PERU: Once is Not Enough

PERU: Once is Not Enough

Misti volcano (Arequipa)

 

By Marni Leopold

 

A trip to Peru is like eating potato chips. You can’t stop at just one.  While potatoes are native to Peru (actually 3,000 different kinds!), the comparison ends there.  The reason being, while chips are enjoyable, traveling to Peru is life changing…

It was for world renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa who lived in Lima 40 years ago.  During that period, he developed his unique style of cuisine that fuses Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients, the genesis of his famous Nobu Style. The Nobu empire today spans 40 restaurants and 16 hotels around the world and is still growing.  Time spent in Peru in 1976 was also transformative for Annie Hurlbut, the founder of retail chain Peruvian Connection.  Annie was studying anthropology at Yale University and while on a trip to Cusco, fell in love with the Alpaca ponchos and sweaters she encountered in the local markets.  Since that first trip, Annie now has 8 Peruvian Connection stores in cities including NY, Boston, Aspen, Chicago, Kansas City, London and others as well as a very successful online and catalog business. More personally, my New York born-and-bred father went to Peru for the first time in 1986.  He was lured by the mystique of Cusco and Machu Picchu and was there well before they became the easily accessible, luxury destinations they are today. To date, my father hastraveled to Peru 8 times, with another trip planned for early next year to visit the friends he met there more than 30 years ago.  To say that Peru has changed my father’s life is an understatement.  He surely never could have imagined back then that his daughter would have a career working for the country today. An important part of my role is to introduce fashion and food executives to manufacturing in Peru. When they, too, fall in love with Peru, and they really do, that’s just the icing.  Read on to see their words…

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa

Dreaming of Cusco and Machu Picchu

Usually the first must-see on everybody’s list when visiting Peru is Cusco and Machu Picchu, and with good reason. Built in the 15thcentury, Machu Picchu stands at a majestic 7900 feet above sea level and is an incredibly sophisticated feat of engineering.  Ryan Lobo, Co-Founder of women’s designer collection Tome, visited both recently. Upon his return, he said, “Cusco is such a beautiful, historic city, and the Palacio del Inka hotel is seriously glam with very good food, Pisco Sours and a really fabulous spa for in between pounding the pavement and seeing the sites.” Ryan added about Machu Picchu, “…climbing it is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

Alfonzo Yepez, Design Director at ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo, has been to Cusco 3 times so far and said, “I loved it every time.  I definitely enjoyed the architecture and history of the place and to my surprise the city is much more lively and cosmopolitan than what I had expected to find up in the middle of the Andes. Cusco is full of life with amazing restaurants, art galleries, scenic walks, live music, cozy bars full of locals and tourists from around the world.”  He went on to say that “Machu Picchu was the culmination of a lifelong dream and indeed it was probably one of the most beautiful dreams I ever had.” Giuseppe Valentini, Lead Apparel Designerof Tesla, told me, “the entire feeling of Peru is something special, the food, the culture, the connection to craftsmanship and pride in everything Peruvian.” A magnificent coupling of ancient and modern.

Ryan Lobo of Tome

Alfonzo Yepez of ATM

Andes + Arequipa + Alpaca = Awesome 

Nicholas Kunz, Co-Creative Director of luxury fashion brand Nicholas K, remarked, “Peru is one of the most beautiful places for anyone to visit.”  Her most recent trip there included the Andes Mountains in Southern Peru, some 13,000 feet above sea level.  This is an animal-lovers paradise and home to the Alpaca.  Fun fact: 80% of the world’s Alpaca reside in Peru.  Nicholas went on to say, “the highlands are cinematic and truly take your breath away…I enjoyed the peacefulness and harmony with the animals and spending time with the local herders to understand their culture and the care that goes into raising the animals and producing the best fibers…”

