Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Andina (Pearl)

The band playing in the bar at Andina couldn't have said it better as they belted out a Paolo Conte cover--"It's wonderful, it's wonderful, it's wonderful, I dream of you!" Come to think of it, once I really did dream of Andina's mango and green prawn ceviche, but I have a serious food addiction so that happens now and then.

My friend Sian and I started dinner with a couple of Andina's legendary mojitos (legendary to me, anyway)($8.50), the absolutely perfect marriage of lime juice, mint, and Appleton white rum over ice, garnished with a stick of sugarcane. We sipped gaily as Matt perused Andina's carefully-assembled wine list and selected a bottle of 2005 Regis Minet Pouilly-Fume Vieilles Vignes from the Loire Valley ($39), which was light and crisp with citrus and mineral notes.

Andina's menu offers a long list of superb small plates that can be ordered in three sizes--pequeno ($7), mediano ($13) and grande ($24), so you can order just enough smoky grilled asparagus to tantalize everyone's palate and leave them dreaming (maybe literally) of more, or you can order a plate large enough to turn your pee yellow for a week. Just kidding.

Sian and I got a little over-excited ordering, and pretty soon the entire table was covered in small white dishes bearing exquisite things like tiny bright red piquillo peppers stuffed with quinoa, cheese and serrano ham; deep green avocado halves overflowing with crab and prawns, marinated chicken kebobs served with huacatay-peanut sauce, cheese-stuffed yuca with aji Amarillo and cheese sauce, salty smoky curls of serrano ham, tiny tender bay scallops baked with parmesan and lime butter, grilled octopus kebobs, and my personal favorite, the Causa Mixta Nikkei, a traditional Peruvian preparation of freshly mashed key-lime juice infused potatoes pressed into a cake and topped with crab salad, spicy tuna, and a huge crispy prawn. If I was forced to choose only one Andina dish to consume thrice daily for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Matt was too dignified to join our admittedly rather appalling face-stuffing-fest, so he largely confined himself to the Dorado Al Rocoto y Kion ($25), which apparently is Peruvian for "Roasted mahi mahi over a shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon and bok choy broth, topped with slivers of ginger, rocoto, and scallion basted with smoking sesame oil, served with asparagus-quinoa fried rice." Matt allowed Sian and I to taste his solitary dish, and yes, it was as good as it sounds. You should probably run to Andina this instant and order it, it was so good. I think I might. Or I'll just take a nap and dream about the wonderfulness of it all.

Andina * * 1314 NW Glisan St. * 503.228.9535 * order everything. I'm not kidding.

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