Sorry for being MIA everyone, but I was traveling around Peru for a few weeks. Jealous, huh? Well try not to be while I share with you some of the amazing treats Peru has to offer.
Although I did research places to eat in Peru, I wasn’t super excited about most of the recommendations. They were either touristy or not traditional Peruvian cuisines. So I did the unthinkable and Medi and I asked the locals what were some of their recommendations. La Cusquenita was one the recommendations we got from a sales person in Cusco and it was one of our favorites! Even better, the restaurant was filled with locals and only had a few foreigners. SCORE! So nice to not have to plan where to eat for once
House Hot Sauces
Mote and Puspo
Corn and Fava Beans
A complimentary classic Cusco snack of boiled corn and boiled toasted fava beans is given to open the appetite for what is to come. I never really had such HUGE corn kernels, especially ones that weren’t sweet. The mildness of the corn against the almost meat-like depth of the beans are a delightful contract. A nice change from the typical bread served in the States and we pretty much gobbled up the whole plate.
Chicha de Jora – Blanca 7 pesos/liter
Corn Beer – White
is a term used in Central and South America to describe several varieties of fermented and un-fermented beverages, mainly derived from corn, other grains, or fruits. Chicha de jora
is a corn beer that goes through the same production process as beer, but has a low alcohol content of less than 5 percent.
As seen in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, chicha was original prepared by chewing and spitting out the corn – the saliva would breakdown the corn starch into maltose. Um yeah, I’ll stick with the modern version which I found to be delicious with a nice slight sour aftertaste.
Rocoto Rellano 10 pesos
Stuffed Rocoto Peppers
For an appetizer, we decided on stuffed peppers. This one was fried and stuffed with beef and vegetables including peas and carrots. Can be eaten as is or add some of their house hot sauces, which I recommend. Good, but nothing too special for me. Some cheese would of been amazing.
One of the great things about La Cusquenita is their small stage where they showcase traditional regional dances. Not just one or two dances either, seemed like over ten dances. Very cool and amazing to see all the different folkloric costumes and dances. At the end of the show, the dancers invite some of the customers to partake in the dancing festivities.
Seco de Cordero
Cilantro Stewed Lamb
Seco de cordero is amazing and one of our favorite dishes on the whole trip. Besides the great huge portions (picture does it no justice), the tender lamb compliments the delicious cilantro stew so well. The stew is hearty, savory, and little spicy. Their frejoles or beans are flavorful as well, thanks to seasoning the beans with a sofrito. Highly recommend!
Caldo de Gallina 20 pesos
Sadly, I wasn’t feeling that great. So, I ordered safe and got a chicken soup. Later, I found out it was really gallina or hen. Hen has a tougher, redder meat, and a much stronger taste. No wonder I was having a hard time trying to get a piece of the meat! Not only that, the broth was bland. But to be fair I tasted the seco de cordero first, which invaded my palate with such overwhelming flavors that when I finally had my soup I was pretty disappointed in the contrast. Granted my illness and the seco de cordero biased me, so by all means order away or check out the other soups.
Picarones 5 pesos
Picarones, a popular dessert in Peru, are squash and sweet potato fritters. At La Cusquenita, women in classic Cusco style Chola dress – a tall white hat and broad pleated skirt make donut like frybread out in the courtyard. Once served on your table, the picarones are drizzled in molasses. YUM!
No wonder this restaurant is packed! No trip to Cusco is complete without a visit to La Cusquenita and if you’re lucky might see an amazing parade at the main square in Cusco like we did.
Address: Ave Tullumayo 227
Hours: 11am to 5pm