A Taste for Exploration
Three culinary experiences to enjoy at Machu Picchu.
By Raquel Baldelomar
High atop a plateau in the Amazonian jungle of Peru sits Machu Picchu – an archaeological wonder dating to approximately 1450 at the height of Incan empire. People are drawn to this site as a spiritual center, for its rugged beauty and to marvel at the architectural acumen of an ancient civilization. At the base of Machu Picchu near the Vilcanota River is one of the best restaurants in the region – the Qunuq Restaurant.
It’s located in the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel and offers culinary experiences that match the rugged beauty of Machu Picchu. The restaurant blends traditional Peruvian cuisine with the Incas’ culinary heritage to create exquisite five-star experiences. Visitors to Machu Picchu take part in an abundance of activities – cultural tours, hikes, visiting ancient ruins – and will definitely work up an appetite. The Sumaq Hotel offers visitors three culinary experiences that not only satisfy your hunger but also complement your itinerary.
1.“Flavors of the Andes” tasting menu.
The chefs at the Qunuq Restaurant, Carlos Pardo Figueroa and Ribelino Alegría, have devoted their time to bringing the lost flavors of Peru into the forefront of their dishes. For instance, many fruits and herbs were hidden and all but forgotten in these rugged mountains, so the chefs have helped promote and support Andean communities who are growing crops in regions above 12,000 feet. As a result, the chefs now have access to more than 35 ingredients sourced from sustainable communities located within 50 kilometers of the hotel. Thanks to their efforts, guests can now enjoy a tasting menu aptly named “Apucc Mikhuna,” which means the food that the mountains bring us. The tasting menu includes quintessential Peruvian dishes like Lomo Saltado – a beef sirloin and potato stir-fry. The entire menu is a culinary delight that is truly unique to this Peruvian destination. If you would like a little more hands on experience, the Sumaq hotel also offers guests the opportunity to learn how to create their own Peruvian dishes and drinks, including ceviche and Pisco Sours, during a cooking and bar class.
2. A Pachamanca feast.
For travelers, who want to experience a traditional Peruvian meal, the Sumaq hotel offers a cultural activity that is also a culinary treat. The Pachamanca, or “Earth Pot,” is an ancient way to prepare a meal. First, a hole is dug in the ground. Next it is lined with firewood and rocks. When the rocks are hot enough, food is layered in the stone oven and covered with banana leaves to cook for 60 to 90 minutes. Guests are able to relax in a beautiful setting, while smelling delicious food cooking, and sipping on chichas, a drink made from fermented maize, or a frutillada, a drink that combines strawberries and sugar with a beer made out of Jora corn. The entire experience takes about two hours and is the perfect way to embrace the traditions of the past.
3. Gourmet lunch box – To Go.
There are numerous hikes to enjoy while in Machu Picchu, Peru—the Incan Salkantay Pass, the Llactapata Trail, or the Gate of the Sun. Before you head out on one of these beautiful treks, do yourself a favor and put away the granola bars. The Sumaq hotel can not only help visitors arrange a hike that suits their needs, it can provide a box lunch that will forever change what you consider to be hiking food. When you take a break to breathe in the beauty of Peru and have a bite to eat, you are treated with a delicious meal that embodies the spirit of your surroundings. Instead of trail mix or an apple, the hotel will prepare a wonderful, custom-made meal with local, high-quality ingredients, such as a chicken salad sandwich on freshly made potato bread. The hotel also includes a delicious snack like its fruit and nut bread. This simple lunch will ensure that you have a true Peruvian experience from the food and drink you ingest to the gorgeous views you can sit back and enjoy.
Raquel Baldelomar an entrepreneur, author, and health & wellness journalist. She is Founder of Quaintise, a national marketing and branding agency for the health and wellness industry. She cowrote the book Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage and Reclaim Good Health. She is a Forbes columnist where she reports on corporate wellness, executive health, and the creative process and is also a journalist for CNN and Robb Report focusing on how health, wellness, and travel stimulate the creative process.