Back to Lima for the last hurrah!

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After having dreams about being buried alive in a coffin…oh no, wait, it’s not a dream…it’s my 7′ x 3′ hotel room! Alright, enough about that; we have just a few hours to have breakfast and a stroll around the charming town of Cusco before flying to Lima for my last few days before going back to LA. Javier takes me to Jack’s Cafe (www.jackscafecusco.com), an American style diner with really delicious American breakfast fair (a welcome surprise after three days of Lama meat, coca salads and Quinoa everything!). Hey, I’m a real gourmand and love all new foods, but sometimes you just need some bacon and eggs and some French toast with maple syrup…which is exactly what I’m going to have (bring cash…they take NO credit cards).

 

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Jack’s Café

 

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Jack’s Cafe’s menu

 

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Banana French Toast…Mmmmmm!

 

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Javier’s scrambled eggs, bacon and kidney beans (can’t take the brit out f him!)

 

The walk to the Cafe takes us through an ancient Inca street that features a famous, enormous stone that has 12 perfectly cut facets…I don’t really get all the fuss! This street is one of the most famous examples of Inca Masonry. Nevertheless the street is supposedly built in the beginning of Spanish rule by Inca workforce but ordered by the Spanish. In any case it is amazing to see these huge boulders fit perfectly without the use of modern tools. The architecture is definitely a blend of Inca and Spanish style that really compliment each other (though I’m sure the Inca’s didn’t quite feel the same…). I even run into a Peruvian old lady dressed in full traditional Peruvian regalia known as: Cuechua clothing. Though she wasn’t keen on getting photographed, I pulled a fast one of her behind.

The main square, Plaza de Armas, is stunning with its 2 cathedrals and a mountainous background that make it even more spectacular. The center of the square is a nice place to rest on the benches, soak up the gardens, and admire the fountain in the center. The area is also very lively and beautiful at night, with people mulling about and the architecture lit up with spotlights. I catch a meeting of local policemen having their Morning Prayer and discussion on the daily affairs (probably how to deal with the many drunken foreigners that seem to clutter Cusco’s streets at night).

 

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Cusco’s beautiful architecture

 

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Cusco’s narrow ancient Inca streets

 

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The famous 12 facetted Inca stone at the base of the structure

 

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Cuaechua Peruvian lady running from me and my camera

 

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Plaza de Armas

 

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Plaza de Armas

 

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Plaza de Armas

 

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Plaza de Armas

 

IMG_3425 Compania de Jesus is a Jesuit church built in the 16th century.



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Construction on the Cusco Cathedral was begun in 1559 and completed in 1669, in the Renaissance style. It is built on the site where the Inca Wiracochas Palace once stood.

 

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The Cusco Cathedral houses an impressive collection of art work, with over 400 paintings

 

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Stunning gold gilded altar

 

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Police men and women morning prayer in front of the cathedral

 

All right, it’s time to head to the airport and back to oxygen: Lima! I mentioned to Javier that I am interested in developing a gourmet fast food rotisserie chicken place in LA in the near future, so Javier is taking me to what he claims is the best chicken rotisserie restaurant in Peru. After a very long 1 hour drive in the boonies of Lima and through miles of shanty towns filled with skinny wild dogs running in every direction, we arrive in this walled, enormous oasis that is: Granja Azul (which belongs to his uncle). The restaurant is huge, with a hacienda style interior and a vast terrace and garden; I would say it hold 1000 people. At first I’m hesitant, looks a bit like a massive family, Disneyland style place with all you can eat chicken…not my-cup-a-tea. But after seeing the kitchen with its old fashion wood burning brick ovens and the 8 weeks old chickens being roster…I’m hopeful!

The menu is surprisingly minuscule: all you can eat baby chicken, green salad with secret dressing, French fries and hot buns. Javier and beautiful Tabata, his friend Soli and family sit around a large reclaimed wood table ready to feast. Well let me tell you, the food arrives and it’s the best damn rotisserie chicken I have ever had in my life!!!! It is so tender and juicy with a crisp skin…perfection! The green salad with secret dressing is also amazing (I beg for the recipe but they laugh at me!) and the hot buns that arrive in a-oh-so-cute chicken pouch made out of fabric are irresistible!!!! There you have it…I was ready for disappointment and instead I am beaucoup impressed. Rightfully so, the place is packed and though there are a million children running around like loose chickens, the amazing food along with a few Pisco Sour act like a noise reduction headphone…loving it!!!

