Just a little burst of intense flavor can shoot the day forward like jets suddenly firing. Especially when one is traveling, and the routine of coffee on the run, a quick bowl of oatmeal, or a sandwich from your favorite fast food outlet, doesn’t cut it. One wants something better than the norm, something which is to the norm like jets to bicycles. When one finds it, the day picks up and feels luxurious and filled with possibilities in a new place.
That is breakfast a Cicciolina’s Bakery. Part of a small group of restaurants — the up-scale Cicciolina and the wine bar cafe Bacos — the Bakery is open in the morning when the main restaurant upstairs is still prepping for the day. This set of dining establishments sets a hard goal of providing fresh and well prepared food that allows the flavors to come together and become something so much greater. They are among the most recommended places in Cuzco.
Located in a Colonial building behind the Cathedral and across from the Arch Bishop’s Palace, on the corner of Triunfo and Palacio streets, the bakery is behind a massive stone doorway and large, blue wooden doors, on the right side of the patio lined with handicraft shops and a Shamanic center. A set of wooden stairs rises in front of it to the balcony above where the main restaurant is situated.
In the morning, as people scurry to set the city aright for its day, the Bakery is open and a finger of scents from baking breads and pastries pulls people in. There are only two, maybe three tables. And, the menu is small, only four or five offerings. But such offerings.
This morning my friends and I settled around the dark wooden, round table that could have easily accommodated six or seven persons and were promptly greeted by a waitress who gave us menus and offered to take our drink orders in an unusually good English.
For a change, I ordered hot chocolate while my friends ordered hot tea and strawberry juice. The juice was reddish-pink from freshly blended fruit. The tea was steamy and fragrant. But the hot chocolate was a revelation.
This was not the American hot chocolate with lots of sugar and whipped cream and very little chocolate. Instead it was a brew of dark, and intense chocolate with lots of fruit overtones. Its mahogany flavor was intensified by a cinnamon stick steeped in the chocolate for stirring it. On top was a dollop of milk foam from the espresso machine.
It alone was sufficient ignition for the jet to propel the day upward and onward. But we also ordered food.
Two of us ordered local sausages scrambled with eggs and roasted rocoto peppers and mushrooms over a toasted half peasant roll. While our other companion ordered poached eggs on top of fresh asparagus and fried tomatoes.
On the first bite we all inadvertently moaned. The flavors were well combined, beautifully presented, and intense. Suddenly the day took off.
Priced modestly, for an American or European wallet, at around six dollars each, these dishes were diner cheap and haute-cuisine fine.
Cicciolina’s Bakery is a must an excellent breakfast and boost in Cuzco.