Wednesday, July 27, 2011

COLOMBIA-3rd. Part.

Más empanadas.
I love empanadas in Colombia; they sell like tacos in Mexico. We found few other places where we can get empanadas for a great price.

-Little empanadas: $200 Colombian pesos each.
Miniature empanadas filled with potatoes, the ladies sell them at home…

-Delicias de la Mona.
Another place around the hostel where we stayed. Prices are great, taste is great: $1000 Colombian pesos each. The empanadas are filled with meat and potatoes.

We decided to make empanadas. Cost $6699 Colombian pesos for 8 empanadas just with potatoes and 8 Mexican picaditas. Here is the recipe.

Corn flour
Mashed potatoes
Fried beans
Salsa (made with aji, tomatoes, onion)

1) Prepare the dough (masa) as per instructions in the corn flour package. Prepare the mashed potatoes the way you like it. Prepare the fried beans, from a can or the long way. I chose the long way but the beans I bought were not very good.
2) Make a tick tortilla (Mexican technique), place the mashed potatoes in this tortilla and fold it to make the empanada shape. -Mexican technique consists of two round plastics to place the dough in between, with one hand you will turn the plastic around and with the palm of the other hand you will hit the dough trying to flatten it until it becomes a tortilla.-
3) Place the empanada in a pan with oil.
4) Once cooked (you will see the colour changing), let it cool to drip the excess of oil.
5) Add on top hot sauce and cheese. In Colombia we were able to find something similar to jalapenos, the peppers are called “aji”.
6) Do the same thing for the picaditas, make a tick tortilla but this time cook the tortilla in a pan without oil. Once done make little pinches around and in the middle.
7) Add the fried beans, salsa, cheese and avocado.
8) Enjoy!!! This is not Colombian but I wanted to have a little taste of Mexico…

Annette’s salad (BIO-LADEN) and Diego’s steak.
This was absolutely fantastic… Diego prepared some pork chops and beef sausages, I cannot tell you the price because I did not cook. Annette surprised us with a lovely salad that I never tasted before.
It is worth mentioning that in Colombia you can find anything in small packages, for example the BBQ sauce is found in a plastic bag with a proper lid that allows for friendly transportation; remember on the bikes we cannot carry a lot and whatever we carry needs to take the road conditions, therefore glass is not friendly…

Salad dressing.
Glass tin: olives and juice of it
Glass tin: pepinillos in vinegar (with sugar) and juice of it
Glass tin: red small onions and juice of it
Fresh orange juice
Fresh lime juice
Package (powder): Knorr (brand) Salatkrönung (name of product) Dill (flavour)

Salad ingredients (all fresh).
Celery stalks with its green
Sweet red pepper (rote Paprika)
Chinese cabbage
Laitue d’hiver

1) Mix the ingredients for the salad dressing.
2) Cut and mix all ingredients for the salad, add the dressing and serve.

Diegos’s steak.
Pork chops
Beef sausage
BBQ sauce
Olive oil
Seasoning salt
Soya sauce

1) Marinate the meat with the following mix: BBQ sauce+olive oil+seasoning salt+soya sauce+garlic.
2) Cook the meat in the oven if your experience is like ours, the BBQ (grill) did not work.
3) Serve with Annette’s salad.

Pizza with a stick.
A fighting/exercising stick was what we used to make the base of the pizza. Pizza was really tasty and we had two meals out of it. A year ago this would have lasted only for one meal but now we have learned to save some for the future…

3 ½ Cups of flour
1 ½ Cups of water
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Sugar
Fresh oregano

The rest-
Tomato paste
Red bell pepper

1) Easy… prepare the dough as per instructed.
2) Add the tomato sauce and on top the sliced vegetables and meat. I like to put the meat in the bottom, followed by the vegetables then the cheese and at the end the garlic so it can roast nicely. You can add a bit of salt on top if you feel the need but realistically the tomato paste already has some salt.
3) Put in the oven for about 20 minutes at a reasonable temperature, I really don’t know what temperature we used because there are no marks in the oven at the hostel.
4) Let it cool and enjoy with some wine or beer.

Meat & Potatoes, actually Parsnips.
We cooked this dish to celebrate our exit from the hostel but we actually did not leave as we supposed to. We were about to leave Hostal Medellin when Leslie, one of the folks at the hostel, noticed a problem with my bike (my forks were leaking oil). We had to stay and fix the problem but had a fantastic time and a great meal. I have to say that parsnips were another discovery for me. Thanks Leslie for noticing the problem in my bike but also for introducing me to parsnips.

