt and chilli. Lima’s vast and historic fish market brims with trout from the rivers and an almost overwhelming variety of species from the sea, all spanking fresh. At La Mar the sea bass is so recently alive its eyes are still translucent.
Located in the glamorous seaside Miraflores Park Hotel, eating Toshiro Konishi’s Peruvian-Japanese fusion food is an experience. Now 59, Toshiro has been here for 35 years. ‘My blood is Latin,’ he says. There is delicate sashimi of local flounder, scallops served with the high-altitude root vegetable maca (‘herbal Viagra,’ says Toshiro), aubergines stuffed with pork and shrimp, followed by an ineffably subtle wasabi ice cream.