My birthday is my favourite day of the year aside from Christmas. I get to choose everything we do for the day and no one can tell me off for eating cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner….
(I love this store Plagio – full of home decor and kitchen items and they even stock some Ikea bits!)
Although this year, breakfast wasn’t cake, but another favourite. A sausage and fried egg sandwich with barbecue sauce and it had been a long time since I’d had one. A delicious start to the day.
A day about to be filled with food.
I had decided to try out a few places that I had never been to before. It was supposed to be a tasting menu of Lima’s establishments but the weather turned out to be so good that most of the day was spent with cocktails overlooking the sea….no complaints here!
We started off at a French bakery called La P’tite France in Surquillo (on the border of Miraflores) to eat bread, brioche and madeleines. A little bread basket to start the meal, if you will….
The bakery is a stunning little store on the corner of Jr. Gonzales Prada and Sta Rosa, and the royal blue walls will show you you’re in the right place. As you step into a courtyard style space take a look down at the gorgeous tiles covering the floor.
The smell of baking bread draws your attention to the bakery itself at the back, and you can peek through the windows to watch the bakery magic at work.
Then your attention falls to the little shopfront where all of their baked goods are displayed for sale.
There’s a wide range of breads and baguettes from S/5 to around S/16…
…little buttery, sweet brioche rolls for S/3….
and madeleines (either plain or coated in chocolate) for about S/4.
There are also croissants and pan de chocolate (pain au chocolat) to tempt you too! You have the choice to eat in the courtyard at the one little table available or standing at the bars around the edge of the room. They also serve hot drinks and juices too.
My favourite is the bread that contains coca flour; it’s truly excellent in both texture and flavour. We bought one of those to take-away with us for later and we ate scrumptious brioche and madeleines as we walked to our next lunch stop.
Mercado Surquillo No 1.
My main reason for visiting this market was its excellent selection of food and baking equipment. I needed both a new cake tin and some hazelnuts, and I knew that Mercado Surquillo could provide me with both and so much more.
The cake tin was bought for an extremely reasonable price of S/12, but the hazelnuts proved to be
a little a lot pricier. Around S/35 for 200g (the equivalent of £7 or just over $10), which is super expensive, but it was the only place to buy them. The things we do for birthday cakes!
Once the jobs were done it was time to find some food amongst the stalls. Due to the weather being so hot and sunny, we knew that ceviche was the way forward, and the market holds a few good ceviche stalls/restaurants.
I was actually looking for Mercado Gourmet, however they have now relocated to a proper restaurant in San Isidro and have sadly closed their space in Mercado Surquillo. However, we saw that El Cevichano (another recommended ceviche bar) had taken over the space and expanded from their own stall, so we decided to take a seat at their very busy bar space.
We started with complimentary canchita (my favourite fried corn snack) and chilcanos (this is a fish soup, not the cocktail of the same name!). El Cevichano is extremely clean and the service is pretty attentive without being pushy. The canchita was fresh, crispy and delicious and the chilcano was very tasty, especially with a squeeze of limón to give it that citrus kick that fish needs sometimes.
A perfect accompaniment, not only for the ceviche, but for the weather too, was a nice cold beer, and they were served up fairly quickly. However, we did wait a while for our ceviche, presumably because it was extremely busy for the lunchtime rush.
The ceviche was tasty and the fish was really fresh, which is just what you would expect from a good quality ceviche.
However, my boyfriend noticed a taste that he couldn’t put his finger on. It was like an overly salty flavour in the juice, which I hadn’t noticed when I was just eating the pieces of fish. He had heard that using Aji-No-Moto, which is a chemical flavour enhancer, can sometimes make the food taste overly salted. I didn’t taste it as strongly as he did, and I also never drink too much of the juice, so perhaps they just used a sprinkle too much of salt!
Overall the dish was refreshing and absolutely perfect fare for this summery weather in the middle of winter!
As the weather was so sunny and beautiful, we took a detour from the Mercado and drove along the malecon towards Larcomar to enjoy the views out to sea.
There were quite a few paraglider floating around in the sky above the cliffs, which made for some interesting watching.
We chose to take some seats with a great view at the fairly new Popular (de aquí y de allá) restaurant to have a couple of cocktails in the open air. The decor here is gorgeous with a lot of pale fabrics, light wood and funky lighting, and I immediately fell in love with the ambience and surroundings.
However, our visit to Popular was a tale of two halves…..an off-putting start, but a happy ending!
I firstly ordered a Tom Collins, because gin is a great match for a sunny day, but when the drink arrived it was so strong and with such a flavour of straight alcohol, I couldn’t drink it. Now, I love the taste of gin, and this just didn’t taste right (or of gin), so obviously we asked if we could exchange for something else. My boyfriend was not overly pleased with his pisco sour either, so we had a chat with the bar supervisor who apologised for our drinks, took our criticisms, and gave us a suggestion of what we might like instead.
This gentleman was so helpful, that we took his recommendation of something new to try and ordered chilcanos flavoured with strawberry and passionfruit (fresa y maracuya).
Just look at that fantastic colour!