Beef steak
Seasoned chicken wings
Olive oil
Soya sauce
Seasoning salt
Guacamole made with aji

1) The beef steaks get seasoned with garlic, olive oil, soya sauce and seasoning salt.
2) Vegetables are seasoned with olive oil, butter and seasoning salt. Except for broccoli which is done al dente.
3) The steaks are fried; the veggies as well as the chicken wings go into the oven.
4) When everything is ready we served with guacamole (easy original Mexican way but instead of Jalapenos use Aji while in Colombia. Onion+Cilantro+Avocados+Aji+A bit of salt).
5) Enjoy!!!

These are a kind of bread and cost $1000 Colombian pesos each…
In Mexico buñuelos are shaped differently, they are long and thin, almost like a tortilla but sweet.
Colombian buñuelos are delicious and greasy at the same time. Thanks Luciano for sharing this with us…

Bandeja Paisa.
People from Antioquia (departamento/state/province of Colombia) are called paisas. Bandeja paisa is the traditional dish from this departamento, prices range from $5000-$12000 Colombian pesos depending on the ingredients.
The one we had, compliments of BMW Medellin “Ruta 40” was delicious. It came with Cargamato beans, chicharron (fried pork skin), plantains, corn, potatoes and avocado. Delicious!!!
Thanks BMW Team, we got excellent service and excellent food…

Thursday, July 14, 2011

COLOMBIA-2nd. Part.

We are still in Colombia, enjoying the food and trying to be safe on the roads… DANGEROUS DRIVERS…

Genovesa cake in Pailitas Cesar.
Great piece of cake to deal with the stress… dealing with traffic in Colombia is either going to make us fat or thin… Just kidding.
I asked the employee at the bakery what item was the best or favourite and she said “Genovesa” but did not know what was in it… so we tried and it was wonderful. The baker came out later to let us know it was made with three different types of milk and that he could give us the recipe...

Papas rellenas.
This was fantastic. Brigida, the owner of this little street stand in Pailitas Cesar cooks excellent potatoes filled with rice, eggs, chicken and ground beef. A very reasonable price: $700 Colombian pesos.
She also offers Arepas de maiz (Corn Arepas) but filled with chicken or beef. Price: $1500 Colombian pesos/each. You can add the Colombian version of pico de gallo to your arepa; this is a salsa made out of tomatoes and onions with a little bit of vinegar, not spicy at all but tasty.
One papa rellena or one arepa is enough to calm your hunger.
"Papas rellenas"

"Arepa con pollo"

Thanks Brigida...

This is so far the BEST thing we discover in Colombia, I love it. This is a fruit salad (normally bananas, pineapple, papaya and apples) with orange juice and sometimes cola or ice cream. Fruit is finely chopped and mix in a glass with the ingredients I mentioned. The price is $1500 Colombian pesos for a simple one, if you add ice cream then it costs $3000 Colombian pesos and so far the best one of this type we had was in San Gil, a beautiful town. At first I was afraid of trying this because it looked like it had water and water to me in warm climates means trouble but now I try every time our budget allows.
Salpicon is AWESOME!!!
"Simple salpicon"

"Salpicon with ice cream"

Wine? Absolutely not… In Colombia American coffee is known as Tinto. Coffee is great here, when they don’t add sugar to it… ahrrr…
You can find a coffee shot for $200 Colombian pesos on the street. People who sell this fantastic deal also offer cigarettes.

Jota was right. San Gil has a great market; people seem to be proud of what they do there. The market has different levels and meat is separated from vegetables, fruits and others, I love this because we don’t have to smell death.
I was really impressed with this market and happy to find few new things.

Pitahaya-$3000 Colombian pesos/lb. A pitahaya is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas). These fruits are commonly known as dragon fruit. Other vernacular names are strawberry pear or nanettikafruit.

Annona-$1000 Colombian pesos/lb. – Annona or sugar-apple in English, has super-sweet white flesh inside. It’s closely related to the chirimoya. Annona is high in annonacin and may increase risk of Parkinson’s.
I personally did not enjoy it so much but I can see the potential, perhaps making juice out of it will be better.

Madroño- $1000 Colombian pesos/lb. Fruit resembles a bumpy lemon, with an interior like lemony cotton candy. Yellow, sometimes spotty fruit with a white-translucent pulp having an aromatic, acidic flavour. Country of origin: Costa Rica and Peru, so not sure if this was cultivated in Colombia but it does taste great.

Spicy tamales Colombianos-$2000/each. Believe it or not they were spicy, although Colombians do not typically eat spicy food. I was impressed… Brian and I had one for both or I may say I had a little bit of it… One of the best things of this tamal is the combination of corn mass and chickpeas in addition to pork meat.

