July 31, 2009

Andina Approved by Visiting Expert

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I had a delightful weekend with one of my college roommates from long ago, Julia (pronounced hoo-lia, so don't call her jooolia). We went to Live Wire! and I took her around Portland to eat delicious food, since that's one thing I like to think I know about in this town.

When Julia and I were living at BYU, we had a lot of fun. So much fun that our entire apartment got on academic probation one semester. Most of them smartened up and did well the rest of the time there. Me? Nah. I kept having fun. I got my degree later on in life. But anyway. Our fun did not consist of drunken parties and sexual escapades. No. Our fun consisted mostly of laughing and carbohydrates. We would stay up late baking. Cookies, scones, lemon curd, dinner rolls. Telling stories, eating, slathering the butter on whatever type of warm bread we had decided to make that night. Then we'd laugh and bake some more.

While I was baking in our tiny apartment, Julia made us this delicious Peruvian stew - her parents are from Peru - that was bright green and so pretty, with succulent chunks of meat and vegetables. So when Julia arrived in Portland, I knew I had to take her to Andina - beautiful, amazing Peruvian food.

We met up with her 22 year old nephew, Fuzzy, who was great company for both of us, with his laughter and stories and inquisitive eyes. He giggled at the menu. I was nervous because these two knew good Peruvian food and what if it didn't measure up? What if they didn't like it, after I had told them this was the best place to eat? Julia knew what all the dishes were, pretty quickly knew what she wanted. I ordered the chicken escebeche: Pisco-brined Draper Valley chicken, pan-roasted to order, and served "escabeche" style; with pickled onions, Botija olivse, quail eggs, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato served two ways: crispy quinoa croquettes and huacatay-cotija cheese gratin. Julia ordered the lomo saltados, Cascade Natural Beef tenders wok-fried with onions, tomatoes, oyster sauce, garlic, and ají, served with Yukon Gold "papas fritas" and garlic rice, and Fuzzy ordered the hongos saltados, which was a little different from Julia's dish, but I'm not quite sure what was different.

Really, I don't care what they are called. This food is damn beautiful. And delicious. Julia and Fuzzy approved. I felt like the other little kid who says, "Mikey likes it!" Julia declared Andina as a fine preparer of Peruvian food, with the exception that the potato appetizer we had could have been a bit spicier. We ate our food quietly, enjoying each bite - savoring the complex flavors. We left full and very satisfied.

After the year of college that I lived with Julia, I kind of lost touch with everyone. Every few years there were the random phone calls from someone, but largely, we had all moved on. I visited Julia once a few years ago, then we lost touch again. But this weekend, we reconnected. It's weird when you all grow up and become these adults with life experiences and tragedies and successes and romance and lost loves and loneliness and religion and politics and sadness and happiness. We were more alike than I remembered. And here we were, laughing over food once again.

We definitely got better with age.



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2 comments:

Rhiannon said...

Love, Love, Love Andina. I also love catching up with old friends, I love the feeling that you just saw them yesterday, even though it's been years.

Also, I LOVE ANDINA.

Love + Marriage said...

My best friend from grade school just found me on Facebook so I know the feeling you talk about. I hope we get to go eat yummy food together, it seems like an easy way to reconnect.