Authentic Peruvian Cuisine Stateside
By Kelly Villasuso
In the last decade or so, Perú has been on the tip of the international gastronomic world’s tongue more frequently than you can say, “dame cebiche, por favor.” Credit for this notoriety has been donned upon chefs like Gaston Acurio who have dedicated themselves to taking Perú on the road.
Frequently called the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, Chef Gaston Acurio set out to share the unfathomable biodiversity of his country — 90 different microclimates equal a multitude of potatoes, corn, fruit and seafood for your dining pleasure — and to elevate its cuisine through passion and pride, one palate at a time.
Authenticity Confirmed FirstHand
After recently visiting Perú and experiencing both its traditional and its more nouveau cuisines, I can honestly say Acurio is spot-on with delivering an authentic Peruvian experience stateside at La Mar in Mandarin Oriental, Miami.
The beautiful Biscayne Bay backdrop and its organic, contemporary design harken back to dining in Lima and along the coast. However, it was more than the setting that created a bona fide Peruvian experience at La Mar — it was the authenticity found in the passion and patriotism of each person encountered during dinner there. From the masterful Chef Diego Oka and the knowledgeable Sommelier Fernando Samudio, to the dedicated and proficient Ed Rivero, the love of their country’s history, cuisine, and appellations permeated each sip and every bite … and it didn’t involve a plane ticket!
The Cebiche Sampler won the cultural trifecta, fusing the ethnic diversity of Perú in the criollo, the chifa, and the traditional cebiche, while the Cebiche Barrio also came out a winner with the rocoto pepper leche de tigre marinade. Chef Oka’s artistry in the Nikkei causa was made all the more enjoyable with the history lesson on the origins of the dish from Señor Rivero. The Chaufa Aeropuerto transports you to El Barrio Chino while the Conchitas serves up the Peruvian coast in each delicate lomo saltado sauce-covered scallop. Along the way be sure to partake in the national drink of Perú, the Pisco sour, as La Mar does not miss the mark on this national treasure, or allow Sommelier Samudio to introduce you to surprisingly delicious Peruvian wines. If you save room for dessert, be sure to try the inventive Mascarpone, Maiz Morado y Frutos Rojos.