It seems like I’ve been hearing a lot about Peru recently. First, amazing Peruvian avocados from giant orchards at the foot of Peruvian mountains. Then a box of exciting Peruvian ingredients was delivered to my door (recipes coming soon). And now a wonderful Peruvian restaurant in London. In one of my favourite parts of London, too, just off the restaurantland that is Charlotte Street.
Much as I’d love to, I can’t see myself making it to Peru any time soon, which is why London is so fabulous – at least I can sample some of its flavours without even leaving home.
Lima is the creation of world-renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez. He’s the chef patron of Central in Lima, Peru which is ranked No. 15 in the San Pellegrino list of the best restaurants in the world. Lima in London is the first Peruvian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. It’s a light, contemporary space with friendly, welcoming staff.
The menu is, well, totally different to anything I’ve encountered. Peruvian food has got to be the ultimate and most complex form of fusion food…as well as being influenced by the Incas, this multi-cultural country’s cuisine also has strong influences from Spain, China, Italy, Germany, and Japan. What an adventure, you’re travelling the world on a plate!
This fantastic asparagus dish, Asparagus Peru, was described as coming with tree tomato emulsion, Andean sweet potato, red Shiso. Wow, what a stunner! On my first mouthful I did think, where’s the asparagus?, but very quickly worked out that it has been very thinly sliced into long shreds which works amazingly. A totally innovative dish, I’ve never seen asparagus served like this – and I love asparagus so have eaten more than my fair share of it in restaurants!
The tuna Nikkei is yellow fin tuna served in a luscious sauce with samphire and sweet onion. A beautifully vibrant dish with the freshest of tuna.
The lomo steak Luancaina is a spectacle to behold. I gasped with delight when this arrived at our table. Beef loin is served with yellow aji sauce and goa cress. Aji are chilli peppers and are a huge part of Peruvian cuisine, as I’m discovering in my research before attempting to create some delicious dishes myself. They come in many different shapes, sizes and degrees of hotness. This dish was nothing short of spectacular, the tender rare beef, the creamy sauce, heaven on a plate.
The Octopus Olivo is a beautifully delicate and dainty dish of braised octopus, organic white quinoa and botija olive. Botija olives are indigenous to Peru and are said to be one of the oldest olives in the world.
I love ceviche and have even made my own (rather delicious) version of it. But I’ve never come across a hot ceviche, until now! This salmon hot ceviche was described as coming with plantain megado aji limo pepper and ginger. Sounds exotic and tasted totally amazing with lovely chunks of fish and a zest, flavoursome sauce.
I probably should have done my Peruvian cooking first and then headed for Lima, fully educated in the intricacies of Peruvian ingredients. Because they are quite different and there are some unusual additions and ways of cooking. How I love discovering a whole new world of ideas and inspiration out there. I can’t wait to start experimenting.
And then, of course what I will have to do is head back to Lima for some more tastings…I can see my exploration and sampling of Peruvian food is going to go on for some time.
Oh and the exciting news is that another Lima – Lima Floral – is opening in Covent Garden next week. Book me in!
Watch this space for my first attempt at cooking Peruvian food. Coming soon.
Lima is at 5 Rathbone Place W1