Picking up where I left off, the Bidmead sisters travels around Colombia continued, as did my culinary adventures – starting with chontaduro in Cali. Eaten with honey and salt, the taste of this fruit resembles (as my sister so correctly noted)…baked beans.
I happen to love baked beans, and therefore these went down quite well. However, eating what proclaims to be fruit while visualizing beans on toast makes for a slightly odd attack on the senses. Still, the caleños love the stuff and I guess I did too!
In Colombia, carne reigns king. Baring in mind my sister is a veggie, headed to a restaurant serving typical caleño food (which happens to be particuarly meat-centric), her options were limited to say the least. She could eat one thing on the whole menu of about 30 options, which were aborrajados (fried plantains with cheese). Did I feel bad?
Clearly I had other things to preoccupy me, like this chuleta de pollo (breaded marinated chicken breast). I should mention this portion was to share with a friend, alongside another dish of lengua en salsa (tongue in tomato sauce). For those of you who are now squeeming – tongue is a delicious, tender and flavorsome cut of meat, which I urge you to try!
Moving on to something a bit lighter, champús is a sweet drink prepared with the Colombian fruit lulo, orange, pineapple, dark sugar and…corn. It sounded good until the corn bit right? Despite it’s popularity in Cali, this drink was just not for me. Next time, I’ll be keeping the corn on the cob and the fruit for the juice.
As our time in Cali came to a close we headed to Palomino, a small beach town on the Caribbean coast, two hours from Santa Marta. Being back by the beach meant it was time for some fish. The great thing about fish in Colombia is the variety, and the option of lots of fish not found in England. This fish below is corvina, found mainly on the Pacific coast, and other tasty Colombian fishes include mojarra and lebranche, found more commonly on the Atlantic coast.
Leaving Palomino we skipped along the coast to my new-found home Barranquilla, where I was determined to show my sister the best of my city. It couldnt get more barranquillero than dinner in Cucayo. From the bright colours, old-fashioned signs and various adornments on the walls, it screams Barranquilla from the inside out. The food itself is also a tribute to all things costeño: traditional snacks such as matrimono, butifarra and various fritos feature, aswell as typical sancochos (soups) and picadas (mixed plates). Me and my sister opted for sancochos (soups), mine of gallina (hen) while hers was a cazuela de mariscos (creamy seafood soup).
Cucayo is owned by Nancy Cabrera, who is perhaps most famous for her cakes here in Barranquilla – queue a visit to her namesake cafe. Nancy Cabrera’s reknowned trufa de chocolate is the crown jewel of many delicious sweet treats, so naturally me and my sister felt obliged to see what the all the fuss was about.
It was really quite the cake. Rich but not overly so, moist but not soggy, this chocolate cake has earnt its reputation. Me and my sister were big fans, and I will definitely be returning to sample the very beautiful looking cupcakes (nutella sounded particularly good).
From savory to sweet, and onto a sad but inevitable end to the holiday. For our last night, we headed to Arabe Gourmet, a highly recommended Arabic restaurant. The menu was excellent, and despite tempting carnivorous options such as marmaón (israeli cous-cous with shreaded meat or chicken) and arroz de almendras (rice with almonds, mince meat, chicken and spices), we ordered two vegetarian platters, which were a feast of falafel, hummous, tabuleh, babaganous, fattoush salad and stuffed aubergine.
Just like the aubergines we had consumed, we left stuffed, and very satisfied. I bid farewell to my sister the next day as I headed back to work, feeling rested and ready to get back to my life here on the coast. 6 months in and I’ve got plenty more eating (and cooking) to do here, so stayed tuned for the next post from Bidmead Bites!