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ii Viva Colombia !! (BWW!)
Posted by: rbt: Exiled (2085) on 2011-01-26 03:13:23

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Hola QWeros!

Wanted to share with you some photos of my recent trip to Colombia. Lots of food & drink, mixed with some touristy stuff; hopefully I will be able to share a small bit of this beautiful country w/ all of you. Enjoy!

General Info on Colombia

We head just outside of the capital city of Bogota, to the family finca (farmhouse). built by my grandfather in the early 60s, it's rustic and a great respite from the bustle of Bogota

got a cool bar, outfitted with the loser of some battle that occurred decades ago

now for some appetizers. salchichas (weiners), fried yucca, and papas criollas (on bed of popcorn, lol)

nephews are having a great time w/ their cute nanny

Ok, almost time to eat. this is Morcilla, aka Blood Sausage. GNOMS!!

nice lil spread going here...seems random but there is a theme...

this meal is called a `Bandeja Paisa', typical dish from the Antioquia province of Colombia. contains spiced ground beef, Chicharones (pork rinds), Morcilla, rice, beans, plantains, and aji (the green spicy relish). Salad is optional, but we try to eat healthy in our family so it's here :-}

More on Bandeja Paisa

After a big lunch, time for some smokes!

on the way back into the city, we stop for some roadside food stands!
Not sure what it is, perhaps horse (!), but it's cooked on a traditional Colombian parilla, so it's gotta be good!

Some chunchullos (chitlins)

the real roadside star though is the delectable mazorca, smoky-roasted with butter & salt


An upscale food court in Bogota, belonging to the famous restaurant Andres Carne de Res. there's some funny stuff going on here...

A Chowhound's experience in Andres Carne de Res

Time for yet another meal at home. starts with some fresh jugo de mora (like a blackberry)

meal features one of my favorites: Arroz con Coco. rice cooked in coconut oils/fats. OMG so good

it's typically served with a beef roast, but this time it's a pork tenderloin. Devour it all!

lil' afternoon diversion. we go to my brother's tailor where I decide to avail myself of some bespoke clothing. specifically, I decide to get a couple of jackets. the first fitting is just picking fabric and basic style, and preliminary measurements. these pics are actually of the 2nd visit, where they have already constructed the shell, and do a closer fitting

Pens check. J/K.

. i'm telling him how i want the buttons, lapels, lining, pockets, vents, etc to look. this blazer is Italian wool; the 2nd jacket is more casual, Colombian wool. it all costs a fraction of what it would cost to have a jacket made in the USA (not that I've ever bothered to check), and is of great quality. this guy has made about 8 suits/jackets for my brother and one suit for me from a previous visit.


Time to hit a typical local steakhouse, Carbon de Palo.
Pick you meat!!

First, we must prep our stomachs with some tasty empanadas

Unlike most other countries' empanadas, Colombians *fry* theirs!
here's a recipe for Empanadas

Here comes my Punta de Anca! (sirloin cap)

Served with a cheese arepa (corn cake), baked potato, and flambeed banana (kinda like bananas foster). Aji rojo & chimichurri to taste.

even the chicken is good, but man I couldn't stop eating those silky bananas!

Cars on display at the mall. nice but this little MiTo costs $40K USD equivalent there! pricy!

We head out of town for 2.5 hours, to the charming town of Villa de Leyva. established in the 1500s, ol-skool architecture, and cobblestone streets. It's a popular weekend getaway for city-folk. the main plaza at dusk...

a house that we rented there for the weekend

view out of the 2nd floor window to the front courtyard

Plaza street scene

the main church, fronting the town plaza. my older sister was married here

More info on Villa de Leyva

we head down to the outskirts of town to visit my little sister, who moved here 2 years ago w/ her husband. her house

the countryside around Villa de Leyva is gorgeous, the rolling hills kind of reminds me of Tuscany

sister's evil gay cat, Marti`n

we fetch my sister, and head out to the butcher's

...then to the town bakery..

what is this all leading to? Well, my little sister and her husband are both chefs, and run a couple of restaurants in Villa de Leyva!

Restaurant #1 is spread out inside the plaza of an old hacienda. the menu

Sis gets to work in the `office'

a cocktail awaits us. made from juice of Lulo and Aguardiente (Colombian anisette)

While we wait for lunch, let's take a tour of the restaurant.

Crazy Cacti

herb garden (yes, sis is an Alice Waters groupie)

El Horno..the oven! not really typical in Colombia, they dug this one about 3' into the ground. each nite at around 10, a worthy lamb (and other tasty animals) go in here for a full night's sweat!!

Now for lunch, al fin!
The BBQed lamb (already deboned) can be seen in the back right

Pork Ribs cooked with peach juices!