Carne Oreada.
This typical meat is fantastic. It is some sort of beef jerky but in Santander (a State=Departamento of Colombia) they use beef or goat. The meat is seasoned, smoked with Arrayan tree and placed under the sun to dry with time and wind, it tastes AWESOME. Jota’s dad invited us for some of this meat with arepas de maiz.

This is the typical drink that farmers will bring to work, so watch out in the streets of Colombia…
Guarapo is made from various fruits kept in a large ceramic jar and left to ferment for about 2 months. Within that time, panela (sugar) is added into the liquid to makes the alcohol stronger. Grapes and pineapple are typically used.
Worth to mention, by 10 am you can see tables full of alcoholic drinks… and by 4 pm farmers have had a gallon of guarapo.
The glass is full of "guarapo"

Bandeja Santanderiana.
In the State (Departamento) of Santander you will find wonderful things, from roads with NOT MANY VEHICLES to awesome food. This is one more example of a full meal that can be shared by two people.
This includes a soup of beef kidneys, pieces of leaver and hearts; it is called Sopa de picado. I did not particularly like it but Brian enjoyed it. After the soup you get a plate with meat, beans, rice, potatoes, yuca and salad.
All this for $7000 Colombian pesos, including coffee… it was actually too much for the both of us. It is possible that our stomachs are getting smaller…

This is what we used to do in Vancouver, sit and have something before groceries shopping; sometimes a sandwich sometimes a sweet piece of cake.
This time we got a piece of chocolate cake with coffee for $6000 Colombian pesos, not cheap but necessary to reach happiness.

Crepes & Waffles.
Diego, our friend in Medellin told us about a place to have dinner, simple and economical. We visited Crepes & Waffles and I have to say he was right…
Good portions, good environment, good prices… good food!!!
We had some crepes: Pollo Curry Hindu ($14200 Colombian pesos) and Pollo Trufa Mexicana ($15700 Colombian pesos). Diego had a Mediterranean salad ($20500 Colombian pesos).
By the way, none of the food was actually spicy… but they tried.
Diego trying to smile...
You should see Brian's plate after... absolutely nothing left...
I love avocados...
On the top: thin slices of fried onions...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


As soon as we got into Colombia we experienced the food and I started our recollection of memories.
$1 USD equivalent to approximately $1,800 Colombian pesos.

Hit Juice.
Simple bottled juice, not too sweet and for $1,200 Colombian pesos this will take your thirst away.

Pizza in Cartagena.
I did not write the name of the place but Ludwig from Stahlratte is well known there. We had dinner with him and his wife, the German couple we met in the hotel where we stayed who are travelling on a motorcycle with a side car around South America and other folks. This place was able to provide us with a delicious pizza “Todas Carnes” (All Meats) for $15,000 Colombian pesos, not bad… the company we had made it worth it!!!

Jota’s fish.
A little bit about Casa Grande before I introduce you to some of Jota’s creations. Casa Grande used to be the main stop out of many vacationing fincas, restaurants and a discotheque around 1983 in Colombia. For a little while the operation of Casa Grande was not the same due to the safety issues Colombia had to go through. Now days, Casa Grande welcomes local and international tourism again at a reasonable price and with wonderful service. This place has eight cabins ($60,000 Colombian pesos/night/cabin for 4 people), camping area ($12,000 Colombian pesos/night/person) or simply the opportunity to spend the day here for $5,000 Colombian pesos/person (access to the beach, showers and toilets). The personnel in the restaurant of Casa Grande is always willing to prepare fresh food made with local ingredients; the most popular and well known dish is “curvinata” fish in a coconut sauce.
Casa Grande is a tranquil and safe place, near a river that flows into the ocean at just few minutes from here. Casa Grande is easy to locate in Mendihuaca at five minutes from Tayrona Park and ten minutes from Guachaca (by vehicle), a place where you can get basic items for cooking or snacks if you prefer to prepare your own meals.
Jota, Jorge Mendoza, the owner of this place is dedicated to his business and to the customers; by looking at his smile you can tell what his forte is, people. Born Colombia and Canadian by destiny, Jota is again in the land that gave him birth in order to support his community and grow with his people.
How do we know Jota? Through Rigoberto, a great friend who we will never forget. Rigoberto is basically hosting us here and ensuring we find out more about Colombian culture; even from Canada he still takes care of us very well… Thanks Rigoberto.
If you are in Colombia do not forget to stop by Casa Grande ( anytime of the year except for January (1-20) or Semana Santa (Spring Break) because according to Jota Junior you cannot even walk around here due to the huge increase in tourism, 600 people per day… He says this area becomes a “despelote” (busy busy).
Now I can tell you what we had the first day we arrived here. We had some delicious fish on a coconut sauce with coconut rice, salad and patacones (fried compressed plantains). This would normally cost $15,000 Colombian pesos.

