Lima Foodie Getaway
Arrive in the late evening of your international flight to Lima, Peru. Once hailed as the City of Kings by Spanish conquistadors, Lima was South America’s richest city. Beyond the urban sprawl, colonial splendor still awaits. Quiz Limeños on what makes their city tick and they’ll wax on lyrical about ceviche, the perfect lomo saltado, and head for the Pacific sunset to drink up frothy Pisco Sours. A fascinating mix and melting pot of indigenous ancestry, colonial heritage, and Asian immigration, Lima is a tantalizing appetizer of Peru and its diverse flavors.
Upon arrival in Lima, meet your English-speaking driver and transfer to the new Westin San Isidro, a straight shot from the airport. The tallest building in Lima, the sleek Westin oozes coolness and style with its modern interior and spacious guest rooms with sweeping views of the city. Sip some vino at their wine bar, dine in the renowned Maras for Peruvian Nouvelle cuisine, relax in their exquisite spa, or fall into dreamland in their oversized bathtubs and cushy beds. (Westin Lima)
This morning meet your local host and driver to embark on a city tour in the historic quarter of the city, the loveliest vestige of colonial times in all of Latina America. For 300 years, during the Spanish Viceroyalty, Lima was the prized gem of the conquered territories and the richest city on the entire continent. Traverse Miraflores past the ancient huaca pucllana and through classy San Isidro and its ancient olive tress before arriving in the downtown. Explore the beautiful Plaza San Martin and the Plaza Mayor, the official center of Lima and the original site upon which Lima was founded. Gaze at the historic Cathedral, built in 1534, an architectural masterpiece. Walk past the Presidential Palace with its daily changing of the guard to marvel at its magnificent structure. Walk the charming side streets to appreciate the stunningly beautiful Balcones de Lima, balconies, hand-carved from wood and a testament to Peru’s colonial wealth. Stop at the San Francisco Church & Convent with its mosaics and fascinatingly creepy catacombs.
Nearby, stop in Chinatown with the huge arch over Capón Street. With a strong Chinese immigration in Peru, they have brought their own unique take to Peruvian ingredients in a special cuisine called chifa, meaning, “to eat” in Chinese. Chifas are a way of daily eating for many limeños from dim sum to garlic duck, and the traditional arroz chaufa, fried rice. Sit down for a light snack.
Visit Peru’s cult ceviche chef in his private restaurant, a sort of ceviche speakeasy, for lunch. There’s no sign on this quiet residential area, but loyal in-the-known limeños make a pilgrimage here to savor his work. With only a few tables, the maestro sends out whatever he’s preparing—no menus needed. Watch him and his open kitchen to see how he expertly prepares sublime ceviche, mind-bending tiradito (Peruvian-style saucey sashimi), and flash sauté hot entrees with sole so fresh that it melts like butter in your mouth.
After lunch, drive through the funky, bohemian neighborhood of Barranco with its typical Victorian mansions and art galleries. Return via the circuito de playas, the coastal route hugging the shore below the steep cliffs where the city sits. Here Limeños love to sun worship, jog, and catch some rays. After all, this is Latin America’s only capital on the Pacific coast!
In the evening, meet your driver to head to a restaurant icon in Lima. Chef Gastón Acurio has led the charge in exporting Peruvian cuisine to the world and it all started at his bastion of local haute cuisine in fashionable Miraflores. Sophisticated and hip yet low-key, savor creations like spicy roasted kid, noble robado, fish served in miso sauce with crunchy oysters, or seared filets of cuy (guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy), served Peking-style with fluffy purple-corn crepes. Pair with a killer wine list. (Westin Lima)
This morning, meet your local host to set out to discover the influences, flavors, and history behind Lima’s history and cuisine. Start your exploration at the colorful Surquillo market, a typical local market. Here, understand the foodstuffs that are the drivers of Peruvian cuisine that make it so exotic, novel, and balanced. Stacks of produce burst with color from the rainbow-colored limo peppers to orange huancaína chilies, vibrant Green key limes (for those Pisco sours), a potpourri of native potatoes, coca leaves, buckets of quinoa, pulses, and colored corn. Taste “island bananas,” a delicate, fragrant pink plantain, then camu camu, a tart acidic fruit from the Amazon. Savor aguaymanto, golden berries, or juicy chirimoyas (custard apples) and even favorite local snacks like amaranth puffs and cancha, toasted salty corn kernels. And more.
