With my beau’s wallet safely back in hand and our year anniversary falling the day before the end of our three week trip to Peru, we decided to splurge.  Being a foodie in Chicago on a social worker’s budget is not really an option, but in the paradise that is Peru, $60 can buy you a 12-course tasting meal from a top 50 rated, in the world, restaurant.  We found out about Astrid y Gaston from an online travel guide and easily reserved a table for two for the four hour dining experience.

We spruced up, smoothing out the wrinkles in the one nice outfit we pulled from the bottom of our backpacks.  Hair properly coiffed and shirts tucked in, we walked hand-in-hand from our hostess’ apartment to the Miraflores gem of a restaurant.  Although we were early, they sat us immediately and presented us with the wine list.  Taking the sommelier’s suggestion for a lovely Argentinean malbec, coupled with the two starters they brought out BEFORE the 12 courses, we settled into our seats and waited in anticipation of the event.

The meal was entirely derived from traditional flavors and produce; the first two or three courses were ceviches that had distinct flavors ranging from spicy to creamy.  We sampled cuy, the meat of guinea pig, wrapped in a blue corn crepe and really, really enjoyed the flavor (thankfully, I never had a rodent as a pet, so eating one wasn’t as difficult, even though I usually am a vegetarian).  I mean, if the host didn’t tell us that it was cuy, I would have never guessed.

There was an amazon inspired soup, squid ink noodles, and all types of potatoes imaginable.  Something that we were really lucky to see was the visit of a food writer (well, someone important and writer-ly looking).  The staff and chefs pulled together baskets filled with all of the varieties of corn and potatoes used at that evening’s meal, so the writer could see and snap a picture.  They were gorgeously filled to the brim with 20 types of corn or potatoes all with distinct colors, shapes and flavors.

After the amazing desserts (there were at least three different sweet courses with SO many delicious bites to try), we rolled away from Astrid y Gaston, two very happy people.  We met our hostess and her boyfriend at one of her favorite local bars for a last drink, which turned into an entire evening festivity, sharing a bottle of pisco that we had gifted her from our time in Ica and laughing in a mixture of Spanish and English.

Sufficiently silly enough to fall asleep, we said a sad goodnight to Lima.  Our taxi driving friend was ready to take us to the airport that coming evening and Chicago wanted us home.  Although we did not get to see all of the sights we desired, Peru pulled through to give me the best travel experience of my life.