Monday, December 6, 2010

La Trattoria di Mambrino

Back to Miraflores, for a day, before we head up to northern Peru, off the beaten track for tourists! After my gastro misadventure, it’s good to have my appetite back, although slow and easy does it. 

Miraflores is part of metropolitan Lima and reflects the many cultural influences that make Lima a cosmopolitan city, and a culinary delight. For lunch, we head to Wa Lok, a “chifa”, what Peruvians call a Chinese restaurant. It’s a Sunday, a day when many Peruvian families get together for lunch. The restaurant is full when we arrive at 1:30, but the turnover is fast and there’s no trouble getting a table. It’s a very typical Chinese restaurant: the service is quick, if impersonal, and the food is great. Highly recommended.

For dinner, it’s time for some comfort food…pasta at La Trattoria di Mambrino, just a short walk from our hotel.

My choice is Tagliatelle with a Veal Porcini Ragu. Delicious, the sauce just coats the pasta and the mushroom favour really comes through.

Michèle takes Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus. They go easy on the cream, so what can sometimes be a heavy, rich dish is unexpectedly lighter, and tasty. And with fresh Peruvian asparagus, it’s a real treat.

The winelist carries an Argentinean Merlot at a reasonable price, so I order that. I guess I found a popular choice, because there’s none left. The sommelier brings another Argentinean Merlot, asking if we’d to have this one instead. Now, I’m a quick study with restaurant winelists. So I remember that this new one is about $40 more expensive. I also remember that there’s a Chilean Merlot. It's about the same price as the Argentinean one I wanted.

OK, this guy didn’t go to the same sommelier school that I did. First, you know your inventory well enough to know when you’re out of something, and tell the client right away when he makes his order. Failing that, then second, you don’t come back with another bottle, you come back with the winelist, allowing the client to choose something from the full list. Failing that, then third, you don’t come back with a much more expensive bottle, you come back with something in the same price range. But hey, we’re tourists, so you have to keep your head up!

We order the Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Merlot 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile; 14% ABV. Aromas of blackberry and blueberry, sweet spices (vanilla); the dark fruits coming through again on the palate. Medium acidity and tannins, perhaps a bit young, it’s not quite full-bodied. Great with the food! Merlot is my favourite “International Varietal” to match with many pasta dishes.

Time for dessert. Michèle takes Queso Helado, which we first tried in Arequipa. Smooth and good.

My choice is Tres Leches, a cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. The cake itself is light, and soaks up just enough liquid without falling apart. It some ways it’s the South American version of tiramisu. Mmmmm…definitely comfort food.

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