It would be hard to dispute that Peru is the culinary capital of South America. With so many great restaurants, particularly in Lima, it turns out that the Inca Trail isn’t the only thing you need to book six months in advance when planning a visit here.
Having decided that trying our hand at Peruvian cuisine would be a good idea, online research directed us to Arthur Restaurant, chosen for its use of organic ingredients and its number one rating on Trip Advisor. Our maestro Arthur Garcia is a home grown chef whom trained at prestigious culinary school Cordon Bleu in Lima before embarking on an international career. Nine years ago he came back to his roots and opened his fine dining restaurant and for the past six years has been sharing some of his knowledge through small group classes.
We signed up for the two and a half hour Criollo menu where we got to make two dishes: ceviche, a Peruvian classic, and an alpaca lomo saltado, although being a mostly-vegetarian I subbed alpaca for mushroom and eggplant.
The format of the class worked extremely well in that for the first half hour Arthur’s six apprentices sat with him around a table as he dictated the recipes to us, allowing for plenty of questions and explanations.
In the kitchen, ingredients ready to go at our stations, Arthur gave one instruction at a time, demonstrating each as he went. We learned basic skills like how to hold a knife, new techniques for prepping vegetables and some more advanced skills like how to flambé.
Maybe the most interesting thing I learned was that the fish for the ceviche actually ‘cooks’ slightly with the reaction from the lime / salt combination. Also that the limes need very special treatment, including a massage and a rest before use.
Arthur led the class at the perfect pace, keeping things interesting and fun (beers on the job highly endorsed!).
Both dishes were extremely tasty but the ceviche won me over with its beautiful flavours.
After we had finished Arthur gave us a tonne of recommendations for traditional dishes and restaurants to suit all budgets including in Lima and Cusco.
Value for money and overall experience = 11/10.
Arthur Restaurant opens at midday and classes start between 12-12.30pm so a prior booking is necessary although you could try your luck as a walk in which we did.
The criollo menu is 100 soles ($30) but there is also an Andean menu option for 135 soles ($40) and less expensive options including a market tour and pisco class. For more info: www.peruvianflavor.com
PS - ceviche is such a big deal in Peru they have a National Ceviche Day!