When I say Asia I’m referring to the beach, not the continent. That would be a lot of travel for only 24 hours! Seeing as it’s getting towards the end of the hottest part of summer, we decided to whisk ourselves off for 24 hours to enjoy some sun, sea, sand, food and drink in the vibrant coastal area of Asia. Driving down the Panamericana Sur on a Saturday lunchtime meant I had to make a couple of stops on the way to our destination. Food is necessary for a good road trip! Our first stop was the bakery Tambo Rural. This bakery is a little building at around KM52 of the Panamericana heading South. There are no signposts but look out for the mile markers once you have passed San Bartolo and after KM51 keep your eyes peeled. You are basically looking for a small building surrounded by cars and a huge queue of people! It is extremely popular, especially at lunch time, and honestly the queue did not get any shorter from when we arrived to when we left. More people just kept coming to replace those who had received their goods. They make all of their bread in these large wood fired ovens. In Spanish, this method of cooking is called ‘a la leña’ You can even cook your chicken in there. It looks so tempting; beautifully roasted. You can expect a long wait to order and pay, but once you have done that your food is handed to you pretty quickly. We came for good bread and we were not disappointed. Pan serrano – a thick, dense white bread (think pizza dough….amazing), perfect when warm with butter or cheese.
Pan cabanossi – bread stuffed with cheese and cabanossi sausage
Pan relleno – bread filled with cheese, ham and oregano. Fugasa mixta – square slice of thick, doughy bread topped with olives, peppers, onions and oregano.
All of these were amazing, and with prices like these it is no wonder how popular this bakery is. Next time I would like to try their chicken to see how the flavour and texture differs when cooked in one of those huge ovens. We saved the pan serrano for later (I’m actually eating one as I write, and it is still incredible warmed from the oven), but we wolfed down the rest and headed along to our next stop.
OVNI. OVNI are renowned for their lúcuma ice cream, and many other stalls in the area, also selling lúcuma ice cream, have tried to jump on OVNI‘s successful bandwagon by branding themselves in a similar way. OVNI is the Spanish for UFO and it’s logo reflects this, but many people in the area are naming themselves after E.T. and using aliens and spaceships as their logos too. There is only one stop for the real OVNI at about KM62.5 (keep a look out from around KM61 and you should see the signs on the side of the road from about 500m before). The ice cream comes as a double scoop for S/4.50, which was perfect for little old me. Smooth, creamy and full of that distinctive caramel-ish lúcuma flavour. Love. Love. Love. This is proper ice cream. After our brief stop we headed straight on to Asia Beach (our spot was around KM102) to catch the afternoon sun. The sun, however, had other ideas and decided to hide behind a lot of cloud. We set up camp on the beach nonetheless and enjoyed the warmth of the summer afternoon, munching on canchita (my addiction of salty, fried, Peruvian corn kernels) and sipping nice cold beers. Perfect. The beach, to our surprise was actually quite empty for a weekend, so we thoroughly enjoyed our luck of having less people around, even if the sun didn’t really want to stick around. The sky was beautiful though, so we sat and enjoyed our view for a couple of hours before heading off for dinner.
About 5 minutes back along the Panamericana from Asia town (at about KM97) you will find the ‘Boulevard de Asia‘ (you pass it as you drive towards Asia Beach). This is a large open-air, American style mall with clubs, bars, restaurants, shops, cafe’s and stalls. It is the life and soul of the party at weekends and everyone from the surrounding beaches comes here to eat, shop, watch a movie, grab a drink and dance. It is a really fun place, but be prepared to be smacked in the face by advertising. Nearly everything here is sponsored by one company or another, with plazas sponsored by cars or credit companies. To me, this is all very strange. However, the sponsorship obviously works, because the place is absolutely spotless and perfectly maintained. In fact the design of the whole mall runs very smoothly and is full of clean lines, recycled woods, white walls and a lot of brightly coloured bougainvillea. Very stylish in fact.
We headed to one of our favourite places, Granja Azul, which has a small branch here in the Boulevard de Asia. Sitting outside, we soaked up the atmosphere whilst the scent of their delicious chicken wafted through as we waited. But you never have to wait for long, and before we knew it we were devouring their famous, juicy chicken alongside a huge bowl of hot, golden, thick-cut chips (fries). Big bowls of lettuce and tomato finished the combination, and their mayonnaise is always the perfect accompaniment. We shared this combo, which included half a chicken, and it was only S/37; amazing value for money. After an extra portion of those excellent chips (just look at those beauties!!), we headed off to Don Mamino to find dessert. Selva Negra (Black Forest Gateaux) for him and Pasion de Trufa for me (an amazing chocolate cake with a sweet, truffle textured filling).
But people don’t just come to the Boulevard in the evening to eat, they also come to party.
And there is so much choice. From little outdoor bars serving different brands of drinks (Miller bar, Quierolo bar) to international clubs like Café del Mar. Whatever your preference, there will be something to suit your taste. There is even a craft beer bar, serving up local artisanal beers.
Needless to say, we headed home in the early hours of the morning…..
….and returned again a few hours later for a well deserved vitamin filled pick me up. Freshly squeezed fruit juices at La Baguette. The juices here are very good but the service leaves a little to be desired. It wasn’t busy, but we were left waiting for 15 minutes before we had to go and ask to be served. Not ideal. After a wander around the stores (their products are often discounted), we picked up the car and headed back to Lima.
For lunch of course! We met the family for Sunday lunch at an old favourite, Il Piccolo Pomodoro, to chat and catch up on the weekend.
One Fiorentina pizza (and a tiramisu) later and I was a happy girl. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! What did you get up to?
Il Piccolo Pomodoro – Av. Caminos del Inca 1473, Santiago de Surco