Astrid y Gaston
Avenida Paz Soldan 290, San Isidro
On a rare occasion, a meal is so ridiculously extravagant that it is near impossible to reconcile the evening against any previous dining experience. The 29 course, 3+ hour long tasting menu Astrid y Gaston is one of those experiences. From the setting of the restaurant, through the presentation and flavors of each course, to the bound hardcover book presented at the end as a memento of the menu; Astrid y Gaston is truly a world-class restaurant that, at the #2 spot on the top 50 in Latin American might actually be underrated.
The fairytale of Astrid y Gaston begins at the front door; from the outside you can tell the building is something special. The restaurant is situated inside of Casa Moreyra, an old plantation style manor that dates back to the second half of the seventeenth century.
After checking in at reception, you are whisked away to the back patio area and seated on an outdoor couch. From there, the staff explains the meal the theme of the meal – Memories of My Land. The menu feels like a theatrical production, with the courses divided into acts and each act is a throwback to the chef’s memory of growing up in Peru.
Memories of My Land
Act I: Let us Toast! Like in the Good Old Days…
Guinda of Huara
The first course is a chilled cocktail, served on the patio prior to being escorted to the dining table. The drink was crisp and was served with a single ice cube, inside of which was a piece of fruit. Also included was a little nibble, the ingredients of which I cant recall.
Act II: Sweets After School
The dishes in this course were all delivered at once and were an homage to the types of snacks that were enjoyed after a grueling day at school.
The courses were served in a large metal bin.
Lemon, basil, strawberry, rocoto pepper, yogurt
The long sticks above, served with the yogurt dip on the side. I talked about my love for this dish the rest of the night.
Lucuma, chocolate chestnut
Ginger, chicken skin
Black Botija olives and anchovies
Act III: Home Memories
This was a three course act that focused on family memories.
This was described as “apple juice in an iceberg” and at this point, the “this place is ridiculous” chorus started playing in my head. The metal device on the back was the “straw.”
Suckling pig trotters, mustard, cress
Chickpea, white asparagus, caviar
A thin tortilla, just like grandma used to make.
Act IV: A Summer at the Beach
A single course act that was a throw back to a snow cone on a hot day.
Vegetable ice, syrups, fruits and herbs
Cool, refreshing and colorful.
Act V: Products that are Leaving Us
The next three courses focused on ingredients that the chef grew up eating and cooking with that have become more difficult (or even impossible) to obtain.
Mornings of Punta Avocado and Crackers
Avocado slices, white sesame seeds, green onions, aji limo pepper, maco, candied lemon slices
Another absolutely ridiculous dish. We were told to eat from the front toward the back because the taste evolved as the avocado traveled across the range of supplemental ingredients.
Frozen Delicia Apple
Apple ceviche, leche de tigre of rocato and sea urchin, borage
At this point, I am at a loss for words (not literally, as I kept talking about how good the barquillos was). The tiny bit of sea urchin nested within the thin apple curl…floating to cloud nine.
That Pink Clam Chowder
Fake pink clams made of pacae, spicy seafood broth, tender fava beans, creamy potatoes
The original clam was over fished and is no extinct. The bowl looked like a molar (not pictured) and was painted with squid ink.
Act VI: Recipes that are Leaving Us
The theme of the following two courses is guessable based on the name, a throwback to traditional dishes that just aren’t prepared any longer.
Memories of a Shrimp Ocopa
Shrimp tails and shrimp essence oil, roasted peanuts, garlic, roasted onion broth, mirasol pepper, nuts, huacatay
This shrimp was massive. And delicious. Massive and delicious.
Escabeche of Cojinova
Marinade oil lightly smoked, onions, tomatoes and aji pepper
The fish was marinated for a day in vinegar and in conjunction with the oil had the taste of a pepperoni pizza.
Act VII: Going Back Home
A single course act, Going Back Home elicits memories of returning home as an adult and reconnecting with family.
Homage to Mashed Potatoes with Fried Egg
Chaulina potato cream, chicken jus, dried tomatoes and porcini, fried quail eggs, tomato powder, spinach
The bliss of splitting the egg open and mixing it was the mashed potatoes it was once perched upon can only be described with that third picture.
Act VIII: Regional Longing
A trio of courses that puts an emphasis on the different regions of Peru.
Between a Potato Ajiaco and a Tongue
Semi-dried native potatoes, fresh cream cheese, onion and roasted yellow aji pepper, beef tongue
Rabbit loin, its livers, corn and garlic cream, oca and olluco
Homage to Shambar
Brisket, pork rib broth, bean germs, peppermint sprouts
This was a memory of a stew, only served on Mondays.
At this point the savory courses wind down and the onslaught of sweeter dishes begins.
Act IX: Children Pranks
Apparently the chef was always around food when being mischievous…
The Tasty Banana and Cheese
Isla banana, spices caramel and pisco, crumbs of Paria cheese, arugula, black pepper
Pomegranate Wars Started During the Break
Pop rocks….this crackled in my mouth like pop rocks.
Strawberry with Milk
Strawberry, condensed milk
U – Alianza
Homage to Mazamorra Morada and Arroz con Leche
Act X: Sweet Memory
A fitting name for the final round of desserts.
Apricots cooked with chamomile, almond cake, apricot kernel ice cream
Why is it called King Kong?
Our version, quince compote, peanut jelly, herb soup, flower ice cream
Act XI: Lost Flavor
The finale, a trip back to flavors that have since changed.
Real Chocolate Bar with Peanut
Emoliente in Two Temperatures
Thus ended the journey. Astrid y Gaston provided one of the most epic dining experiences of our lives; a place that feels almost mandatory on any visit to Lima. If we ever return to Peru; we will meet again, Astrid y Gaston.