By Chere Di Boscio
I often go to the wonderful gym at the Aranwa Hotel in Urubamba. It’s set in spectacular gardens, and has wonderful equipment. But after a few hours of working out my body, I can also work up a pretty huge appetite, and that’s when I head over to the restaurant in this hotel.
There are two dining options here: you can eat in the larger Pukawi dining salon, or in the more intimate Kuzi bar/cafe space, which is usually my choice because it has a lovely view from the second floor. The dining salon comes with more formal service, but could do with a mild upgrade; even ten or so potted palms and some elaborate floral arrangements at the reception would make a difference!
The ambiance can be bustling or dead, depending on the season and how many tourists are present in the sprawling hotel. But one lovely thing about the Aranwa is, unlike other 4 or 5-star hotels in the area like Explora or the Tambo del Inka, they welcome locals with open arms.
My go-to dish is the tarwi soup – a thich, creamy and garlicky concoction of that protein-packed tarwi bean that grows in the high Andes. It’s normally topped off with alpaca stew, purple potatoes and cheese, but since I’m a vegan, they generously double the potatoes for me and add a smattering of cress. Delicious, and I suspect, much lighter than the usual menu offering!
My husband loves the rich pumpkin soup, which comes with a cheese straw and some habas and gigantic corn scattered throughout.
We both love the Huallaybamba salad, which is packed with avocado, asparagus, palm hearts and a variety of locally sourced lettuce, smothered in a sweet mustard sauce, but on occasion we share the Boccaccinni salad, with its candied pecans, local lettuces, sweet cherry tomatoes, toasted garlic chips (for me) and fried Mozzarella sticks (for him), blanketed in a honey mustard dressing.
There’s heartier fare on offer here, too: linguini with cherry tomato sauce; sweet potato ravioli, vegetarian wok with rice and Andean corn; a wonderful quinoa tabbouleh with local vegetables in a tangy lemon sauce, quesadillas served with sour cream and guacamole; hamburgers and much more. There’s even a sushi bar, and the hotel offers 30% off your second maki order on Fridays.
Don’t skip dessert. There are some truly exceptional options, and all have a truly Peruvian twist: try the chirimoya/quinoa crusted macarons, cacao lava cake,
While there is a small vegetarian section on the menu, vegans will have to ask for dishes to be slightly altered to be suitable, but the very friendly staff are always happy to help.
Prices are what you’d expect in the Valley at a luxury hotel: around 25 soles for a soup or salad, and up to 60 soles for a meaty main, but it’s well worth the treat every once in awhile. And if you’ve just worked up a sweat in their gym, don’t you deserve it?
Aranwa Antigua Hacienda Yaravilca, Urubamba 08670