*This post was originally published by Julia Ardila for kriteria.
Much has been said of Peruvian cuisine:
That thanks to pioneers like Gaston Acurio, it has made its mark on the world stage in terms of fine dining, that it puts the spotlight on the Andean region’s unrivalled biodiversity, or even that thousands of potato varieties can be found in Peru (and naturally, in its flavorful cuisine).
For Chef Virgilio Martinez and his team of chefs and researchers, gastronomy is just another way of understanding the vertical geography of his country.
In this way, the tasting menu at Central — his flagship restaurant based in Lima, ranked among the top five restaurants in the world — offers a culinary journey featuring flora and fauna from each elevation’s ecosystem.
Ingredients range from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes, to the country’s high and low jungles, and even levels of extreme altitude. The Central kitchen thereby serves as a laboratory for experimentation as well as a storeroom for products that tell the stories of dozens of small farmers from all over Peru.
Keep reading for a visual tour through the Mater Elevations Tasting Menu, a comprehensive journey through 17 altitudes of Peruvian biodiversity, and perhaps one of the greatest contemporary expressions of Peru’s cultural heritage.
Note: MASL stands for “Meters Above Sea Level”
Don’t forget to pin this for later!
1. Rock Molluscs (- 10 MASL)
Sea snail, mussel, sargassum, limpet
The shells pictured are not edible, but came accompanied by an algae crisp to be dipped in a mussel tartar with mollusc and sea snails.
2. Desert Plants (180 MASL)
Huarango, cactus, sweet potato leaf, loche
This dish consisted of three separate bites. We especially enjoyed the sweet potato leaf and the traditional Peruvian juice called leche de tigre. The drink featured an unusual herb called “verdolaga” that was tangy, salty and acidic all at once.
3. Mil Moray (3500 MASL)
Potato, tree tomato, alpaca, muña mint
The server told us to dip the potatoes — which had been cooked on a bed of mineral salt rocks from the region of Maras — in a minty sauce covered in dehydrated alpaca heart shavings. At this point things were just starting to get interesting!What's the most innovative #tasting menu you've ever had? Here's our pick! #Lima Click To Tweet
4. Thick Stems (3400 MASL)
Olluco, chincho, onion, field mustard
A tasty, potato-based duo consisting of a straw-like roll-up filled with a sweet mousse. This was accompanied by a tasty potato-based sauce. The “olluco” is a type of Andean potato that comes in yellow, orange, pink and red, and was brought with the dish to showcase its primary ingredient.
5. Waters of Nanay (450 MASL)
Piranhas, cocona, achiote, huampo bark
Yes, those are piranhas! No, we didn’t actually eat the heads, but atop were served two strips of piranha skin. They were fished out of the river Nanay, and fried in oil flavored with achiote seeds. On top, there were dollops of citric cocona fruit sauce.
6. Forest Cotton (300 MASL)
River shrimp, llanten, huito, pacae
These are lentil fritters topped with shrimp. Not pictured, a cottony-textured pacae fish and a gingery broth for an extra kick.
7. High Jungle (1900 MASL)
Macambo, cassava, copoazu, air potato
The smoky coca bread was certainly a highlight of the meal, accompanied by an air potato crisp and butter-like condiments.How to eat your way through #Peru's elevations...literally! #lima Click To Tweet
8. Marine Soil (0 MASL)
Sea urchin, pepino melon, razor clam, seaweed
A fresh dish to start the next round of dishes and wash out the last’s smoky flavor. The cucumber was delicious and almost sweet, while the signature taste of sea urchin pervaded the whole dish’s flavor.
9. Tree Points (1200 MASL)
Avocado, kiwicha, arracacha, lake algae
This dish presents a bite of tiny kiwicha grains, from the amaranth family, served with avocado, lake algae and arracacha, a tuber native to the Andes.
10. Land Of Corn (2010 MASL)
Kculli, purple, chulpi, piscorunto
A potpourri of four different types of corn, including “kculli” which is used to make the typical Peruvian “chicha morada” drink. By the way, chica morada is a delicious purplish-black beverage that features not just kculli, but also pineapple rinds, cinnamon, cloves and sometimes other ingredients like strawberry and lime. Yum!
11. Amazonian Plain (600 MASL)
Churo, cecina, black chili pepper, bellaco
A foamy, scrumptious and savory part of the meal that reminded us almost of a warm soup, with a rather different consistency.
12. Coastal Harvest (20 MASL)
Scallops, yellow chili pepper, milk, tumbo
An unexpectedly satisfying milk crisp served with scallops, traditional Peruvian yellow chili pepper sauce, and the sauce of “tumbo,” a fruit closely related to passion fruit.Which of these imaginative dishes would you want to eat first? #12 is our pick! Click To Tweet
13. Sea Coral (10 MASL)
Octopus, crab, squid, sea lettuce
The sea coral dish definitely reminded us of the ocean, with octopus and crab topped with squid ink crisps and algae foam.
14. High Andes Mountains (4100 MASL)
Pork, black mashwa, macre, kañiwa
Baked pancetta marinated in a miso-like emulsion of black tubers, plated like a flower-covered forest bed. Need we say more?
15. Amazonian White (400 MASL)
Yacon, coconut, wrinkled lemon
The first dessert features the crispy root vegetable yacon cofermented with brown butter sauce, served with coconut and lemon.
16. Lower Andes (2750 MASL)
Cacao, chaco clay, cushuro, muña
This dessert is all about chocolate! It may not look like it, but those gelatinous pieces are actually the viscous body that cover cacao beans.
17. Medicinals & Plant Dyes (3050 MASL)
Congona, matico, malva, pilipili
A refreshing, herbal beverage eased us into the end of an unforgettable meal.
Address: Santa Isabel 376. Miraflores, Lima, Peru Phone Number: (+51 1) 2416721 / 2428575 / 2428515 . Follow them on Instagram.
Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later!
About Julia Ardila
Trained as a journalist, Julia Ardila prefers the more sensorial side of journalism, where soaking up experiences, design and culture are what matters most. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University and later completing a Masters degree in Food Design in Milan, Italy, Julia worked on the editorial/ photo team at Design Diffusion News in Milan, while soaking up the city’s matchless design culture. After two years in the northern Italian city, she moved back to her family’s home country of Colombia, and realizing the great potential of the local design industry, made it a priority to build a space to showcase the best of local design. The result is kriteria, a portal to Latin American design, featuring interior design, architecture, fashion and food design. Soak up the culture!
Latest posts by Guest Author (see all)
- Central Restaurante: An Innovative Terroir Tasting Experience In Lima - Jun 26, 2018
- How To Make Youtiao Like You’re From China - Feb 22, 2018
- How To Eat Your Way Around Georgia (The Country) - Sep 25, 2017
- How To Make Apfelstrudel Like You’re From Austria - Mar 6, 2017
- Top 10 Fried Snacks To Savor On An Indonesian Adventure - Jun 23, 2016