Whew, things have been pretty hectic over the past couple weeks. We’ve seen nine Phish shows all over the Northeast in a little more than two weeks, while working. We also did three more country of the week dinners, Japan, Ethiopia, and Peru. I’ll make brief posts about the former two in the coming days, but today we’ll look at Peru.
Peru is yet another country where we spent way too much time on buses and way too little time eating delicious local food, but the food we did have made an impact, as much for the variety as for the yum factor. Peru was once the center of the great Incan culture that could have been great enough to repel the Spanish invasion for quite some time had it not been for germs and an inopportune civil war. Naturally, this culture developed a variety of indigenous foods, including the greasy cuy (guinea pig), which was one of the two animals domesticated here in the pre-Columbian Era. The Spanish brought their own culinary influences, as did multiple other subsequent European and Chinese immigrants. These cultures mixed to create a rather diverse and unique dining experience.
One restaurant cannot hope to cover all the options of this country, but what Chimu in Williamsburg has done is done well. The décor of the restaurant fits into North Brooklyn well, but none of the staff are your local tattooed 20-something. You are immediately served a small bowl of toasted, salted kernel corn and some spicy green sauce that has no immediate use. The corn does help lick the appetite while awaiting the remainder of the party.
Our first selection had to be the national drink, Pisco Sour. Pisco is a special brandy produced in Peru or Chile. The Pisco Sour is a mixture of Pisco, egg white, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters and is found everywhere in Peru. At $10.95 it was a bite, but still tasty.
Peru enjoys a shoreline with one of the most productive fisheries in the world, so seafood is quite common, at least along the coast. Ceviche, a mixture of raw fish and red onions marinated in citrus juice, is one of the national dishes found countrywide, and damn is that some good stuff! The ceviche at Chimu was no exception, but if you have any aversion to spicy, make sure you order it “no spice” because the “mild” still has quite a kick. An inch or two of corn on the cob with massive kernels is served on the side. The $16.95 was about right for the heaping fish pile.
Spaghetti is a common ingredient in mean courses, although it is often used a little differently than you’d normally find in an Italian restaurant in the States. The Tallarin verde con skirt steak ($15.95) was a pile of spaghetti with a basil sauce, topped with a large skirt steak. It was pretty good, but there was something missing from the sauce, perhaps a bit of olive oil would have juiced it up. The steak came a little more rare than the medium rare we ordered, but I will NEVER complain about getting a steak undercooked as opposed to overcooked. We have actually been to this restaurant before and had gotten the Entraña ($24.95), which is also a skirt steak, with an incredible butter sauce. That was one of the better steaks I have ever had at a restaurant.
Yasma ordered a fish dish ($14.95), the only one I didn’t write down, and of course the only one not in the online menu. It was a large fillet of white fish covered in a rich sauce with roasted red peppers and onions. I would have stolen more of her meal if I hadn’t been so full of ceviche.
Peru’s varied ethnic past, distinct ecological zones, and abundant sea life combine to create quite a wide palate in both national dishes, and locally. I am very much looking forward to discovering this country at a slower pace when we arrive on our bicycles sometime in the next couple years.