Duck confit in orange demi (once again, chez panisse calls)

Oxtail with spinach gnochhi

Great meal! for the record, my fave was the BBQ Ribs!

back to the country side for an afternoon excursion. we hit the Pozos, or mineral springs

.no one really wants to go in, lol.

We keep going down the road. remember what I mentioned earlier about looking like Tuscany? well, to my surprise, there is a fledgeling fine wine industry here!

Colombia's latitude on the map suggests NFW fine wine could be grown here, but the altitude of 2200 meters and some careful viticulture helps make it possible

this pretty Estancia is called `Aim Karin', and the brand they produce is called "Marques de Villa de Leyva

the entire operations were started about 20 years ago by a Colombian who went to UC Davis to study enology/viticulture, and dreamt of making fine wine work back in his home country. It's a pretty impressive winery facility, even by California standards

The Cava

first vines were planted 20 years ago, and first vintage was 10 years ago. this is their Sauvignon Blanc

Dry, more citrus fruit than tropical (surprise!), and quite minerally. very nice on a sunny ~25C day!

We also try their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. there are a handful of other varietals they have started growing also, yet to produce their first usable fruit

the kicker to viticulture in this latitude? TWO harvests per year for most of the varietals! would you prefer a first-harvest or second-harvest 2007, madame??

ok, that cheese they served w/ the wine didn't fill me, so I grab a mini-sandwich de pernil (roast pork leg)

Back in town, we explore the little shops

..some baked sweets & tinto (black coffee; not espresso but a bit deeper than standard FP)

It's almost dinnertime so we go over to sister's other restaurant. this one is pan-Latino

Because of the darkness and the drinkin', i kinda forgot to take pics of the food. but it was good! esp. the Tacos de Cochinita Pibil. Gnoms!!

Back to Bogota, and we go explore this huge city more. we go to the Candelaria, which is the old part of the city, dating back to its founding in the 1500s

The main Cathedral

Street scenes

Time for a street snack. Plantain strips!! crisp & salty!

Stop for lunch at this native colombian restaurant with a great rooftop patio

Native Juices; Lulo, Limon, & Mora

Appetizers. fried Yucca!

Dip in sofrito!

Plantain is big here....this time in chip form, with fresh guacamole!!

Entree #1: Calentado de arroz con salchichas y cerdo. like a risotto, w/ sausage bits, pork belly, egg, and this big ol' tower of plantain to protect it!

Entree #2: Cola de Res estilo Calen~o: magnificent, succelent, ox-tails!

Then we make our way to the hillside on the east edge of Bogota, to ascend to the catholic shrine perched atop the mountain called `Monserrate'. to get there, you need to ride a gondola

We are now about 700 meters above Bogota (which is already at ~2500 m.)....this magnificent view only covers about half this city!

At this altitude, walking up & down the pathways can be a chore. they sell chicha here, an indigenous form of hooch that is *supposed* to help w/ dealing w/ altitude (bullshit...otoh, the coca tea does help a bit)

Pretty structures & view from up here

The Chapel of Monserrate

More on Monserrate mountain sanctuary

Time to jump on a plane to the magnificent city of Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean coast

(yes i realize that this plane is *leaving* Cartagena rather than arriving, but give me some poetic license, please! :^>)

Cartagena is a magnificent city of boundless historical layers. it has many faces, both traditional and modern.

More on Cartagena

Most tourists come to Cartagena to see the `ciudad emurallada', or walled city, for its unmatched & unbroken stretches of fortress walls and colonial architecture.

But first we gotta find the house that we rented. it's located in the San Diego neighborhood of the old city

as most are aware, Spanish colonial houses are mostly nondescript & plain on the outside, but open up inside. pretty sure this is where some of the sex scenes happened in Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera"...

It's got 2 mango trees, small goldfish pond, birds of paradise, fountain, and a parrot (look closely).

great place to hang out during the hot middle part of the day and read a book..

the muchacha (creole housemaid) offers us a welcome drink. Watermelon juice.

It's still early enough for breffas, so we go with that. Some fruit. Papaya

Then the housemaid starts preparing one of my favorite Costen~o (coastal) dishes: Arepa con Huevo. usually found made in street carts.

It's basically a corn cake, split open, stuffed with some spiced ground beef, a whole egg, sealed, then fried

Oh god...I can eat this till I die.

How to Make Arepa con Huevo!!

Ok, now to explore the old city. a bunch of architecture shots to follow, scroll down if you are not so interested in these

(this is the house my mother lived in till she was 5. it's now the Gold Museum)

Behind this old mortar is the Palace of the (Spanish) Inquisition. it's been restored nicely, with full Torture Chamber! lots of nonbelievers got pwnt in there back in the day...i bet they never Expected that!!