Ceviche, or better known as cebiche in Lima, is Peru’s national dish, and a passion fueled by nearly thousands of restaurants and stalls all over the capital. Visit a classic, neighborhood cevichería adored by locals for its fresh fish. With wood floors and photos of Latin American soccer heroes on the wall this huarique sports over 15 types of fish, dig into the traditional style with heaps of purple onions, choclo (maize), and a wedge of camote (sweet potato), laced with lime juice and racy red limo chilies. Wash it down with a pitcher of chicha morada, a dark sweet corn drink adored by Peruvians. During lunch, discuss the nuances of Peruvian ceviche and its preparation—and most importantly, how you can recreate it once home!
After lunch, head to the Larco museum, one of Peru’s most important archeological collections housed in a beautiful 18th century casona. Founded in 1926 by Rafael Larco, Peru’s “father” of modern archaeology, the collection focuses on pre-Colombian art. On a private tour, learn about the fascinating Moche Dynasty in the northern area of the country, responsible for many of the ceramics, both the general and erotic collections along with textiles. Return to the hotel and relax.
This evening, dine at one of Lima’s top chefs hottest restaurant in modern, hip digs. Conveying a market atmosphere with chalkboards offering the fresh, daily specials, this is Peruvian coastal cuisine at its finest. Try one of his tongue-dazzling causas with a gingery, Chilcanos, Peru’s favorite mixer of Pisco and Ginger Ale with a dash of lime. Leave room for tacu tacu, crisp bean and rice tamale served with shrimp. Delicioso. (Westin Lima)
This morning, rise before dawn to set off to the gigantic terminal pesquero in Lima where fish and seafood coming out of the mighty Pacific turn over at the speed of light. With seafood as one of the pillars of Peruvian cuisine, thanks to the Humboldt and warm northern currents, locals chow down on a dizzying array of shellfish and fish. Walk amid the action as mongers filet fish with the exactness of a surgeon. Bins are piled high with crabs and the prized conchas negras from Piura ready to be shucked. .
Return to the hotel to have breakfast and a well-earned nap.
After checkout, drive south of Lima towards Pachacamac, one of the largest religious centers on the Peruvian Coast. Virtually at the foot of the Pacific Ocean, Pachacamac was the most important pilgrimage center in ancient Peru. Learn about the fascinating history and architecture of Pachacamac with your guide, walking the various pyramids, temples and large plazas.
Venture into the fertile Lurín Valley, encased by the surrounding hills and nourished by a soft-flowing river. Nearby, get to know another one of Lima’s anchor chefs whose newest project is in the fertile valley. Focusing on slow food and traditional Peruvian cuisine with organic and sustainable products, he uses a series of mud oven and fire-fueled stoves to create his delicious, simple, element-driven cuisine. Join in a hands-on cooking class set amid this bucolic setting—and even learn the art of making Pisco Sours. Sit down to a late lunch, and feast, to devour your culinary creations.
After lunch, just around the corner. visit a unique organic farm that runs entirely on a special type of bio-fuel. Meet the owners (and inventors) to learn about this inspirational, sustainable project. Get to know the furry cuys, guinea pigs, they raise. Guinea pig in Peru is considered a culinary delicacy and these folks, according to top chefs, find their cuys among the purest.
Transfer in the late afternoon to Lima’s international airport for your departing international flight. Buen viaje.