Friday 20 October 2017

Ireland can learn a lot from Lima, Peru's fabulous foodie capital

Travel Insider

Aerial view of Miraflores Park, Lima - Peru. Photo: Deposit
Aerial view of Miraflores Park, Lima - Peru. Photo: Deposit
Virgilio Martinez, Central Restaurant, Lima. Photo: Central
Hotel B, Barranco, Lima
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

One of the world's top chefs is coming to Galway, and we could learn a lot from Lima - his hometown.

Lima used to be a city to skip.

Tourists traipsing through Peru advised one another to get in and out as quickly as possible, trekking onwards towards Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Well, times are changing.

Visiting the city last week, I found a sprawling, traffic-clogged South American capital crammed with shanty towns and complication, sure.

But I also found hip ’hoods like Barranco, a surfer-strewn coastline, edgy street art and some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.

“There is a creative awakening in Lima,” as Virgillio Martínez of Central Restaurant (see below) told me... and that creativity goes way beyond ceviche.

“People of my generation started to come back 10 years ago with enthusiasm and positivity," Martiínez said. "Now we are seeing our own luxury, which is about being authentic and what we are.”

This chef calls it a “Peruvian perspective”.

Harnessing the country’s astounding biodiversity and layers of Andean, Spanish and Asian influence, Martínez and others are cooking up a storm.

Central ranks as the world’s fourth best restaurant, but it’s just the beginning. From the elegance of Astrid y Gastón to the Amazonian experimentation of Ámaz, this is a gastronomic game-changer.

What can Ireland learn from Lima?

You don’t have to travel to Peru to find out. Martínez is one of a stellar line-up of chefs speaking at Food on the Edge in Galway this October.

At a time when food tourism is so important, and Ireland is making such strides in telling its own food story, I can’t wait to see what this wunderkind makes of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Gastro Galway

Virgilio Martinez, Central Restaurant, Lima.jpg
Virgilio Martinez, Central Restaurant, Lima. Photo: Central

Early bird tickets are now on sale for Food on the Edge (foodontheedge.ie).

The symposium takes place on October 24 and 25, with speakers including Virgillio Martínez (above), Christian Puglisi of Relae in Copenhagen, and Galway’s own foodie godfather, JP McMahon, all presenting for 15 minutes on the ‘Future of Food’.

Tickets are available at €195 for one day, and €350 for two days, until July 31 (rising to €225 and €400 from August 1), including lunch and evening entertainment.

This really is the cream of the culinary world, right here in Galway.

Lovin' Lima

Hotel b, Barranco.jpg
Hotel B, Barranco, Lima

Barranco is Lima’s hottest ’hood, and Hotel B (hotelb.pe/barranco, above) is Barranco’s hottest hotel. Set in a mansion dating from 1898, the 17-room stunner oozes conversation-starter artworks, rooms are seductively styled (the ‘do-not disturb’ sign is a slick black tie, hung on door handles), and the bar does a pisco sour loaded with Peruvian punch and pizazz. Originally built in the style of the Belle Époque, rooms in the mansion start from around €300 per night (rack rates: from $490).

How to get there? British Airways (ba.com) now flies direct from London Gatwick to Lima from £650/€820. tHe flight is 12.5 hours.

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