Refugio de Santiago Huerto Andino Restaurante – A novo Andino refuge at one of Peru´s most fertile valley, Lunahuana

One long weekend holiday to get to know more of Peru, we set off to a region along the Central Valley, known for its river rafting activities and Cray fish (camarones). With a little research and information from an officemate who had been there, we went to visit Lunahuana.  Located 112 miles, 2.15 hours by car from Lima, turning east at Cañete, along the road to the town of Imperial, we reach the verdant Lunahuana valley.

 

With pre-booked arrangements, we checked into Refugio de Santiago, a republican era restored house owned by affable and Andean produce innovator, Fernando Briceño. He moved to Lunahuana to start an honest-to-goodness rural tourism, and for which he is working to help rescue the archaeological, geographical, gastronomic and anthropological wealth of the region.

 

For this he developed the Huerto Andino (Andean orchard-farm) where he has 90 fruit varieties, 300 medicinal plants, 17 pre Hispanic vegetables, 12 “magical” plants, 50 aromatic culinary herbs, among other unusual plants and trees of the world.

 With his wife, Silvana, he manages the Restaurant with an exquisite Novo Andino cuisine, utilizing ancient Andean ingredients and names. 

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the house refreshing drink, tuna (prickly pear) juice, one of the 12 other fantastic juices, as delicious as they are colorful. As it was way past lunch hour, we ordered our meal right away and in no time, served the first entrée, Sashimi Andino for me and Tiradito de Trucha Marinada al Hinojo, smoked trout salad in dill vinaigrette for Julio. The sashimi was a little bit salty for me as it was drenched in soy sauce and topped with pre-Hispanic Andean capers called Ticsauyuyus, already naturally briny. I told Fernando to go easy on the soy sauce as usually with sashimi, it is served on the side, not marinated, besides the delicious capers giving its flavor.

The smoked trout salad with lettuce, avocado and organic herbs was tantalizing and refreshing, truly opening your appetite with its lightness and flavor.  

For main course, I tried the Inchicuy Paullino, deep fried crunchy cuy (guinea pig) served with potato puree topped with crushed peanuts. It was perfect.

Julio ordered Ñuñuma de Granja en Salsa de Maiz Morado, sliced braised duck breast served with quinoa in creamy purple corn sauce. Another divine dish! We begged off dessert as we washed down the gratifying Andean degustation with a large jar of prickly pear juice! Later on, for dinner as we wished for something light, we settled for the Cray fish chowder, another Refugio specialty. Other house dishes which Lima loyal patrons keep coming back for are Tacu tacu de Pallares Relleno con Camarones, Cray fish filled mashed lima bean puree with rice, Fettuccini de Camarones al Estragon, fettuccini in Cray fish and tarragon sauce. Traditional Andean dishes are highlighted in its Ancestral Huatia del Pariaca marinated beef in herbs and chilies prepared a la Pachamanca (ancient Peruvian underground grill), but in their way, in clay pots, instead of buried in fired up stones; and the ubiquitous Cuy en Salsa de Olivo, marinated cuy, golden browned served with olive sauce and crowned with smoked olives stuffed with Andean capers.       

The next day, as dictated by tradition, we went around the valley and searched for the best cray fish restaurant but as it was Sunday, the town’s restaurants were full. We decided to try one near the plaza center and ordered their house specialty of Chicharron de camarones, deep fried Cray fish, which turned out to be over-rated. The portion was too little, the taste mediocre. Service was awful and it was nothing compared to Refugio’s exquisite experience, for just about the same price.

 I hope Fernando and Silvana will continue what they have started – a noble and authentic cause to recover and continue Peru’s thinning tradition of valuable plants and produce while showcasing to the world the creative culinary resources with crops long forgotten. Have you tried any Novo Andino cuisine? Share with us your experience!

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One Response to “Refugio de Santiago Huerto Andino Restaurante – A novo Andino refuge at one of Peru´s most fertile valley, Lunahuana”

  1. Info about Lunahuana in LunahuanaWeb, maps, pictures y more…

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