After leaving the Mercado Central, and an interesting cab ride back to the hotel, we arrived to find our room ready. We freshened up a bit, I went to pick up some bottled water (sin gas), and we took a walk down Avenida del Sol, Cusco's busy main drag. Most of the government buildings, banks, and other businesses are located on this street. Even though there weren't many eateries on del Sol, there were a few fruit vendors:
We also dropped by a "Lavanderia"(laundry service). We had only taken carry on luggage to Peru, and though we needed to bring clothes for 2 dinners, we managed by using a couple of compression bags, and one visit to a good lavanderia. The Lavanderia's charge by the kilo, and if I recall our bill came out to s/12 ($4 US)....to us, a great deal.
We managed a visit to Museo Inka (admission $3 US). Oscar told us that this was the best museum in Cusco when it came to Inca history. Though there is a lack of English signs, we could figure out what most of the displays were about. Of course I enjoyed the ancient and traditional foods display, with items such a Tarwi, and there is a fascinating collection of skulls that display the use of trepanning(the oldest surgery known to man). I'm sorry to say that photos aren't allowed in the museum, but I found some photos here. The Missus also added to Her Alpaca scarf selection, by purchasing a scarf from one of the artisans in the courtyard. We were told that half the proceeds goes to the museum, and half to the artisan, which was good enough for us.
After the museum we were getting hungry, so we headed off to a Picanteria recommended by the Server at Pachapapa. The name of the place is La Chomba, and is located on a street called Tullumayo. We had asked Oscar about La Chomba, and he told us the food there is good, and was quite impressed that we wanted to eat there. He drove by on the way to the hotel, and showed us where La Chomba was located. We were surprised at how close La Chomba was.....the street we had been staying on, Choquechaca, becomes Tullumayo at Cuesta San Blas, so it was basically 5 blocks away from us!
La Chomba is not much to look at from the street, all you see is a door front.
Walk through the doors, and you enter a dusty courtyard. There are children and dogs running around, laundry is hanging to dry, you realize that there are people living here!
In the back corner of the courtyard is a doorway that says "La Chomba Ajha Whasi", and there was a group of musicians hanging out outside. We walked down the hallway.......and into a pretty busy bar/restaurant!
The place was rocking, and the kitchen was running full blast, we saw plates of fried and roasted meats flying past us! The wonderful frangrances floated in there, they smelled so amazing that I wished I could take a bite. Every few minutes a dog would run into the place and make "rounds".... Da' Boyz should be so lucky!
A bowl of Aji Salsa was placed on the table, along with a pad and pencil.....
The Missus gave me a look that said, "ok, now what?" But it was just a matter of what the Missus wanted to eat...I just went down the menu, and could pretty much tell Her what everything was. And yes, those prices are in soles. What made things complicated was that the Missus wanted everything that came out of the kitchen..."wow, that looks good, I want that....no...wait, that is what I want, no, no....pardon Senor, como se llama esto?"(To the Guy running the food to the tables) By then I had written down our order......and the band had started playing.
The Frutillada, the strawberry flavored Chicha de Jora served in pitchers filled from a huge plastic trash cans were flowing! The Missus didn't care for the taste of the fruit flavored Chicha, so we stuck with our standard...Inca Cola. And soon our food arrived!
I ordered the Chicharron:
Oscar had recommended the Lechon (Suckling pig), but it wasn't on the menu....I shoulda asked, because later on I saw it coming out of the kitchen! But this was just fine by me...seasoned and deep fried pork, you gotta love it. We had noticed that much of the meat in Peru is quite lean...except for the pork, goat, and lamb! There were four large chunks of pork, coming from different parts of the pig.....the best was the pieces of rib which were, slightly sweet, salty, and very rich! Along with some marinated onions, mint, and Aji, this was pretty good! It came with the standard corn, a favorite of the Missus, and Papas Amarilla...the flavorful yellow potatoes.
But as good as the Chicharron was, it couldn't hold a candle to the Cabrito al Horno(roasted kid), that I ordered for the Missus, a certified Goat/Lamb/Mutton lover:
That photo doesn't do the cabrito justice....oh man, was this good! The meat was tender, and the rib pieces were tender enough to pull off the bone....but not mushy. The meat was seasoned with a simple, but flavorful rub, just enough to let the wonderful wildness of the cabrito come through! I had a taste, and the Missus asked me what I thought....."I loooove Cusco!"
Now this may be pub-grub...but I'll take this over almost anything! So what about the price? All together, including a "grande" Inca Cola, this was s/22....22 soles, a tad over 7 bucks! Funny thing, normally I could finish everything myself......but here we had leftovers, better for El Mayor I guess. So let's review the magic words....they are Cebicheria, Chicheria, Chicharroneria, and Picanteria. That's all you have to know.
I was curious about what a Picanteria was.....and most references said something like, "a Peruvian eatery serving traditional foods." I'll take that anytime!
A funny thing happened while we were eating. The two nice women in front of us, were a bit curious about who we were. They asked the Missus a few questions...and the Missus answered. After answering She told them "no habla Español". They cracked up, and one lady said to the other something along the lines of "she's telling me she doesn't speak Spanish, but she's talking to me in Spanish!"
You won't believe this, but it got even better from here, so stay tuned!