Archives for posts with tag: peruvian
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.

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.

4 Suyos Pan con Chicharron!

Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches. When I surveyed several of my Peruvian friends, they dreamily recounted the numerous types of sandwiches they would take for breakfast back in Peru. Pan con camote (sweet potato), pan con chicharron, pan con jamonado, pan con queso, pan con huevos, and our waitress Cynthia’s favorite, pan con pollo.

Aside from the sandwiches, Peruvians traditionally also eat tamales, and the chef’s mother said she’d occasionally enjoy tacu tacu for breakfast. However, the other Peruvians insisted that was a lunch dish. The chef’s mother also mentioned a dish called relleno, which I think may be sausage, blood, garlic, and onions, but I’m not quite sure.

While 4 Suyos isn’t serving up a ton of sandwiches, we are paying homage to the Peruvian breakfast with the addition of the pan con chicharron to our very new brunch menu. Yep, we are now serving a Peruvian- American brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. We are also serving locally-roasted Metropolis’s Peruvian coffee too!

Check out the complete 4 Suyos brunch menu! Los veo para desayuno!

Image courtesy of farandulachola.com

I like to talk. I like to eat. These two things don’t mix well, often resulting a disgusted conversation buddy. However, when I’m at 4 Suyos, I can do my eating and talking–just not at the same time. One of my favorite conversation topics is conveniently, Peruvian food. Humberto is really the expert, but since he is generally knee deep in ingredients, I get to relay the Peruvian food info to the customers.

The number one question I get is what I would recommend. The answer to that is easy: everything. However, I understand eating a menu’s worth of food in one sitting isn’t generally possible, so I pick a few things I think are absolutely crucial Peruvian dishes to have tried to say you’ve had Peruvian food. One of those dishes is Papa a la Huancaina.

Papa a la Huancaina is a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of sliced, boiled potatoes topped with a sauce made with blended cheeses, cream, aji amarillo, garlic, and a few secrets our chef has asked we not disclose per his grandmother. It is a drippy, yummy slice of  highland heaven.

The dish originated in Huancayo, the capital of the Junin region in the Peruvian central highland and remains their signature dish. To this day it is served in just about every Peruvian restaurant, so if you stumble upon a restaurant claiming to be Peruvian, and they don’t serve Papa a la Huancaina, it’s safe to say you can consider it not Peruvian.

It’s official, 4 Suyos is official!! We passed our initial inspection yesterday. Both Humberto and I are thrilled, and while we can open as soon as we receive the license–which I was informed would arrive in just a few days–I think we may take a few days to recoup and open next weekend. I will be sure to post the opening date here as soon as we decide.

Lomo SaltadoNow that the restaurant “construction” is complete, and we are waiting for our license inspection, I’ve had a little time to learn more about Peruvian food. (Thankfully, I’m not the chef–that has been left to a team of Peruvians.:) However, I am a food nut, so this experience has been beyond wonderful.

I started with Lomo Saltado, one of Peru’s most famous dishes consisting of sirloin strips marinated in vinegar, Peruvian spices, and soy sauce stir fried with onions, parsley, and tomatoes. The stir-fry is served over rice with potato wedges. This is the traditional way to make Lomo Saltado, but be rest-assured, our chef has a few secrets!

When researching Lomo Saltado, I kept running across the name Gaston Acurio. And after researching the name, I’ve found I’ve been completely in the dark about Peruvian food until now. Gaston is Peru’s cuisine ambassador as well as one of the world’s most famous chefs. He owns several international restaurants, including Astid & Gaston, which he opened with his wife Astid in the Miraflores district in Lima. Since opening, the chain has spread to eight countries! (Gaston…come to the US!!!)

Gaston is also the star of La Aventura Culinaria, a culinary television show featuring the chef visiting Peruvian restaurants. He is also a published author.

I’m learning a lot from Gaston, including how to make Lomo Saltado!

Only days after we filed for a Illinois Business Tax number, we received a notice in the mail that we would be responsible for a Chicago soft drink tax (Home Rule Municipal Soft Drink Retailer’s Occupation Tax). I was floored. I thought my sister had created the form as an elaborate prank. The one-page form was extremely informative and covered the basics of who should file, what “soft drinks” consist of, and when I need to file.

Basically, if you sell soft drinks in Chicago, you are responsible for paying this tax. Soft drinks include soda, sport or energy drinks, sweetened tea, flavored waters, beverages with less than 50% fruits or vegetables, and all other drinks known as “soft drinks.”

We all have to pay taxes, so it’s not the tax I’m worried about…it’s having one more thing to remember.