I admit I hadn't, until I sat at the dinner table with Peruvian chef Palmiro Ocampo. That dinner turned out to be not only a culinary experience, but also an educative excursion to Peru's incredible diverse produce.
”Bistronomia” is the concept that Palmiro has wanted to bring to Lima with Hana&Sumi, a restaurant opened in May 2014. The restaurant is divided in two ”hemispheres”, sweet and savory. Bistro 1087 by HANASUMI is the bistro part of the restaurant, located at the street level. You can pop in at any hour, and you find 100% Peruvian plates, except for some wines.Upstairs hosts a chef's table, where you can book a special 19-steps degustation menu.
As the restaurant is located at the boutique-filled Conquistadores street in San Isidro, I wondered if it was to please the shopping clientele that on the menu you can plates such as ”Ensalada Boutique” and ”Causa Fashion”.
”That's just a coincidence” assured Palmiro. But with particular attention paid in style and details, it was hardly a coincidence that Hana&Sumi was also in charge of the catering for CasaCor, Lima's most important interior design exhibition last year.
Palmiro has had opportunities to observe cultural differences in many settings, as apart from Peru he has worked in restaurants in Denmark and Spain. ”True, in Spain I worked in El Celler de Can Roca, one of the best restaurants in the world. But I learned equally much by working in small restaurants in Madrid” The philosophy of work and the respect to the product are two things he said he has learned from his times spent abroad. This became particularly evident in when he was trained in Noma, Copenhagen. In Denmark, the nature is more scarce than in Peru, but I learned how the chefs could explore with little things. A good chef can make much out of a little. In Peru there is still so many products to discover.”
An example of one of these exotic products comes on our plate: kushuro, or murmunta, as it is known in Peru, is also known as the Andean caviar. But it has nothing to do with fish or seafood. Some people claim it is an algae, but in fact it is a cyanobactery that grows water in high altitude, in 3000 above the sea level. What makes it interesting for the culinary use is that it has a pleasant flavor, close to caviar.
Another surprising ingredient is found in the chef's courtesy plate, Volcan de leche de tigre . Seed from a tuna cactus, airampo, was used by Incas to dye their ponchos, but now it brings flavor to our plate together with delicate mousse de cangrejo (crab mousse).
Pastel de choclo, sweet corn pie, is one of Palmiro's own favorites on the menu. It is served with organic salad and very tender meat, cola de wey con hojito de parra. But I think I most liked th llightly sweet plantain gnocchis came with Amazonian bacon-like cecina and served on a plantain leaves.