We want to explore new flavors and learn new stories. We set out on a road trip that leads us to Paracas, with its radiant beaches and a sea abundant in supplies. Fish and shellfish will always be the kings of local gastronomy, but there are other proposals that are gaining ground. We discovered three places that are well worth the trip from Lima.
SCRATCH: KILOMETER 0
The sea is part of chef Miguel Cabrera’s DNA. His paternal grandparents trained him in the good seasoning of northern cuisine; while his paternal grandfather instilled in him respect for the inputs by being an artisanal fisherman in Huaral. One day he asked her to accompany him, they went to the rocks where he taught him to fish with a line and a hook. He didn’t sleep and only got a small fish; but it became an unforgettable experience. “I highly value the work of the fisherman. My grandfather always left something for the house, sometimes the best cheetah or grouper”remember.
Maybe that’s why he looks so comfortable in Scow —one of the hotel restaurants Paracas— where the concept of 0 km is worked on; that is, they use local inputs for the menu. They have associated fishermen who, day by day, take turns leaving their products (we are talking about fish, shells and octopus): “this way we give everyone work and they consume Paracas ingredients that are very good”, explains the executive chef whose career has been associated with seafood cuisine.
Forget the menu, look at the blackboard and you will see the cold dishes (mainly they use whitecap) and hot (based on sea bass). In the first you will find cebiches, tiraditos, causes and chalacas. Do you want an olive octopus cause? Ready. Fish or shell cebiche? Ready and done. And among the hot dishes, they offer three dishes with catch of the day: sweaty, dry (with a northern sauce like the one Miguel’s grandmother used to make) and, the house specialty, arroz chalanero (a sweet green rice, risotto style and with a norteña, accompanied by pieces of fish, shells and octopus).
It seems that there is no place that Cabrera enjoys more than in the kitchen. Since he began to help his grandmother, “I never wanted to take off a frying pan or a knife again.” And at the hotel, as executive chef, he can freely show his seasoning and talent that also came abroad last year, when he did internships in two Barcelona restaurants (Dos Pebrots and Dos Palillos) where he had the opportunity to be in charge of some dishes for the renowned Ferran Adrià.
At Chalana, you have the opportunity to share with other chefs in the Summer Sessions experiences. These are dates on which a guest chef arrives at the restaurant to present his proposal. “The chef is the star,” he maintains, and diners enjoy these pairings. The next guest is the chef Francesca Ferreyros and they will close the cycle (for this year) with Flavio Solórzano for Easter.
Address: Av. Paracas 173, Urb. Paracas, Pisco, Ica. (Inside the Hotel Paracas).
Phone: +51 56 581333.
RESERVE: MEDITERRANEAN, NIKKEIS AND CREOLE FLAVORS
Facing the sea, we generally prefer a cebiche; but it doesn’t hurt to vary. Thus, Reserva is committed to three classes of cuisine: the Mediterranean-Italian (its specialty), the Nikkei (where, in addition to the makis, they include ceviches and tiraditos) and the Creole side. “We want to generate value in the area and further promote Peruvian and Italian gastronomy hand in hand with our workers,” says Ricardo Chinchay, the local’s manager.
The marine point is present in its three kitchens. They only work with sole and corvina either for their ceviche or the male fish. Strategically located between two ports (San Andrés and El Chaco), they can always count on daily supplies. Ricardo says it well: “For someone who likes seafood cuisine, seeing something so fresh is like seeing a diamond on the table.”.
Claudio Rigoni is in charge of Mediterranean-Italian cuisine. He arrived to Paracas, almost 10 years ago, and fell in love with the area for its tranquility. The Italian emphasizes that his dishes are not fusion, they stick to the flavor of the mother country. The menu is made up of antipasti (land and sea), gnocchis, 14 pastas (from traditional to chef’s creations) and pizzas. Among the most popular dishes is the frutti di mare in which they combine Italian technique with local inputs (it is served with a varied selection of prawns, shells and more).
For the pizzas, they created their own wood-fired oven and previously let the dough rest for 36 hours to make it better. One of the most popular alternatives is to put together your own combination (between vegetable toppings, meats, cheeses…). Claudio has seen it all: “[Algunas combinaciones] They are scandalous for me, being Italian, but it’s going well”he says amused. “I tell the client that this product does not go well with this, I make him reason a little and it is solved”add.
We do not forget its bar with the presence of classic drinks (based on pisco) and innovative signature cocktails based on rum, pisco, tequila and gin with the presence of honey and smoked products. They opened last year and their goals for 2023 are clear: to become the best restaurant in Ica. Go and check.
Address: Pisco – Paracas Highway Km. 18.5, Paracas, Ica. (At the entrance of the Nuevo Paracas Condominiums).
Phone: 977 959 615.
BODEGA SAN NICOLÁS: TIME FOR A TOAST
We close the tour with a toast where the pisco is the star. At Bodega San Nicolás (about 10 minutes from the beaches of Paracas), one can enjoy a visit to the cultivated fields and the factory, learn more about the process of elaboration of the distillate and close the day with a guided tasting of the piscos produced. We are in harvest time (between February and April) so the vineyards are loaded with bunches of quebranta, italia, torontel and albilla grapes with which they produce Pisco 1615.
For 400 years, in this area, there was already a wine-growing presence. The Jesuits strengthened the cultivation of grapes and the production of wine and distillate. “The soil has a long memory”, comments Raúl Otero, CEO of the winery. “In addition, we have the sea breeze that has an impact on the grape. It gives it a unique personality: a mineral profile, in addition to the saline soil that influences towards a more mineralized pisco profile.”add.
The bottles they produce are mostly destined for export. That is why it occurred to them to open the winery to the public to complete the circle [no solo degustar, sino vivir la experiencia] and that both nationals and foreigners see first hand what is behind this distillate that they enjoy so much.
“We want to promote the origin of pisco, so that people live the experience where the distillate was born […] 70% of visitors are foreigners because we have developed alliances with receptive tourism agents. There has also been an expansion of cruises, there are weeks that we receive 90 people. Today with the growth of Paracasespecially after the pandemic that local tourism has grown, we are receiving more locals”, mentions Otero. In addition, it is a good tourist complement to the other traditional activities that take place in the area, such as visiting the Ballestas Islands and the nearby beaches.
At Bodega San Nicolás they have prepared five tours; the main one is the one we already mentioned (visit to the vineyard) that ends with a tasting in the bar (with distilled from its four grapes) and, sometimes, with limited edition piscos. There is also one where a cocktail masterclass is held (using local fruits) and another that includes lunch at its restaurant where pachamanca is its star dish. There are also appetizers and other funds such as carapulcra and dry soup. The menu is adapted if they are visited by vegetarians. Enjoy an escape from Lima either as a couple or with a group of friends.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.