Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Not-so-auspicious Beginning

Lomo saltadoImage by jumbledpile via Flickr

Of course, my first day of blogging my food, and it's a day we went to the restaurant. :D However, I also did some shopping, so we'll talk about that a bit, too.

The boys got out of school early today, so we walked to Alex's restaurant together. I actually don't know if this restaurant has a name - there's not one posted. But, the cooks name is Alex, so I'll call it Alex's restaurant - not to be confused with Alice's. ;) Actually, it's a family run business - Alex and the two servers are brothers. They have a lot of kitchen help, and the place is always packed. It's only open for lunch - they open around 11:00, and close when the food is gone, usually around 3pm. I love going there. All the meals include soup or an entrada, and then a main course (segunda). The entrada is often papas a la huancaina or papas ocopa. I'll have more information on these another time, when I either cook them, or have them at the restaurant.

Prices at Alex's are extremely reasonable, even by Peru standards. A full meal of soup/entrada, main course and drink runs from 3.50 soles to 5. soles. Today's exchange is about 3.10 to a dollar, so we get each meal for well under $2USD each.

To start, we all got the soup, which was a chicken soup with semolina (sort of like grits, but made from wheat - like cream of wheat). It's mostly broth, with giblets, neck and feet, and a little bit of celery, carrots and potato. However, we didn't eat it - we had it packaged to bring home. It keeps for a couple days, and I often give it to the boys for their 'lonche' in the evening.

David had pollo frito. This is his favorite meal from this restaurant. It consists of a single piece of chicken (usually a breast or thigh) that is flattened, seasoned and pan fried (frito means fried) - not breaded. The plate includes a good salad (romaine, tomato, beets, carrots, onion, broccoli with a lemon vinaigrette), rice and french fries. He ate every bit of it today.

Franco prefers the suprema de pollo, and that's what he had today. It's the same meal as David, except the chicken is in the form of a breaded cutlet. He didn't eat all of his rice today, but did pretty well with the rest of it. Not bad, considering they had a bunch of junk food today at school - it was a party day.

I opted for the lomo saltado today. 'Lomo' is loin - in this case, beef loin. It's a Peruvian/Chinese fusion dish. (There is a very large Chinese community in Peru, and they've had a big influence on the food) It's basically a stir-fry, with finely chopped beef, potatoes, chopped tomatos and onions quickly sauteed together with soy sauce. Cilantro is added at the last moment. This is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes to eat AND to cook. The next time I cook it at home, I'll take pictures and post the recipe proper.

After we ate, it was time to hit the supermarket. I didn't buy much, just enought to get us through the next few days - about $25 worth. I bought the boys a frozen pizza, and some bacon to put on it. Bacon here is leaner and not as smoky as bacon in the US, but it's still pretty good. I saved some of the bacon to use for the lentil soup I'm making on Friday. I don't usually buy bread at the grocery store because the bakery is cheaper. But today I was tempted by the sight of fresh potato bread. It is a delight - thick crust, and super chewy with a heavy, earthy flavor. Super stuck in the oven for a minute and then served with a little butter. That with some of the soup we brought home is what I had for dinner tonight.

So there it is - a day in the food. ;)
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