Peruvian Fine Dining in the Heart of Geneva
By TMA Howe
Geneva, a city perched on the side of Europe’s largest Alpine lake, is most often associated with watches, banking, and the United Nations. But dotted around the many charming streets of this most beautiful is an abundance of restaurants with roots in some of the world’s top cuisines.
One such restaurant is the Peruvian-inspired Pachacamac restaurant. Just a short stroll from the centre of the city, situated in an unassuming yet busy street, Pachacamac (meaning ‘Creator of the World’) was created by Cecilia Zapata to bring a taste of South America to mainland Europe. Peruvian food is heavily influenced by Japanese tastes due to the arrival of a large colony of Japanese in the early 20th century, and Zapata has used her training to blend the flavours of Japan with those of her homeland. The result is a perfect combination that excites the taste buds.
Peru has had a major influence on so many foods that we now take for granted. Foods such as the potato, the sweet potato, and the avocado all originated in there. Ironically, some believe there may in fact never have been any chocolate in Switzerland without the arrival of the cocoa bean from Peru. Peru is also the world’s second largest fish exporter, hence many of the dishes in Pachacamac centre on a number of varieties of fish combined skilfully with various Peruvian herbs and spices.
Pleasant Peruvian Ambiance
As I arrived at the restaurant I was welcomed into the subtly decorated but elegant dining area. I noticed the Pachacamac logo and numerous Peruvian artefacts ornamented on the walls as the staff guided me to my table with a convivial smile. A passion fruit cocktail was delivered to savour whilst I awaited my meal.
A shrimp ravioli with a crab bisque emulsion was the first dish to arrive, exquisitely arranged in a granite dish which neatly contrasted with the pale sauce. A delicate basil leaf was balanced deftly on top of the dish. This was the perfect appetiser for what was to come.
The next dish, and one which is considered representative of Peruvian cuisine, is ceviche. There are cevicherias – restaurants dedicated to basing their menus around this wonderful dish – all over Peru. Consisting of small cubes of sea bream with coriander, tiger’s milk (the Peruvian marinade that has some of the fish juice, lime juice, sliced onion and limo chilies), together with another special Peruvian ingredient – cushuro (also known as ‘Andean Caviar’, an alga from Lake Titicaca). The mix of tastes, with the lime juice finely balancing the sea bream, was exquisite.
To complement the meal, bread rolls, freshly made, were brought to the table and, adding to the overall feel of the restaurant, were delivered in a cloth bag with the Pachacamac restaurant logo atop. The rolls were ideal to ensure every last drop of the dish was not wasted!
Wait, There’s More…
Next was a dish of noix de saint Jacques, slices of scallops with chia grains sprinkled delicately on top in an aji amarillo sauce – another staple Peruvian ingredient made from aji amarillo, a yellow chilli pepper, from the Andes. Once again the combination of flavours was perfect, and I looked forward to what was to come next. And I wasn’t disappointed. Thin slices of tuna, gently seared on the outside, in a rocoto sauce. Rocoto is another Peruvian chilli that had a gentle warmth that complimented the tuna slices to perfection.
After those four dishes I was trying to imagine what could possibly follow. Soon the answer arrived… skin grilled sea bass in a sauce of yet more peppers from the Andes. Topped with more delicate Peruvian herbs, the fish was cooked with perfect precision and the sauce was the ideal combination.
Having sampled so many amazing fish dishes it was time for dessert. And the perfect way to round off so delicious a dinner was a panna cotta made from chirimoya – sometimes known as a custard apple. Chirimoya tastes like a mix of banana and papaya but overall has a very unique flavour. The panna cotta was topped with a crumble and a cherimoya mouse on top. What an impeccable way to finish a flawless dinner.
My evening at Pachacamac could not have been better. The menu created by Cecilia Zapata was an eye opener to flavours I had never before experienced, and the exemplary service from Melissa, my server for the meal, made the evening complete.
If you are in Geneva looking for something a bit different from the usual cuisine, book a table at Pachacamac. And don’t worry if it’s fully booked(it often is!)… they will be opening another location very soon.
To learn more about Pachacamac restaurant in Geneva, visit their website at http://www.pachacamacrestaurant.com
TMA Howe is Luxury Globe Media’s UK Automotive Editor, and has an eye – and an appetite – for great cuisine.