Lima Food Week has arrived for the second time this year and is running for two weeks from the 17th – 30th of August. The information is the same as before (see post) but there are some different restaurants to choose from. Take a look at your options here and get booking! S/59 for a 3 course lunch and S/79 for a 3 course dinner.
This time I finally managed to get booked at Malabar. This is somewhere I’ve been really looking forward to trying, and I’m so glad we finally did!
We browsed our options while we waited for our wine, and an amuse bouche arrived at the table.
A small bowlful of freshness and juiciness, but the only ingredients I can actually remember is the alga in a maracuya dressing! All lovely and light and a wonderful palate cleanser.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate these lovely wooden place mats? Thanks, I knew you wouldn’t mind! I really want them…
We decided to order a portion of bread off of the main menu before we started. This was S/12 per person and came with a choice of 3 breads and 2 accompaniments.
And the accompaniments were served in stones, no less! An ingenious use of nature here. I love that the little portion of cheese looks like a dragonfly, but I have no idea if that was intentional or just a magical happenstance.
The breads that arrived were balls of cheesy yuca (cassava) bread that was served with a subtle soft cheese, and then a crispy yuca bread that reminded me a little of a poppadum! This was served with an aji negro (black chilli) sauce, which also went well with the white flat bread, however I found this last bread to have the weirdest grainy texture that fell apart in your mouth as you ate it. Very odd.
The chilli sauce had a huge depth of flavour and was actually very meaty, or even beefy, in taste. It was not at all spicy and therefore a perfect accompaniment to the bread and a great start to the meal.
With the wine now ready to drink, and the food ordered, we sat back to relax and chat with a glass of red. Torres Gran Coronas Reserva to be exact, which is a favourite of ours.
We had actually chosen the same main course and dessert, because we both thought that they were by far the best options, but we couldn’t decide on a starter so we ordered one of each and shared.
The first up was the artichoke, with poached egg served in an Andean cream sauce (or fonduta), with rocket (arugula) and marjoram. There were also some crispy bits of meat which were lovely and salty and brought a perfect balance to the dish, but these were not named on the menu, so I am none the wiser!
It was warm, creamy and comforting and I just wanted to eat more and more of it. It actually reminded me of the salads my mum and I used to make with salad leaves, poached egg and hot crispy bacon, so as well as delighting my tastebuds, it also evoked a mountain of memories too.
I just love it when food does that, don’t you?
The second starter was smoked paiche (an Amazonian river fish). It tasted absolutely like a smoked ham, but with underlying notes of fish and it was actually quite beautiful. The paiche was served on top of a tortilla or ‘patty’ of greens and eggs and finished with a light and fresh slaw of cucumber and cabbage.
Both dishes were amazing and so we were excited to try the main course.
The slices of perfectly grilled duck breast arrived drizzled in a blackberry jus/gravy, and served alongside roasted heirloom beetroots.
The flavours in this dish were beautiful, and the beets had that beautiful caramel sweetness that I think only comes from roasting them. The blackberry flavour was missing from the gravy, I only tasted meat, however it was delicious and a wonderful accompaniment to the pink duck breast.
The main course was pretty small in size, however we were eating from the specially designed Food Week menu, so it was not an accurate reflection of the portions on their main menu. As it turned out, this size was perfect because the dessert arrived and I honestly don’t think I would have wanted my main course to be any larger than it was!
The dessert was chocolate served in a variety of ways and using a variety of textures, but the chocolate used was dark and therefore very, very rich. Just perfect, and wonderfully filling too! There was a flourless chocolate cake that was like eating a cake/brownie based truffle, and then a rich chocolate mousse, and what I believe was a chocolate ice cream, but this wasn’t included on the menu! This last addition was amazing, because the cool, creaminess of the ice cream cut through the richness of the truffle-y dark chocolate and made this dish wonderfully balanced.
These main elements were topped with a couple of chocolate-caramel tasting, paper thin, crisps, which gave such a contrast in texture, and then a warm chocolate sauce spiked with cardamom, which gave a warm, spiced taste that was just so different and interesting. Absolutely delightful.
I would eat it again and again!
We finished up the wine and settled our bill and then headed down to the bar to marvel at their selection of spirits. We ended up taking a seat at the beautiful wooden bar and ordering a shot of Anis del Mono (sweet) to finish our lunch. Anis is great for digestion but for me it’s like drinking liquid liquorice heaven, so I would happily order it whether I needed to or not!
We stayed and chatted to the knowledgeable and super friendly bartender about a number of spirits that we were surprised to see available to order, and a few we had never seen before, or at least had never tasted! He educated us with his vast array of drinks knowledge, and I told him all I knew about traditional English Mead (I love this stuff), which is not a huge amount, and to be honest I didn’t know how to say ‘ferment’ in Spanish, so I’m not sure I truly explained myself very well!
My boyfriend had his first taste of Macallan whisky (my uncle’s preferred brand) and once he had taken a sip he realised why it was such a favourite in our family; it is some silky smooth single malt. We also tried some Chartreuse from France, which is a liqueur that has been made by Carthusian monks since 1737. It is pale green and beautifully sweet, made from 130 different herbs, plants and flowers. It’s a joy to drink by itself with ice and nothing more.
We were intrigued by Monkey 47, a German gin from the Black Forest, which we had never come across before. Malabar is the only place in Peru where you can find this gin, as the owner brought it back himself from Europe for the bar. It contains 47 botanicals, one of which is lingonberries, which I absolutely adore.
So, for our final drink of the day we gave this unique gin a try in a special gin and tonic; the barman’s own recipe of Monkey 47 gin over ice, a slice of grapefruit, and a sprig of rosemary, all topped with Fever-Tree tonic water.
I have to say that this was probably one of the best G&Ts I have ever tasted, and I would highly recommend that you head down to Malabar to order one yourself. Tonight. It’s that good. Trust me.
Or go for a long, lazy lunch tomorrow (it is Friday after all) and then you can order the scrumptious chocolate dessert as part of the special menu before, or after, your perfect G&T.
Malabar // Calle Camino Real 101, San Isidro (valet parking available)
Lima Food Week // 17-30 August, various restaurants