Quito. A mythical capital city of colonial architecture and altitude . Ecuador's capital is more famous for height than haute cuisine and the local booze is weak Pilsener style beer or fiery aguardiente - the local fire water.
So after a few days here, we were craving a glass of wine worth it's price tag and a menu that didn't include Guinea Pig...
Consulting The Rough Guide, we pinned our hopes on Zazu. It's also the Trip Advisor top rated restaurant in town.
It offered none of the $2.50 set menus found around the Old Town, but as we are celebrating our wedding anniversary on this trip, we decided to go for it.
Zazu is based in the new town, and claims to be one of the best restaurants in Ecuador. Phoning at 6pm on a Tuesday night we secured a table for 7.30, a wise move as the place filled up and tables were turned.
We'd heard that the Peruvian head chef made the best ceviche so we had to start with that. The Sea Bass marinated in lime juice, red onion & chilli was a great start to the meal, zingy and packed with flavour.
We also shared some other appetisers as we'd missed lunch, the Stone Crab cakes were fresh and meaty with no potato filler and the Suckling Pig Tacitos were salty and crispy parcels packed with flavour.
The wine list was extensive and mainly South American, as you'd expect. To pair with the whole meal, we needed a white and after some consideration I opted for the Chardonnay by Catena Zapata.the first non-European to win winemaker of the year, Catena's Mendoza vineyards are among the best in Argentina and at $52 the wine was a reasonable price compared to $48 for a basic Concha y Toro wine in the more central areas.
The wine was a great match for the exotic food flavours including my rather fusion style main course of Pistachio Encrusted Ahi Tuna served with wasabi flavoured mash. Full of tropical fruit such as pineapple and nectarine, there was also a well judged oak influence creating some vanilla notes and the full body and acidity were in great balance.
After so many flavours we opted for dessert wine as a replacement for dessert. Once again we chose Catena, this time the 2008 Semillon Doux which was just sweet enough with zesty lime and acacia honey flavours developing orange marmalade.
With tax and service the whole meal came to around $150 including lots of sparkling water and all the wine. That's eye-wateringly expensive for your average Ecuadorian but business seemed to be booming. We'd certainly recommend a visit if you're in that part of the world.
PS apologies for any typing or formatting irregularities in this post as it's been composed entirely using my phone...