Pisqu in Fitzrovia: A taste of Peru
Peruvian food still doesn’t have the recognition it deserves within the vast spectrum of restaurants lining London’s streets today. However, places like Pisqu in Fitzrovia are contributing towards the increasing popularity of this vibrant cuisine, which many of us haven’t even tried yet, or which we often relegate as a casual or street-style affair.
The reality couldn’t be any further from the truth. Pisqu – opened in 2016 – continues to prove that the Andean country offers very unique gastronomy and even richer variety of produce that can be transformed into spectacular dishes, in which fish is almost always the protagonist. In fact, there is a considerably big Japanese community in Peru – a fact that is not surprising when you consider some of the similarities between the diets of both countries, which are often based on very fresh and fairly healthy combinations of seasonal ingredients. Indeed, the close relationship between the two cultures has given rise to a fusion known as Nikkei, which marries the distinctive flavours of ceviche and sushi.
But that’s not all: the South American country also offers a distinctive drink to which the restaurant owes its name, an alcoholic beverage called pisco, exclusively produced in Peru and Chile following a tradition that started in the 16th century. This was the first piece of information about the area that we were given at the restaurant, shortly before we were showcased the preparation of an authentic pisco sour, consisting of the spirit itself (made by distilling fermented grape juice), along with sugar syrup, egg whites, angostura bitter and a lot of fresh lime juice. A great start to an even tastier evening.
Chef William Ortiz took care of the rest of the soirée by introducing us to nine beautifully crafted plates that reflected the Peruvian flavours and culture. We started with a very unusual yet delicious variety of bread, Pan Rústico, all filled with Andean superfoods (quinoa, aji and huacatay) and accompanied by colourful savoury and sweet dips.
They were followed by a series of exquisite fish dishes, among which the Octopus Choclo and the Salmón Tiradito happened to be the favourites. The first arrived in two pieces, each placed on a cube of Inca golden cake, which, with its sweetness, counterbalanced the spiciness of the anticucho sauce.
To prove the aforementioned closeness of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, the second dish could have easily been mistaken for a typical Asian dish. The tender salmon sashimi was laid on the plate and simply decorated with rounded splashes of rocoto sauce.
The winner of the evening in terms of presentation, though, were the Scallops Tigre: a dainty triumph of colours where the soft flesh of the fish was flavoured with green asparagus, red kiwicha and aji limo.
We also had a taste of Cicharrón and Asado, combined with a yuca croquette and a palo santo sauce respectively. These meaty servings revealed a more greasy take, always enriched by the spices and seasoning. Each creation was served with Intipalka wines, from a sauvignon blanc to the intense syrah.
To finish off the night and wrap up the table talk about Peru’s incredible natural patrimony, we were gifted with a Guanabana Mousse, a dessert made of the Amazonian white fruit with a drizzle of miel de tierra.
Pisqu is a great destination for those looking to immerse themselves in exotic and fresh flavours with an Amazonian spirit. Any food lovers and connoisseurs of natural produce would do well to discover this gem and spread the word about Peruvian cuisine.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Pisqu, 23 Rathbone Place Fitzrovia London W1T 1HZ, call 020 7436 6123 or visit their website here.