Savouring Peruvian Passion

Cayetana Moret Gual goes on a journey of culinary discovery on a visit to La Mar by Chef Gastón Acurio.

Found within the scenic expanse of the InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa at Katara, La Mar by Chef Gastón Acurio is a beacon of Peruvian culinary excellence. As we walk through its impressive olive trees and step into the doubleheight space, abundant with rich and noble materials, we’re greeted by the gentle lull of the waves and the resplendent Doha skyline, setting the stage for an unforgettable gastronomic journey. Seated al fresco on a balmy Doha evening, we bask under the twinkling stars, enveloped in the warm embrace of the night. Eager anticipation fills the air as we prepare to delve into the vibrant tapestry of Peruvian flavours. With Chef Frank Ponce’s expertise as our guide, we eagerly await the symphony of tastes that is about to unfold; a crafted menu with La Mar’s international signature dishes and Doha exclusives.

Peruvian cuisine is a vibrant and diverse culinary tapestry that reflects the country’s rich history, multicultural heritage and bountiful natural resources. Chef Frank explains that it is influenced by indigenous traditions as well as Spanish, African, Asian and other immigrant cultures and is celebrated for its bold flavours, innovative techniques and diverse ingredients. The seating area exudes an aura of casual elegance, with plush furnishings and flickering candlelight casting a mesmerising glow. The gentle hum of conversation mingles with the rhythmic melody of waves, creating a harmonious backdrop for our culinary adventure. La Mar’s ambience effortlessly transports us to the bustling streets of Lima, where culinary traditions intertwine with contemporary innovation.

Our culinary journey begins with a tantalising trio of cebiches, each a masterpiece in its own right. The Cebiche Clasico boasts succulent hamour, bathed in a zesty leche de tigre that awakens the palate with its invigorating citrus notes. Meanwhile, the Cebiche Nikkei pays homage to Japanese influences, with tender tuna elevated by a symphony of flavours. As for the Cebiche Limeño, a medley of octopus, shrimp and choclo dances upon the tongue, each bite a celebration of Peru’s coastal bounty.

We also savour the velvety allure of tiraditos. The Tiradito Chucuito seduces with plump king scallops ensconced in a creamy embrace topped with squiq ink crackers, while the Tiradito Tuna Dashi entrances with its bold fusion of flavours and light punch of spice. Each morsel is a revelation, a testament to Chef Frank Ponce’s culinary prowess.

While both cebiche and tiradito feature raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juices, they offer distinct culinary experiences in terms of texture, flavour and presentation. Cebiche is known for its chunky texture and bright, refreshing taste, while tiradito offers a more delicate texture and complex flavour profile with a creamy, spicy sauce. Both dishes are emblematic of Peru’s rich culinary heritage and are beloved by food enthusiasts the world over.

Our journey continues with a tantalising array of Piqueos Calientes, hot nibbles, each bite a triumph of flavour and texture. From the tantalising crunch of tequeños (rolls) to the savoury embrace of empanadas (half moon-shaped pies), each tells a tale of history. The Tequeño Criollo captivates with its vibrant spices, while the Tequeño of Lomo Saltado offers a tantalising glimpse into Peru’s culinary tapestry.

As the main courses grace our table, we are transported to the heart of Peruvian cuisine. The Plancha Marina enchants with its bountiful array of seafood: calamari, king scallops, octopus, prawns and buttered corn, each morsel infused with the vibrant flavors of chimichurri and anticuchera sauce. Meanwhile, the Lomo Saltado captivates with its juicy beef tenderloin and aromatic stir-fried vegetables, cooked with soy and oyster sauce, toped with fried egg – a dish that tranports Chef Frank to his childhood, with a hint of nikkei influence.

Saving room for dessert, we indulge in the decadent delights of Peruvian confectionary. The Alfajores are melt-in-your-mouth butter biscuits, ensconced in a luscious dulce de leche, while the Torta De Chocolate seduces with its rich layers of Peruvian cacao-infused decadence. Each bite is a symphony of flavours, a fitting finale to our culinary odyssey.

Peruvian cuisine is a celebration of culinary diversity, innovation and tradition, offering a sensory journey that delights the palate and nourishes the soul. Whether savouring traditional dishes or exploring modern interpretations, experiencing Peruvian cuisine is an adventure that leaves a lasting impression. And La Mar offers not just a meal, but a transcendent culinary experience that celebrates Peru’s rich culinary heritage. From the vibrant flavours of its cebiches to the decadent delights of its desserts, each dish is a testament to Chef Gastón Acurio’s culinary vision. Coupled with impeccable service and a breathtaking ambience, La Mar is a must-visit destination for any discerning epicurean. ✤