On our flight from Lima to Cusco, a series of advertisements played on the television on places to stay at, visit, and dine while in Cusco, and one of them was for the Museo del Pisco (the Pisco Museum). Although upon first hearing its name it may confuse some, it’s in no way a museum but rather a bonafide eating and drinking joint, although they do offer a series of cocktail making classes too. Now if you’re wondering what pisco is, it’s what wine is to France and beer is to Germany. It’s essentially life (for the 18 and over variety in Peru). Pisco is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy produced in winemaking regions of Chile and Peru and there is intense debate as to which country invented the liquor (many say Peru but there are some Chile diehards too). Which leads me to the Pisco Sour, a cocktail you can’t go five feet in Peru without seeing its availability at some establishment. Its name comes from pisco, the base liquor, and the cocktail term sour, which refers to sour citrus juice and sweetener components. (In addition to the pisco, the Peruvian pisco sour features Key lime (or lemon) juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters.)
Okay, now that you’ve had a proper education in pisco, back to the Museo del Pisco. Earlier that day we had eaten a rather large and late lunch at the Inka Grill and I knew that I wouldn’t want another full meal for dinner, lest I’d be eating dinner at midnight. With the Museo del Pisco being located literally across the street, it seemed like a perfect place to go since its menu advertised more small plates than full on entrees. Although whenever we walked by the place was extremely busy, I figured it was worth taking a shot, so around 8 PM we set out. Upon entering, it was mobbed (it definitely seemed a “hip” place to be), but my worrying was for naught-there was apparently seating both upstairs and down and we had our choice on where we could go. I chose up and after climbing a short flight of stairs, saw a much less crowded room filled with plenty of empty tables and only a couple of groups.
While I feel bad for not having a pisco sour at the Museo del Pisco, it was our first day in Cusco after all and while I didn’t experience any grave effects of altitude sickness (we were still taking diamox, the drug used to help alleviate any symptoms), we both had shortness of breath at times and it just didn’t seem worth it to throw alcohol into the mix. You will also find yourself continually thirsty while at high altitudes and water was definitely the drink of choice for both of us.
We decided to split two small plates-the first was the Tequenos de Aji de Gallina con salsas de palta y aceituna (aji de gallina filled wontons with avocado and olives) and this was far and away my favorite. Aji de gallina is simply sublime and having it in crispy wonton shells, just culinary perfection. They were just as good as eating a plate of freshly made and still warm croquetas de jamon. These cost 24 soles.
For our second plate we ordered the tortilla de papas tradicional y peperonata (Spanish style omelette) and I was thoroughly disappointed with this. I make tortilla all the time and I’m not sure what was done here but it was so liquid, the potatoes were incredibly soggy. It was drowning in olive oil and I was leery about eating too much as I didn’t want to get an upset stomach. This was 20 soles.
The room we sat in was very much a laid back space and even featured Tintin posters of when he was in Peru so I really appreciated that unique touch.
There were definitely other things on the menu I would have liked to have tried (especially with how disappointing the tortilla was) such as the plate of Peruvian cheeses and the alpaca skewers, but neither one of us was particularly hungry and made do with the two we did select.
For drinks and small plates, Museo del Pisco was a great place, definitely a change from the standard full on restaurant.
Museo del Pisco
Santa Catalina Ancha 398, Esquina con calle San Agustin