CityProfile: Lima, Peru’

Dear Friends and Followers,

this week CityProfile brings you to another charming Country through the expertise of another charming expert and local, Alessandra Tebaldi.  It feels like yesterday that I travelled to Lima, for Alessandra’s wedding to Alfredo Deza! My memories of the wedding and the Country are beautiful and I had a wonderful time.  Let’s not waste any more time and leave the screen to our Limeña extraordinaire, Alessandra …

Who is Alessandra?

Alessandra is from Lima, Peru and has made New York City her home since 2002.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Alfredo.  Alessandra is legal counsel at one of the oldest and largest marine towing and transportation companies in the United States.  Prior to joining this company, she was an associate in the business group of a large New York law firm, where she focused her practice on corporate law matters, including fund formation, mergers and acquisitions, securities, bankruptcy and venture capital. Alessandra has also worked in the department of economic and social affairs of a large international organization.  Alessandra is an active member of New York University School of Law’s Alumni Association, where she serves on the board of directors.

How do you know Serena?

Serena and I met in 2004 while we were attending a Master of Laws program at NYU School of Law  and have been good friends ever since.  Serena and I have many things in common – we share a passion for the law, a rich Italian heritage and a love for all things New York City.

Why are you a specialist on Lima?

My husband and I are both Peruvian.  We were both born and raised in Lima and most of our family is currently living there.  As a result, we enjoy visiting often and like to keep up to date with the City’s constant developments.

Where should we stay when travelling to Lima?

One of my favorite hotels in Lima is the Miraflores Park Hotel (MPH) by Orient Express.  My husband and I kicked off our honeymoon in the Presidential Suite and loved every minute of it – from the lovely views of the parks and ocean below, to the delicious eggs benedict we ordered for breakfast after we partied ‘til 6 am at our wedding reception.  You really can’t go wrong at MPH.

Another great hotel is Lima’s JW Marriott (JWM), a large 25 story tower made of green glass that overlooks the ocean.  The JWM is located only a few blocks from the MPH and directly across the street from Larcomar, a lively shopping mall, with lots of stores and restaurants, as well as a movie theatre.

New and notable is the Westin Lima Hotel (WLH) – an amazing addition to the Lima hotel scene and a great display of beautiful modern architecture.  The WLH is located in Lima’s financial center and is very convenient if you are in Lima for business.  Don’t miss the tasty drinks at the bar – very popular right now.

Peru’ has a wonderful cuisine and gastronimical tradition but it is little known in the Unites States. Where should we eat in Lima to experience the best dishes and what should we pick?

During a recent visit to El Bulli, the legendary Chef Ferrán Adriá told me that, in his opinion, Peruvian cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world.  I am happy and honored that he said that because I couldn’t agree more – Peru is a true culinary paradise.

Among my favorite dishes, I would rank “ceviche” (raw seafood marinated in lemon juice) as number one.  Like most Limeñans, I like my ceviche with a “cerveza al polo” (also known as – very cold beer; typically Cristal, Cuzquena or Pilsen).  You should try this dish at a classic “cevicheria” – La Mar, owned by Chef Gastón Acurio, is probably the finest.  But you don’t have to be in Lima to try ceviche, you can do so in the U.S. at La Mar’s San Francisco outpost, on Pier 1 ½, or at its brand-new New York City restaurant (coming soon at the old Tabla space).  Note: Acurio is Peru’s Paris-trained ambassador of food and owner of several Limeñan eateries, including the flagship Astrid y Gastón (which is also worth a visit) and the recently opened Madame Tusan (serving Chinese-influenced Peruvian food). He is opening a New Restaurant in NYC in the space previously occupied by Tabla in Madison Square Park.

Other typical dishes you should not miss are “aji de gallina” and “lomo saltado”.   You can try these and other fabulous international plates at:  La GloriaLima 27Herve BistroRafaelEl MercadoAmor AmarOsaka and the Huaca Pucllana (although the Huaca Pucllana restaurant is a bit touristy, it is located in a breathtaking setting – within the ruins of the Huaca Pucllana, an archealogical compound built between 200 and 700 AD).  Last but not least, don’t forget to taste Peru’s traditional drink – the “pisco sour”.

What should we do in Lima? How can we burn the calories of the delicious food?

Visitors to Peru used to miss out on Lima’s attractions – most would fly into Jorge Chavez airport and then take a connecting flight straight to Cusco.  In recent years, however, this has changed.  Lima’s economy is now booming and the City of Kings (as the old historic center is known) has been cleaned and restored to its original glory.  Lima is full of history and culture.  Aside from experiencing its world class cuisine, I recommend visiting its many amazing museums.  Among my favorite are the Larco Museum and the Museum of Art, also known as theMALI.  The Larco Museum hosts one of the finest gold and silver collections from ancient Peru.  And the MALI boasts an impressive collection of Peruvian art that ranges from pre-Columbian times to today.

Of course, you should not miss the colonial gems located within the historic city center.  The great Basilica of San Francisco, for example, still keeps many treasures derived from the Spanish era as well as a series of incrediblesubterranean catacombs that can still be visited today.  Other interesting attractions within the historic city center are the Cathedral of Lima and theBasilica of Santo Domingo.  The Cathedral dates back to 1535, the same year the City was founded, and displays architecture typical of the Spanish colonial era, while the Basilica of Santo Domingo, also founded in the 16th century, is one of the most beautiful and best preserved churches in Lima. This is where Alfredo and I got married! It is also where the National University of San Marcos (the oldest university in the Americas) was founded.

If you are staying in town for a few days, I recommend taking a day trip toPachacamac and/or the Nazca Lines.  Pachacamac was one of the largest religious centers of the Peruvian coast and is located nearby, about 19 miles south of the City.  The Nazca Lines are huge pre-Inca representations of geometric patterns, animals and human figures that can only be fully seen from the sky.  They are located in the Nazca region, about 275 miles south of Lima.  This is also where Peru’s national spirit, pisco, is produced.  It may seem like a long drive, but it’s definitely worth the detour and you may want to take the opportunity to spend the night in nearby Paracas where you can visit theParacas National Reserve (home of flamingoes, pelicans, penguins and dolphins), take a boat trip to the captivating Ballestas Islands (a protected area for cormorants and sea lions) and stay at Starwood’s recently inaugurated Hotel Paracas (a luxury collection resort).

What about our favorite sport, Shopping? What do you suggest we buy while in Lima?

Peru is well known for its silver – you can find quality pieces, especially in the jewelry department.  I strongly recommend visiting Ilaria, a very reputable store focused on silver objects and jewelry, some of which are inspired by Inca motifs.

Peru is also well known for its textiles.  Alpaca 111 and Kuna by Alpaca 111produce garments made of the highest quality alpaca fiber.  Visit their stores at Larcomar and the Jorge Chavez Airport.

For traditional crafts, visit Qala, also located within Larcomar.  Qala is a gift store that promotes local artisans from all over Peru, many of them members of hard-to-access indigenous communities, and helps them show their hand-made pieces to the world.  Another fun store is Dedalo, located at Paseo Saenz Pena 295, Barranco.   Dedalo is known for its handmade items, from furniture and paintings to jewelry and clothes.

See you next time with a CityProfile about Italy…