La Mar, Miami
March 24, 2015
Gastón Acurio is a Peruvian celebrity chef with 44 restaurants in 14 countries. His twenty year-old restaurant in Lima, Astrid & Gastón, has been rated 18th on the “World’s Best” list, where it is described as “Peruvian meets haute cuisine.” He also has a cebicheria in Lima, La Mar. A branch of La Mar opened in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami in 2013. Linda and Steve Plotnicki joined Linda and me for dinner there on February 22, 2015.
The menu is quite complex with offerings of different categories of Peruvian cuisine. We decided to order quite a few dishes and to share them all. We ordered the first of two bottles of 2012 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc for apéritif and to go with the cuisine. It was very nice.
Our first plate to share was
causa tasting of 2 nikei, 2 olivo, 2 cangrejo
(Causa’s are whipped Peruvian potatoes and ají pepper.) They were, from right to left in the photo below,
rocoto pepper causa, tuna tartare, avocado,
sweet chili sauce, rocoto pepper cream, nori
yellow potato causa, octopus tartare, olive sauce,
piquillo peppers, garlic, chimichurri
The causas were followed by:
clásico, criollo and nikei cebiches
fluke, cilantro, ají limo pepper, red onions,
choclo, classic leche de tigre
Classic Peruvian leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, is made from the marinade which has just “cooked” the fresh fish into cebiche (the Peruvian spelling.) It may include salt, lime, black pepper, chile pepper (traditionally aji limo), garlic and onion. Juices from the fish will have enhanced it. Here it was garnished with choclo, or large kernel Peruvian corn. This dish was nice, with restraint used in the lime juice and chilies, allowing the fish flavor to come through.
calamari, shrimp, yellowtail snapper, cancha,
ají amarillo pepper leche de tigre
Aji Amarillo, or yellow chili, has been declared by Gastón Acurio to be the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking. It offers a lot of fruitiness for its mild heat. Here it went well with the varied seafood. Cancha are popcorn made from a special variety of corn called maiz chulpe.
tuna, red onions, nori, avocado, daikon,
cucumber, nikei tamarind leche de tigre
Nikkei Peruvian cuisine has been developed by the large Japanese community in Peru. This tuna cebiche was a well-conceived fusion of the two. The cucumber slices were a nice contrasting refresher.
mortero potatoes, chimichurri, botija olives aioli,
garlic chips, capers.
Potatoes smashed in a mortar and browned were topped with grilled octopus, aïoli flavored with Peruvian black olives and big garlic chips.
stir fried angus beef, red onions, tomatoes, soy sauce,
cilantro, thick cut fried potato wedges, rice
Lomo saltado is a popular Peruvian dish, part of its chifa, or Chinese-fusion, cuisine. Soy sauce marinated beef strips are stir-fried with onions. Thick wedges of fried potatoes are mixed in. It is served on a bed of rice.
chinese sausage, roasted pork, pan fried rice,
shrimp omelet, nikei sauce, pickled salad
Classic and popular chaufa aeroporto is a combination of two Chifa dishes:
Arroz chaufa: Cantonese-Peruvian style Fried Rice (white rice, soy sauce, scallions, fried egg, and meat such as chicken or pork)
Tallarin Saltado: Cantonese-Peruvian style Chow Mein.
This was really delicious.
CHURRASCO A LO POBRE
ribeye angus beef, chimichurri, beans and rice,
tacu-tacu, egg, criolla, chorrillana sauce, fried banana
It is a mystery to me why this is called “poor man’s” churrasco, or grilled meat. The rib eye steak was top quality. On the right is a tacu-tacu, or a browned oval cake of leftover beans and rice. A superb dish.
The service was friendly and efficient; the pace was good. We had a very enjoyable evening.