In Peru, New Friends
& New Experiences
Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or making your inaugural trek, touching down for the first time in a new country, especially one in which you don’t know a soul, can be a little daunting. That’s why having a local friend to show you the ropes and introduce you to the culture, cuisine and a few friends of their own can be such a boon.
Traveller Jack Hardin learned that firsthand on a recent trip to Peru. Below, he shares an encounter he had with a few of our Peruvian partners.
In the lobby of our hotel, the Miraflores Park, we met Nicholas and Brisa. Nicholas introduced himself as the head of Butterfield & Robinson’s Peruvian partner. Nicholas is young, handsome and personable—the perfect person to pair with B&R. Brisa Deneumostier is a charming chef in her mid-30s who was to be our guide and instructor for the day.
Our first stop was Casablanca, a one-hectare guinea pig farm in Valle Verde, south of Lima, created and operated by Ulises Moreno and Carmen Felipe-Morales. (In Peru, guinea pigs are a common food source and the farm centres around guinea pig production.) Ulises has a PhD in agronomy from Cornell and Carmen has a PhD in ecology. As newlyweds they purchased the one-hectare plot of sandy desert and created a magnificent sustainable farm. Ulises is 81 now and quite energetic. He is an ardent spokesman for his sustainable techniques and travels around the country promoting them. It is all very impressive.
An Active Lesson
After Casablanca we went to a nearby ceramics factory owned and operated by Brisa’s parents. The factory is located inside a high-walled compound and appears to have somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet. Also in the compound is a lovely three-story house with a huge kitchen (for Brisa’s work). The house is not used as a residence but does have a comfortable guestroom for visiting clients.
The real purpose of our visit was to have a cooking lesson from Brisa. About 35 years of age, Brisa studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, worked in Noma in Copenhagen, worked in Spain and a slew of other places. It was an active lesson with each of us given tasks. I was assigned the simple, repetitive tasks such as squeezing the lemons and grating their skins. My travel companions Ben, Gail and Caroline were entrusted with more dangerous missions, such as chopping, dicing and plucking sprigs of greenery.
We began with a pisco sour. It is usually made with three measures of pisco, Peruvian liquor, two measures fruit juice (in our case passion fruit juice, but often lemon juice) and one measure of sugar syrup. We altered the mix and made it a little sweeter with 1.5 measures of passion fruit and 1.5 measures of sugar syrup. Brisa used a blender to mix, and when it was poured into a glass the egg white rose to the top.
Next we made a ceviche of sea bass with lemon juice and some of the ingredients prepared by Ben, Gail and Caroline. There was a vegetable salad and next sea bass was baked with a julienne of vegetables. The dessert was a concoction that included pomegranate seeds, yogurt, a Peruvian fruit, some apple slices and chocolate.
A Lovely Night
We finished lunch at 3 p.m., very full and totally aware that we had dinner reservations at Astrid & Gastón in Lima, a highly rated restaurant. The food at the restaurant was excellent. The restaurant was only 12 to 15 blocks from the hotel and we elected to walk home.
The temperature was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it was a lovely night. The streets were crowded with Peruvians enjoying the evening. We walked back to the path along the top of the cliff overlooking the sea and then back to the hotel. It was a very nice evening.