We may not have an infinite variety of international restaurants as a D.C. or Toronto, but the options for international cuisine in Raleigh and the surrounding Triangle are definitely growing. Last weekend, my friend Kelly and I visited a new Peruvian restaurant in Raleigh called Macchupicchu. I wanted to share the pictures of what we ate, because it was all so beautifully presented! At the end of this post, I also share a Peruvian recipe that I was inspired to try from our International Festival cookbook project, Causa a la Limeña.
When we arrived at the restaurant at 7pm on Friday, we were surprised to find out that only one table was available since we had not made a reservation. Thank goodness we arrived early enough for that table – and now we know that reservations are recommended on the weekend especially. It’s a fairly small place, and the meal was served at a leisurely pace. They brought us out some hot roasted crunchy corn, not sure what that is called but I liked it. Kind of tasted like half-popped popcorn kernels, but without all those little pieces that get stuck in your teeth.
Kelly ordered a trio of ceviches (typically an appetizer) for her meal. One was spicy, one with an Asian soy flavor, and the third more traditional. She said they were really good, but she did end up ordering a side of rice for some carbs, and something to sop up the sourness of the ceviche broth.
I ordered a dish called Tacu Tacu con Mariscos y Pescado Frito. What a beautiful (and filling!) plate. The football-shaped wedge on the bottom of the pile is the tacu tacu, a common Peruvian mixture of rice, mashed beans, and seasonings – described on another website as being of Afro-Peruvian origin. On top of that, they laid a lightly-breaded and fried fillet of white fish, topped with their seafood medly of calamari, scallops, and shrimp in a creamy sauce. The yellow sauce around the plate is made from aji amarillo peppers.
We did order desserts as well, though I forgot to get pictures of that! Kelly had the flan, which was very nicely done, smooth and creamy. I had lucuma ice cream, lucuma is a fruit from that region of South America that I had never heard of before. The waiter described it as having a maple taste, and that is definitely the closest thing to describe it. I don’t remember ever having tasted sweet potato ice cream, but the texture for some reason made me think of sweet potato – I think the fruit must be fairly starchy as well. It was not overly sweet and a very nice ending for the meal. They also have a traditional purple corn pudding on the menu for dessert, which I want to try the next time I visit.
The meal inspired me to do some more investigation into Peruvian food, so I had a look at the recipes in our International Festival cookbook draft. There were a number of Peruvian recipes in the 1992 version of the cookbook, and one looked simple and tasty – causa a la limeña. I decided that it wouldn’t really be right to post about Peruvian food without some kind of potato dish being mentioned, so here it is;
Causa a la Limena (Lemony Mashed Potatoes)
8 Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes
½ c. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. crushed hot yellow peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the potatoes in boiling water and salt. Remove the skin and mash well. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and hot peppers. Mix by hand and work the mixture as a dough. Shape into small balls or spread on a platter. Garnish with black olives and sliced, hard-boiled eggs.
Note: I don’t think the photo above shows the causa presented in a typical fashion. I looked it up in Google and most of the images tended to be layered in a circular mold with other items like avocado, roasted red peppers, olives, and sometimes chicken or shrimp – in a way that was more fancy than this recipe indicated. The way I made it was nice as a side dish, but apparently it can be made into a main dish as well with those other items layered in.