last night, i made a delicious discovery:
i love Peruvian food.
okay, so let me clarify: i love upscale, contemporary Peruvian cuisine from Bar Paya, a perfect little spot in the East Village that just did everything absolutely right. no, seriously — i’d have to say it’s one of my favorite restaurants i’ve hit so far in NYC. if you’re in the mood for an intimate, relaxed setting with unique menu options and a variety of out-of-the-ordinary wines (there were quite a few i didn’t recognize), this dimly-lit, trendy restaurant serves up a fabulous night out. (warning: it helps if you like seafood. a lot.)

after badgering the entire wait staff (2 people) over the wine selection (really, what DO you choose when you haven’t heard of any of the varieties?), the bend-over-backwards-to-accommodate-us server (which i always appreciate, given my pickiness) recommended we try an Argentinian wine called Torrontes, made by Accuro (apparently it’s the quintessential white wine of Argentina, Wikipedia later informed me). i’d never had anything like it, and on the first sip, i wasn’t even sure if i liked it or not, it was that different and unexpected, like a burst of flavors in my mouth.

by the second sip, i loved it. fruity, floral, crisp, clean, light, dry…everything, in my opinion, that a white wine should be. it’s definitely a new favorite.

and the food…oh my goodness, everything was just amazing. if you put guacamole on a menu, i’m going to be forced to order it.  this one had lobster & shrimp in it, served with plantain chips for dipping. i would never have thought to put seafood in guac, but it was just ridiculously fabulous.


we followed these two highlights with tasty chicken anticucho (skewers), and a main plate called Chupe de Mariscos, which was a seafood stew. (it’s places like this that really highlight my decision to study French over Spanish in high school…my accent is something to be desired.)  the dish was superb, minus one little aspect that definitely made my stomach turn, especially after my tummy bug  this week. get a load of this guy:

yes, that is what you think it is: an octopus tentacle. i was afraid to even touch it with a fork, but coerced into trying a tiny bite. yes, i swallowed it, and no, i didn’t enjoy it, on principle (and texture/squeamishness) alone.

but, here’s to living in a new city and trying new things. everything else about the meal and restaurant was absolutely fantastic. i totally see myself returning, and most probably ordering the same wine (and guac) the second time around. this place was a real gem to stumble upon on a slushy, sloppy, chilly night in Manhattan. (i only wish i hadn’t lost my digital camera in the move, so that i didn’t have to resort to using my phone to take pictures.)

cheers to Bar Paya.