Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dining Among the Ruins

What does one do with a 7-hour layover in Lima? I decided that dinner at Huaca Pucllana would be the best bet.

Huaca Pucllana is the name of both an excavated pre-Colombian ruin in the heart of Lima's Miraflores residential district and the upscale restaurant beside the site.

Really, my layover was just enough time for a couple of drinks at the nearby Doubletree hotel followed by a leisurely dinner, as it's a 45-minute cab ride from the airport to Miraflores, and I still had to give myself enough time to check in for my international flight home.

I wasn't otherwise spending any time in Lima. I had read that, except for some world-class museums and good restaurants, it's not an especially inviting place for a traveler. It's a big, polluted city with constant fog, rampant poverty and lots of crime. But the last flight from Cusco leaves mid-afternoon, and most flights back to the states leave at 11:30 PM, so I researched dining opportunities. Among upscale restaurants Huaca Pucllana, though generally garnering positive reviews, might not be the top choice for food alone (from what I've read that honor usually goes to Astrid & Gaston), but it certainly has the most dramatic setting. Dining on the terrace one has a prime view of the floodlit ruins.

As it was my last meal in Peru, I opted for the chicharon de cuy as my appetizer. After all, finding a guinea pig appetizer in New York isn't so easy. For my main course I chose the red quinoa-crusted corvina (Pacific sea bass), since the only fish available in Cusco had been trout. The fish was excellent but the accompanying mix of artichoke hearts and asparagus was somewhat of an uninspired jumble.

There were many interesting-looking, fairly elaborate desserts on the menu, but I was pretty full and opted to try some lucuma ice cream. Though lucuma is a fruit, the ice cream actually had a flan-like flavor. The Wikipedia entry describes the flavor of the fruit as a cross between maple and sweet potato.


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