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The Influence of Spain in Peruvian Cuisine Event at Pastuso Restaurant

Pastuso Restaurant was the perfect venue for a cracking event featuring two of Melbourne's best chefs, Alejandro Saravia and Jesse Gerner, and an extraordinary insight into Peruvian cuisine. The event was part of the Pep Alliance series of events hosted by iconic foodie, author and identity Hilary McNevin. The theme of Spain v Peru was brilliant and topical in celebrating Peruvian Independence Day, and it explored the relationship between Spanish and Peruvian cooking. Our table raised a glass or two of Pisco sour to Peru on this great occasion!
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No pisco, no disco.
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A point of difference is that Hilary has a great relationship with Melbourne's top chefs and is gifted in interviewing them and "bringing out" their passion and foodie philosophies. A Q&A with the audience (of Melbourne foodies) was also compelling - haven't you always wanted to ask top chefs a question or two?  As food was being prepared before our very eyes in the open kitchen, Hilary explored the harmony between Spanish and Peruvian cooking.
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Alejandro Saravia and Jesse Gerner engaging our table on a fine Sunday afternoon.
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An intimate Melbourne foodie event with Hilary McNevin and two great chefs.
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Cured tuna loin basted with jamon fat and served with Pisco Mosto Verde. This dish was a cacophony of flavour and the crunch and creamy jamon delight on top set off the smooth style pisco to perfection. One of the best small dishes I've enjoyed this year. Insanely good. You had me at "basted with jamon fat..."
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 Up close and personal (below).
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Pastuso is a popular Peruvian restaurant in Melbourne run by chef Alejandro Saravia (also soon to launch Che), while Jesse Gerner hails from Bomba, Anada, Green Park Dining and recently Nomada.
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Full of innovation and imagination the next dish was a smoky triumph of Almejas storm bay clams, smoked dashi and alpaca pancetta. The whole dish was wonderfully balanced and stunningly presented and I was excited to experience alpaca in a dish! 
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With so many of these dishes prepared for diners, I wondered where they keep all these small rocks? It must have taken a decent amount of time for the stunning presentation of this dish.
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Ceviche game is strong and the Ceviche de Corbina of Black kingfish, beetroot and pickled sea grass was refreshing and a perfect dish for Peruvian Independence Day. The modern touch of pickled sea grass for tang and crunch was brilliant.
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 Sardinas Al Braza was a crowd pleaser of Grilled sardines preserved in escabeche sauce and served with rye toast. This had fast turned into the perfect Sunday of indulgence.
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 Image with can open of course.
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 A highlight was the Beef heart marinated in a traditional roasted Andean chili sauce. Served with 2015 Humberto Canale Old Vineyard Pinot Noir, this was hitting the high notes. Is there anything more rustic than a marinated beef heart?
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Alejandro is as skillful with meat as he is with ceviche fish. This beef heart dish was so compelling it was not only a privilege to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day but I dreamed of becoming a Peruvian citizen with food like this. (Or more trips to Pastuso).
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The pleasures kept coming with this Slow cooked lamb shoulder smoked in hay, served with braised baby leek. We've had a plethora of slow cooked lamb dishes this Melbourne winter, but none better than this. Perfectly cooked lamb to be pulled apart on a delightful bed of leeks. 
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 A surprise dish was the Andean grains, a Hand picked selection of traditional Andean grains with sherry poached currants. 
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 Squid ink paella cooked on charcoal, emulsified tigers milk, calamari and octopus. A different style of paella than what I was used to but a triumph. The squid ink and charcoal aspects added to the rustic charm of a dish that has traditionally celebrated community.
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Tender chick peas, spinach and saffron broth. 
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Sour cherry compote, Pedro Ximenez meringue and lemon shard, along with Frozen goat cheese curd, carob and cinnamon sponge were dessert dishes of great flavour and finesse. 
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If you're a keen foodie in Melbourne we highly recommend any of the Pep Alliance series or any events associated with Hilary McNevin - you won't be disappointed! If we ever get the chance to participate in such an event we drop everything (including arriving at an AFL blockbuster super late during the 4th quarter) knowing that Hilary's hosted events are quintessentially Melbourne and are a foodie's dream. They often involve the whole experience - not just great wine and food but also a Q & A with the chefs. this is the added dimension you won't always get at events in Melbourne. Also Hilary's events have themes which are compelling. We believe the Melbourne market is looking for high quality and varied experiences - and we can think of no better than Pepevents with Hilary McNevin. 
This unique collaboration promises was a celebration of Peruvian  culture and an insight into the important influence that Spain has had and continues to have in the South American cuisine. We learned how these two cuisines have come to influence each other over  the centuries. Epic.