Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 19

by Heather Berry
hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

J

de Rio, a fiery crawfish bisque
with shrimp, potato, corn,
onion, peas and rice.
Ensaladas (salads) include
six flavor-filled options, such as
the Mango Chicken Aji Verde,
a combination of chicken sauteed in a cilantro mix, served
on fresh greens with mango,
marinated red onions and
fried avocado with sweet onion
vinaigrette de la casa (dressing). Steak fans will enjoy the
straight-forward Pepper Steak
salad, with sautéed tenderloin,
red peppers, mushrooms and
onions in zesty red wine vinegar escebeche sauce over a
bed of fresh greens with Parmesan and pineapple. If you're
a seafood fan, swap the steak

oseph Gidman says he's been
drawn to other cultures most of
his life, and that was the motivation for Cafe Cusco, a Peruvian restaurant located in downtown
Springfield.
As a college student, he participated in exchange programs that
took him to Spain and the Netherlands. That sparked what would
become a list of 30 countries and
cuisines he has experienced so far.
While attending College of the
Ozarks, Joseph met a fellow student from Lima, Peru, and the two
became best friends. They even
vowed to hike to Machu Picchu in
the Andes Mountains of Peru togethfor shrimp.
er once they graduated.
Lunch specials are served until 4 p.m. and include items such as black
"That trip was life-changing," says Joseph of the several months he stayed
in the South American country. One day while the friends were eating at a local beans and rice, and soup and salad options. However, you would be remiss to
restaurant, enjoying many traditional dishes, his friend Rodrigo made the com- pass on one of the most popular lunch options.
The Aji de Gallina is a combination of chicken that's been simmered in a spement, "I wonder where we'll be in 10 years."
"The food was so good I was literally stuffing my face," says Joseph. "Without cial "yellow sauce" Joseph and the staff make from a mixture of yellow pepper,
oregano cream and bread crumbs, with Parmesan cheese, cilantro and garlic
thinking, I replied, 'I'm going to open a Peruvian restaurant!' "
His best friend thought it would be a great idea since there wasn't anything rice. Joseph says it's the Peruvian version of comfort food.
Another lunch favorite is the Chicken Ocopa - sauteed chicken, peanuts,
quite like it in the United States at that time. So they came up with the whole
concept for Cafe Cusco, right down to what the menu might offer patrons. Then peas and gold potatoes in a cheesy black mint and oregano sauce, and finished
off with fresh cilantro.
the trip ended and life went on.
Signature dishes can be ordered all day and you most likely will take
"Whenever we'd see each other, we'd comment, 'One day ...
a serving home with you. While there are versions of recipes guests will
Cafe Cusco,' says Joseph. "Then, it just literally happened."
recognize on the menu, there may be some selections that put a quizJoseph's mother, Claire, received a letter stating her father,
zical look on a face or two. But have no fear, the Cafe Cusco staff is
who had passed away a few years before, left them an inheritance.
happy to explain what a dish contains or how spicy it may or may
"Turns out, I was headed to the bank that day with my business
not be so you're comfortable trying something new.
plan," Joseph recalls. "But the amount of the loan was exactly the
Make a note to try Puca Picante. According to Joseph, this
amount he'd left us. So Mom decided she would invest in Cafe Cusco.
ancient Incan recipe predates the arrive of Europeans to South
Dad is really involved, too, but he just prefers to stay in the back- Springfield
America. It's a colorful blend of toasted peanuts, garlic and
ground more."
potato in a zesty honey and beet sauce, served over a bed of
Open since July 2013, Cafe Cusco strives to bring the best of Perufresh spinach. Vegan mushroom and pepper, chicken or pork
vian cuisine to guests. The food represents a fusion of tastes brought
are available, too. While not hot, there is a wonderful warmth
to the South American country by immigrants from Europe, Asia and
that comes from the Peruvian peppers used to make the sauce.
Africa thousands of years ago. Cafe Cusco just takes it one step further.
"Our most popular Peruvian dish is Lomo Saltada," says Joseph. "It's kind of
"We combine the best of Peruvian fare with American flavors," says Joseph,
noting the food is flavorful and makes good use of herbs and spices. "I think a a steak and French fried vegetable stir fry. If Peruvians come here, they'll order
lot of people think all the dishes are spicy, but that's not the case. And nearly it and judge us by it."
The dish is comprised of pan-seared tenderloin with red peppers, red onions
any dish that is spicy can be adjusted to your taste when prepared."
The appetizer list offers more than a dozen rustic starters, including the and Roma tomatoes cooked in garlic, white wine, soy sauce, sweet pepper and
delicious and popular House Ceviche, a combination of diced spring-fed tilapia tossed with steak fries, oregano and cilantro. This dish, like most at Cafe Cusco,
cured in lime, garlic, red onion, yellow pepper and cilantro with pico de gallo comes with garlic rice.
Other popular entrées include Conejo de Mani (rabbit), Mama's Drunk Goat
and corn. It is served with fresh sweet potato fries. Another starter is the popular tamal, a Peruvian tamale made from white corn and peanut masa (dough) and Escebeche Wahoo.
While desserts aren't a priority, what Cafe Cusco offers is top of the line. If
which is stuffed with Huancaina cheese sauce and marinated red onions, then
wrapped in a toasted banana leaf, steamed and served with a side of fresh pico you're a chocolate fan, order the Torta de Askinosie, a rich gluten-free chocode gallo. If you like, you can order a spicy pork or veggie-packed version of the late cake soaked in coffee and topped with Askinosie caramel fudge frosting,
whip cream cinnamon and cocoa nibs. A cup of dark roast Brazilian coffee will
tamal, too.
If you prefer soup as a starter, order a bowl of the Veggie Bean & Quinoa pair nicely with the treat.
"I think what throws people off at first is that our dishes have so much color
Soup, a house-made broth with northern beans, quinoa, carrot, onion, celery,
roasted garlic and a combination of herbs. A spicy option would be the Chupe and flavor," says Joseph. "But that's because it's all real food."

Peruvian cuisine at its best

Cafe Cusco

Puca Picante

Specialties: House Ceviche made with spring-fed tilapia, tamal (a large Andean tamale), Aji
de Gallina (a chicken and potato dish), Puca Picante, Lomo Saltado and Ceviche Tacos.
Price: Appetizers from $6.98 to $10.98. Lunch special and sandwiches from $7.98 to $11.98.
Larger, signature dishes from $10.98 to $18.50. Desserts from $4.50 to $7.99.
Details: Open Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday
and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cash and major credit cards accepted. Summit Lounge on the
second floor is available for groups up to 40 people. Small outdoor patio space. Full bar. Nonsmoking. Free Wi-Fi.
Directions: Located at 234 E. Commercial St. in Springfield.
Contact: 417-868-8088 or look for Cafe Cusco on Facebook;
www.cafecusco.com.

More content inside
our digital edition
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JULY 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

19


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 8
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover4
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