Cuy! Cuy! Cuy!
Coming to Peru, of course I needed to try guinea pig, or cuy. And what better place to do it in the town of Tipón, situated in the Southern Valley near Cusco city? The whole town is dedicated to cuyerías, restaurants that serve cuy!
Our guide took us to his favorite restaurant, La Casona del Cuy. It didn't look like much from the outside...
...but passing through the dark entrance we emerged into a thoroughly bright and cheerful courtyard filled with local families eating up their plates of cuy!
Ordering is very simple: you can choose either half a cuy, or a full cuy. We all decided to get half servings of cuy, since we weren't sure how much we could eat. Here the chef and waiter is cutting the cuy in half, fresh from the oven.
All plated and ready to go!
You can see that all of our plates included not only the half cuy, but also enormous helpings of side dishes. Our guide explained that the side dishes are actually standard across all cuyerías: roasted potatoes, stuffed pepper (ours was stuffed with peas and carrots), and kind of a creamy baked fettuccini dish.
I quite enjoyed the sides, as they were a good break from the cuy. Now the cuy itself? It tastes kind of like duck, I would say, with a dark meat. So if you like duck, as I do, you will like cuy! The skin was crispy as soon as it was out of the oven, especially the skin on the head (I know!). But once it cooled down, and I proceeded down towards the body, it became more chewy, kind of like Spanish lechon.
The cuy is stuffed with local herbs as it it roasts in the oven, and this you don't eat - it's for flavor only.
We learned from the driver that he went with another tour guide to a different cuyería, and the meat was extremely tough. The guinea pig must be of a certain age, not too old, to yield meat that is tender. Indeed, our cuy was remarkably well cooked, moist and tender.
I have no basis to compare with other cuyerías, as this was the only time I'd eaten it, but I had a great experience there, and judging from our driver and the other local families eating there, it's an excellent choice!
La Casona del Cuy
I couldn't find an address (maybe Tipón is too small?) so here's the contact info that they put on their website:
Telephone: (+51) 984 860952
Cellphone : (+51) 984 681203
Main Headquarters (sounds like a big operation!): Tipon, Cusco, Peru