Jota’s empanadas.
Three delicious Colombian empanadas, fried with cheese inside; this makes for a full meal. Cost=$1,500 Colombian pesos/each.

Tuna Creations.
This wonderful well packed tuna can be used in any dish. We just made a sandwich and the best part of it is the light weight of the packaging. It is a product of Ecuador, purchased in Panama and packed by an American company… but we cannot find this anywhere else… weird…
The package costs between $0.9-1.3 USD

Colombian beer.
One of them named Club Colombia, strong enough and tasty. Cost at a restaurant $3,000 Colombian pesos

Jota’s beef.
Another dish at Casa Grande. The same kind of presentation than the fish but with beef. Cost=$15,000 Colombian pesos.

Parasites lentils soup.
An awesome creation, a variation of what I would normally make at home with spinach and potatoes. The only other variation is that it contains a lot of dead parasites that we spotted in the water, it sounds horrible but it is the truth; while taking a closer look of the water of the area where we were we found lots of little animals in the water and even though we tried to get them out we could only hope they die with boiling water. We will have to improve our technique of dealing with water in Colombia because we have met a few sick travellers who have ended up in the hospital. We drink bottled water or filter and boil it before use.

1 Package of dried lentils
1 Small onion
1/2 Red bell pepper or “Chile dulce”

1) Cook the lentils with water for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes.
2) Watch for the potatoes until they become soft and then add the rest of the ingredients.
3) Once they are all cooked, add salt and pepper to taste. You could also add some Knorr chicken broth if you want to have the extra flavour.
4) Enjoy this delicious meal full of protein for a minimum cost.

Cost=$1.5 USD for about 4 people…

Yes water. You can find water in Colombia in bags. Take a look.
300 ml=$500 Colombian pesos. 600 ml, take a guess? 1,000 Colombian pesos.

Jota’s Arepas de huevo.
Arepas is almost like a tortilla but ticker. They can be simple arepas, just the tick-non fried tortilla or it can be fried with an egg inside. The simple arepa is probably Brian’s favourite Colombian dish. The prices are:
Simple arepa: $1000 Colombian pesos each.
Arepa de huevo: $3000 Colombian pesos each.

OFI Beach Bread.
What is that? It is an Opportunity For Improvement… yes. Brian, as usual, comes up with great ideas and when possible we try to give a step forward to materialize them.
In this case, while at the beach, not being able to take more sun because we had enough in San Blas Islands and our bodies were cooked, we decided to make a little oven in the beach. It needs to be improved but the bread we got was just fine. Some of my beautician skills came in handy…

Here is the recipe:
4 Cups of flour
1 Tbsp. Sugar
¾ Tbsp. Baking soda
1 ½ Cups water
2 Tsp. vinegar (to activate baking soda)

1) Mix all ingredients well together and kneed for two minutes.
2) Let it sit for at least ½ hour.
3) Cut an “X” on top of the bread loaf.
4) Bake at 200oC if possible. In our case we were not able to measure the temperature in our rustic beach oven, but it worked!!!

Cost=$0.50 USD and a bit of muscle… Brian’s muscle.
Palm tree leaves are awesome!!!

Jota’s chicken.
I love chicken and I had a wonderful piece of chicken with boiled potatoes, salad and coconut rice. Price is normally $15,000 Colombian pesos. Simple and tasty…

Jota’s fish soup.
This tasty soup is made out of different types of fish from the area; they don’t waste anything here so the heads of the fish are the main component. Regular price: $4,000 Colombian pesos and as a combo $7,000 Colombian pesos which includes coconut rice, patacones and salad.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Ice cream.
Guau, really really tasty and economical. We enjoyed a big cup of ice cream for just $1 American dollar. Two important pieces of information: the national currency in Panama is called Balboa but they use American dollars and they are equivalent to their Balboas that means you see American bills circulating as well as Balboas and American coins, they do not have Balboa bills and you cannot use the Balboas anywhere else but in Panama.
The second piece of information is that there are lots of Europeans in Panama, specifically Swiss people in the North therefore you can actually find good milk products, like ice cream.

