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.
Intestins, tongue, liver, feet…the whole lot!
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.
The very trendy and polished Ecomarket on Dasso Street
Our friends at La Felicia stand at the Ecomarket on Dasso Street
Our very young, yet talented mixologist at Bottega Dasso
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…
Club National entrance and amazing terrace
The dramatic entrance to Club National
Evening view of Club National spectacular façade
The stunning dining room at Club National
The stunning stained glass ceiling over the main lobby at Club National
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!
The Peruvian dog…most likely the ugliest dog in the world! Don’t know why I included this!
Salvatore Ferragamo boutique launch with Javier Millership
Robert Kass and Giuseppe Bogani at Club Gotica
A prelude to how the evening went at Club Gotica
Larcomar shopping center overlooking the ocaen
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!!!
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.