Monday, July 09, 2007

Pianos, Pisco, and Peru!

Date night. With a little culture thrown in courtesy of the Portland International Piano festival and a recital by Paul Roberts, who w has informed me is a world renowned DeBussy scholar. I have to say I have never heard DeBussy played better. Of course I had never heard DeBussy played at all, but still, to my rock-addled ears, he was pretty damn good. Anyway, this was all prelude to the main point of date night (at least for me!), which is dinner out. Tonight w had in her head to go to our local outpost of Peruvian cuisine, Andina Restaurant in northwest Portland.

Going native with a refreshing Pisco Sour

Andina is a place here in PDX where they explore the amazing mix of influences that is Peruvian food. Spanish, Asian, South American...all bases are covered, and after our excellent meal here, Andina is absolutely back on our radar. I started out with a traditional Peruvian cocktail, a Pisco Sour (recipe to follow), which is the national drink of Peru and Chile. Pisco is a grape based brandy common in South America, shaken with lemon juice, sugar, and an egg white then served up in a martini glass. Delicious, with that refreshing sweet/tart balance I love in a well made libation and also what makes this a perfect summer sipper. I’m already planning tomorrow’s trip to the liquor store!

Yucca Rellena: fried+creamy= happiness!

Appetite firmly whetted, we dove in with starters of Yucca Rellana, a cheese-stuffed yuca that is then deep fried and served on an aji amarilla and ricotta cheese sauce. This was really nice, satisfying my cravings for all things fried and creamy. We also had an outstanding dish of Conchas a la Parilla, which are grilled diver scallops with a garlic-lime butter sauce and crispy fried onions. Wow! Really fresh, and the sauce set off the scallops perfectly.

Mixto Chorrillano Cebiche

Next up was one of Andina’s signature Cebiches, ours a mix of five different fish and shellfish, which was incredibly fresh, the lime cure clearing your palates and the occasional habanero bit adding that eye bulging touch of heat.

Aroz con Pato

For entrees, w had the Halibut al Ricoto y Kion, which was a nicely roasted piece of fish set in a bowl with a shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon, and bok choy broth. Very tasty but a bit too much broth. The best thing was the side of asparagus-quinoa fried rice. I had a sensational dish of grilled duck breast and crisp confit duck leg served over cilantro-infused rice and fresh vegetables. The simple name of Arroz con Pato doesn't do justice to the complexity of flavors and the tender, savory duck meat that had me swooning.

We finally finished with a chocolate mousse dish topped with an espresso can see me hovering in anticipation in the background.....
Culture, cocktails, and killer Peruvian cuisine. I couldn't ask for more!!

Pisco Sour

2 oz. Gran Pisco
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. superfine sugar
1 egg white
dash of bitters
Shake all ingreients well and strain into martini glass. Prepare for feelings of well being!

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