Cerveza Panama.
It is a light and tasty beer and when it is enjoyed by the beach is even tastier. We stayed at “Cabañas Carrera” in Las Lajas for $10.0 a night with all basic services needed. The price of a Panama beer is $0.75/each, a Corona is $2.0/each.
Along with a beer some fish is just perfect. A regular dish of meat, fried plantains or potatoes and salad is about $4.0-$5.0 American dollars. Not bad and well done.

Con la Tia.
We discovered I have an aunt in Panama City and her family hosted us for a good amount of time. My aunt and uncle made us feel like at home, my aunt cooked a lot of delicious Mexican food that I have been honestly missing, also Panamanian meals. She cooked some “Crema de Habas” (creamy soup), habas is a type of a broad bean (according to a website) but I am not sure of the exact translation. Very tasty, almost like chickpeas.

My uncle in the other hand took us to have some Pozole at Sanborns and that was very thoughtful. Pozole is a Mexican traditional pre-Columbian soup cooked with dried maize and meat mainly, it is really tasty and spicy.

We cooked crepes at my aunt’s home with Brian’s simple recipe but this time our cousin Daniel was in charged. He made the crepes and we just observed and ate. We all had different designs and really enjoyed using our imagination. Food brings people together for sure…

Tortilla Panameña is something typical in the country and it can be made at home or found in the grocery stores already made and frozen. It is a ticker tortilla and it is very tasty, a little bit greasy since it is fried but tasty!!!

Sancocho is another typical Panamanian dish, it is a thick soup made with chicken and veggies; new to us a veggie called otoe, similar to yuca but not quite yuca; this veggie is purple and delicious. My aunt said she had spent about $8-9 dollars for a big pot that would feed 8-10 people, so basically about $1 USD per person for a full meal.
Thanks to both of you for taking care of us.

El Rincón Suizo, en la cava.
This was a total new experience for us, not just the Swiss dishes but the Cava (cellar) as the area to have our meal. It was fantastic… A friend on my aunt and uncle, Ricardo, included us in his list of invitees to this dinner. We were able to enjoy amazing dishes and desserts, as well as wine.
Some of the dishes we had (in Spanish with a rough translation):
-Lengua de res a la vinagreta. Beef tongue vinaigrette style.
-Risoto con calamares y langosta. Risotto with calamari and lobster.
-Pulpo al aguardiente. Octopus.
-Ternera con rosti. Beef with Panamanian potatoes.
-Plato Suizo. Swiss plate.
-More… I can simply show you the pictures but pictures do not make justice of this feast.

I cannot speak about the prices because we did not pay but I can only tell you that Panama has everything you can wish for. I felt like in Vancouver B.C. where you find several options.
Thanks Ricardo for the experience…
Uno de los platillos favoritos de Brian: Risoto.
Pulpo Ummm...
Plato Suizo.

La Cava.
Gracias a todos por la experiencia. Gracias Ricardo.

Swiss pizza.
Just because this pizza was made by a Swiss couple in Panama. While in Panama Passage, a hotel/camping area, we met a Swiss couple who invited us to have pizza with them, made by them with a little bit of our help. I am glad that the Argentinean fellow who was there and who was also invited declined the invitation; his response in Spanish was that he could not eat such a fatty thing but the next day he was eating pancakes with a lot of corn syrup. Something does not make sense but it does not matter because we had a fantastic meal. The pizza had cheese, tomatoes and eggplant and a variety of secret spices… Delicious… Thanks guys.

Kuna Yala meal.
The Kuna Yala Comarca cooked this meal for us, the passengers of Stahlratte while in San Blas Islands. This native group, one out of the seven tribes in Panama, is well organized and out of the ordinary. People live close to each other in these islands and happy to preserve their heritage. We really enjoyed this BBQ chicken.
Members of Kuna Yala Comarca dancing...

Stahlratte style.
Ludwig, the Captain of Stahlratte (the sailboat we took from Panama to Colombia) knows how to keep people happy on board. Here are some of the various dishes we enjoyed in this journey, some of them we were unable to enjoy due to sea sickness, but one day when our legs grow stronger we will come back to meet Ludwig again for a one good reason… take a guess…
German bread, Ahrr Rum & Coke with a squeeze of lime, lobster on the grill while in a Virgin Island, pasta, Semmel Knődel with beef stew; the Semmel Knődel was new to us but it is basically a German version of meat balls without meat but do not call them meat balls or Germans will get angry, they are actually made with bread and bacon in this case… isn’t bacon meat?
On the Stahlratte, sharing a meal prepared by Ludwig...
Captain Ludwig: Rum & Coke.
Thanks to the Stahlratte crew for this...
Awesome lobster!!!
No meatballs...Semmel Knődel with beef stew.