Beach season in Lima starts generally in December and lasts until April, although you can see all year round brave surfers at Costa Verde, the coast of Lima. The best beaches are outside of the city: I have already talked in my blog about Punta Hermosa, Chilca and Pulpos. This time I want to share some photos from Asia beach, where we spent a weekend with friends some weeks ago. Asia is located at the kilometer 97,5 on Panamericana Sur highway. It is supposedly "the posh beach" of Lima, but also the beach for young and party people, as throughout the summer season all kind of festivals and concerts are organized there. You will also find there a big, open air shopping center called Boulevard de Asia with most of the shops you find in the malls in Lima. This can be handy if you came to spend a weekend at the beach, but forgot your bathing suit or just realized that your old one looked unfashionable ( and -a free tip to European men: no Speedos on Peruvian beaches, thank you. Boardshorts are the only option for a self-respecting male). And once you are done with shopping, you can relax in game areas, outdoor cafés, restaurants and night clubs. But the beach itself is where most of the movida takes place. At the time of our visit, there was a Nike Skatefest, and we got to admire some young and talented skaters...
...and then listening to a local reggae band called Laguna Pai.
All photos ©Juan Martin Cabrejos
Ps. If you are in Lima and need a plan for this weekend, I recommend a new bar that just opened last Wednesday in Barranco. It's called Victoria, and it is located in a beautiful mansion built in 1903, called Casona Cillóniz. Good selection of drinks including Belgian beers and a nice patio!
Have a nice weekend!
Today's interview is with a Frenchman, Mathieu Reumaux, who currently lives in Lima, Peru. He is the co-founder of design studio Ma+Go. I met Mathieu in his office in Miraflores, at the headquarter of magic.What is Ma+Go about?
"The name comes from our first names, MA for Mathieu and GO for my Peruvian business partner José Antonio Mesones, known as Goster. Mago also means a magician, the one who creates magic" explains Mathieu.Mathieu's first contact with Peru was back in 2001, when he visited the country for a school project, while studying at ESSCA business school in Paris. "I was fascinated by Peruvian culture, and I also found this vintage esthetic in traditional clothes that I later wanted to develop into a clothes brand". In 2002 he met Aurelyen, and together they Misericordia, a brand that offers ethic, quality clothing for men and women. "Back at the time, it was the beginning of the fair trade trend in clothing industry, and our first client was concept store Colette in Paris". Since 2006, Aurelyen is alone in charge of Misericordia and Mathieu has worked on other projects being away from Peru for some time. In 2009 he met Goster.
"Goster was one of the founders of Peruvian surf and culture magazine Aqua, and he has been working in many international art and graphic design projects. He has also received a special prize for his design of Peru Mucho Gusto book, from the jury of Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He proposed we should create a studio together, and so we did." In 2009 Mathieu also met his future wife, and he decided to stay in Peru.
"We have colaborated with many musicians. We made, for example, the record cover for Grammy nominated Peruvian group Bareto. When dub artist Mad Professor (best know for his colaboration with Massive Attack) came to Peru to record with Arequipan cumbia band Los Chapillacs, we designed their album cover. We are also behind the poster of the world music festival Siete Mares."
"At the moment one of our important projects is Art Latino. It aims to promote and develop Latin American contemporary art and provides a virtual platform and an online magazine presenting works of Latin American artists."
In addition, Ma+Go is also creating a new image and designing the boutique of Peruvian surf and skate clothing brand Dunkelwolk, and working with Peruvian photography collective Supay. "With Supay, we are making a photography book, which will be sold -among other places -at MATE (Fundaçion Mario Testino) store in Barranco."
How it is to start an enterprise in Peru, as a foreigner? What are the challenges and the advantages?
"There is much to do here on the creative side. Peru is inspiring because it is visually different, there is a relatively easy access to resources and for example in our field, printing is more accessible. But there comes the challenge, too: if you only look for the cheapest materials and production costs, you are likely to encounter some problems with the quality of your products. So you need to pay attention to that, to the quality, and perhaps pay a little bit more to make sure your products meet the quality standards. Also, as we sell in Europe in euros, and here in Peru the currency is eiher Peruvian nuevos soles or US dollars, you have to keep an eye on changes in different currencies. Sudden changes in the rates can make you lose lots of money."
Any other advice for people who want to start a business here?
"Yes, find a good accountant! He can be your best ally. There are many complicated laws related to business, and a good accountant knows about them and can also be your advicer, whereas a bad one can make you lose money. Not on purpose, but simply as he does not know enough. So don't hesitate to spend more money to find a skilled accountant."
How about Lima: where to eat, what to do, where to shop?
"As a Frenchman I must of course recommend the French restaurant Hervé in Miraflores (Calle Atahualpa 195). Their tasting menu is probably the best I have tried here. It costs I think about 180 soles and you have to book it in advance, but it's worth it! I also like their plate Magnet de pato d'Oxapampa."
