An unassuming restaurant, in an unassuming strip-mall on an unassuming highway in Florida. This describes the exact location to one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in the past few years. Always a must when visiting my parents in Naples, Inca’s Kitchen is a Peruvian restaurant serving up fresh seafood and tasty sangria. And at the moment, Florida would be a welcome change from the zero degree weather we are experiencing here in Chicago.
I’ve been obsessed with Inca’s since first trying it three years ago. Not knowing anything about Peruvian food, I was a bit overwhelmed by the large menu with it’s many, many choices, so I went with something that looked familiar. It was a saffron seafood rice dish, similar to paella and full of scallops, calamari, muscles, and shrimp. I remember it being salty, spicy, filling and hard to put down my fork…
This time around, I couldn’t wait to try the bouillabaisse, but I will get to that… First, we have to talk about the canacha and ceviche. Canacha are large corn kernels that are fried and served up with three spicy dipping sauces. All the sauces are delicious, and the canacha is great to munch on while you are deciding what to order. The Mixed Ceviche was our choice for an appetizer, which had all types of seafood spiced with the rocoto pepper, a standard in Peurvian cooking. Accompanied by sautéed carrots and more canacha, the heat is a slow burn that tends to hit you after a few bites, but can be cured by a big swig of sangria.
Finally, we get the main attraction… the bouillabaisse, or Parihuela. A concentrated seafood tomato-y seafood broth, with tons of calamari, mussels, fish, and a large prawn (and crab, if it is in season, which it wasn’t. Booo.) is amazing. Served in a huge bowl, it would be a good dish to share, but I don’t like sharing. I prefer to have it all to myself. I would also prefer to skip the whole “utensil” nonsense, pick up the bowl, and slurp the broth directly from the source… Seriously, I would forsake all self consciousness, ignore the weird looks and whispers, just to be able to slurp… but I was with my parents, so I didn’t. You’re welcome.
After diving headfirst into my soup, I was stuffed and happy. Then comes THE question. We all know what the answer to THE question should be (“No,” in case you’re wondering). This correct answer rarely crosses my lips, because I love dessert, and I believe it loves me too.
And what a dessert it was… The Inca’s Creation starts with a base of Peruvian donuts called Bunados, which are then drizzled with a chancaca reduction, a sauced made from sugar and honey, and seasoned with orange peels. Top all that off with Chirimoya ice cream. Chirmoya is a fruit from the Andes, and taste like a mix between a banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. That? In ice cream form? So. Good.
Those donuts didn’t stand a chance… none of it did, really.