6 whole chickens, 3 special salads, 6 French fries, 10 hot buns and 3 Pisco Sour later (on my own ladies and gentlemen…) It’s time to head home to Javier’s place to get ready for the evening! I’m exhausted and bursting to the seams, but there is no escaping Javier’s plan…as my mom says: NO rest for the wicked!


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Beautiful flower arrangement at the entrance of Granja Azul

 

IMG_3540Large reclaimed wood tables at Granja Azul


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The amazing traditional kitchens with brick, fire burning pits

 

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Granja Azul china

 

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The very cute chicken pouches holding the hot buns

 

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Chicken roasting on the wood burning pits

 

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Our peruvian group having lunch

 

After a very short disco nap it’s cocktail time at Hotel B in Barranco (www.hotelb.pe), the most beautiful and super cool hotel in Lima. This place is truly fabulous, it’s an old converted estate, done with such taste and sophistication; we sit in the small black and white tiled terrace and start drinking gin tonics with a myriad of Javier’s friends that kept doubling up as the evening went along. Now that we are pickled, we are ready for Lima’s club scene…I think! Next stop is Gotica, Lima’s premier nightclub at the über chic Miraflores shopping center overlooking the ocean: Larcomar. Immediately, I notice that the age group is substantially younger than my own; I’m starting to feel like the dirty old man lurking around the young lambs…not attractive! Javier reassures me that there will be a few dinosaurs at the club and shoves me trough the VIP line and into the front door. Once we descend, what seem to be 20 stories, you enter a full-on discotheque, complete with light shows and jammed with…yes, you guessed it, young people! The final hit came compliments of the Macarena blasting from the speakers…THAT is enough for me to make a U-turn and run for the hills and back home! 3AM…going to sleep…one more day left in Peru. Zzzzzzzz

 

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Hotel B in Barranco

 

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Hotel B’s stunning bar

 

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Javier Millership and Robert Kass at the Hotel B terrace

 

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Club Gotica

 

IMG_2987Javier Millership with the beautiful Tabata at Club Gotica

Peru…here I come!!!

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I am so exited to visit Peru, I’ve always wanted to experience this mystical country with all it’s different layers: the Andes and Machu Picchio, Cusco, Lima, the jungle, the ocean, the desert, the funny little Peruvian outfits…hats and all. I finally have a great reason to journey to this enchanted country thanks to my dear friend Javier Millership, an English born Peruvian that I met several years ago in Los Angeles, who has courageously offered to show me this amazing land.

Since I’m in Mexico City, a skip and a hop away from Peru (not really…), there is no better time to go! I board my night flight on Aeromexico to Lima (www.aeromexico.com); there are only coach seats on this flight but if you ask ahead for the emergency exit seat # 14A, you will have plenty of leg room since there is no seat in front of you. I arrive at 11:45 PM in the chaotic airport of Lima; after a long line through customs, I finally reach the arrival area where my dear Javier is waiting breathless with anticipation…or so I like to think. After another long line to pay for the parking, we reach Javier’s SUV where, ever so casually, he pulls out a Glock 9mm pistol and an AK47 look alike contraption and sets it between us in the middle armrest. Clearly, I’m a little taken back by the sight of “Peruvian Rambo 2.0”, but he casually reassures me with heart warming words: “This is the way it works in Peru”… So there you have it!

The ride home is dark, traffic is brutal, even at 1am, and the landscape is definitely third world, though I’m more concerned about that gun pointing my way and accidentely shooting through my thigh! By the time we arrive at his ocean side, 3 floors penthouse on the famous Maleçon, it’s 2am so there is just time for a quick “Bienvenido” cheer with Peruvian pink champagne on the rooftop overlooking the Lima coastline and off to bed…a very comfortable bed I might add!

 

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The “Terminator” Javier Millership

 

The moment I wake up and look out my window, I realize the beauty of the Lima costal landscape, to which I have a front view from my bedroom window and terrace. It’s the beginning of winter now in Peru, so the weather is tamer and there is a beautiful morning mist throughout the coast that burns out in the early afternoon. Javier know well how much I love food and my interest in restaurants; so the first day is jam-packed with visits to three of the top restaurants in Lima. We start with breakfast at the trendy “El Pan de la Chola” (https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Pan-de-la-Chola/100747306661527); a lovely cafe/bakery at the super-hip neighborhood: Miraflores. The place is simple, yet cleverly done; the baked goods, including croissants, home made granola, yogurt and all the usual suspects, are made in house, in fact, you can see the bakery in full action in the back of the cafe. On weekends you will have to wait for a long time to get a table. Note to all the “Chicas”: the owner is drop dead gorgeous and apparently single.

