Round trip ticket to Peru

19 March 2015 text and photos Sevda Semer
Travelling and food: two things that, given they are really good, act as doping - they give you energy to the next stop. In the middle of a busy day, we need exactly that. You can't go to passport check at lunchtime, but the time will be enough at least for a recipe from far away.

Some people like to reserve a special evening for trying exotic food. We love it for lunch, because when it comes to a high-energy meal, nothing is as good as... a cup of quinoa, for example. They will serve it to you in Peru - a country with a cuisine like a family tree with many branches: in the roots are the Incas, and in the crown are Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Japanese and African traditions. In Sofia Peruvian recipes come in the notebook of Carlos Porten, who cooks classic recipes, as well as his own interpretations with local products (if you are wondering why - part of the ingredients don't have a translation in Bulgarian, just imagine finding them at the market).

So, today we are at Lomo - Carlos restaurant, which is different not only because of the cuisine, but also with the tables and chairs from old tree, with the menu, written in chalk on the blackboard, and the combination of raw and warm interior elements. When you sit on the table, check the drawers - they have long been used as mailboxes, and here we often find love letters or notes about "the moment you look at the phone, and I'm looking at you." And another important thing - the small windows that open to the kitchen. In this restaurant, cooking is not and should not be secret work that happens behind closed doors. Quite the opposite - it is close to you and as you sip from your glass, you can peek and see how your appetizer is prepared.

We are here in one of those moments, when Carlos serves us personally. He recommends us to take Combo - a lunch set from several dishes that we choose ourselves (every day, you will be served different meals, so take a look at the blackboard). We order beans with bacon, beef in a thick sauce and Alitas de Gallina. We also take a pork sandwich, Papa Rellena - potato stuffed with minced meat - and a glass of light red wine, which is hard to miss since it is always excellent.

If sandwich sounds boring to you, just wait to try it. "In Peru, we love when the sandwich barely fits in the mouth, but if you want, I can do it a bit smaller", says Carlos, but we order it exactly as he would prepare it for himself. We've made the better choice - on our table arrives the perfect combination of freshly roasted meat ribs (Chicharon), warm bread, sweet potato, fresh vegetables, onions and - as we shall soon find out - a very hot red pepper.

"Peruvian and Bulgarian cuisine havе a lot in common," explains Carlos. We see it in our lunch combo - the beans with bacon, the bits of chicken with potatoes, and stuffed pepper are like tasting something familiar in a new and exciting way. The hot Papa Rellena are filled with the perfect mixture of meat, olives, peppers and spices, and we immediately understand their place as an emblematic Peruvian dish - they are the kind of comfort food that makes you feel satisfied and happy, and the taste transports you to grandma's kitchen. This also applies to the other dishes - on the wall opposite of us there is a lettering that we can just now understand fully: "Not only your grandmother's chairs, but also her pans."

We order a bit more from the beef with peas and carrots, because the meat is tender beyond any description. By the way, have you noticed how often we've said  meat in this text? In Lomo they are absolute masters in its preparation, but the same applies to fish and vegetarian dishes (we have previously tried and still remember Ceviche - a famous Peruvian dish of raw fish marinated in lime juice). Funny how after all this we can still try a few heavenly bites of tiramisu and a cup of coffee, but we did. If you ask us how we survive a stressful day, the answer is this - we travel to Peru, even if it's just for lunch.

Lomo restaurant is part of the Multi Kulti map
It's at Sheinovo 4, open Monday to Friday from 12:00 to 23:00 (with a break between 15:00 and 17:00) and on Saturday from 17:00 to 22:00


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