Nicholas Kunz of Nicholas K

Michelle Gabriel & Dana Davis of Mara Hoffman

Dana Davis, Vice President of Sustainability, Product & Business Strategy, along with Michelle Gabriel, Senior Design & Product Development Manager at Mara Hoffman, just visited Colca Canyon on a free weekend while in Arequipa.  Dana said, “we hiked 5 hours down to the Sangalle Oasis at the Rio Colca, all with a kindly guide dog who found us at the trailhead and ushered us through the journey.  We stayed the night at the oasis and hiked back the next day.  It was amazingly beautiful and truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to hike the second deepest canyon in the world.” Dana went on to say, “the culture of food is delicious and fresh.  The people are kind and proud of their country which makes the experience of being in Peru so positive…it is an easy trip being in the same time zone as the east coast of the US.” The largest city nearby, which is also the second largest in Peru and the center of the Alpaca industry, is Arequipa.  Its nickname is the ‘white city’ because of its many buildings made of a white volcanic stone called sillar.  Megan Johnston, an executive at Jonathan Simkhai, traveled to Arequipa.  Megan said,“the beauty of the city really stood out…the Santa Catalina Monastery was stunning…” The Arequipan cuisine is some of the best in the country. Specialties include rocoto relleno, a spicy meat and vegetable stuffed red pepper, chupe de camaronesa tasty seafood soup of shrimp, Peruvian pepper, cheese, potatoes and for dessert, queso helado.  Megan said, “every meal I ate was an inspirational and happy moment. I absolutely loved the food!”  She added, “I’m looking forward to many, many more visits.”

Lima: Fine Dining and the Epitome of Cosmopolitan

Lima, the capital of Peru, was once thought of as a city to land in and then depart for elsewhere in-country.  But for some time now, Lima has been a true destination unto itself.  It’s the perfect blend of historical sites, ancient architecture, culture, mixed with all the modern musts such as top-notch shopping, nightlife and overflowing with gourmet genius, from the local establishments to five-star dining. Peru’s booming gastronomy scene is centered there, with 3 of its restaurants included on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for several consecutive years.

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa

Chef Hilary Henderson & Chef Peleg Miron of Wolfgang Puck with Chef Wong

Chef Nobu traveled back to Peru last summer and reflected, “times have really changed.  Every restaurant I visited has become more sophisticated…There is more variety in ingredients and techniques used in creating the new dishes…I am happy to say that many of the dishes on our menus are already inspired by Peruvian flavors and ingredients.” Executive Chef Peleg Miron of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant on Maui was enamored with the seafood he ate while there, calling it “amazing”.  He thoroughly enjoyed the “high-end, sophisticated and very modern approach to food and service… everything from the special ingredients that you can find only in Peru to the way it is being treated by the cook.”

Quite Possibly the Best Surfing in the World

Peru has 1500 miles of coastline.  The surfing starts right in Lima and goes north from there, up to Puerto Malabrigo, better known as Chicama – also known as home of the longest left-breaking wave in the world – and beyond.  Peru’s shores boast some of the best surfing, anywhere, providing riders year-round swells.  California local Megan of Jonathan Simkhai took advantage of her time in Lima and went to Playa Makaha in Miraflores, a suburb of downtown Lima.  She enjoyed its easy access and

Megan Johnston of Jonathan Simkhai

thinks it’s the perfect spot for beginner and intermediate surfers.  Giuseppe of Tesla spent some time surfing in Chicama and commented, “the ocean is impressive.” Then there’s the northern food. Giuseppe enthused, “the food is amazing…Since my visit, I have been trying to replicate the same flavor of ceviche!”

Mike Faherty, Designer and Co-Founder of Faherty, who grew up on the beach in New Jersey and whose brand is heavily influenced by this aesthetic, echoed the sentiment, “the food is amazing…I love the ceviche restaurants on the coast as well as the more famous restaurants in Lima.” He added, “I love getting up early and jogging along the coast in Lima. The running trails along the water are great and the city has such a nice buzz in the morning.” Mike also surfed on the “northern coast at a secret spot. It was such beautiful landscape. Not a person to be found outside our group. And most importantly, waves were great.”

Kuelap: the Machu Picchu of the North

Kuelap is long considered the Machu Picchu of the north. This fortress city was built by the Chachapoyas people, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, and is situated high in the mountains on a cliff, at more than 9800 feet above sea level.  The archeological remains here predate those at Machu Picchu by more than 600 years and are impressive, including more than 400 or so round stone homes and ceremonial buildings, massively high stone walls with carvings of jaguars, snakes and other designs symbolizing the power and strength of the warriors who lived here so long ago. With all of this in mind, it made perfect sense that my father’s second trip to Peru, in 1988, was to Kuelap. At that time, it was a 3-day adventure for him and his friends to get there, including crossing the fast flowing Utcubamba River by an ‘oroya’ (see photo), followed by a steep and long hike.  From my father’s diary of that trip, “the sight of Kuelap is almost too much to take in in one view.  Sitting at the top of the mountain, the walls run for almost 600 meters.” Fast forward to 2017, a new state of the art cable car was built, which now takes visitors from Nuevo Tingo at the base of the mountain to the summit in 20 minutes, with dramatic views at every vantage point.

