I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Picanteria La Capitana

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Does not matter where I am or if I am trying, I end up eating food off of someone else’s plate

Arequipa is known for Picanterias which are these eateries that serve up traditional eats. It is a typical place that families hit up on the weekends, specifically on Sundays and eat and lounge out. There are not really located in the Historic District where I was staying and require a short taxi ride or a walk to get to some of these places. I read about Picanteria La Capitana as one of the best ones to eat at before arriving in Arequipa. I later confirmed that this was the place to eat when I asked my new found friends at the market. 
From the Cathedral, it was a 4 Sole taxi ride. I walked back to the Cathedral center after my meal and it was about a 20 minute walk, at least for me. La Capitana is located in the suburbs part of Arequipa but the street it is located on is quite empty and nothing around it screams out food. It is the literal definition of a hole in the wall in which there is just a doorway and the words, “La Capitana” engraved above it. Even when you walk through the doorway, the only indication that there is a restaurant here is the posted menu and after going through a 10 foot alley way, you are transported to a busy restaurant. 

You seat yourself here however, Chinatown seating rules are in effect here in which if there are open chairs where you are sitting, when it gets busy a family or people will sit with you. The menu is not that big, but the portions are hefty and the food is heavy so I was unable to eat that many things from the menu. Most can get the set meal which is the dobIe but given I had fried pork in my future, I decided against it. I started off with the Rocoto Relleno and pastel de papa. The Rocoto Relleno is a stuffed pepper that is popular here and the pastel de papa is a version of potato gratin. The Rocoto Relleno is stuffed with meat (beef), cheese, potato and onion and topped off with more cheese. I read that it is spicy but I only got a hint of heat. The Rocoto Relleno was good and had some earthy spices in it. The pastel de papa was good as well, but it will fill you up and sits in you like a Ford F-150…driven by Paula Deen pre-diabetes announcement. The pastel de papa is covered with not just cheese but egg yolks as well, if the potatoes soaked in cream was not enough for you. It was really good and I had to control myself from finishing it off. Food After the Jump!

rocoto relleno and papas
At this point I have acquired new table friends that ordered the doble that came with soup, a mess of beans and a rice and stew dish that I sampled that I believe was some sort of adobo-like sauce and pork. I asked for suggestions on what I should eat, leaning towards something meaty and they suggested the costillar frito. My limited Spanish did not prepare me for what a costillar was but I now “frito” is fried. So fried meat of some sort, it is fried so I cannot really go wrong with this. I was able to get a half portion of the costillar. The costillar was a flatten piece of meat served with the salsa criolla and or course, a potato. Later confirmed by my internet search, costillar frito was a fried piece of lamb rib and it was juicy and the skin was slightly crispy. I actually wished I got the full portion but due to lack of stomach space and eating enough starch to sustain a dry cleaners for a week I had to throw in the towel. These are not lean cuisine portions and people bring Tupperware (doggie bags are not a thing here) in anticipation that they will not finish their meals.
Costillar frito and of course a fried potato

 I drank Kola Escocesa which is the drink of choice here besides the ever popular Inca Kola. Kola Excocesa is a cherry-like soda that has that a medicinal backtaste to it, reminding you of cherry cough syrup. I am unsure if it can be used as a substitute. I finished the meal with some Chicha Morada, despite my aversions to liquids but it was made and stored in giant claypots and I felt I needed to have some. 

Chicha Morada- old school purple drank

Chicha Morada is the original Purple drank and taste like how Mr. Chappelle describes the ingredients of purple drink: sugar, water and purple. Oh, but in this case it also taste like pineapple. So Chicha Morada = sugar, water, purple and pineapple. Overall, though I do not think I hit the greatest hits of Arequipa food here at La Capitana, for a single person I think I did alright. This is a place you need to show up with numbers in order to make a dent in the menu. Afterwards I was invited into the kitchen to see all the cooking and it is truly home style cooking as you can get with stews and soups simmering on the stove. La Capitana is a must in Arequipa and if you are smart, bring a doggie bag; you are going to need it. 

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