I can connect Texas Wine Lover to Peru in 5 easy steps, moving from the closest link to the most remote:
- Our team member Gloria is Peruvian.
- One of my dearest friends just spent 15 days traveling in Peru, uploading amazing photographs to social media along the way.
- Back in March of this year, Jeff posted an article about his and Gloria’s interview with Johnny Schuler, the Master Distiller for Pisco Portón. Pisco is the national spirit of Peru, and its USA headquarters is located in Houston.
- Several Dallas restaurants (Gemma, The Meddlesome Moth, San Salvaje, Lark on the Park, The Standard Pour, and Mexican Sugar, to name a few) feature cocktails made with Pisco Portón.
- Famed Peruvian fashion photographer Maurio Testino currently has an exhibit at the Dallas Contemporary Museum titled Alta Moda, which documents Peruvian people wearing the traditional and festive dress associated with the mountainous region of Cusco.
And there you have it!
While I myself have never traveled to Peru, I would certainly love to go; but alas, time and budget don’t currently allow. So, I did the next best thing, which is to enjoy a junket that explored the Texas-Peru connection, taking la familia along for a little Pisco Portón and culture, starting with a Sunday brunch.
With so many wonderful restaurants to choose from, it wasn’t easy to settle on a spot, but I do have a particular fancy for The Meddlesome Moth, which has a gorgeous patio and a killer brunch menu, and so that’s where the Marmadukes found themselves late Sunday morning. If I were to try to describe here what I like so much about Meddlesome Moth, the description would be a tome by itself, so I’ll just say that the menu is consistently inspired and delicious, the service is warm and attentive, and the drinks are incredibly quaffable.
One of my favorite Meddlesome Moth brunch items is the “Ask Pancake.” That’s where the chef comes up with a unique pancake d’jour featuring gourmet touches that never crossed the mind of a certain iconic syrup aunt. The day we went, it was an orange-caramel pancake with pecans and cranberry chutney topped with whipped cream. My tummy is growling just thinking about it!
Of course, I ordered a Portón 1684 (recipe below) which was both exotic and refreshing. On the one hand, it was minty and crisp, but on the other, it tasted vaguely ancient and mysterious, like a cool, damp cave—the first descriptor that actually popped into my head was “archeological,” and I think that is a first for me with a mixed drink. But I meant it in the absolute best possible way—it was delicious!
After brunch, we headed over to the Dallas Contemporary Museum for the Testino exhibit—a must see, especially since admission is always free, although I suggest making a donation, if you can. Testino is well known for his intimate, insightful photographs of the beautiful and famous, including the British royal family, since he now resides in London. But the photographs in this exhibit are quite different, being posed, formal shots that highlight the elaborate, ornate costumes.
The images draw inspiration from the work of Martin Chambi, one of the first indigenous Latin American photographers, and Testino worked closely with Chambi’s grandchildren and even used backdrops from the late Peruvian photographer. We thoroughly enjoyed the richness and detail of the costumes, and Testino captured a pure beauty and nobility of the people who were wearing them. Some of the photographs featured lively masks, and since the exhibit doesn’t provide much background on the details of the costumes, I did a web search and learned that such masks are an integral part of Carnival in Peru, as well as traditional dances.
If you visit one of the local restaurants featuring Pisco Portón and catch the Testino exhibit at the Dallas contemporary, you’ll be glad you did. At the very least, get some Pisco Portón (locally available at Total Wine and More and other stores) and enjoy the delightful drink that I called “archeological.” You’ll feel so cultured!
The Portón 1684
2 oz Portón
2 oz Pineapple Juice—freshly muddled and strained is best
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
Combine all ingredients with fresh ice in a shaker and lightly shake. Serve straight up in a martini/coupe glass or on the rocks in a goblet and garnish with pineapple fronds and chunks.