Okeeee, tired of walking around, need a snack
these are carimaniolas. ground yucca fritters, filled w/ cheese & fried. with a nice glass of flor de Jamaica (iced `tea' from hibiscus flowers)

**Audi content Warning**

ok, on another day we take an excursion to the Fortress of San Felipe, just outside the city walls, on a hill. built to protect the city and harbor from invading Limeys and Pirates!! It worked! everyone in the 17th and 18th centuries who tried to take on the Spaniards here were pwnt! Badly!

cannons `n' shit

teh mrs. rbt looking all dramatic

i guess Jaime Pressly was on our tour??

OK! for no particular reason other than beer goes good with hot weather, this is the beer portion of my post! different beers drunk at different times during my stay in Colombia. of these, only `Aguila' would be considered a mainstream beer; the others are more or less craft beers of Colombia

I didn't drink any Corona, but my BIL had some cool barware i had not seen before...where are the familiar blue/yellow/white color scheme?

*Buuuurrrrrrrrp* mmmm....beeeer..

Next stop: the local beach in the `new' part of Cartagena, aka `Bocagrande'

Fruit salads-to-order on the beach


Colombiana Culo!! ay mamita!!! the legends are true, they have their own gravitational pull.

to take my mind off of ass, i decide to get a nice shrimp cocktail (wat?)

my other sister is staying here in Cartagena for a few months, and they just got this nice condo near the beach. killer view to the South

Facing North, you can see the `old city'

Sister serves us some traditional `Sancocho'. a soup with beef, pork, yucca, plantains, corn, cilantro, onion. etc. Yes, it's hot here, and we're eating soup...somehow it's all delicious and the heat magnifies the flavor it seems. This is my sister's favorite Colombian dish.

Next morning we get up early & decide to have breffas on the street.
Arepas con queso

Lotsa fruit bursting in juices & color

Oh, Land Rovers are GOLD in Colombia

Anyhoo, reason we're up early is to head over to the infamous Basurto market. we are tasked to pick up some seafood for a special dish being prepared back at the house for dinnar.

Basurto is a huge sprawling maze of stalls. it's loud, wet, dirty, supposedly dangerous, overall, an assault to the senses. But, it's got the good stuff!

some of these meandering market alleys are daunting to enter

we favor mostly shellfish over fishy-fish for tonight's dish

fishmonger demonstrating the freshness of his conch

fish everywhere

a Gringo's take Bazurto Market Cartagena

back at the house, preparing all the other ingredients for tonight's dinnar

Getting closer..

Voila! Arroz con Mariscos!

sorta like a colombian paella. but doesn't taste like any paella i've had...it's better. rather than saffron, this dish uses Pimienta Dulce, or sweet peppers, to accentuate the seafood stock cooking all day.

Best dish during the whole trip. Magnificent.

Next day, we're off to the harbor to take a daytrip to the islands

Our destination: Islas del Rosario, or `Rosary Islands'. a chain of small coral islets not far from Cartagena. the views during the ride are nice

an old Spanish fortress used to guard the outer harbor

We approach our selected island, Isla del Pirata

It's nice here!

Welcome fruits

while the ladies find a nice spot to camp out by the water, I take a quick tour of this small island.
Bocce anyone?

supposed to be a volleyball court, but it seems most are interested in just loungin'

found the guy in charge of cleaning our fresh fish for lunch! (Corvina, btw)

other islands not far away..

get in the water (H, S)

Water is beautiful, ain't it?

You can rent bungalows here if you want to stay overnight. I think I'll opt for this next visit.

*Ring Ding Ding*..i hear the lunch bell!
lol, they have a zipline to transport food from the kitchen over to the dining house

Here's our fried Corbina from earlier!! beach dining par excellence!

spend the rest of afternoon lounging on the coral beach

mrs. rbt has excellent taste!

back to Cartagena; it's our last night here, we'll miss this magical old city..

our last dinner, out at a restaurant, includes a different take on the Arroz con Mariscos from the other night. this one's more dramatic looking for sure.

Fly back to Bogota and one more day in the country!
a worthy breakfast: egg cooked in hot butter and fried campesino (peasant) cheese

Some exotic fruit: Granadilla; it's related to the passionfruit.

Inside it looks like mucus...not pretty. but super tasty & sweet. I will dare say eating this fruit is not unlike "Dining at the Y" (!!)

It's Colombia, gotta have coffee. This is a Cortado, or a latin version of what we call a Macchiato

Last big meal; the king of Bogota heavy dishes: Ajiaco

It's a basically chicken soup on steroids. the stock is thickened with potato and an herb called `guascas'. at the table, the eater adds creama (like crème fraiche), capers, ripe avocado, and aji (hot sauce)

once it's been properly `dressed', time to dig in!!

i spend the last afternoon in Colombia tooling around...$1 shoeshine..

..Buying candy to take home (some of it=Racist!)

Well, we've reached the end...

I hope you've enjoyed this photo journey...come visit Colombia soon! (before the *other* half of Europe joins in...I guess the secret's already out..)
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