This was such a delicious drink, that I probably drank it rather quickly! The flavour was that perfect mix of sweet, from the strawberry, and sour, from the passionfruit, that everything just balanced beautifully. What an amazing summer drink.
After the great success of our chilcanos, we decided to stay for a couple more, and this time I ordered a camu camu (small Amazonian fruit full of vitamin C) flavoured chilcano and my boyfriend ordered the fresh ginger one. These were, again, both delicious, with mine being fresh and fruity with a nice touch of acidity (like you would have with a lime), and the ginger chilcano had a delightful touch of heat coming through in the background which juxtaposed perfectly with the ice cold drink.
We were so glad that our opinions of the place were immediately changed by the bar supervisor’s helpfulness, and we actually thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We watched a lot of food coming and going and would love to go back and try some of the beautifully presented dishes.
Oh and to enjoy this view again too!
Our last stop of the day was one of the newest openings in town.
NOS is Virgilio Martinez’s (Central, Lima, Lima Floral) new restaurant and I had been wanting to go since it opened a week or so before. They weren’t taking reservations, so we aimed to go there for after the lunch rush for an afternoon of desserts and cocktails!
The restaurant itself is beautiful and reminded me of an old fashioned European restaurant with its marble tables and plush cushioned booths, but with a modernised touch. Or maybe perhaps an expensive New York steak restaurant.
Either way there is a delightful ambience, that makes you feel like you are dining somewhere really fancy but with prices that are much lower than you would expect from a Michelin starred chef.
We sat in a extremely comfortable booth and ordered two desserts and two cocktails.
Dessert Number 1 was their Torta de Chocolate (chocolate cake).
Three layers of moist chocolate cake, topped with ganache, filled with a thick layer of chocolate fudge and also a layer of hazelnut praline paste. Absolutely stunning and I think it might be the best chocolate cake I’ve eaten in Lima so far!
Dessert Number 2 was their Nutella and Cacao tart. A buttery base topped with a silky smooth Nutella and chocolate ganache. It comes served with a deliciously sweet butterscotch sauce to pour over the top.
I loved this dessert both with and without the butterscotch sauce, but it is extremely rich, so be prepared to pace yourself! The combination of chocolate and hazelnut in both of these desserts is just delicious and an absolute favourite of mine.
The fact that these are quite rich desserts meant that our cocktails needed to be refreshing and fruity as a perfect contrast. Mine was a gin based cocktail with apple and cucumber and garnished with rosemary. Super refreshing, light and delicious. My boyfriend’s was a lychee based cocktail with a little orange and tasted just like a turkish delight. Just delightful with the perfect level of sweetness.
We sat at the bar before leaving for my boyfriend to finish the day with a glass of scotch, and then headed home for me to spend the evening baking my birthday cake. My boyfriend had to study at uni all evening so it seemed like the perfect excuse to bake!
We ate the cake the next day as part of my English afternoon tea party based birthday celebrations which also included a feast of homemade English treats to bring a little of my home to Lima. My grandma’s fruit cake, Eton Mess, chicken liver pate, sausage rolls, Millionaires Shortbread and not forgetting finger sandwiches filled with cucumber and chicken & avocado.
Everything was eaten alongside a large pan of mulled wine. I mean it is winter here after all, so it felt like a perfect excuse to drink it!
Scones were on the menu too, and also mince pies, jam tarts, mini scotch eggs and flapjacks, but unfortunately I ran out of time to get everything made, but it’s a good excuse to have another celebration, no?!
The birthday cake was the star of the show and came from a recipe from Jamie Magazine (it’s not on his website unfortunately), which my mum kindly sent to me from England. It’s based on a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, so the cake is packed full of my favourite hazelnut and chocolate combination.
A fluffy chocolate sponge cake (made with 6 eggs!) is sliced into three, very carefully, and each layer is smothered in hazelnut praline mixed with melted chocolate and cornflakes to give the texture of the crispy inner layer and the smooth chocolate inside a Ferrero Rocher. Then a super light swiss meringue is turned into a chocolate buttercream which is spread onto all three layers and then it coats the outside to give a beautiful base for the chocolate ganache, filled with hazelnuts, that is poured over the top of the cake (after the cake has been refrigerated for 30 mins) and allowed to drip delectably down the sides. I was supposed to decorate with Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but they are very expensive here, and after the fortune I spent on hazelnuts I figured that they would be best used for decoration too!
After all that eating and baking, Sunday was a relaxing finish to the weekend, filled with cake and champagne for two. Just perfect.
All in all the weekend was a success full of food, drinks, laughter and fun. I had an absolute blast. Thank you everyone!
La P’tite France Bakery // Jr. Gonzales Prada 599, Surquillo
Mercado Surquillo No 1. // Paseo de la Republica, Cuadra 53, Surquillo – on the border with Miraflores (Limited parking available outside)
El Cevichano // Stall 191, Mercado Surquillo No 1. (see above for address)
Popular (de aquí y de allá) // Centro Commercial Larcomar, Miraflores (underground parking available for the shopping centre)
NOS // Av. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa 660, Miraflores (valet parking is available)