Peru: The Tree House

September 22nd, 2011

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As I mentioned yesterday, the town of Machu Picchu, formerly known as Aguas Calientes, is pretty much a tourist town. That includes the food. Pizza and Mexican and Chinese all stand next to restaurants selling the same ten Peruvian dishes, no one offering anything quite good.
There were a couple exceptions that we enjoyed and a month later, the one that sticks with me is The Tree House. Check out the space and the food after the jump.

With a name like the Tree House, you can’t say you weren’t warned that there might be a climb involved with getting there. Still, the steep stairway leading up to it from street level wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for while we were still adjusting to the altitude.
Still, the menu got my attention. It features dishes made with alpaca and a guinea pig (cuy) confit (unfortunately they were out of that when I was there). We had both lunch and dinner here and here’s what we had:
A chicken and avocado sandwich on focaccia. Oddly, it was drizzled with balsamic along the outside of the sandwich, making it pretty messy to eat with your hands.
Noodle soup with ground bits of alpaca in it.
This was supposed to be anticucho-style alpaca chunks with noodles, but the alpaca was replaced with beef in this instance. Anticuchos were on my short list of must-try foods while we were in Peru. Usually a street food, the dish contains fire-grilled skewers of marinated beef hearts. I’ve long been a fan of hearts, so I had to try it.
Unfortunately, what I found was mostly places like this offering various other things described as ‘anticucho-style’ that didn’t really seem like the same thing at all. Still, it was tasty. The beef was definitely neither heart nor grilled, but it did have the firm texture of beef that hasn’t been raised on fattening corn all its life. It was served with the thick remnants of a smoky marinade still on it. The pasta, a house-made fetuccini, was slathered in a cheesy huancaina sauce.
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We returned for dinner on our last night there and tried out a few more dishes.
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You can’t quite spot the prosciutto underneath the bread here, but this starter paired the charcuterie with a fruity relish.
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Sampling more alpaca, these chops were very much like lamb chops, but with a different sort of mild gaminess to it.
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On the way out, we caught a glimpse of some of the freshly made pasta hanging in the kitchen. It wasn’t that last time we saw pasta being made in Peru, but more on that later.

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