I have something to celebrate. After four loooong years, my first novel is done. I probably have two more years of editing ahead of me, but right now I'm basking in the satisfaction of finally birthing my literary baby. Michele and Pam, two of the muses that inspired "Friends of the Bride", joined me in celebrating this most important milestone.
Pisco y Nazca" which refers to the friendly chatter that happens between drinks when humans are being sociable.
Every time the word "gastrobar" or "gastropub" is in a name, I get a little excited. It means the chances are high that I'll get a chic environment, tantalizing cocktails, and elegant, well-developed eats.
Neither of my companions wanted to take a dip in the ceviche pool, so I dove in solo. It was very difficult to choose one from the many different versions offered, but I finally settled on the Passion Fruit, a combination of mahi, shrimp, and passion fruit in the traditional marinade or 'leche de tigre'. It was crowned with the plumpest and crispiest shrimp, a great introduction to the ceviche. It also had a kick I couldn't ignore, but the sweetness of the passion fruit, and the effective execution of the dish made it impossible not to enjoy it in spite of my spice-sensitive palate.
A proper toast was a must, and even if Michele chose to do so with water, Pam and I picked some colorful libations. Pam was feeling frisky and ordered a Sex on the Beach. My cocktail was the Nena's Chilcano, a mix of Pisco Cuatro Gallos, a Peruvian brandy, lychee purée, fresh lime,
elderflower, hibiscus syrup, and Fever-Tree ginger beer. Lychee flavor has the Midas touch for me. It gives any mixture a rich sweetness.
Our entrees represented a good sampling of the menu. Pam ordered the Churrasquin, savory skirt steak served on a bed of lima bean tacu-tacu. This is an intriguing fried rice and beans patty typically Peruvian. Pam found it the perfect complement to the beef even though she had a hard time picking up the lima bean flavor.
Michele ordered the Butifarra, a sandwich on a telera roll which was reminiscent of ciabatta bread. The roll was stuffed with slices of roasted Peruvian country ham and camote, or sweet potato, and salsa criolla, a mix of lime juice, yellow bell peppers, and red onions commonly served with grilled meats. The dish was served in a rustic wooden block with a side of fries. I didn't have to ask Michele if she liked her choice. She closed her eyes every time she took a bite.
The atmosphere, the diverse menu, the elegant dish presentation were elements that garnered my respect. Great drinks and ceviche, just ok entrees, to sum it up. From what I gathered in my quality control bites, the character of the flavors ebbed and flowed. Until dessert. Pam and I shared the Arroz con Leche cheesecake in a dulce de leche sauce, and garnished with a quinoa crisp. This is where the restaurant got my undivided attention. Every bite of this block of sweetness was an experiment in texture. I savored it, allowed it to dance in my mouth, and to play with my palate, all the while in awe of the curious mingling of the silky cheesecake with the gentle grit of the rice pudding.
I imagine I'll be examining more of these dens of ceviche while the trend is hot, but I feel a lot more knowledgeable about Peruvian cuisine after my maiden experience. Thanks, Pisco y Nazca. I had a lovely time.