Thursday, November 7, 2013

Yanahuara & Restaurant Crepisimo, Arequipa, Peru

Our sightseeing today is across the river from Arequipa in the pretty suburb of Yanahuara, just a short cab ride away. The suburb is a popular spot for tourists because of the mirador (lookout) that gives great views of the city and mountains and also its church. It is another traditional neighborhood with narrow cobbled streets and old houses and by the time we arrive, it is bustling with people and vendors selling artisanal crafts. All of the sights are centered around the small but attractive plaza with plenty of shade trees, benches and a fountain sculptured from bronze. It's a great spot to sit and people watch. From the mirador which is located next to the square there are extraordinary views over the city, volcanoes and per-Inca terraces. Built in the nineteenth century style of neo-classical architecture, it consists of a series of six arches made from volcanic ashlar in which are carved famous Arequipa proverbs that expressed life. All the arches have the inscriptions around them, some of which we couldn’t translate but one roughly translates to something like "We are strong because we were born at the foot of a volcano." Today it is clear and sunny with not a cloud in sight and through the various archways we get some phenomenal views of that volcano; Volcan Misti which towers over Arequipa and is still considered to be active and some decent views of the other two volcanoes, Chachani and Picchu Picchu although these were partially blocked by power lines which marred the views somewhat. With perpetual snow flanking their sides, they are picture postcard spectacular. On the other side of the square is the beautiful white church of San Juan Bautista. Built in 1750 the façade is baroque in style and is ornately carved with the regional mestizo decorative patterns of the local cultures. On this church there are Incan dolls called “putti” which are adorned with elaborate headdresses in addition to figures of angels, scrolls, floral patterns and cherubs. The main church was unfortunately closed and only a smaller chapel to the left was open for prayer. Stepping back outside to admire the façade and absorb more of the detail, we wandered over to a small artisan mall. We found some of the nicest inlaid woodwork we have seen and wound up purchasing a picture and a jewelry box both depicting the city of Arequipa with the volcanoes in the background. The taxi driver who took us had kindly waited to take us back to the hostel and we were very happy with our trip and purchases. From there we went to Crepisimo for lunch. Owned by the same people as ZigZag restaurant, Crepisimo’s is more along the lines of a French style café. Set off one of the main streets in a small courtyard it has ambience in a low key sort of way. Their menu offers 100 different varieties of crepes, both savory and sweet combining the traditional French crepe with quality ingredients. The restaurant is small and when we arrived lunch was well underway but we found a table for two in the main part of the café. As we checked out the menu, the waitress kept bringing by trays of food, stacked with crepes of various kinds. The lady at the table next to us had ordered a sweet crepe filled with fruit and chocolate, it looked like heaven. I ordered their set daily menu which included a salad, a choice of crepe, dessert and a soft drink, for under $10.00. My crepe selection was from the Peruvian section and was a smoked Andean trout filling. Tom chose a steak and mushroom filled crepe and a beer and we settled back to wait. My salad was excellent with lettuce, tomatoes, beets, avocado and croutons. And the crepes well, they were just fantastic. Covering the entire plate and with lots of filling, my smoked trout in a light creamy sauce was amazing with huge chunks of trout and Toms steak and mushroom was equally as generous. For dessert, I selected the chocolate ice-cream and coffee while Tom had one of the ubiquitous pisco sours. We left completely satisfied and with a mental note to return for one of those sweet crepes. Fantastic.

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