 

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El Pan de la Chola Cafe and Bakery in Miraflores, Lima

 

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Such a beautiful presentation

 

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Breads being made fresh all day in the back of the cafe

 

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Yum

 

Now it’s time for a drive around town to see the different neighborhoods that have grown so much in the last 10 years according to Javier. Real estate is booming in Lima and you can see it all around with the construction of so many new modern buildings. Traffic is brutal, though not as bad as Mexico City. Everyone drives wherever they want and traffic laws don’t apply, in fact, no one gives a rat’s ass about them! So for the first few days I am literally clawed to the dashboard in fear for my life; eventually you just join the madness and start screaming out the window, to other drivers, to get out of the way!!! If they don’t comply, you can always point the gun at them…just kidding!

We arrive at La Heradura Beach, at the end of the Lima Bay, where the local surfers are out in force, a familiar sight for me living in California. The waves are rough and the beach is only rocks, but no one seems to mind. Then off to the controversial statue of Jesus that sits on top of a hill overlooking the entire Lima. I say controversial because it was a gift from the ex president of Peru to the city of Lima, a city that he allegedly pillaged and plundered for years; but here’s the good part, he had the Jesus made out of Plexiglas!!! Yes my dear possums…Plexiglas!!! With all the dough he stole, you would think he would commission a stone Jesus like Rio de Janeiro…the cheap troll! One the hill next to it is another cross; this one a very tall metal structure that lights up in the night, a shining beckon of the Catholic church that is, without doubt, the leading religion in Peru.

 

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La Heradura Surfer Beach

 

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The breathtaking cliffs at La Heradura Beach…and my ride!

 

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The Fiberglass Jesus overlooking Lima

 

IMG_2861The Illuminated Cross overlooking Lima

 

All right, enough crosses. It’s time for lunch! Javier chooses the best lunch restaurant in Lima: El Mercado (www.rafaelosterling.pe). The owner and chef is Rafael Osterling and he is one of the best known chefs in the country; his two top restaurants in Lima are Mercado (only open for lunch) and Rafael (only open for dinner). This guy is truly amazing; his cuisine is innovative yet true to its Peruvian origins. Mercado is all about fish, which is abundant and as fresh as it gets in Lima. Our little group of misfits: Myself, Javier, Shirley and Soli are certainly not shy about food, so within minutes, a parade of dishes arrive at the table as if I we hadn’t eaten in weeks. We start with Conchas a la Parmesana, followed by the best grilled Octopus west of Mississippi and a million other dishes. We conclude this food bonanza with homemade Churros del Mercado with Chocolate Dip, Dulce de Leche & Vanilla ice cream…COMA!

As you know, I always have to visit the local museums, but I’m even more exited today to visit our friend Mario Testino’s, MATE museum in the chic Barranco neighborhood (www.mate.pe). I’ve always been a frustrated, wanna-be photographer and photography has always been a big part of my life since I was very little, specially from fashion photographers such as Mario, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Avedon, Snowden, Annie Leibowitz, etc. So going to see Mario’s photo exhibit is a real treat for me. The exhibit is very small but it includes some of his best celebrity portraits and his “Claim-to-Fame” photo shoot with Princess Diana, even one of her beautiful gowns she wore is displayed in the “Diana Room”. Chic…no?

I’m pooped!!!! Back to the Maleçon for a siesta before going to another great Rafael restaurant for yet another feast…I feel like a Roman, I’ll never make it out of this country in a size 34 pants!

 

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Chef Rafael’s amazing El Mercado Restaurant in Miraflores

 

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Such an exiting and innovative menu

 

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Conchas a la Parmesana

 

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Something yummy

 

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Something with an egg…

 

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Thai style fried rice bowl

 

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Something with shrimps…I’m sorry, I forgot some of the names of these dishes

 

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Home made Churros with Chocolate dip, Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Icecream

 

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Mario Testino’s MATE museum

 

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Entrance to the restored 1930′ original building

 

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The gorgeous Kate Moss

 

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Brad baby

 

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The unforgettable Princess Diana

 

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Diana’s gown

 

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Peruvian lady in her traditional ensemble

 

Surprisingly, I am ready for the 3rd mega meal in one day; Javier and I are off to chef Rafael’s dining flagship named after him: “Rafael”, in the Miraflores neighborhood. The restaurant opens at 8PM (because they can…) and has no sign outside; it’s very reminiscing of the super trendy NYC restaurants, which, I hear, Rafael is a fan off. The interior is simple, yet cozy and welcoming with many odd “objets” around the Cuban style bar, cool art and a very subtle/chic main dining room. Javier introduces me to Rafael, who happened to stop by for a moment; I was very impressed by his charming and understated demeanor, a rarity amongst talented famous chefs…Oh no he didn’t. Of course we start the evening with Peru’s signature drink: the Pisco Sour.

