Monday, October 27, 2014
Alpamayo: Peru in the Berkshires
We parked om Main Street and checked out the options, and what most intrigued me was Alpamayo Restaurant, a Peruvian spot, so we decided to give it a chance. Just as we sat down, I received a message from Marc of Boston's Hidden Restaurants, and he provided me two recommendations for local restaurants, and one happened to be Alpamayo. I felt even better about my choice.
Alpamayo, which means "earth river," is the name of a mountain in the Peruvian Andes. The restaurant serve lunch and dinner, and they state that they make everything from scratch. Always good to hear. They serve "authentic Peruvian cuisine" that is "based on family recipes handed down through generations." Most of my prior experience with Peruvian cuisine has been from Chef Jose Duarte, the owner of Taranta, a Peruvian/Italian restaurant in the North End. Alpamayo is a small and homey restaurant, with a full bar, and wasn't too busy when we were there, though became busier as our meal progressed.
The menu has a fascinating selection of Peruvian dishes and the menu contains a list of Appetizers (12 options at $5.99-$15.99), Soup (4 options at $6.99-$15.99, Beef & Chicken (16 options at $7.99-$19.99), Seafood (15 options at $14.99-$17.99), Sides (9 options at $3.99 each), and Desserts (3 options at $5 each). It was difficult to decide what to choose as so much sounded delicious.
I started with a glass of Chicha Morada ($3), an ancient Peruvian drink made from purple corn, fruit and spices. In some respects, it was like a cold mulled wine, without the alcohol, full of fall spices but with some citrus flavors. It was mildly sweet and had an interesting taste, a good choice for an autumn drink.
Covered with a spicy red sauce, the guinea pig had a fatty skin but very tender meat beneath it, most surrounding the bones. There was white and dark meat, and it resembled chicken in texture and its mild flavor. Eating the meat off the leg was like gnawing on a chicken drumstick. If you didn't know what it was, most everyone would enjoy the dish, but many people probably couldn't get past knowing it was guinea pig. The sauce added a nice spicy kick to the dish, and the potatoes, covered by the sauce, were tender and tasty. I enjoyed my guinea pig and it earns my hearty recommendation.
Lunch was very satisfying, and I would have liked to try many more dishes on the menu. This is certainly a more unique restaurant, with its authentic Peruvian items, and you should check it out if you travel out to the Berkshires. The next time I travel to that region, I'll be sure to return.
And be willing to give guinea pig a try.