"Bodega Verde in Barranco (Sucre 335) is a nice place to have a coffee or tea."
"For buying French products such as cheese, I recommend DeliFrance (several addresses in Lima; see website) and you can also find good cheese at Bioferia organic market (every Saturday Calle 15 de Enero, also in Surco in Parque de la Amistad). Oh, and in Bioferia they also sell these blue potato chips made of native potatos, they are delicious!"
"Bodega Verde in Barranco (Sucre 335) is a nice place to have a coffee or tea."
"For art, I recommend the classic, Museo de Larco (Av. Bolivar 1514, Pueblo Libre), and the new Modern Art Museum, MAC (Av. Grau 151) in Barranco, whereas for shopping I really recommend to visit the outlet store of Misericordia, La Cabaña de Alta Costura (Mariscal las Heras 658, Lince). It is more than a showroom, you can really get to know the fabrication process there."
And if you want to spend a day or two outside of Lima? Where would you go?
"To spend some time in the nature, I like Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve at Lima region. It's a protected area, and you can hike there. You will find lagoons and waterfalls."
Très bien -merci beaucoup, Mathieu!
MaGos visit cards. Each card presents a different project. Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
"Magic is the illusion of the impossible, and there is always an element of surprise, a surprise hit, a modest revelation. But in magic nothing is left to chance." Ma+Go website
Mathieu Reumaux, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
MA+GO, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
MA+GO, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
There is a new book out there,"Where the Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favourite Restaurants", by Joe Warwick. The title is pretty self-explinatory: it reveals where the chefs working in high-end restaurants go to eat when they want to eat out. And they do not necessarily choose Michelin star places -in fact, many of them seem to prefer understated, local spots.Last Saturday's El Comercio newspaper revealed -in the spirit of this book -some recommendations from the well known Peruvian chefs. Some of the places mentioned have already been introduced in this blog, such as classic, night snack place in Barranco, Juanito, favorite of Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (has several restaurants in Lima: Malabar, Nikita, Amaz). Rafael Osterling (Rafael, Cafe del Mar) recommends El Pan de la Chola as a breakfast place - if you read my "Entrepreneuring Expats" interviews carefully, you many remember that designer Carolina Restrepo also recommended that place for bread (and she also likes Schiaffino's restaurant Amaz that serves Amazonian fusion plates).
Other places I picked from the article and would like to try soon are Korean restaurant Dos Hermanos, Tokio Ramen for ramen noodles and Nikko for a nikkei style (Peruvian-Japanese) ceviche, all recommeded by chef Hajime Kasuga (Hanzo).
Here comes the first post in a new series Entrepreneuring Expats! This series is based on interviews with foreigners living in Peru with an interesting business or artistic project.
Carolina Restrepo is a designer originally from Colombia and creative director of her own brand, Puro Corazón. Carolina has lived in Peru for seven and half years, with her Belgian husband. I met Carolina in her lovely showroom in San Isidro, Lima.
Puro Corazon Showroom Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
"Back in Colombia, I used to design swimwear" Carolina says. Her Belgian husband's work in development sector brought them to Peru seven and half years ago, and as many expats, Carolina had to find her own way in her new home country. She fell in love with Peru's very rich artesanal tradition, but found that in Lima there were not many shops for the kind of products she had in mind. When she first met the group of Peruvian women with who she still currently works, she fell in love with their brodery work, but she wanted to mix it with more contemporary designs, shapes and materials. She then designed her first bags and took them for sale in Dédalo (art gallery and shop in Barranco neighbourhood). Even to her own surprise, the first bags sold out within a couple of months, she needed an enterprise register number in order to pick up her pay check and that is how her enterprise was born! "Not knowing much about entrepreneuring", Carolina adds. Carolina's Tips for Lima:As her husband is a big fan of Peruvian food and gastronomy, Carolina usually takes her visitors somewhere where they can eat well, such as La Buena Muerte (Luis Aldana 127) in downtown Lima: a traditional cevicheria offering copious portions. Or to Amaz (La Paz 1079), a jungle restaurant with Amazonian fusion kitchen in Miraflores. "You never actually know what they will serve you, you just discover the plate when it's served to you". For good bread she would go to El Pan de La Chola in Miraflores (La Mar 918) and to eat churros, La 73 (Av. El Sol Oeste 175) in Barranco. Carolina also loves to shop for organic products in Bioferia organic market (in Miraflores and in Surco, on Saturday mornings).
For shopping, she loves to explore the neighbourhood around Calle Capon, where you can find everything from silver jewellery to old eyeglasses. And as Carolina loves fabrics, she does not miss an opportunity to browse some vintage fabrics in this part of Central Lima. She also likes a store called La Quinta in Larcomar (Larco 497), where you can buy t-shirts with all possible brand prints -made in Peru, of course! As her favorite Peruvian designer she mentions Andrea Llosa.
