The Spud Diaries – Entry 9 – New Food and Friends

The Spud Diaries – Entry 9 – New Food and Friends


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PLATED: Struck with the immensity of the task before me (describing the food that is, not eating it) I strategically consider where to start on the Tanta dining experience at Lima.

PLATED: Struck with the immensity of the task before me (describing the food that is, not eating it) I strategically consider where to start on the Tanta dining experience at Lima.

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Off to the coast it is to sample the best potato dishes a top Peruvian restaurant has to offer.

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LET me introduce you now to some super folk: Sam and Holly. They're Aussies.

They're communication specialists for CGIAR, based in Lima, and they're just top people.

We take an outing where Sam displays Bond-like skills navigating the traffic.

They are aware of my potato quest and obligingly take me to lunch at one of the gems in the Peruvian "gastronomical" scene - Tanta.

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It is owned by Gaston Acurio, who is the Jamie Oliver/Heston Heston Blumenthal/Peter Russel Clarke (okay, maybe more Curtis Stone) of Peru.

He has done immeasurable work to lift the profile of this country's cuisine, utilising many native foods.

That includes potatoes. Lots of potatoes. I throw caution to the wind and dive headlong into the advice given me by culinary guides.

Today's menu includes:

  • Aji de gallina: Old-fashioned Peruvian spicy creamed chicken served with yellow potatoes and white rice with corn.
  • Causa Limeña: Cold mashed potato pie stuffed with chicken, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, mayo and a bit of Huancaina.
  • Duo de papas a la Huancaina: Boiled yellow potatoes in spicy Huancaina cheese sauce and hot rocoto pepper sauce.
  • Papas rellenas clasicas: Fried beef-stuffed potatoes served with Peruvian sauces.
  • Cebiche clasico: Catch of the day Cebiche- Fish "cooked" in citrus juice served with shredded onion.

My ruse is soon up in playing the part of a food writer after I'm asked what I think of each dish and repeatedly reply: "Yeah, real good, eh?"

That's probably not going to cut it for the higher end food publications but it will suffice for a rambling online blog.

Pushed though, I could whirl out the following overall description:

"Tanta's food mesmerizes as much as the panoramic view peering over Lima's coastline. Each meal throbs with the heart of thousands of years of Peruvian history, rich in flavours and textures which provide a sensory insight into this historic part of the world.

"From the salted olives to the finely slivered red onion adorning the plate's edge, no ingredient is included simply for the sake of it; each takes up a pivotal role within the creamy, complex drama played out on the dish before you, much to the well-pleased applause from the palate of the diner, each of whom has proven an astute audience member, having come to experience Tanta in the first place."

So basically the food was yeah, real good, eh.

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  • Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.​ 
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