There’s always something special about visiting a restaurant by an up-and-coming young chef who has poured their heart, and their soul into making it theirs. It’s truly a special experiences seeing the pride with which a young chef holds for their restaurant, and even better when you see, smell, and taste that effort in their menu.
Matria is a restaurant by a young up-and-coming Peruvian chef, Arlette Eulert Checa is a restaurant with an interesting story to tell – mostly because the food is a mix of traditional Italian-style dishes with very Peruvian flavours. Being based in a continent which boasts some of the most Spanish influenced dishes, it’s a little surprising to see this fantastic young chef be so bold and strike out on an entirely different cuisine to her fellow countrymen, knowing that there are some powerhouses of the gastronomic world to compete with in Peru – Arlette’s food is both bold, gutsy, and at the same time very comforting for those looking for a more authentic Italian style meal. And then there’s the quintessential Peruvian ingredients which she uses in such a way that reminds you that yes, you’re actually in Peru, and not Italy.
I had come to Arlette’.restaursmr hoping to have a taste of.entree style dishes, but she insisted on every dish being served being a main course (so I wouldn’t go hungry) and I tried four main courses, after having a private tour of Arlette’s kitchen.
I started off with a beautifully buttery bread roll, and buttery without butter, even more so with a spread of butter.
It was then time for the first of four main courses – with a seafood style dish with pieces of whitefish sashimi, in a ceviche-like citrusy sauce. The bread roll was put to good use in soaking up the sauce.
Next up it was time for more seafood, and mussels in a traditional tomato based sauce (or salsa) recoloured from the traditional red, to a warm yellow; which probably spoke of the heirloom baby yellow tomatoes that were used, along with the Aji (or chilli pepper), and the mussels were simply magnificent. As good as you would get anywhere else on the planet, and the beautiful pieces of whitefish held up nicely in the deliciously tasty and hearty yellow sauce. The fish wasnmoist in the middle, and tasty – and you really couldn’t have asked for anything better in terms of a seafood style dish.
We then had a fillet of pork, which had a sticky consistency, and brown bean base. It was paired beautifully with a Chianti – and had a very satisfyingly hearty feel about it.
It was then time to continue my seafood sojourn with octopus (char grilled), served on a bed of red lentils, or beans in a rich tomato sauce – with a crunchy bit of bread to soak up the sauce – and you really couldn’t have gotten anymore Italian-Mediterranean than that.
After trying four of Artlette’s main courses I think I came to the realisation that this was a restaurant worthy of being written about, not only for the amazing story Arlette told me of her culinary journey, but because of the outstanding food she had conceptualised and made her own. Bravo, and buon gusto!