Monday, May 21, 2007


It's a gorgeous evening. Looking out from our living room window, I can see the valley of Glen Park backed by the steep ridge of Miraloma Park. Across the street, a cluster of Cordyline trees is blooming, and the air is just misty enough that the lowering sun shoots the whole scene with gold light. Lately, when coming across a view or a setting that seems so typically Californian, I can't help but stop and take it all in. It's so beautiful here.

There have been some great meals of late. I discovered that Pizzaiolo, in Oakland, has the Best Pizza in the Bay Area. If only we'd met sooner! It'll have to be a summer fling. Of course, I still love Gialina, but Pizzaiolo's crust was even more flavorful, and the Margherita pizza was as good as any I've had in Italy.

Last night, we paid our first visit to a new Peruvian spot, Piqueo's, in Bernal Heights. Peruvian food is an incredible mash-up of Incan, Italian, Japanese, African, Spanish, and Cantonese flavors. With each wave of immigrants, the cuisine expanded. Consider our favorite dish from Piqueo's small plates menu: the Pobrecito, a highly seasoned white bean and rice cake topped with plaintains and a fried egg. Where did that combination come from? Everywhere.

I haven't studied Peruvian food in enough depth to hold forth on it here, but when I eat it I often find myself craving more aromatic notes, such as you find in Southeast Asian cooking. Flavors like basil, mint, lemongrass, cinnamon. Peruvian food has such range, but the flavors tend to be quite earthy: vinegar, sofrito, sharp heat, corn, and soy. But I suspect there's more to it than that. Maybe the Peruvian food cooked in American restaurants represents only one or two regions. It'll be interesting to find out.

We also discovered a great wine bargain with our dinner: a 2004 ViƱa Rey "70 Barricas" Tempranillo for just $28. It had all the lightness and fruit of a good pinot noir, with plenty of acidity to hold up against the rich dishes.

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