On cultural side, she suggests to get a group of four or more, and make an appointment for a tour in Galleria Enrico Poli (Lord Cochrane 466), a private collection in San Isidro. Why? "They have their own very special version of history"How about Peru? Where to travel? Carolina loves the region of Ayacucho, where her bags are made. "Paracas is a beautiful city, and I also like to go to Ica for sandsurfing."
Any advice for other expats? "Living in a new country allows you to see things that people native to that country do not see. Make most of your 'new eyes' and be open minded. Let the country or city talk to you, and you can get new ideas"
That sounds like a good advice, thank you Carolina!!!
Ps. If you feel like visiting Puro Córazon Showroom in San Isidro, you will find it in Calle Manuel Gonzales de la Rosa 235.
Carolina Restrepo Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
Entrance of Puro Córazon Showroom Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
According to the Chinese horoscope, we are now entering the Year of the Snake. I can not tell you what that means to you, me, or the humankind, but I can instead tell you something about the Chinese New Year's celebrations in Lima's China Town (Barrio Chino).
Today, suddenly remembering that today is the big day, me and my chino ( 'chino' in Spanish means Chinese person, but in Peruvian slang it also translates into 'guy' or 'dude') jumped into a taxi and hit the downtown Lima, Capon street more specifically. Lima's China Town is not a large area, in fact it is just Calle Capon and a couple of blocks around it. The Chinese immigrants to Peru settled down here back in 1850s. You can find Peruvian Chinese restaurants known as chifas, stores, acupuncture clinics, horoscopes, pastry shops, herborists and whatnot. Today, despite the striking heat, the street was crowded as everybody was there for the parade.
Reporting from Calle Capon
Year of the Snake -China Town Lima
People started to gather outside of Salon Capon dim sum restaurant, waiting and waiting...
photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
Until finally: firecrackers, smoke, clapping, whistling, noise, people pushing, drumming, police cars...The big dragon came out and everybody rushed forward to touch it, as this supposedly brings good luck for the forthcoming year.
photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
There is of course no point of visiting Barrio Chino without eating in one of the chifas around there. Today, due to the festivities, many places had long queues outside, but we finally found two seats in Chun Koc Sen. We ordered a few plates including shrimp and mushroom siu may (in the center), ha kao (on the left), min pao filled with chicken (the white 'ball' at the bottom) and fried pork (plus some steamed vegetables, but they arrived too late to make it to the picture).
Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
The delicacy of the neighbourhood is a coconut bread, that is so popular that by the afternoon it had already ran out from many places. Finally we found a pastry shop that had one loaf left, to take home. I also popped into a small grocery store to buy some very healthy aloe vera juice (jugo de sábila) and pu-ehr tea.
Coconut bread from barrio chino
The Chinese New Year coinsides with the traditional Peruvian carneval month. We had to quickly find a taxi to escape children throwing paint and water on by-passers! Oh yes, that is part of the tradition and it's fun, but I was wearing a white dress...
FELIZ AÑO, CHINO!
PS. Oh, and I have some news: I am starting a new series of posts, and there are going to be some interesting interviews coming up in this blog. Come back soon!
A maggot in Mistura
I must admit that after I had visited the Amazonian section at the Mistura Gastronomy Fair I had my doubts about the jungle cuisine. En la selva se come todo. 'In the jungle we eat everything', said the Amazonian lady laughing while holding a tray full of big, fat maggots. Not much of a bug eater myself, so I was a bit worried about the food issue when we traveled to Tarapoto.Luckily, there was much more to eat than that. Lots of plantains and bananas in all forms but mostly fried, fruits and fruit juices, varieties of fish, meat (chicken and pork, cecina, being the most common, but also venado, deer), juanes which is basically rice and meat (or chicken/shrimps) cooked in a banana leaf, and very delicious organic ice creams made of local fruits or raw cacao.On our first night in Tarapoto, we ate in a restaurant called Doña Zully, which is located right at the Plaza Mayor and offers local specialities. We tried some fried yuca for a starter, and it came with three different but all more or less spicy sauces: huacatai, huancayina and the third was kind of a pickles made of cocona fruit and chili pepper.
After that, we ordered a piqueo amazonico including a variety of dishes: pork ribs, chorizo, rice juanes, fried plantain and salad. All the meat was grilled on an open fire at the back of the restaurant.
The service was very professional and for a price, 46 soles (for two!) the plate was well worth trying.
We drank cocona juice, a new fruit I discovered on that trip. It is said to taste (and look) something like a mix of lemon and tomato and I second that description. I would not qualify it as my new fruit favorite, but in the hot weather a jar of ice cold cocona juice was very welcome.