Kuelap 1988, Photo taken by my Dad, Fred Leopold, of his friends 

Kuelap today, Telecabinas Kuelap (Click for more info)

Kuelap is located where the Andes mountains meets the Amazon rainforest.  The Peruvian Amazon covers about 60% of the country and is the 4thlargest rainforest in the world.  It’s incredibly diverse, hosting thousands of types of plants, birds, mammals and more. There are several ways to visit this part of Peru, including luxury cruises up the Amazon River.  In 2013, for my father’s 75thbirthday, also his 8thtrip to Peru, he took the family to a wonderful lodge inside the Amazon jungle along the Tahuayo River, a tributary of the Amazon River. Cooling off in the River was a favorite activity and with birds and monkeys overhead, the memories are indelible. My brother said, “what to us at first were trees and vines, through our guide, we realized are homes for the countless animals we ultimately saw.”

Pisco! And the Coastal Dessert

While Pisco, the spirit of Peru, is widely known for the key role it plays in the beloved Pisco Sour cocktail, it’s also a port city in the region (or departamento) of Ica, south of Lima. There are many Pisco vineyards and distilleries to visit, some dating back to the 16thcentury, which of course can include tastings of Pisco and its 8 different grape varietals. Its production process is unlike that of any other spirit, such as gin and vodka. The Pisco Route covers the different valleys of the region, with many hotels and attractions along the way.  One example is the nearby Paracas National Reserve, spanning over 800,000 acres, it’s a place where the sea meets the desert.  A vast amount of exotic and endangered marine life as well as an impressive bird population call this area home, a colorful contrast to the desert backdrop. Most of this region receives very little rain, about 1 inch per year, which benefits the local archeological sites that remain in good condition due to this dry climate.  It’s also an ideal location for the annual Dakar Rally.  Over 500 drivers of motorcycles, all kinds of cars and trucks, from around the world, take part in this challenging off-road race. This year, the course was entirely in Peru, traversing 3,100 miles from start to finish, with a good portion of the route driven through the desert.

Dana Davis of Mara Hoffman

What’s Next?

There’s no shortage of answers to this question. With so much to see and do, “tourism to Peru is growing almost 10% a year, expecting to reach almost 5 million visitors this year. US travelers will account for about 700,000,” according to Conrado Falco, Director of the Trade Commission of Peru in NY. Nicholas Kunz said, “the Peruvian Amazon is my next destination.  It’s a high contrast to what I have already experienced.  Peru has so much diversity and natural beauty.”  Chef Peleg Miron also wants to visit the Amazon, as well as plans to visit Cusco and Vinicunca (also known as Rainbow Mountain) and surf at Chicama, of course, since he lives on Maui, he must check it out.  Ryan Lobo says, “I’m desperate to visit Arequipa and the Nazca lines.”  He has all sorts of theories on how the Nazca lines came to be and is curious to see for himself. Or perhaps Ryan is going back to eat more cuy, which is guinea pig, and a dish he tried in Cusco.  Though he reported, “it didn’t taste like chicken.” My father’s next trip to Peru is to Mancora,a charming beach town.  His dear friend Michel, whom he met on his first trip to Peru (and the guy towing the line in the Kuelap photo), lives there.  Alfonzo Yepez said the reason he loves Peru is “because of its natural beauty, its worldly cuisine, its hospitable people and because Peru is a jewel.”  Or is that more than 1 reason?

Healthy Dose of Competition this Football Season with Avocados from Peru

Healthy Dose of Competition this Football Season with Avocados from Peru

Avocados From Peru® (AFP), the New York Jets and ShopRite go for the win this football season! Just in time for kickoff, these iconic brands in sports and food are joining forces for the first time ever, promoting health and fitness with a unique series of eventshighlighting the Jets favorite superfood, Avocados from Peru, which are available at Shoprite.

This is the first time that the NFL and the New York Jets have approved a major tie-in with a produce partner. With this one-of-a-kind partnership, the New York Jets, AFP and ShopRite, will collaborate on a variety of promotions, including a special television sweepstakes to win two VIP tickets to the Jets home opener September 8, coveted AFP cookbooks, and one lucky contestant will hit it big and win their weight in avocados!

During the NYJ home opener on September 8, ShopRite, Avocados from Peru® and the New York Jets take on the world record challenge for the “largest bowl of guacamole” at the MetLife Stadium —the largest NFL stadium in the world with a capacity of 82,500 attendees. Shoprite will deliver the avocados for the worlds “largest bowl of guacamole” in a trailer they have designed especially for the big event.

