Pisco sours, Peruvian chicken skewers, empanadas, smiles, and thanks–happy birthday Andina.
It was the 10th Anniversary Bash at Andina, Portland, Oregon’s iconic Peruvian restaurant. On a night dedicated to appreciation, the proprietors and staff of Andina, Portland’s own outpost of Peruvian cuisine, provided a memorable experience for a diverse crowd of food enthusiasts. As hard as it might be for those of us who have for some time enjoyed its unique dining experience to believe, 10 years have passed since its opening in the Pearl District. Andina’s owners, the Platt-Rodriguez family, seems even more surprised and delighted.
Hosted by owners John and Doris Platt de Rodriguez and sons Peter and Victor, the evening began with Pisco Sours and anticuchos, Peruvian small plate appetizers. The anticuchosranged from those on the current menu, such as Anticucho de Pollo (chicken skewers) to riffs on favorites that have graced the menu for years, such as the Anticucho de Kobe, with Kobe beef filet in place of the usual beef hearts. The Pastelitos de Acelgas, mini-empanadas filled with cheese instead of the Empanadas de Carne on the regular tapas menu, were particularly delicious. One hopes that some of these variations will make it onto the daily fare.
The open bar churned out the Pisco Sours (sometimes compared to margaritas for their marriage of fresh lime juice and liquor, but with Pisco, white Peruvian brandy made from Muscat grapes, in place of tequila), keeping the crowd cheerfully lubricated. This reveler mixed it up with Peruvian beer, and finished the evening with Pisco, neat. If you haven’t tried Pisco, the eau de vie of South America, there are several brands available at Uptown Liquor, on NW 23rd Avenue in Portland.
A Family Affair
Andina is truly a family restaurant, founded by patriarch John Platt but with important roles played over the years by matriarch Doris and their three sons, John, Victor and Peter. Mama Doris said it best when she told the crowd that Andina “is a very personal restaurant. We gather every night to drink and eat. This is what we do here and in our homes.”
Papa John, thinking of his path to Peru through his time in the Peace Corps, added that the restaurant is “An invitation to a national adventure in cultural understanding.”
The family was joined in addressing the crowd by Marisa Guiulfo, known as the Julia Childs of Peru. She talked a little about the history of food in Peru, and that the desserts she had prepared for the evening represented the pre-Hispanic, Hispanic, and especially Italian influences that had culminated in contemporary Peruvian cuisine.
There was no doubt that those in attendance were marking a real moment in Portland’s food timeline. That Portland now occupies an important place in American food culture can be squarely explained by the establishment and ongoing success of restaurants like Andina. That son Peter Platt had the inspiration to found a place where food-lovers of all persuasions could come to together for an ‘adventure in cultural understanding’ explains much about why Portland is Portland. Here’s to another 10 years and more, Andina. – by Jeff Thomas, RFT Contributor, Photos by Dawn Thomas and courtesy Alyson Levoy Photography/Andina Restaurant