Lima is one of the best food cities in the world, and there's a delightful culinary surprise practically around every corner. But Malabar in Lima was the most exciting meal of my entire trip to Lima. Malabar has kept a position on the Latin America and World's Best Restaurants lists for many years now, and for good reason. Every menu item was full of ingredients and preparations I had never seen before.
Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is the owner of Malabar. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners, then spent five years cooking in Italy before moving back to his native Lima. He is one of a handful of world-renowned chefs in Lima who is highlighting local ingredients and techniques in his restaurants.
There's nothing more exciting for a foodie than to find something new and incredibly tasty. When I sat down to dinner and the server brought me the bread course, I knew I would have my mind blown during this meal. I was treated to three breads made from yucca (cassava) that were completely new to me, along with a dipping sauce made from fermented yucca juice that was black and funky with an umami kick that the Japanese would envy. I was in awe of it. It was one of those moments when I thought, "Why doesn't the whole world eat like this?" After the bread came the most flavorful hearts of palm dish I've ever had, and and then raw scallops with cucumbers, native herbs and fermented ají amarillo. This native yellow pepper is ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, but this is the only time I have had it fermented. Every dish contained a delicious surprise. I only wish I could eat like this every day!