 

During the game, football fans in attendance can enjoy complimentary avocado toppings at MetLife Stadium concessions and Cusco, the famed Avocados from Peru mascot, will hand out special prizes at random to guests.

“We are honored to be the New York Jets favorite superfood,” said Xavier Equihua, President and CEO of the Peruvian Avocado Commission. “Our fan bases align remarkably well, so our partnership is a win-win for everyone.”

“We know that each year our shoppers and associates look forward to the start of the season and can’t wait to start tailgating with their favorite foods and dips, especially guacamole,” says Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD, director of H&W at ShopRite. “We’re thrilled to participate in this event, which kicks off the season in a big way with one of the healthiest snacks around – guacamole.”

 

Peruvian avocados served freshly sliced or smashed atop classic stadium flair, adds a flavorful superfood twist to one of America’s favorite pastimes. With nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals and no sodium or cholesterol, it’s no secret why Peruvian avocados are America’s favorite nutrient dense superfood.

 

Peru: A Booming Economy Fueled by its Exports

Peru: A Booming Economy Fueled by its Exports

In 2018, Peru’s economic activity grew 4% and is expected to continue growing on average at the same pace for the coming years. In comparison, Latin America’s growth is forecast at 1.3% in 2019 and 2.4% in 2020.

As a result, thePeruvian economy grew from a GDP of US$ 54.3 billion 20 years ago to more than US$ 225 billion in 2018. An increase of 4 times in the last two decades. Favorable international commodity prices, the negotiation and signing of numerous free trade agreements and a business environment that promotes private investment, have greatly contributed to this growth, as have the country’s prudent long time monetary and fiscal policies. Responsible macroeconomic policies can be seen in the low and stable inflation rate, which was just 2.2% in 2018.

In the mining sector alone, export revenues increased from US$ 2.7 billion to about US$ 29 billion over the last 20 years. In addition, a successful export diversification policy has also contributed to the increase in Peru’s non-traditional exports, especially in the agricultural, fishing, manufacturing and textile sectors. Non-traditional exports reached US$ 13.2 billion in 2018, a notable increase from the US$ 2 billion in 1998. The overall exports from Peru totaled US$ 49.1 billion in 2018, compared with imports which reached US$ 41.9 billion, generating again an important trade surplus.

With the US, Peru has a commercial deficit, meaning that the products that it exports to the US are less than what Peru buys. Though the US is the key market for many non-traditional Peruvian products, some hitting a percentage as high as 60%.

Exports of food from Peru to the world have been booming, particularly in the northern winter, with grapes reaching US$ 812 million, avocado US$ 724 million, blueberries US$ 548 million, asparagus US$ 481 million and mangoes over US$ 300 million, in 2018. This group of products has grown 70% in the last 4 years. Other SuperFoods Peru include specialty coffee, fine cacaos, seafood, quinoa, peppers, artichoke, citrus, to name only a few, totaling US$ 9 billion last year in this category of food.

Additionally, Peru is a dynamic tourism and investment destination, having been named the Best Culinary Destination from the prestigious World Travel Awards for seven consecutive years. Tourists visiting Peru reached 4.4 million in 2018, a rise of 10% from 2017.

Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina, and has a population of over 32 million people, 78% of whom are living in urban areas with 10 million living in the capital city of Lima alone. Nominal GDP per capita in Peru has tripled in the last 20 years. This positive performance is instrumental in Peru’s fight against poverty. Since 1998, poverty rates dropped from 42.4% of the population to the current 21.7%.

For more information email us at Info@iPERU.NYC.

Peruvian Fashion: A Must-See!

Peruvian Fashion: A Must-See!

Designed by women for women supporting women. Sustainable. Chic and comfortable.  Just a few ways to describe a group of Peruvian designers that have been expanding their presence in NYC and at retailers around the USA every season. The combination of the creativity and talent of these designers mixed with their use of Peru’s fine native materials of Alpaca and Pima cotton, yields fashionable results.

Local Talent with Global Flair

These brands, sitting in the Contemporary sector of the market, consistently exhibit at trade fairs around the world, including the big ones in NYC of Coterie, D & A, Brand Assembly, Cabana, Moda and Curve.  In the latest round of shows for the upcoming Fall/Winter season, Ayni, Escvdo, Kuna and Inka Moda showed a great range of style points-of-view in their ready-to-wear collections, Itala Testino incorporated a variety of luxe trims on her outerwear, Lavender Dreams does lounge and sleepwear in Pima cotton, Organic cotton along with light and cozy Alpaca sweaters and wraps, Huma Blanco is a collection of stylish, handcrafted shoes and Lima Sagrada does  handbags and small leather goods rooted in the designer’s architecture background.

