Lima Travel Guide
When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
Set foot in Lima, Peru's International Airport and even before heading through customs you'll spot Doña Pepa on display in the duty-free shops. She's not a woman exactly, but a cartoon mascot lending her name to a sprinkled cookie beloved around the country. Doña Pepa is to Peru as Twix is to the US; it's available at every corner store checkout counter and sold in large "fun size" to tourists at airports.
It even takes a cake form"Turron de Doña Pepa"which is a sticky, anise-heavy baked good. For easy eating and toting along on walks, we definitely prefer the cookie.
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Flip open the ginormous tome that is the September issue of Vogue magazine and, almost near the end, this stunning photo presents itself. The entire spread is essentially a love song by the Vogue-favorite photographer Mario Testino, to his native Peru. Taking editor-at-large Hamish Bowles along for a ride down to Lima, the two visit Testino's newly opened museum, MATE.
MATE stands for Asociación Mario Testino and, since its premiere exhibiton "Todo o Nada" features only Testino's work, MATE comes across as a monument the photographer has built to himself. Even visiting MATE on our own, last month during a brief stay in Lima, can't shake that feeling. MATE will eventually feature the work of other Peruvian artists within its restored walls, but for now it's the domain of Testino devotees.
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"Terrain challenged" isn't exactly what you want to hear about the airport where your flight will be landing, but thanks to technology (thanks, technology!), it's now a cause for excitement rather than worry. Add this acronym to your travel vocabulary: RNP, or "Required Navigation Performance."
RNP is the hip, new navigation system that uses satellites and 3D calculations to devise the best route into an airport. Alaska Airlines, Southwest, Qantas and a couple others are old hats at using RNP by now, but LAN only made the switch in February to using the technology for the entire flight.
The lucky inaugural RNP route: Cusco-Lima, Peru. Though passengers onboard were more concerned with taking snapshots of the dramatic Andean scenery out the window, the pilots up front were enjoying 30.5 km shorter flying distance, 6.3 fewer minutes in the air, 644 kg less CO2 released into the air and 67.5 gallons of fuel savedand that's just on a single flight!
Peruvians take their cuisine seriously, and the rest of the world has started to as well. From the seafood feasts on the coast to the tongue-twisting fruits and herbs of the Amazonian jungle and not to mention the bounty of the pristine Andean environment, the country is a foodie paradise. On our recent trip to Lima, we got the chance to try several of the capital city’s newest and most exciting restaurants, and here are a few of our favorites.
This is the new restaurant at the Miraflores Park Hotel, which opened on July 1 with an entirely new design, chef and menu of nuevo peruano dishes…though Chef Federico Ziegler is actually from Argentina. The restaurant has an informal lounge area on a wooden deck out front, shaded by leafy palm fronds.
On Chef Ziegler’s menu you’ll find fusion dishes like home-smoked duck with a slow-cooked egg over sautéed mushrooms; a delicate wakame-marinated octopus carpaccio with crunchy red quinoa salad; low-temperature cooked ribeye with pecan-crusted sweet breads and creamed gobo root; and oven-baked paiche, a deliciously chunky Amazonian fish, with tomato fondant that goes great with a side of fresh asparagus sprinkled with shaved almond and parmesan. The dark chocolate hazelnut mousse mille feuille with mango and crème fraiche ice cream was our favorite of the desserts. Calle Los Carolinos 118; Miraflores, Lima; +51 (0)1 610 4000
While the summer is at its peak and you're no doubt tired of chugging bottled water under the sun at tourist sites, we're going to hit some of the world's best watering holes and down their famous summer cocktails. Bottoms up!
For many, a trip down to Peru means some serious Machu Picchu trekking, but we're frankly more interested in chasing down the best of the country's official drink: The Pisco Sour. Although Chile also lays claim to this tart concoction, the master of the double-sized, or Catedral, Pisco Sour is definitely in the center of Lima at the Hotel Bolivar.
A member of the classic grand dame hotels of the world, the Bolivar was a home-away-from-home for dignitaries and Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner, who was known to favor the Catedral Pisco Sours of the bar. We'll also freely admit to salivating at the mere mention of any "sour" cocktails, so Lima it is. No need to stay the night at the Gran Hotel Bolivar however, as only the bar and the building's architecture remember the golden days; the rooms leave something to be desired.
It's official: The 2009 foodie trend-before-it-even-happens is Peruvian. Last week we brought you Epicurious' prediction that Peruvian cuisine would be all the rage in 2009, and we found a few stateside restos where you can chow down on the new hotness.
But now tricky Bon Appetit has gone and one-upped the 'curious. From the '09 predictions list in BA's January issue:
Are you ready to expand your palate? Put down that steak and look beyond the salad plate at the world's best vegetarian restaurants.
The stereotype alone of South Americans as ardent meat eaters may put off vegetarian and vegan travelers altogether--or worse, leave them scrambling for the local equivalent of the granola bar. (Avoid!) But Lima's El Paraiso Bio Leben is not only a great source of cheap veggie food, it presents an alternative to all that churrascaria madness.
Head down to Lima, Peru, and you might not be expecting to find the biggest public display of brains in the world. But you will, tucked into an unspectacular museum in the country's capital, part of the National Neurological Science Institute hospital. At last count, 2998 brains were on display here (just a couple of donations needed to get over 3000!).
Researchers collect the brains to study disease and the effects of alcohol and drugs, and the specimens date back to 1942. If you want to see them for yourself, it's just a 30 cent entry charge, making it surely one of the bargain sightseeing spots around: just one one-hundredth of a cent per brain. Unfortunately, the museum is tucked into a dark alleyway where taxis fear to drive, so find a local brainiac to guide you there.
· Diseased Brains on Display in Peru [Yahoo News]