Review: Peruvian Gastronomic Festival (Café Opera, Intercontinental Sydney)

I love the Sydney Rumbles section in Sara’s blog Belly Rumbles. It’s a great monthly compilation of food events happening in Sydney. The latest edition announced a Peruvian Gastronomic Festival prepared by the very well-known (in Perú) chef Adolfo Perret, owner of the Punta Sal seafood restaurants.

Welcome message

The festival was really a buffet in the fancy Cafe Opera at the Intercontinental Hotel that ran for the week preceding our Independence Day (i.e. July 22 – 27). Prices varied depending on the time of the day and whether it was a weekday or a weekend. We chose to go on a Monday night ($70 per head) because it suited Alvaro’s work schedule.

Peruvian nativity

There were some neutral/international elements in the buffet (e.g. a standard salad bar, prawns, oysters, sushi, some of the desserts) but in my opinion the food selection was varied enough to give guests a feel for our cuisine. Needless to say, a good number of dishes were seafood-based (the chef’s speciality). The three Peruvians at the table (my sister, Al and I) thought entrées and desserts were better than mains, and our Venezuelan friend said she enjoyed the seafood dishes and the carapulcra.

Here’s a brief recap with my humble opinion about the dishes I tried:

Entrées – favourites

  • Pulpo al limón y olivo (octopus in lemon and olive oil) – great flavour and tender
  • Choritos a la chalaca (mussels in a creole sauce) – very tasty, I had quite a few
  • Causa de pollo (potato mash with chilli and lime juice, filled with chicken and mayonnaise) – best causa we’ve had in Sydney

Cold entrées

Cold entrées

Entrées – good

  • Cebiche mixto (fish and seafood cebiche) – good flavour but not sour enough for my taste
  • Cebiche atún Nikkei (Japanese/Peruvian tuna cebiche) – nice Asian flavours but not outstanding
  • Ocopa (potatoes with a hot pepper and huacatay creamy sauce)
  • Salpicón de pollo (chicken and mayonnaise salad)

Potatoes & ocopa

Potatoes & ocopa

Entrées – average

  • Cold seafood – prawns, mussels and oysters, not that great

Cold seafood & sauces

Cold seafood & sauces

Entrées – not tried
Salad bar, bread, etc.

Salad bar

Salad bar

Salad bar

Salad bar

Mains – good

  • Carapulcra (dry potatoes casserole) – very nice, even for me (I used to hate this dish)
  • Lomo saltado (beef stir-fry) – good flavour, very tender

Salsa criolla, cancha & carapulcra

Salsa criolla, cancha & carapulcra

Lomo saltado

Lomo saltado

Mains – disappointing

  • Cau cau de pollo (chicken, potato and turmeric stew) – didn’t taste like cau cau at all
  • Chicharrón de chancho (fried pork) – very dry and underseasoned

Cau cau de pollo

Cau cau de pollo

Chicharrón de chancho, cancha & salsa criolla

Chicharrón de chancho, cancha & salsa criolla

Mains – not tried
Sushi, soups, arroz a la jardinera (rice with vegetables), Chicharrón de pescado (crumbed fried fish), escabeche (fish or chicken – don’t know which – in an onion/vinegar sauce), Asian-style fish, etc.

Sushi

Sushi

Hot dishes

Hot dishes

Soups

Soups

Some dish with asparagus and cherry tomatoes

Some dish with asparagus and cherry tomatoes

Chicharrón de pescado?

Chicharrón de pescado (I think)

Desserts – favourites

  • Suspiro de limeña (caramel, meringue and cinnamon dessert) – one of my favourite desserts back in the day, this one was tasty
  • Merengado de chirimoya (custard apple meringue) – not my favourite but the other three people in the table really liked it
  • Berry compote – not Peruvian but delicious with a huge dollop of cream

Desserts, round 1

Desserts, round 1

Desserts – good

  • Crema volteada (creme caramel) – not very sweet, which was good, but a bit lacking in texture, IMO
  • Mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding with dried fruits) – a bit too thin/watered down

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts – not tried
Quinoa zambito (pudding traditionally made with rice and dark cane sugar), jam and sweet sauces (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry), apple pie, lollies, cheese board, cakes, slices, etc.

Lollies

Lollies

Cafe Opera
Intercontinental Sydney
117 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 1396
restaurant.reservations@interconsydney.com
www.sydney.intercontinental.com

Punta Sal

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