Walking Miraflores

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October 29th 2014
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: -11.5308, -77.1806

On the trip over we saw an article in the airline magazine about El Pan de la Chola in Miraflores. It was listed as one of "25 Bakeries you should visit before you die." Since we are in town, this seemed the obvious place to go for breakfast. As we squinted up at the menu board and tried to decipher the options, a young man walked up to us and offered to tell us all about the offerings. We both recognized him as the owner-- kind of fun. I ordered some really robust semolina bread that was toasted and served with two salted and peppered avocado halves and olive oil. Mike got another hearty peasant bread with butter and a marmalade that was very rich in color and redolent of molasses. Before we left, Mike went back up to the counter and got a couple brownies and some apple cake to go.

From there we walked up the street in the general direction of Kennedy Park (established on the 40th anniversary of his death, in commiseration with Miraflores' sister city, Pensacola). We stopped at a Starbucks because of the high quality of their restrooms and I hopped on wifi for 5 minutes. During my quick connection, I realized that we were 2 blocks from the Choco Museo de Lima. Our friends Dave and Laura from The Trail said that they really enjoyed doing the "Bean to Bar" class at one of the other locations, so we asked about the next start time: 30 minutes. We were in. It cost about $25 per person and lasted 2 hours. We learned about how and where cocoa is grown and who eats it: basically, it is grown in South America and Africa and Europeans and Americans/Canadians eat it. Peru is not a huge producer, but there is a push to try and encourage farmers to move from growing coca (for cocaine production) to cocoa (for chocolate). From there we each got a handful of cocoa beans to roast in a clay pot on the stove. We stirred them while they toasted for nearly 15 minutes. At that point we could separate the nibs from the outer shells, by hand. We used the shells to make a delicious cocoa tea which we drank during breaks from grinding down the nibs with mortar and pestle. That's a fair amount of work, by the way. It's done commercially by machine. We used the resulting "cocoa liquor" to make two kinds of hot chocolate. The first was the original Mayan recipe made with water, cocoa liquor, honey, cayenne and paprika. The Mayans used human blood rather than paprika; we were happy for the substitute. The drink was pretty bitter: a little like black coffee. I wasn't a fan. Next we made hot chocolate Spanish style. According to Marisol, our teacher, the Spanish were pretty grossed out by the human blood part of the Mayan recipe and didn't really care for the spice of the cayenne pepper so they came up with their own recipe: cocoa liquor, sugar, milk, cinnamon and cloves. That one was much more up my alley. We bought a package of the cocoa beans to bring home to do the same process with the boys.

From there we got to see more than do. We learned how the cocoa butter is separated from the rest of the chocolate and how the tempering process works. Then we each chose a mold to use to make our candy. I picked llamas and Mike made some in the shape of Incan ruins. All good fun.

Our two-hour diversion
Paragliding in MirafloresParagliding in MirafloresParagliding in Miraflores

You can pay about $80 to ride on one of these with a pilot. They are powered completely by the wind and air currents. An HD video from a GoPro camera is included in the price.
complete, we finished the walk to Kennedy Park. It's a fairly large urban park and is known for its substantial feral cat population. We canoodled with a few of them and took a few minutes to find and log a geocache.

From there we headed toward the ocean. The coastline (at least in this part of Lima) has two parts. There is the actual beach and then a set of cliffs and a boardwalk like avenue up above. We took the path up above and walked along the ocean, headed north. We stopped and took some silly pictures as the Parque de Amor which has a big statue of a kissing couple. We watched paragliders riding the wind and air currents up above the cliffs. Mike was interested in trying that out, but the wind wasn't blowing sufficiently hard to carry his weight in tandem with a professional. In fact, it wasn't even gusting enough to allow a coven of scantily clad models/witches dressed in high heels, pointy hats, capes and short shorts to fly. There are a handful of red clay tennis courts in this area as well and we enjoyed watching a few folks playing on them and
Coven of supermodel witchesCoven of supermodel witchesCoven of supermodel witches

Not sure exactly what was going on here, but they did have a film crew following them around.
critiquing their games. Eventually, we got kind of tired and hungry and grabbed a taxi for the hotel. The taxi rate between Miraflores and Barranco should be 7-8 Soles (between $2-3), the first guy we flagged down wanted 3x that, but buckled when we refused to go above the prevailing rate. We've done the trip enough times now that I just tell everyone I'm willing to pay 10 Soles which is a little above standard, but is still only about $3.50.

Back at the hotel we changed and showered and made plans for dinner. The most famous chef/restauranteur in Peru is named Gaston Acurio. He is known for putting Peru on the culinary map of the world and for bringing attention to various Peruvian fusion cuisines. We wanted to make sure that we visited at least one of his restaurants while we were here. So far during this trip we have eaten a lot of classic Peruvian foods so I thought tonight we might try "chifa" a blend of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines. Acurio's chifa restaurant is called Madam Tusan. Usually you need to make reservations to dine at his restaurants, but we tend to eat dinner an hour or two earlier than Peruvians. That has helped us get seated at a bunch of places that are packed later in the eveing. At 6:30 there was only one table occupied at Madam Tusan's. It was a fun dinner. I wasn't blown away by the food, but we were able to get a four-course Peking Duck meal, two sampler platters of dim sum, a Pisco sour and a beer for $60. Pretty impressive.

We had our most impressive taxi ride yet tonight. I think this guy learned to drive by playing Grand Theft Auto. There seems to be very little formal regulation of intersections here. Only the bold get to cross. Those that aren't fast enough get honked at aggressively.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Taking cocoa beans out of their shellsTaking cocoa beans out of their shells
Taking cocoa beans out of their shells

I didn't realize that you can make a very nice tea out of the shells, but now I know
One ingredient missingOne ingredient missing
One ingredient missing

Our teacher said human blood was another key ingredient
Mike's new buddyMike's new buddy
Mike's new buddy

Take a seat anywhere in Kennedy Park and you will likely find you have a feline fan club. I'm surprised that someone isn't here selling cat food to tourists. There are shoe shine guys though
Typical intersectionTypical intersection
Typical intersection

I don't know if you can tell, but the street light says that pedestrians can cross. The large number of cars racing through the intersection suggests that this might not actually be a good idea.
Madam TusanMadam Tusan
Madam Tusan

Interior decor includes a large dragon
Mmmmmmmm, duckMmmmmmmm, duck
Mmmmmmmm, duck

We both really love the crispy skin with the hoisin sauce, green onion and pancake

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