Astrid y Gastón - Lima, Peru
As the cab pulls into Astrid y Gastón's (AG) courtyard, I see the impressive 300+ year old plantation home, which houses the restaurant, and it feels like I've gone back in time. It stands alone, illuminated, proud and impeccably looked after. Surrounded by architecture of a more recent time and bustling Lima on a Saturday night, it's the perfect visual metaphor for modern and classic coming together in harmony, much like the cuisine. The restaurant recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, but it all began in 1994 after Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio graduated culinary school in Paris. Catering to the global trend at the time, their original restaurant menu would have a heavy French influence. As years passed, the duo's cuisine developed to solely showcase local flavors, and today they're highly regarded as being at the originators of modern Peruvian fine dining. In 2013 the couple's eponymous Relais & Chȃteaux restaurant ranked number one on LAB list on its first year of publication. One year later AG would move into its new location, a Peruvian hacienda with as much history as the duo have accolades. Today, AG ranks number 67 on WB list and number 13 on LAB list. The history of their current home, however, predates any lists, dating back to the mid 17th century. Since then, at one point in time or another, this hacienda has been the epicenter of economic, social, cultural and religious activity in the city and for the country.
Whether gazing at the olive tree garden, believed to be planted in 1560, from the comfort of the terrace which showcases the hacienda's original architecture, or sitting in the contemporary Azul Salon with plants hanging upside down on the ceiling, its clear to see AG's passion to showcase Peru's traditions. With a passion not only for tradition, but hospitality as well, on any given evening Astrid can be found mingling with guests and posing for photos (see below). Such dedication landed AG the LAB Art of Hospitality award in 2017. Mentoring and passing the torch onto the next generation of Lima's great chefs, Gaston's young team push creative boundaries with the goal of providing guests the excitement of an unparalleled culinary experience. They definitely met their objectives with the dishes below.
*Hacienda is a term used to describe a large estate or plantation with a dwelling on it.
Crushed Potatoes and Onion Confit