Many of the Peruvian designers have studied and lived abroad, in Paris, London, NY and other cosmopolitan cities, which inform their collections with a global sensibility.  Then returning home to their roots in Peru, they support the local industries and create collections that are international in flavor with authentic Peruvian flair.  From ready-to-wear and loungewear to handbags and shoes, jewelry, even items to ‘outfit’ the home, Peruvian designers do it all.  Once only locally distributed, their collections can be found at retail around the world.  With the common core of sustainability, responsibility and quality homegrown materials, yet differing aesthetics, it’s no wonder you’re seeing the Made in Peru label more and more.

Masterful Mix of Past, Present and Future

Peru is well known for its archeological sites dating back to the Incan times and even older civilizations. While many of these masterpieces still stand today, when excavated, remnants of garments were also discovered.  Alpaca was considered “gold of the Andes” and worn by Incan royalty.  There’s also a long textile heritage in Peru with techniques being passed throughout generations.  So, it’s really no surprise that Peruvians maintain a passion for materials and fashion…it’s almost encoded in their DNA!  Today’s designers seamlessly blend the past with the present and the future, merging artisanal techniques with modern ones.

Many USA brands, from the luxury to mass and all in between, turn to Peru for their manufacturing needs.  Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines, Tory Burch, Vince, Lululemon, John Varvatos, Kith, Ulla Johnson, Tibi, Mara Hoffman, to name only a few, all produce in Peru.  The European fashion houses of Prada, Max Mara, Loro Piana use Alpaca del Peru in their collections and Hermes produces their Vicuna sweaters and scarves there, too. They appreciate that Peruvian factories have an expertise in these natural fibers as well as with Pima cotton and mixing them into a variety of blends, including with synthetics for performance-wear.  The manufacturing sector in Peru is technologically advanced with respect to machines used, development and processes, while also staying true to its roots and supporting local artisans with hand-knitting. Peru is also a global leader in terms of social and environmental responsibility. Adding to that, Peru’s speed to market plus it holds free trade agreements with the USA, Canada, Europe, China and many other countries, so shipping is duty-free, providing even more advantages.

Starting with the Best Ingredients: Alpaca del Peru and Pima Cotton

When it comes to Alpaca, Peru is the place since it’s home to 80% of the global population.  As such, there is an incredible importance placed on Alpaca del Peru, so they are well respected, well treated and are never harmed for their fleece and fur, with the shearing process being 100% ethical.  The docile and friendly nature of the Alpacas further eliminates the need for any harsh treatment.  Plus, they are incredibly cute!

Alpaca fibers naturally come in a range of 22 colors, from black through variations of grays and browns to white, a characteristic unique to them, and can also easily be dyed any color, making its color options virtually limitless.  Alpaca fibers are also lightweight, breathable, soft. Due to the microscopic air pockets in the fibers, they have thermal properties, which makes Alpaca something that can then be worn all year round. The benefits of Alpaca fibers don’t stop there!  They are also innately hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and contain no lanolin (the same cannot be said for sheep’s wool). Unlike the cashmere goat, Alpacas are not harsh on their environment, delicately eating the grasses and plants, leaving the roots safe to regenerate.

Pima cotton has an interesting history.  It was first grown in Peru, then brought to Egypt and made its way to the USA, where it was further cultivated by the Pima tribe of Arizona.  When Pima cotton was brought back to Peru, it grew even better than all the rest due to its terroir.  The weather and rich soil in the Northern coastal valleys of Peru provide the ideal conditions for Pima cotton to grow and thrive, which explains how the different qualities of cotton around the world can vary greatly.

Peruvian Pima cotton is an extra-long staple fiber (1 and 3/8 inches in length), twice the normal length of ordinary cotton.  The longer the length and smoother the filament, the softer the hand.  Which describes it perfectly. It’s also more durable and absorbent than other cottons as well as hypoallergenic.  Peruvian Pima cotton is harvested by hand, which makes it environmentally friendly versus other cottons that are industrially harvested. The manual approach is also better for the cotton itself.  Industrial harvesting tears the cotton fibers resulting in a yellowed hue and scratchy texture while hand harvesting results in bright white fibers which can also dye beautifully and are oh-so-fine.