Piqueo Amazonico at Doña Zully
Friendly chef at Doña Zully
Gaston Acurio at Mistura
This year I had a chance to visit the largest gastronomy fair of South America: Mistura. It gathered 500 000 visitors during ten days, offering an overview on Peru's regional cuisines and new restaurants. Numerous stands sold sample plates, priced from 5 to 25 nuevos soles (1,5- 7 euros) and you could also attend on seminars, follow chef competitions, sample piscos, coffees and chocolates and shop various food items from the large market area of the fair.
Right after arrival to Mistura, I spotted Peruvian top chef Gaston Acurio surrounded by his fans. He has done great work promoting Peruvian culinary traditions abroad and developing so called Novoandian cuisine. I joined the ranks of his fans and snapped a photo of him.
Our first stop was quite naturally a Peruvian classic lime and chili marinated raw fish salad, ceviche.
For drink, I chose Cristal's special edition beer.
It was rather easy to tell which plates were the most succesful at Mistura: you just look at the queus. "Caja China", The Chinese box and Chancho Al Palo seemed to tempt quite a few people.
La Caja China
Chancho al palo
In between meals, one could watch a parade.
That's not all about Mistura, more to come about the art of chocolate, pisco sampling, potatos and surprising food items from la selva ...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Too much about exesrcise recently, so I want to dedicate this post to lovely desserts and sweets that constantly threathen my waistline here in Peru.
Here, on the left side you see one favorite, vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and an almond bisquit. I eat it in a chocolate store called Xocolatl, in Miraflores. They also have artisanal chocolates filled with local flavors, such as pisco, lucuma or passion fruit...
Talking of lucuma, there are many desserts with this nutritious fruit: ice creams, cakes, mousse...It's sweet but still healthy: considered as a "superfood" by European middle class hypocondriacs.
I like the actual fruit, but I would not say no to a lucuma cake, like this one at Casa de Gloria:
Here is my afternoon snack at Blue Llama Café, when we were in Pisac:
That was by far the best brownie I have eaten since long time!
And talking of Pisac, there was also a restaurant-café called Ulrike's...This photo is from there:
And still in the Sacred Valley, this dessert at El Huacatay restaurant also deserves to be mentioned here. Chocolate truffles with candied orange:
Now you understand why I have to run...
Well...I can't give you many addresses, but I can give you one good one!
José, Arriba Peru retaurant
Arriba Peru. This little restaurant that does not look anyhow spectacular outside, but it is a mythic place for all lobster lovers. It's located in Zorritos, in Northern Peru. Zorritos is a sleepy little fishermen town, with cockfights on Sundays as a highlight of the week.
José, the owner and chef of Arriba Peru, has been running the place for 43 years already. He is very friendly, takes his time with his clients and has quite a few stories to tell. All the Peruvian presidents have eaten in his restaurant.
But there is one thing José does not talk about: his recipes. He never lets anybody in his kitchen, so the way how he prepares the lobsters will remain secret. Oh, and the starter oysters au naturel are very delicious too!
José telling stories
Where to start?
It was raining heavily on our first night in Cusco.
Rainy evening in Cusco
Yet, we left the comfort of our room to find something for dinner and hit the town.
The city of Cusco -or Qosqo, as it's called in quechua language - is located in southeastern Peru, in the altitude of about 3 400 meters above the sea level. Unless you are a professional athlete who frequently trains in the altitude or a local with native American origins, you will most probably feel the effects of the height in your lungs when climbing up some of the numerous stairs of this city.
Despite all the obstacles that Mother Nature, Pachamama, was placing on our way ( = the rain, the altitude and the general laziness of human being) we were well motivated to go and explore the city.
Streets had gone all quiet when it was raining. It had been 12 years since my first and last visit to Cusco, so I was curious to see how different it would look like now.
More shops, more restaurants, more tourists. More of everything, in fact, including that now there was a double-decker red buses for sight-seeing, like in any tourist destination in the world.
But the city still had its charm. Cusco has been the capital of the Inca empire, it has hosted the Spanish conquistadors and today it has a very international vibe.
The Andean Trilogy: Puma, Snake and Condor
After enough of walking in the rain it was time to get something for dinner. But where to get something quick, cheap and cheerful, when most of the restaurants were already closing their doors?
From my first trip to Cusco I remember that the solution most often was small hamburger stands that were to be found in basically every street corner.
Chicken shawarma on Drug Street, Cusco
So what would be a typical cusceño snack today?
Today, almost every street corner in Cusco seemed to host a shawarma/falafel restaurant. Yet another example of the Andean synchretism and capacity to adapt to foreign influences!
Cusco Cathedral, built by Spaniards on the foundations of an Inca temple
Tel Aviv? Nope, Cusco!
We ended up eating in a small place on the Drug Street.
Why it's called Drug Street? I don't know. I can only guess.