Last day in Peru…so sad to leave this amazing country!

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I wake up already aware of the fact that today will be my last day in Peru and that today will be the last time I’ll wake up looking at this beautiful view of the Maleçon and the Pacific ocean. I start my day with my usual coffee and baked treats from the wonderful Rossita and Suzana, Javier’s housekeepers for over 20 years, who took such good care of me over the last two weeks. Today is jammed packed with places to see and a visit at the iconic and ûber-exclusive Club National. I better pack this morning because I have a feeling I won’t be back in this room till the sun comes up, when I’ll be scrambling to get my hungover ass into a Uber car and to the airport for my journey back home to LA!

One of my favorites things to do in all places I visit, is check out the local markets; nothing will give you a better better intimate look at the type of culture and traditions you’re dealing with. This is a third world country after all, so I’m sure I’m in for a real treat! Living in the US, you get used to a very sanitized, super organized, designer conscious markets where everything is almost too well presented and packaged. I like the real markets where it’s less about design and presentation and more about the local lifestyle, where you experience the hustle and bustle on the locals and the foods they eat. So today we are visiting both types: the local food markets where the common people shop for food and the new, super trendy and visually perfect, Sunday only, Ecomarket on Dasso Street. One thing that you will notice immediately, is that nothing goes to waste in third world countries; every part of any animal or vegetable is used, making your visit a visual bonanza! Not for the squeamish, especially Americans, you will find items such as intestines, hearts, tongues, feet and so much more. For my American friends I’ve included several photos of these items that will either inspire you or make you hurl… I’m not too squeamish tho I do pause for a second when I see a bag of chicken feet staring at me…hummm, snacks anyone? The smells of all the different products overwhelm your senses and after a while, I’m ready for the trendy market.

 

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Frutas stand

 

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Snacks anyone?

 

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Yum!

 

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Fish stand

 

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Poultry stand


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Intestins, tongue, liver, feet…the whole lot!

 

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Beef stomach or tripe

 

Only open on Sundays, the Ecomarket on Dasso Street is a mix of arts & crafts items and fresh food items displayed beautifully in tented stands lined up one by one, showcasing a variety of local high-end products. The atmosphere is definitely different here and most definitely not for the common people. Here, it’s a mix of trendy people and well to do families on a Sunday stroll; this is not where you go to buy groceries, it’s more of a day event for the beautiful people of Peru. Here we visit our friends Giuseppe, Shirley and Maria who run the “La Felicia” stand, serving up delicious freshly baked goods and amazing sandwiches. After a long stroll up and down this bustling market, we make our way to Bottega Dasso, one of Javier’s favorite bars, on the same street as the market (how convenient…). Here we officially start the day with a delicious Bloody Mary…when in Rome! I don’t drink during the day so the next few hours are a little blurry.

 

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The  very trendy and polished  Ecomarket on Dasso Street

 

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Our friends at La Felicia stand at the Ecomarket on Dasso Street

 

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Our very young, yet talented mixologist at Bottega Dasso

 

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Nothing like a Bloody Mary to start the day…

 

Finally, it’s off to the much anticipated lunch at Club National in Plaza San Martin; this is a private, members only club established in 1855, we’re talking serious stuff here possums!!! This place is the epiphany of Old World Glamour, of the elite society that has long dissipated. When you walk through those doors, you are catapulted into the eighteenth century, in a world of gentlemen and servers wearing white tie and white gloves. You cannot go through these doors unless you are wearing a suit and tie and you must be a guest of a member of the club; a membership that is close to impossible to get. Javier is of course a member, as was his grandfather and his great-grandfather; you are reminded that no phone or cameras are allowed in the premises (never a good thing when you’re trying to write a piece on the place…), and you suddenly feel like your on the set of the Titanic. But this is no set, this is the real thing and it has been going on for centuries unchanged and unchallenged as they proudly hang on to their old fashion traditions for dear life…and thankfully so!!!! We start with aperitifs in one of the many uniquely decorated rooms, where a gentleman in a white suit and gloves takes our order and makes us feel like royalty.

A few Pisco sours later we stumble to the amazingly glamorous, rococo wood paneled dining room for lunch. Since I am not allowed to take photos and there are always at least 3 waiters around our table making sure I don’t, I included a photo of the dining room that I found in Javier’s coffee table book of Club National at his mom’s home, for you to get a feeling of the grandeur of this place. The menu is continental, with local fair and the food is amazing!!! I have the succulent crispy pig with potato gratin which is to dye for!!! The service is beyond description: so elegant and professional, though subtle and friendly; I can’t wait to get back to my restaurant in LA and crack the whip! The Club National is a five story gentleman’s dream, complete with dining rooms, smoking rooms, a library, a barber, a cigar room, a gym, a swimming pool, a screaming room and so much more…oh, and females are not allowed as members, though they are welcome to join the men in the dining room. That’s old world for you…

 

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Club National entrance and amazing terrace

 

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The dramatic entrance to Club National

 

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Evening view of Club National spectacular façade

 

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The stunning dining room at Club National

 

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The stunning stained glass ceiling over the main lobby at Club National

 

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Robert Kass and Javier Millership after our boozy lunch at Club National

 

Now I’m drunk…imagine that! We must make our way home for a quick outfit change and off to Salvatore Ferragamo’s boutique opening at the biggest mall in Peru: Jokey Plaza Mall. Here everyone is beautiful and young, a testament to Peru’s growing young upper class, hungry for brands and up-scale lifestyle. I hope the west realized the incredible opportunities that exist in South America, from Mexico to Peru to Brazil and even Cuba…I’m definitely jumping on this wagon! Javier introduces me to the beautiful Ms. Peru who’s getting ready for the upcoming Ms. World competition; sadly that was before the train dreadful events prompted by our “illustrious” Donald Trump’s ignorant rants about Mexicans and the subsequent cancellation of the Ms. World event in the US..

Now it’s late, I’m tired but there is no escaping Javier’s last night celebrations at, yet again, Club Gotica! This night is different though, it’s a big group of Javier’s lovely friends: his business partner Soli and his lovely wife, the charming pre-med student/bodybuilder Giuseppe, Tabata and more naughty Peruvians. As you can imagine, being my last night in Peru, the evening quickly takes a different course: it’s downhill! Most definitely not worthy of comment on my “respectful” blog…I’ll leave it up to your imagination!

 

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The Peruvian dog…most likely the ugliest dog in the world! Don’t know why I included this!

 

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Salvatore Ferragamo boutique launch with Javier Millership

 

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Robert Kass and Giuseppe Bogani at Club Gotica

 

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A prelude to how the evening went at Club Gotica

 

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Larcomar shopping center overlooking the ocaen

 

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Larcomar shopping center tower

 

I’m sad, tomorrow I leave this wonderful place but I find solace knowing that it will not be long before I come back here; Peru is truly a magical place…you must come visit!!!! Buenas noches!!!

 

Special note:

I don’t even know how to start thanking my dear, dear friend Javier Millership; he has gone out of his way to show me a magnificent country that I did not know. His knowledge, love and pride for his country made my experience so much more that I could ever imagine. I love this country because of Javier and his generosity, kindness, humor and patience. I am in your debt forever!

Last but not least, I want to thank the amazing Isabel Arias (Javier’s MOM); she has been the most gracious host and I am so grateful to her for opening up her home to me as if I was part of the family! You are such an inspiration to all, you defy conventional Latin female stereotypes by being such a strong leader in your industry, so dedicated and engaged, such a class act and most of all, such an amazing mother!!!! I’m honored to call you my friend.

 

 

 

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