Alpaca and Pima cotton play key components of the Peruvian textile sector, engaging and bettering the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, from the farmers and herders to all the people in the production chain, both inside and outside of the factories.

Escvdo is a women’s collection full of texture, colors and stand out knits while being “committed to sustainability and transparency in the execution of our collections, inspired by Peru´s vast cultural and natural wealth, combining ancestral textile traditions with premium fibers.” Escvdo is currently sold in the USA at Moda Operandi and other stockists.

www.escudo.pe

Ayni was founded by 2 women drawn together by their mutual desire to do business in a socially responsible way.  It incorporates Peruvian Alpaca and Pima cotton and is “a complete seasonal wardrobe spanning from elevated leisure pieces to contemporary luxury.”  Currently sold at retailers around the world and throughout the USA, for example at Revolve.

www.ayni.com.pe

Kuna has more than 20 of their own stores throughout Peru that showcase their total lifestyle collection. Based on quality and elegance using Baby Alpaca, Royal Alpaca, as well as Guanaco and Vicuna they create timeless silhouettes using both neutral and rich colors, solids and patterns inspired by the past cultures of Peru executed via the latest in technology.

www.kunastores.com

Inka Moda is a women’s clothing collection full of soft knit dressing including novelty sweaters, dresses, soft jackets and coats, made of Alpaca and different blends.  The brand is inspired by “art, love, nature, respect and responsibility.”

www.inkamodaus.com

Itala Testino has a passion for the best quality materials, primarily Alpaca, and quality workmanship. The result is a full range of styles of coats, from long to short, innovative capes and ponchos, from neutrals to on-trend colors, with great details and exotic trims.

www.italatestino.com

Lavender Dreams is what you want to sleep and lounge in. A collection of the easiest-to-wear styles made of Peruvian Organic cotton and Pima cotton with a modern spirit.

www.sdlcotton.com

Huma Blanco is designed by a 3rdgeneration shoemaker based in Lima, whose family is part Peruvian and part Italian.  The shoes are made from local materials like leather, suede, Alpaca, using natural dyes and carried by Nordstrom, Anthropologie and other retailers.  Providing modern styles along with sustainable work for the craftsman are paramount to this collection. www.humablanco.com

Lima Sagrada, with an architecture background and point of view, the collection features handbags and other accessories that are handcrafted with a minimalist aesthetic. The leathers used are designed in a way that get even better with time and age. www.limasagrada.com

Lima: Sports Capital of the World in 2019! Will the USA Win the Pan-Am Games, Again?

Lima: Sports Capital of the World in 2019! Will the USA Win the Pan-Am Games, Again?

The year before the Summer Olympics, a similar multi-sport event takes place: the Pan American Games, an intense competition between the 3 Americas: North, Center and South, as well as the Caribbean. The XVIII Pan American Games is the biggest international sports event in 2019 and will be held from July 26 to August 11 in Lima, Peru. In its entire history, only 3 countries have won, Argentina, Cuba and USA. Or to put it a little differently, the USA only lost twice out of 17times, finishing second to host Argentina in the inaugural event of 1951 and to host Cuba 40 years later. In addition to hoping for home field advantage, hosting this year’s Pan American Games is a huge opportunity for Peru since some of the world’s best athletes, their trainers, officials, families, as well as global spectators and the international press, will all spend time in Peru and be immersed in all that it has to offer.

Top ten countries with the most medals won at the Summer Pan American Games

Peru is an attractive tourist destination, receiving more than 4 million visitors in 2018. Lima, the capital city, is home to 10 million people and is a dynamic and beautiful locale, blending modern architecture with ancient.  The Historic Center of Lima is a UNESCO site and being on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, its beaches and surfing are one way to spend some time.  Of course, there’s the gastronomy scene in Lima, which is one of the best in the world. From gourmet dining to local ceviche restaurants, it’s a foodie paradise.  Then there’s Cusco, an easy 1-hour flight from Lima, and of course, Machu Picchu. Magnificent jewels all should see.
41 Countries, 424 Events, 6900 Athletes…

Practicing sport sailing in the bay of Paracas, Pisco

The last edition of the Pan American Games was held in Toronto in 2015. The USA won 265 overall medals, including 103 gold. Canada placed second with 217 overall medals with 78 gold. The USA racked up even more gold in Toronto than it won at Pan-Am in Guadalajara, Mexico four years earlier. 424 events in 39 sports are scheduled for the Lima 2019 Pan-Am Games, which is the largest number of contests ever to be held at these games. Similar to the Olympics, some key events include swimming, diving, gymnastics, track as well as basketball, fencing, boxing, rowing, volleyball and more.  Bodybuilding and surfing will be added for the first time.
Peru is Ready to Host!

