I felt like getting on my knees as I walked into Oztia. According to the sign outside, this restaurant is devoted to sagrada cocina (sacred cookery). Inside, the temple was empty. Serious dining in Lima begins well after 9 p.m. And I was an hour early. That meant plenty of attention as I pondered what to order.
The pisco sour was definitely profane, made with coca leaves steeped in pisco. Yes, the very same leaves that are processed for cocaine. Not to worry. Coca leaves in small quantities are quite innocent. You can even buy coca leaf teabags at supermarkets in Lima.
At any rate, the leaves gave a faint herbal flavor to the pisco sour, making it the most interesting version that I had this trip.
While I sipped, the waiter brought a plate artfully drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, splashed with balsamic vinegar and ornamented with a red pool of tiny sauco fruit (elderberries) to go with my bread.
Next came cubes of ricotta wrapped in grilled eggplant slices with a red pepper sauce. And I hadn’t even ordered yet.
I decided on a fusion dish, langostinos (large shrimp), in a mango curry sauce braised in mint oil and accompanied by Thai rice. I liked the shrimp very much. The sauce was slightly sweet and slighty spicy with an almost caramel flavor.
What made the rice Thai, I have no idea. Bits of peach were mixed in, and a trace of green appeared at the bottom. That must have been the mint oil. The top was sprinkled with crisp white noodles and black sesame seeds. I have never seen anything like it in a Thai restaurant, but that’s what fusion is about.
Dessert had its own appetizer course, guargueros rellenos con manjar blanco, or tiny pastry cones filled with milk caramel and sprinkled with cocoa powder. This wasn’t fusion, but a traditional Peruvian pastry in miniature.
Then came the holy part of the meal, lucuma tiramisu, on a plate reverently decorated with a spider-thin cross made of powdered cinnamon.
Paola Cubas is Oztia’s chef and, it appears, a woman of faith as well as an accomplished cook.
Oztia, Bolognesi 143, Miraflores, Lima, Peru. Tel: 243-6513.