If you consider yourself a foodie with an appetite for Peruvian cuisine, then a cooking class in Cusco will surely satisfy your hunger.
If you’d like to learn about local Peruvian produce before preparing and cooking your own traditional dishes in a beautiful rooftop kitchen, then this is one Cusco attraction you won’t want to miss.
Hear the sizzling of frying pans and smell the mouthwatering aromas of onion, garlic and mushrooms.
Taste delicately cured trout and let the sweet and milky chirimoya fruit melt in your mouth.
Sip a classic Peruvian cocktail on a rooftop terrace while you admire the views of the city below.
Peruvian food is world-renowned and has a variety of cultural influences, including Spanish, Italian, Asian and, of course, the country’s own Incas.
To attest to Peru’s culinary prowess, Virgilio Martínez of Lima’s famed Central restaurant recently received the Chef’s Choice Award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony, essentially giving him the title of world’s best chef for 2017.
As such, many tourists are now venturing to Peru to not only taste its great flavours, but to also to enjoy a different type of culinary experience.
Hence there are a huge array of Peru food tours, cooking classes in Cusco and different gastronomical/culinary experiences on offer.
We took part in an afternoon cooking class with Rooftop Kitchen in Cusco, a company that pairs traditional dishes with modern facilities.
An easy and fun three hour class, you will enjoy a Peruvian entrée and main course, along with a tasty pisco sour cocktail you have prepared yourself.
About Rooftop Kitchen
Rooftop Kitchen is a five-star gastronomical experience, where participants prepare and cook their own traditional Peruvian dishes using the freshest regional ingredients.
They offer daily lunch and dinner cooking classes from an idyllic (indoor) rooftop setting, complete with incredible views of Cusco.
Rooftop Kitchen has been operating their cooking class in Cusco for the past four years and run lessons for individuals, couples and groups.
Importantly, they offer vegetarian and vegan options and all chefs are bilingual.
Our instructor was chef Xavier Vargas, who completed his training in Lima and says he loves teaching people how to create – and appreciate – Peruvian cuisine.
It is Xavier himself who arrives to pick us up at our accommodation and this marks the start of our cooking class in Cusco.
Start your cooking class in Cusco with a tour of San Pedro market
Our culinary experience begins with a wander through Cusco’s San Pedro market.
Built in 1929, this central market is now a hub for basically anything you could want to buy – textiles, clothing, souvenirs, coffee, food, fruit and produce.
It is a feast for the senses: busy, crowded, chaotic and with an array of colourful sights, smells, sounds.
We pass by women seated at sewing machines, selling sparkling and patterned clothing.
They’ve got traditional skirts adorned with various embroidered patterns and colours; the designs representing the marital status of women in the highlands.
Strolling through the market’s juice section, we are hit with the strong and sweet smells of fresh, colourful fruits.
While we tour the market, we see piles of potatoes in various colours and shapes, and learn that there are close to 3000 thousand different types of potato grown in Peru.
We pass by colourful gemstones from different mountains in the region, see dehydrated alpaca meat and witness women in tall hats selling giant wheels of bread.
The market is a brief, yet vibrant introduction to life in Cusco.
Let the cooking class in Cusco begin!
Arriving at the Rooftop Kitchen building, we take an elevator up to the eighth floor.
The kitchen is a warm and spacious environment; everything is stainless steel, clean and sparkling.
Outside the windows, the red rooftops and buildings of Cusco scattered between the hills is truly a delight to see.
Our cooking companions are an American couple, who tell us they are interested in bringing something more than memories home with them.
These are people who regularly gather with family members to share food (and stories), so they are keen to showcase their newfound Peruvian cooking skills when they return home.
Make your own traditional pisco sour
After we have stepped into our crisp chef’s uniforms, we learn how to make a classic pisco sour.
A pisco sour is a popular cocktail made from a Peruvian grape brandy called pisco.
Other ingredients include lime juice, sugar syrup, egg white and bitters.
After measuring our portions, we vigorously shake and rattle our silver cocktail shakers for about one minute.
And then – like the expert bartenders we have become – we pour.
Afterwards, we step outside onto the warm, sunlit terrace to make a toast and sip our freshly made beverages.
Entrée – Mango ceviche / Cured rainbow trout
Next we will prepare the entree, or starter, which is mango ceviche for us and cured rainbow trout for our companions.
Ceviche is a traditional Peruvian dish that is popular throughout South America.
It typically involves raw fish and seafood marinated in citric juices and spices.
Our vegetarian version, however, consists of tarwi beans, mango, red quinoa, onion, yellow pepper and caigua.
The salsa for our ceviche is a tangy concoction of ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and lime juice.
Plus a dash of quinoa.
With the greatest of care, our American friends slice their pink rainbow trout into delicate strips.
With the ease of professionals, they lay it out decoratively across a rectangular plate.
The fish, we are told, has been plucked from Lake Titicaca, on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
They spread a fine strip of salsa over the trout before coating it in lime juice; the strong citrus will cure the fish in a matter of seconds.
Two cubes of red wine-marinated turnip provide the finishing touch to this gorgeous dish.
We all sit down to feast on our creations and are delighted to discover that our fresh, colourful ceviche tastes sensational.
Main Course – Mushroom quinotto
Quinotto, or quinoa risotto, is a dish that has become popular over the years.
It is not only a favourite in Peru, but is recognised on the international food scene as well.
And since quinoa, an Andean grain, is a Peruvian staple, you’ll find this so-called ‘superfood’ in many local dishes.
We fry up some onions, garlic and yellow pepper and then add some rich, chunky mushrooms.
white wine and, finally, red quinoa.
We toss in some salt, pepper, parsley and olive oil, but skip over the blue cheese and parmesan.
As a result, our meal is a fresh, healthy, Peruvian vegan quinotto.
It looks great and smells absolutely divine.
Most importantly, it tastes spectacular.
All in all, I’d say our Rooftop Kitchen cooking class in Cusco has been a resounding success.
Rooftop Kitchen offers lunch and dinner Peruvian cooking classes, which includes the following:
– Transportation to and from your hotel
– Guided culinary tour of the traditional San Pedro market
– Preparation of an appetizer and main course (vegetarian/vegan option available)
– Preparation of a classic pisco sour
To book your rooftop Peruvian cooking class, contact us.
For more details on the amazing, tasty and diverse foods of Peru, read the our blog posts:
- Peruvian Cuisine – Embracing the flavours of Peru
- Vegan and vegetarian food in Peru: Our ultimate survival guide for foodies
- Pachamanca, A Dining Experience In Peru Unlike Any Other