Not cha cha…only the name of the restaurant that offered the best meal I’ve eaten in legitimately several years. Only had to fly from New York City to Cusco, Peru to enjoy the culinary legitimacy of Gaston Acurio. Not new to the scene, Acurio has restaurants around South America, Mexico D.F., Madrid, San Francisco and soon will grace us in NYC! (Thank God!)
I’ve never felt so compelled to share with the world the flavors of any food artisan. Literally I wanted to lick my plate. To begin, I ordered (per my waiters suggestion) the Ceviche del Sur that had pulpo (squid), calamares (calamari), choclo (sweet corn), & maiz tostado (toasted kernels of corn) in a vegetable cream sauce and served with fresh onion on top. The image to the left is courtesy of the Chi Cha Facebook page and close to the dish I ordered. Not one morsel was left unattended on my plate. A-ma-zing. I knew I’d hit the jackpot on this restaurant.
In ordering, I had wanted to do some traditional plates and my second dish was their house empanada, a dish I’m quite particular about after becoming acquainted with El Sanjuanino in Buenos Aires. No disappointment – simply elation, pure enjoyment. Filled with beef, mushrooms, and peppers and adorned with a fantastically spicy chopped chili pepper, fresh lime juice and salad of chopped onion and red pepper, it was to die for. My dad had been telling me how disappointed he’d been in the empanadas he’d tried in his travels from Santiago, Chile until our meeting in Cusco. Too bad he left this morning and didn’t get to experience this empanada. He’d have gone way long.
To round out the experience, my waiter suggested a digestive of a special anise from Arequipa served alongside two petit fours – a delicate little alfajor (whoever painstakingly made it, well done) and a sugared chicha (black maize) treat.
After dinner I struck up a conversation with the couple next to me from El Salvador. Their meal was equally as enjoyable – pulpo a la brisa (grilled octopus), recoto relleno (the stuffed peppers I had at lunch but better), a green pepper soup and chicken curry-type dish.
You better be salivating at this point. If not, run to your nearest Gaston Acurio restaurant immediately. No website…check on Facebook and you can see evidence of his greatness. Yum and Yum.