Sports center in Callao where Volleyball and Taekwondo tournaments will held place

New villas built for the participating athletes

While Peru has a solid infrastructure in place, it is adding to it in order to ensure all runs smoothly for this important event. The total budget of the games in Lima is estimated at US$1.2 billion, with $470 million going to sports infrastructure, $180 million to building the Pan American Village, which will accommodate 9,500 athletes and team officials in the complex, $430 million spent in organization, and $106 million for additional expenses.  The Village complex will go to good use at the conclusion of the games, with its 1,700 units to be sold as apartments to families with social loans to improve the quality of their living.
The Parapan American Games, for athletes with disabilities, will be held 12 days after the Lima Pan-Am Games from August 23 to September 1, 2019 also in Lima.
How About a Gentleman’s Bet?

Four years ago, a group of friends in New York were quite surprised that Peru won gold at the Toronto Pan American games in 2015. Their reaction was justified, since Peru has won only 8 gold medals in the entire history of the games (4 in Toronto). Yet, Peru should have won many more medals, right?! Everyone knows the USA is a powerhouse, with its great focus, preparation and investment in sports, no doubt they medal big in global athletic competitions.  The top 5 medal earners in the history of the Pan American Games goes USA, Cuba, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.  Peru currently sits at 18th place. According to a Peruvian source, he’s predicting (or hoping?) that Peru will garner 10 gold medals this Summer, so he is ready to bet a dinner at any of the 3 Lima restaurants that hold rank on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, that Peru will win at least 8 gold medals. No one is a loser in that!

Anyone wants to bet?

How About a Classic Pisco Sour in Manhattan?! : *PISCO, the Spirit of Peru

How About a Classic Pisco Sour in Manhattan?! : *PISCO, the Spirit of Peru

 

“Distilled from grapes, Pisco is a clear spirit, very pure, aromatic or non-aromatic and can be enjoyed neat or in many different cocktails due to its versatility,” explained Conrado Falco, Director of the Trade Commission of Peru in NY.

In Manhattan, there are countless Pisco cocktail options, such as a Pisco Tonic at Quality Meats, Done & Dusted at Dead Rabbit, one with blueberries at Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, Guascas Fizz at Her Name was Carmen and an Alpaca Punch, which is one of the signature cocktails at The Lambs Club, to name only a few.

But the classic Pisco cocktail is the Pisco Sour: a happy drink with lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and a splash of bitters, which Peruvians imbibe to celebrate just about any occasion, including any day of the week. This cocktail even has its own national holiday, established by law in Peru, falling on the first Saturday of February each year.

So if you want to join in the fun or have your own reason to say Salud!, there are many Peruvian as well as American bars and restaurants throughout NYC which serve this unique drink. Which one is closest to you?  Well, choices include Eleven Madison Park, Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel, David Burke Tavern, Casa Enrique, The Aviary, NoMad, The Living Room at the Park Hyatt, Dear Irving, Bathtub Gin… the list goes on.

Cristina Laverde, Director of Brand Development at Pisco 100, can attest to this. She said that “Pisco 100 is present at American, Italian, Mexican restaurants, as well as others, from the most elegant to the up and coming with many in between. Pisco is really a way of life.”

Pisco is also tailor-made for Millennials since it’s an extra pure spirit, clear, less aggressive than other alcohols and it’s made without additives, not even added water! The same can’t be said for gin and vodka.

 

The Peruvian Boom in NYC!

You may have heard of the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, which has a long history in Peru and has been spreading around the world. In Manhattan, Nobu was the pioneer of this style, opening in TriBeCa 24 years ago, and now has 2 spots locally, one on 57thStreet and the other downtown. Over the past few years, following suit are Sen Sakana and Llama San (the 3rdrestaurant from Erik Ramirez’s Llama group). This particular fusion is so extraordinary, that Maido, a renowned restaurant in Lima, consistently holds a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, so far for the past 4 years in a row and resides at number 7 this year.

