Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 4: Bogota Street Food Monday and Bandeja

 The perfect crispy empanada shell. Corn meal. Thin. A crunch.

Guts of an empanada. Carne e arroz. A brilliant breakfast. The vendor had a fresh salsa in a tub for patrons to spoon over. There were also squeeze bottles of ketchup or mustard cut with mayonnaise. Drinks came with your order; that is, there were 2 liters with stacks of small cups over the lids for anyone to grab if they'd purchased an empanada.

Oh, did I mention they were being sold out of the trunk of a car? Yeah. Central business district with older gentlemen in suits at the local Juan Valdez cafe attached to the JW Marriott. Younger office workers were crowding this car and others like it all around the neighborhood.

The condiment table. Order your goods, stand and chat while you grab a lime wedge to squeeze or some salsa and finish your breakfast.

You are not surpised I took a picture of Karl in full Empanada Repose. Remember this Karl?
Second stop was just down the block on the other side of the street at the corner of Calle 73 and Carrera 8. Chewier dough. All beef. Karl got hisself the pollo e champinon and probably won this round!

But wait, there's more. TheQuietOne was waiting for an arepa con chorizo. Sure enough, walk around the streets in the financial district and you'll find it.

Mayo for TheQuietOne. There was a bit of relish in there as well. And this chorizo is much more akin to a knockwurst than either the Mexican loose and spicy chorizo or the cured Portugese version.

Mustard for the kitchen geek.

We needed a break, so we headed back the hotel to book our flights to and hotel in Cartagena. Can't thank the concierege at the hotel enough for working with us to find some good deals on flights. Superb staff here (and CHEAP with points versus American Marriotts).

But after that exhausting work, we needed more food. And of course I found my Colombian nirvana. Bandeja Vallencaucana. Good lord. You've been to the ubiquitous Tex-Mex joing in your town? You've ordered (or seen) the el Humongo combo that takes two plates? Yeah, they only need one plate here.

Thankfully there was a refershing pilsner-style beer with which to wash down all the goodness to come.

There was also a wholly new take on what to do with a plantain. Mash it out thin and serve it as a 'tostada' with some warm tomato salsa that had all of us grasping at a familiar flavor profile that was somewhere between a marinara and the best nature of sloppy joe sauce. Fantastic. There were thicker parts of the tostada that had more chew than the thinner, crispier bits.

And then it arrived. For scale, that is one fried egg. Note also that the slice of avacado is about twice as long as the Haas variety we see in the US. The beans are pinto-like, but larger and rounder. Chorizo at the bottom of the photo, morcilla at the top. Braised, shredded beef from 6 o'clock around to 10pm. The fried ball of dough was SWEET. Batter around mashed sweetened plantain with a sweet cheese center.

There were a few scraps of rice and beans left when I (with some help) was done with this typical Colombian lunch for laborers (lunch being the primary and largest meal of the day here).

The ladies each got the tamales. The corn meal was much more moist here, and the tamales are steamed in plantain leaves not banana. Plus, and here's a neat twist, watch out for bones as in addition to the shredded chicken inside, there was an entire chicken leg on the bone. So well cooked that the bone just slid off the meat.

You'll notice in the menu shot that this dish is made "with much love." Too true.

Karl asked what was the best and the server actually gave a straight answer. Chuletta de Cerno. Pork cutlet with fried plantains and rice. It was a clean plate club Karl with some help from the rest of us.

After this we were sluggish. But it's a vacation, so we didn't care if we weren't doing everything possible to see every scrap of the city. We rested. Walked to the Zona G, a three or four block spread of cafes and restaurants, sat outside and watched the rush hours pass us by, and then headed back to home base for a nightcap and a dessert (Bogota chain Crepes and Waffles around the corner from the hotel).

Tomorrow it's on to the Salt Cathedral and hour out of town and then an early night of packing so we can catch our flight to Barranquilla on Wednesday morning (we'll car from there to Cartagena and set up on the beach for Thanksgiving).

See you tomorrow happy readers. I've been told this makes some people hungry. I hope it makes more of you go see somewhere, anywhere really, you haven't seen before.

1 comment:

Broom Li said...

Damn right it makes me hungry. I don't wanna read your posts, but I must read your posts. And then I'm in Heaven and Hell at the same time.