Dear friends, family, customers, and community,

After much consideration, I have made the decision to leave 4 Suyos.

The last two-and-a-half years (one and a half of intense research, planning, and funding and one of operating) have been amazing! I’ve met incredible people who have not only been customers but some of whom have become close, personal friends; learned the intense, beautiful, and delicate art of running a restaurant; studied the ins and outs of a stunning culture and its food; learned how to cook, bake, sauté, slice, dice, and present; and have had the opportunity to live in, work in, and contribute to one of THE BEST neighborhoods in the city.

Thank you friends, family, customers, coworkers, employers, lenders, lawyers, accountants, vendors, art schools, far-away hosts, farmers, neighbors, and community members who’ve made these past few years some of the best of my life. Some of you are owed much more than I could ever repay.

And thank you to Humberto who gave me the courage to take on such a daring, exciting, and life-changing venture. I wish him and his mother Adriana the best of luck with 4 Suyos.

Until next time…

Erin Slucter

What do you get when you cross an ancient civilization with a conquistador and a French aristocrat’s chef?

Aji de Gallina

A mouth-watering, cheesy, peppery chicken stew also known as Aji de Gallina!

While not a sexy ceviche or a sinful paella, aji de gallina—a stew made of finely shredded chicken smothered in a creamy, nutty, cheesy sauce and served with a generous portion of rice and boiled potatoes—is a perfect winter comfort food.

Aji de gallina is a classic in Peruvian cuisine. It’s available at nearly every Peruvian restaurant in the States (believe me, I’ve been to several) and nearly every traditional restaurant in Lima. It’s one of those staple dishes that if  you talk to a Peruvian, they’ll tell you they are searching for aji de gallina as good as their grandmothers. Last April Chicago Tribune  Reporter, Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz approached about our aji de gallina. We were flattered to hear that our aji de gallina ended her hunt for aji de gallina comparable to that which she ate as a child:

On the hunt for a pot-licking-worthy aji de gallina comparable to that which I ate growing up — an admittedly subjective search based on my childhood memories —I finally found at 4 Suyos, a new eatery in Logan Square. The finely shredded chicken practically disappeared into the decadent sauce of Parmesan cheese, aji amarillo, walnuts and pecans, served in the traditional manner over white rice and boiled potatoes with black olives and a boiled egg. -Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Her memories of and search for the dish is a testament to its power.

So, where did this dish get its power? There are several theories out there, but one I hear a lot—and is pretty interesting—is the story of three cultures coming together to create culinary magic. The story begins with an Incan dish made with a game bird called the “hualpa” that was spiced with Peruvian hot pepper. Skip to 1528 when the Spaniards brought controversy, conquest, and cheese to Peru. Fast forward again to 1799 when the French Revolution dealt a huge blow to the country’s aristocracy. Their chefs quickly fled to countries like Peru to find work where they shredded up the spicy chicken, mixed in the cheese and nuts, and made history!

There’s no doubt that the wonderfully delicious and historic Aji de gallina will comfort you through the cold, dark Chicago winter…until it’s time again to lounge on the 4 Suyos patio spooning ceviche and sipping maracuya!

Pionono Peruano

With a name like Pionono, this spongy, creamy Peruvian dessert takes the cake for me! A delectable sponge cake roll deliciously glued together with manjar blanco. I fell in love with the dessert when a Peruvian woman in Chicago made it for me, and sealed the deal on it being one of my favorites when I went to Peru.

I’ve been practicing and tweaking a recipe that I will post as soon as I feel I have it perfected. The version here is much to thin and has way too much manjar blanco (if that’s ever possible. 🙂

Pionono will be available at 4 Suyos soon, so stay tuned!

Ceviche in Lima

Ceviche at La Mar in Miraflores

Celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions Hispanics have made in the United States.

While there are several ways you can celebrate the vibrant Hispanic culture in Chicago, I can think of no better way than by eating. Whether it’s Mexican, Argentine, Peruvian, or a mix, Latin American cuisine seems to me to always be delicious. An assortment of colorful peppers, creamy avocados, hearty breads, juicy pork, tender steaks—it’s difficult for me to pass up any Latin-inspired dish.

Yes, I lean towards LOVING Peruvian food, and after a short trip to Peru to mainly eat (and visit family), I say the home of the wondrous Machu Picchu should be highly praised for it’s amazing contributions to the culinary arts!

From Lima to Cusco to Ica and Mistura, I ate my way through various regions and cuisines. I have to say I fell in love with the country’s Pollo a Brasa. And while you can get an amazing ceviche in Chicago, there is no ceviche like ceviche made with a Peruvian lime. It’s puckery goodness subtly cures the amazing fresh seafood fetched from the Pacific only blocks away from several of Lima’s cevicharias. (See food photos here.)

So whether you choose to eat, dance, sing, read, or celebrate with family, be sure to take time to pay homage to a culture that makes Chicago a very, very special place.

ImageNext week, I’m heading out to Peru to experience Peruvian food in one of the most exciting ways possible. A food fair, brimming with all foods Peruana—Mistura! Stay tuned for updates from the festival….

One of our biggest and most interesting challenges at 4 Suyos is to create food that EVERYONE can eat. We want all of our customers to be able to enjoy the incredibly dynamic tastes of Peru, whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or have a gluten-free diet. Aside from our current menu that has some vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, we will do our best to modify or transform a dish to our customer’s liking–often replacing regular wheat beer with our chef’s homemade chicha de jora (more on that later). However, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made over the last few months is telling our customers that our mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) is not gluten free. Well, I was wrong. I sat with the chef yesterday and watched him prepare our mazamorra, and to my surprise, he was using sweet potato flour! So, for all those gluten-free folks I steered away from the mazamorra, I’m so sorry. Come back and try it!

Now, if you’ve not been to 4 Suyos or any other Peruvian restaurant, you may be thinking, what IS mazamorra? Mazamorra is a traditional Peruvian dessert made with the extract of purple corn. It is made by first making chicha morada. Then the chicha is mixed with pineapples and plums and then thickened into a pudding.

It is delicious served as el clasico. El classic is the combination mazamorra morada and arroz con leche. It is named for a famous futbol match between the two biggest soccer teams in Peru, Alianza Lima and Universitario. (If you haven’t been to the restaurant, you may not know about the photo scandal concerning this dessert…)

So, no gluten in 4 Suyos homemade mazamorra. Enjoy!!

Bread and HuacatayIt’s no secret that if you’ve been to 4 Suyos, or almos any other Peruvian restaurant, you’ve been offered a bit of the “green sauce.” Whether it was served with bread, potatoes, cancha, or something slightly more creative/gourmet, the green sauce is a Peruvian gem. At 4 Suyos we often get asked, what is in this sauce!?

Well, there are a few secrets here at the restaurant, but the main ingredients are jalapenos and huacatay. Yes, the common jalapeno mixed with the not-so-common huacatay. Officially labeled, tagetes minuta, huacatay is the Quecha word for the plant that, mixed with jalapenos, morfs into a mouthwatering carb topper.

We make the sauce by grounding the minty, citrusy, leaves of the huacatay plant and blending them with the jalapeno. Yes, there’s a little cream… and if you stop in the restaurant to try it, I may divulge a few secret ingredients.