 

In addition to all having incredible food, they all have Pisco! Nobu Misuhisa, whose first trip to Peru was forty years ago, returned to Lima this past summer.  He said, “I am a tequila lover! So, to me Pisco has a similar potential.  I did try the Pisco drinks while I was in Peru and they were very tasty.” Dale DeGroff, also known as King Cocktail, echoes Chef Nobu’s appreciation for Pisco, calling it a “heritage spirit” and said, “Pisco is so cocktail friendly it can play a significant role in the new culinary style drinks that are emerging more and more every day.”

There are also numerous Peruvian and Latin Restaurants in the Tri State Area that offer Pisco and the Pisco Sour, with many participating in the upcoming PiscoSour Week promotion starting on February 2nd, the official Pisco Sour Day. Pio Pio, a chain of restaurants serving classic Peruvian rotisserie chicken and other quintessential dishes, has perhaps the largest collection of Pisco bottles in its flagship venue on 10thAvenue and at their Amaru Pisco Bar in Queens. In Long Island City, Jora shines bright and when in Brooklyn, Llama Inn and Surfish Bistro are a must-taste, as are the other Peruvian restaurants in that borough: Pollo de Oro, Chimu, Coco Roco and La Chacra. Back in Manhattan are Baby Brasa and Panca and the popular Latin venues, Toloache and Her Name Was Carmen. While in Hoboken, NJ, there’s Cucharamama from Maricel Presilla, a perfect place to raise a fork!

Quite a lot of American and international bars and restaurants in NYC are also participating in the PiscoSour Week festivities, celebrating until February 7th, too.

8 Grapes, 1 Spirit

Pisco production in Peru started at the end of the 16thcentury, with grapes originally being brought over by the Spanish. Pisco grapes are classified into 4 aromatic and 4 non-aromatic varietals. The aromatic grapes are Italia, Moscatel, Albilla and Torontel and the non- aromatic grapes are Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Uvina. Pisco grapes are grown in the coastal valleys of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna and it is only the grapes grown in these areas that can be called Pisco, Denomination of Origin.

From these grapes there are then 3 styles of Pisco: Pisco Puro, this distillation is made from one kind of grape, either aromatic or non-aromatic. Pisco Acholado is made from the blending of at least two of the eight grape varieties. Pisco Mosto Verde is a special process in which the fermentation is interrupted resulting in a rich texture that is smooth on the palate.

 

Jared Sasso, a Director at Caravedo Pisco, said, “Pisco is a wonderful spirit from Peru that … will change the way you look at distilled spirits.”  He added that Pisco is the purest liquor in the world since “we must follow very specific rules to ensure you are putting the most unadulterated expression of any spirit in your body. We have 5 pillars of Pisco that we follow, and we cannot stray from these very tight laws. These include:

  1. Has to be made in Peru in one of five valleys/regions… using only eight grapes
  2. Single-distilled to proof
  3. Small-batch in copper pot stills–no column stills…
  4. No additives: No Water, No Artificial Yeast, No Sugar, No Additives of Any Kind –Only Wine (note: other spirits, from whisky to rum and vodka to gin add water after distillation)
  5. Must Rest in Non-Reactive Vessel: Stainless steel, clay, glass…

Caravedo Pisco is produced in the oldest distillery in the Americas, Hacienda La Caravedo, established in 1684. You are drinking a piece of history every time you drink Pisco!”

Elmer Contreras of Frederick Wildman & Sons, a leading importer of the finest wines and spirits, said, “in the last 20 years new distillers have elevated the crafting of this spirit. I am a huge fan of the connection of terroir and man, and Peruvian Pisco has reached that level.” One of the Pisco brands they carry is Pisco 1615.

 

PISCO: Enjoyed Across the USA and in your Neighborhood

Lizzie Asher, together with her sister Melanie, founded Macchu Pisco in 2006.  Lizzie said when they launched their company, “the goal was to seduce the American audience with one of Peru’s treasures.” Fast forward to today, she continued “Pisco in the US market keeps on expanding” with NY, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco being among the ones with high demand for the spirit along with great interest coming from distributors in Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Arkansas, and other states.Go ahead, celebrate World Pisco Sour Day on February 2ndand be a part of history by drinking Pisco, the national pride of Peru, anytime, anywhere!

…including at Home!

Some of the other best known Peruvian Pisco brands available in and around NYC are Barsol, Ocucaje, Tacama, Queriolo and Intipalka, Tabernero, Rotondo and they can be found in the spirit, brandy or eau de vie categories at liquor stores, including:

Astor Wines

Beacon Wines

Sherry Lehmann

Grace Wines

10th Avenue Wines

Yorkshire Wines

Columbus Wines

Roma Wines NYC

 

 

 

Published by: Hector Rojas