Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Spicy Date Night

Isn't he a HAM?
"Two thousand four hundred and fourteen kilometers or one thousand four hundred ninety nine miles, and one thousand seven hundred forty two yards, that is how long the coast line in Peru is. Needless to say we love seafood" ....this was written in chalk on the "specials board" covering the back wall inside the Peruvian restaurant that was the destination of a recent date-night. So from the moment we sat down and read the board, I knew I was going to be pleased, because "Needless to say I sure do love SEAFOOD as well".

For a while now my brother in law Saar has been telling us to check this place out. Finally we made it! Tons of fish on the menu, spices, flavors bursting, colors popping off the plate, and warm hearty, home-cooked dishes are IT at Los Balcones Del Peru, in Hollywood. Aji Amarillo (a South American chili pepper that some consider to be "the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking") made its bright colored presence known in almost every dish we had. I was so glad we finally made it to this quaint and tasty little place. The restaurant may have been small but the flavors and colors were HUGE! 

I adore Ceviche and it happens to be a staple in Peruvian cuisine! We tried several kinds and they all were tasty, fresh, tangy, citrusy and spiced with chili peppers. My favorite was the TIRADITO. Thanks to the Aji Pepper the color was so vibrant, the fish so fresh its as if it swam on to the plate. I must say I was glad that a glass of water was nearby to cool down my mouth between bites, as the heat level was insane and bordering on abusive. Thankfully its the kind of palate abuse you want more and more of despite the fact that your tongue is on fire.

Oh I almost forgot to mention the "Corn on Steroids" that is Peruvian Corn. Look closer at the picture, those giant yellow chunks the TIRADITO is topped with...Yes, that is Choclo (Peruvian word for Corn). This mild, slightly sweet, chewy corn, sporting the largest kernels I have ever seen, was sprinkled over every Ceviche we had that evening. I am guessing its supposed to tame the fire in your mouth from the chili. Ahmmm, I think not. Added a layer of texture it did, put out the fire...not so much :) 

Thinly sliced sea bass ceviche, aji sauce,
with a hint of soy sauce

Chopped mussels, shrimp, squid and salsa criolla

Mixto Ceviche and Crispy Calamari

Sea bass, wine, tomatoes, onion & Peruvian peppers
served with steamed rice

After Ceviche overload (I couldn't help myself we had to try at least 3), we split a main course. The SUDADO DE PESCADO was simply DELICIOSO. I learned that it is a traditional way of preparing fish in Northern Peru by stewing it with tomatoes, garlic, onions, white wine and chilies of course (hence the gorgeous bright colors). As you may have guesses by now, this too was rich, flavourful and SPICY. The glass of water was no longer enough, thankfully it was served with a side of steamed white rice to cool you down between and with bites.

Whether it was the all that spice, the excellent wines recommended by our sweet waitress (I sadly don't recall what exactly the wines were as I was busy overdosing on fish) or the sheer excitement of trying Peruvian food, we had a great experience at Los Balcones Del Peru. I will absolutely go again mainly so at some point I am guaranteed to try all the Ceviche they have on their menu. I somehow feel very connected to a place whose motto is "Loving Seafood". What can I say, my hubby knows well that the way to my heart on date-night or any night really is through fish :)

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