To say farewell and thank-you to me, for all my work on the Hampy web site, Jorge ordered in an absolutely massive pizza tonight; and myself, Jorge, Ashley, and Stephan managed to team up and devour it at the Hampy office. Half chicken, half pepperoni. And a superb bottle of Argentinean Mendoza red wine to go with it. Couldn't ask for a better way to finish up my time with Hampy, and with Cusco.
Also known as Cassava, yuca is a starchy, soft white vegetable that's eaten in many parts of the world, but more than anywhere else in its birthplace of tropical South America. It tastes like a bland potato, it's usually served boiled, and it's surprisingly filling. I ate quite a lot of yuca during my jungle trip in Pilcopata, where it's a staple food for every meal of the day.
Delicious, vegetarian dish of beans and potatoes, simmered in a spicy sauce of chili, egg, milk, and onion, and served with rice. This afternoon, for my final cooking lesson with Amigos, our amazing chef Ricardo (of tiradito de pescado and causa rellena fame) showed us how to cook up some kapchi de habas, another spicy dish local to the Cusco area. A great final addition to my Andean cooking repertoire, and another one that I'll have to make again sometime!
After our tour of the Pisac ruins this morning, Jesus and I went for a very expensive, very classy, and very big buffet lunch at a hotel / restaurant in Urubamba (next town along in the Valle Sagrado). It was quite an excellent meal — or so I thought at the time. Endless plates of pasta, chicken, bean stew, alpaca (first time for me!), and mouth-watering cake. It was all positively delicious. It all cost a whopping USD$15 per head (about s/50 — you can get a 3-course meal in Cusco for s/2). And about 5 hours later, it all rose right back up, and gave me a violent bout of food poisoning. Beware the top-dollar, top-brass buffets: because clearly they ain't always top-quality.
A gourmet dish of spicy mashed potatoes and shredded chicken, garnished with egg and vegetables, causa rellena makes for a great meal or afternoon snack. This afternoon, for my third weekly cooking lesson at Amigos, the acclaimed chef Ricardo (of tiradito de pescado fame) showed a small group of us how to prepare causa rellena. He did most of the cooking, we did most of the eating. Here's how you do it.
After the success of making lomo saltado in last Thursday's cooking class, I decided to come back for more this week. Tiradito de pescado is a delicious dish of raw fish, served cold with a chili and lemon paste sauce, and with sweet potato and corn. This week, not only did we have this gourmet cuisine to prepare; we also had a professional chef instructing us, a bigger kitchen to work with (Jesus's kitchen), and a bigger class. ¡Perfecto y muy Rico!
At this evening's celebratory drinks for Amigos' birthday, I decided to order a cocktail called a cholo lindo. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded local, and I was game for most anything. But not for this. It was full of anís — a really strong, particularly foul liquorice-like substance — and just the smell of it made me want to pass out. I got through about ¼ of it, and team Amigos helped me finish the rest. Cholo lindo: never again!
Delicious traditional Peruvian dish of chopped-up beef or lamb, fried potato chips, tomato, and some spices. Usually served with rice. This afternoon, Juan Carlos held a cooking class at the tiny kitchen at Amigos, and 5 of us cooked up and then ate some lomo saltado. It's really quite a simple dish, and it's very easy to make. I'll have to try cooking it up by myself sometime.
On the real city tour of Cusco today, I had my first sip of real chicha. Most places in Peru serve chicha morada, which looks (and kinda tastes) like grape juice, and which has little or no alcohol content. Real chicha, on the other hand, can only be found in chicherias, and is much stronger in alcohol content. Tastes pretty good, and at the dodgy chicherias in the slums, it's only s/0.30 for a big cup's worth. But you don't want to drink too much of it, or you'll end up like the alcoholics that hang around there all day long.
I don't know what it was that we put in our home-made pasta tonight that was bad. But whatever it was, it was real bad. Jack and myself cooked up some quick pasta napolitana at Loki tonight, using ingredients that we'd bought at the San Pedro market. Pasta, tomatoes, packet sauce, cheese, avocado, onion, spinach, etc. A few minutes after finishing it, I felt sick. Then, later, I vomited it all right back up. Then, I had diarrhoea for two days. Talk about food poisoning. Something from that market was deadly.