Gustu

#michelin #star #nearly

Bolivia really is a country of extremes – the largest expanse of salt I have ever seen, the highest city, the most dangerous road…and the worst food. It seems to be a national necessity to serve every meal with at least 2 carbs, and aside from llama steak, the every-day diet seems to be pasta or potato-based dishes, always with a healthy helping of mayonnaise.

This is why it seemed bizarre that the co-chef of Noma in Copenhagen, one of the top Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, should decide to open a restaurant in La Paz.

We took a taxi to the rather smarter area of the city to be greeted by a 7ft, extremely well-dressed twiglet of a Scandinavian waiter, who showed us to our seats and proceeded to lead us through the extensive cocktail list – when we weren’t sure of an ingredient, he slid over to the open display cabinet next to us to withdraw an unheard of Bolivian herb or fruit.

We went for the seven course tasting menu with alcohol pairings, for 625bolivianos (around £60) – at least a quarter of the price to what the same quality of food would cost in London. All tables had a great view of the kitchen, from which we saw each course emerge with a chef who would then deliver a short synopsis of the marvel in front of us.

From the quinoa gel, tofu and crisp flavoured with dill and parsley, to a llama sirloin and tail with honeyed fig and some Bolivian root vegetable, to Amazonian trout topped with grilled avocado and a leafy Bolivian spice adding a zingy aftertaste, every single flavour on each carefully put together plate came through beautifully – even the relatively uninteresting sounding rabbit, corn and lemongrass was genuinely exquisite.

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NATIVE POTATOES COOKED IN PINK SALT, CAPUCHINA FLOWERS AND ELDERFLOWER CAPERS, paired with quinoa beer made by their friend down the road

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Amazonian trout topped with grilled avocado. I’ve recently discovered warm avocado is an extremely overlooked concept, and should be embraced.

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constance with the llama steak dish and the swedish stick-insect with impeccable style in the background. it was a bit dark in there.

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llama sirloin and tail, with honey-glazed fig and some Bolivian root vegetable

Every wine had been locally sourced, and the Bolivian Torrontes grape, the Argentinian counterpart of which we had previously fallen for in Argentina, was completely different – luckily for me, most of the whites were particularly dry, and it was confirmed that Bolivian red is not to my taste at all – overwhelmingly fruity and rather thin. The quinoa beer, on the other hand, is an absolute winner.

And the pud.

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