Preserving Peruvian traditions at Reataurant Mil
On the land around us there were boiled horsebeans, potatoes and corn with cheese all made by the woman from a local community just 2km from Mil. The scene was lunch in the middle of a working day for the woman but this scene was to stay in my mind for the next day as we were having lunch at Mil.
Restaurant Mil is situated 50m above the historical site of Morray which by any standard is in the middle of nowhere. Any meal at Mil therefore starts more than an hour earlier driving through the extremely scenic landscapes of Sacred Valley which is so beautiful that it is bound to put you in the right mood.
Arriving at Mil make sure to spend a moment to take in the magical surroundings before the experience starts.
As always with Virgilio you start with a series of snacks. A soft grilled and creamy maiz. A nanlike bread with beans, coca and a sweet butter with sauco and dried potatoes with salsa tomato in a “chutney with a kind of chili with cheese and herbs”
An amazing mix of textures, flavors and such an inventive way to start the meal. Simple bread and butter some might say.
Lamb tartare with a sweet and delicious chrimoya sauce, salat, small flowers and a crispy tart. Usually something that sweet as chrimoya doesn’t work with tartare but here it really did.
Now in a traditionel tasting menu there are usually not two meat dishes this early in the menu but here there were. A juicy piece of porkbelly (a upscale version of the chicharrón which you can get at any roadside “food stop” in the Valley) served with 2 different components of pure deliciousness made from humble ingredients. A tarwi (bean) ceviche and a tarwi gnocci with crispy chips and mountain algeans. Eventhough the porkbelly was delicious it was nothing compared to the humble tarwi prepared in different textures showing of its many faces.
Choclo con qeso or corn with cheese. A dish that all farmers eat for lunch as we did the day before as well. Here brought a level up. Grilled fresh cheese with a herb sauce. This dish was served at the middle of the meal just like this dish is eaten by the farmers in the field in the middle of the day. Delicious as it is beautifull with the different colour corn chips.
Duck stew with a kale salat. The crispy kale had just the right amount of horseradish to be amazing where as the stew didn’t blow my mind.
To end the savory dishes were another Central classic. Different tubers (potatos and the likes) prepared huatia style which is another classic dish eaten in the Andeas at the end of the day and therefore also at the end of the meal at Mil. The 4 different kinds showed just a bit of the diversity that exits within potatoes in Peru, from extremely sweet and yellow, to white and somewhat drier to the purple mashua.
Before the dessert was a classic cleanser in the form of a muna, kjolle and tumbo. A very aromatic cleanser that did so much more than just cleanse our palette for the dessert to come.
Of course we finished of in style with a classic cacao mouse, a more fresh cacao granite made from the musilage and coca granite as well. A great way to show of the different used of the cacao and of course it was delicious.
They call the lunch at Mil the Mil Experience and it is just that an experience. Mil is a destination restaurant that is about so much more than just the food. It is about preserving and displaying Peruvian traditions both within food but also just the Andean way of life. The drive to Mil is a spectaculaire view regardless of which way you come from. Arriving at the restaurant you start with a tour lasting up to 45 minutes describing, the filosofi of the restaurant, Mater Incentiva and of course also how Virgilio got his idea about the elevation menu as the best example of how they seek to educate their guest and hopefully leave them with a deeper understanding.
Finedining should be about more than just serving delicious and visual appealing food and Mil is just that. The whole experience from start to finish is truely one of a kind with only can be the case with Virgilio Martinez as chef and an ancient inca historical setting the scene.