September 27th, 2014

This weekend I rounded up my foodie friends and headed to Andina in Shoreditch. I knew very little about Peruvian food but had the good fortune to win ‘A ceviche masterclass & lunch for 8 people with Martin Morales’ auctioned in aid of Action Against Hunger. I was looking forward to learning about all things Ceviche and who better to teach us than the man who literally wrote the book on the subject?

Andina has a homespun feel, solid wooden tables, white washed walls accented by colourful posters, shelves containing bottles of PK (Peruvian Kitchen) sauces and other eclectic furnishings. I began to salivate as soon as I stepped over the threshold, enveloped by wonderful aromas wafting from the open kitchen, but lunch had to wait a little longer as the maestro awaited and class was starting in Andina’s ‘Music Room’. Lima-born Chef Martin Morales has singlehandedly made Peruvian cuisine the hottest food trend of the moment in London. Before turning restaurateur he had a successful career in the music business, working for heavy hitters like iTunes and Disney Music, his experience there probably contributed to the added elements of artistry and creativity in his culinary ventures. His music background is reflected in the décor as well, 45rpm vinyl single records adorn the walls, as does posters for his own label ‘Tiger’s Milk Records’ which Martin uses to help preserve old, and to discover new, artists from Peru.

When I think Peruvian food words that spring to mind are; colourful, dynamic and exciting and that is exactly how I find the book, the restaurant and the man. "All you need is a cutting board, a knife and some fresh ingredients" Martin enthuses. "Cold cooking, it takes no fuel at all. That's why it's the perfect summer dish" and Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen [Publisher: W&N (4 July 2013)] is the perfect book to guide you. Impressive before you even crack the spine, the embossed cover evokes the décor of Morales kitchen with its’ clean white tiles, a deceptively simple design yet one of the cleverest cook book covers I’ve seen. Open it and you’ll find vivid photos illustrating recipes which produce amazing looking and tasting dishes that thankfully don’t need great skills in the kitchen, page after page of vibrant plates of food that are healthy, utilising fresh fish, chillies, corn and citrus, yet makes the reader salivate. No wonder Ceviche has been dubbed Sunday Times Food Book of the Year.

On the day Martin walked us through the preparation of the restaurant’s signature dish Ceviche Andina (recipe) made with sea bass, golden-berry, avocado, and sweet potato, topped with Cancha (an Andean version of corn nuts) for crunch. After the lesson Martin treated us to Pisco Sour cocktails and plate after plate of beautifully presented and cooked dishes from Andina’s ever evolving menu. A fabulous day of delicious food spent in the company of a charming and passionate chef. I highly recommend joining one of his masterclasses at Andina, or its sister restaurant Ceviche in Soho, to learn about this great cuisine, then buy the book and give it a go yourselves!