A Pisco Sour is a cocktail typical of South American cuisine. The drink’s name comes from pisco, which is its base liquor, and the cocktail term sour, in reference to sour citrus juice and sweetener components.
Main alcohol: Pisco
Ingredients: 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Egg white, 1 1/2 oz Pisco, 3/4 oz Simple syrup
Preparation: Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then pour into glass and garnish with bitters.
Served: Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish: Angostura bitters
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass

These little suckers are deliciously easy to drink, but make no mistake, they are lethal!!! After just one drink, your legs give away and after the second…well, it’s not pretty! Needless to say, I had two Piscos and forgot to take photos of all the dishes, I forgot to take photos of the interiors of the restaurant and, quite frankly, I don’t even remember how I got home…NO more Pisco for Roberto!!!

 

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The deadly Pisco Sour

 

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Rafael Restaurant’s bar…the only photo I managed to take prior to Pisco Sour obliteration

 

Throwback Post: Museo Jumex Grand Opening weekend extravaganza, Mexico City, 2012

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Since I just wrote a post about my friend’s Museo Jumex, I think it’s appropriate to do a throwback piece on the grand opening of the museum back in 2012.

My friend Eugenio López Alonso, the man behind the amazing Jumex Collection, was the host for the two-day extravaganza where international art world figures, celebrities and Mexico’s who’s who rubbed elbows in a series of fabulous events. To say that it was one of the most spectacular and memorable events I’ve been to, is an understatement.

The weekend celebrations kicked off with a cocktail party for the international guests on Friday night at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola, where the Hollywood set, such as Eva Longoria and Will Ferrell, mixed with art luminaries, such as Sydney Picasso, Klaus Biesenbach and Jeffrey Deitch. My posse included my dear friend and travel companion James Moore, David Cooley and Paolo Marini; we all flew into Mexico City together and joined a very large LA contingent attending the weekend extravaganza.

Saturday afternoon, after a delightful lunch at Tori Tori in Polanco with James, David, Paolo and Brooke Davenport; the doors to the museum opened for all the awaiting guests including Darren Star, Simon de Pury, and Frieze New York’s Amanda Sharp mingling with Mexico’s Soumaya Slim, Fernando Romero, Paulina Rubio, and Gabriel Orozco, to name a few. The Kass friends included: Waldo Fernandez, Eduardo de la Vega, Loree Rodkin, Yuri Bradak, Isa Jonay, Nicky Haskel, Wendy Stark, Miriam Rothbart, Ahmed Ashmawi and so many more!

Finally the grand event took place at the Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial, where a 1920 Hollywood style grand set was built to host the 1500 or so guests attending with a grand orchestra and gold gilded stairs on all sides of the square space emulating an inverted Aztec pyramid. Shortly after midnight, DJ Mark Ronson took over and got the dance floor rocking, bringing the party to its peak. Guests, including Michael and Eva Chow, Stavros Niarchos, Vito Schnabel, Julio Santo Domingo and many, many others, danced well into the early hours of the morning. The after party was at Eugenio’s penthouse in Polanco, but that part of the evening is off limits!

So many insane things happened over the course of this mad weekend…but thankfully, it’s all a blur!!!

 

DSC00608International guests party at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley, the lovely Miriam Rothbart and Nicky Haskel

 

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Isa Jonay, David Cooley, Paolo Marini and Robert Kass

 

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Vanity Fair’s Wendy Stark and friend

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley and Paolo Marini at Tori Tori

 

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Brooke Davenport and friend, James Moore, Paolo Marini and David Cooley

 

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The LA Gang: Robert Kass, James Moore, Brooke Davenport and friend,Paolo Marini and David Coooley

 

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Robert Kass and James Moore looking dapper

 

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Opening of Museo Jumex

 

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The LA boys: Paolo Marini, David Cooley, James Moore, Isa Jonay and Yuri Bradac

 

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Robert Kass and Isa Jonay

 

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Robert Kass looking super dapper

 

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Outdoor view of Museo Jumex

 

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Main event at Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial

 

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Grand Orchestra’s director

 

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Grand Orchestra

 

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Golden stairs and guests

 

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Being smothered by Yuri Bradac