Ibiza restaurants: Behind the scenes with chef Lucia Ferrer at Barra Peruana
Agroturismo Atzaró head chef Lucia Ferrer, native of Cataluña, creates magic in the Atzaro Agroturismo kitchen while dreaming up ever-new ideas, dishes and concepts. Lucia’s studies at the prestigious Hofmann School in Barcelona, her insatiable wanderlust (she has cooked everywhere from the Bahamas to the Sydney Opera House) and a ravenous curiosity about anything to do with cooking led to the development of a hip new concept within the hotel’s restaurant space – Barra Peruana. Tucked into a corner of La Veranda, this little slice of South America offers a small, yet carefully curated menu of Peruvian classics using local ingredients and containing Lucia’s special touch.
Tell us a little bit about the new Barra Peruana at Atzaró?
Peruvian cuisine has become a real thing at the moment on the mainland; it is having a moment in the spotlight. I know a lot about Mexico and Central America, as I’ve travelled in those parts quite a lot. We wanted to do something new here at Atzaró, we’ve done many things but this time I wanted something really different to what was happening elsewhere on the island. There’s been a Mexican bomb in Ibiza recently, so it became obvious Peruvian food was the next step. It’s so new for the island.
How did the idea develop from there?
We started researching restaurants in Peru. Figuring out where we would like to eat, making some contacts. We just wanted a little corner, something very relaxed and casual, nothing formal. We started speaking to some chefs in Peru and then… well, we went there! It was my first time in Lima. To know something well you have to go to the source. You have to learn everything by being there, that is the best book. I buy loads of books about cooking but to really understand people and cuisine you have to be in the place. We went to the top restaurants, the food there is so mixed, there is such a mix of cultures and cuisines, and it’s amazing. We talked to lots of chefs and tried everything. Then we met Omar [Dañobeitia], and he helped us a lot. He acted as a consultant for us, helping us to develop the menu, to combine the traditional foods with modern techniques, and then we added our own Atzaró touch.
Tell us more about Omar?
He works at a restaurant called Malabar in Lima. It is one of the best restaurants in Latin America. They have a similar philosophy to us, using seasonal produce, locally sourced. They have their own vegetable gardens. And the food there is very modern even though the menu contains very classic, traditional Peruvian dishes and at the same time they use many things from other cultures that have become part of the Peruvian cuisine over centuries. The presentation is beautiful, the food exquisite. And we were lucky that Omar agreed to help us develop our own little menu.
What was it like to travel and eat in Lima?
After São Paulo, Lima is the biggest city in South America. It’s huge. Very cosmopolitan, very interesting. I loved it. You need to travel with care, of course, but the people were lovely. The cuisine there is very healthy and fresh. They eat lots of fish and everyone seems to put a lot of importance on the quality and provenance of the produce. There are so many influences from other cultures, especially Japan, and a huge variety of chiles. And it’s so colourful! I love fish, I am crazy for raw fish. Tiradito is a traditional dish, it’s my favourite, very much like sashimi. Oh, and the spices, those aji chiles, everything with lime… it was marvellous. I am definitely going back there.
What is the base of Peruvian cuisine?
It depends greatly on the region. If you come from the coast or the interior it’s a different base. There are three cuisines: Amazonian, mountain, and coastal. There is so much diversity and the flavours change completely between the regions. Peruvians are famous for eating Coballa – it’s roasted guinea pig. I didn’t get to try it but I will. I want to try all of it!
Tell us about your Barra Peruana menu?
We have ten dishes that work with the classics. A traditional ceviche in the style of Lima using fresh wild caught fish from the Mediterranean, and a seafood one. We have two tiraditos, slices of raw, locally caught fish. The first one with a classic yellow pepper sauce and the other is a red tuna with crunchy quinoa. There are two types of causa, which is another traditional dish with potato. We have a crab and mango one served with a cocktail sauce, it’s very tangy and sweet. And the other is with scallops done in a classic Lima style. Then we have grilled octopus, clams with Parmigiano, a pan seared sirloin steak and the famous Leche de Tigre. That’s very traditional, it’s the marinade used for the ceviche. It’s delicious, with lime, tangy and lovely. The Peruvian cuisine contains so much fish and seafood, it’s very healthy.