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Dear Colombia,

You are a country of amazing diversity, incredible scenery, welcoming people and your food – oh the food…  Since we arrived we have been treated to various Colombian specialties and our waistlines are now suffering the consequences of all your ridiculously delicious food.  But, as we leave the country, we are not sure how we are going to live without your:

Jugos
With your stunning array of tropical fruits, we are now unsure how we will survive without the sweet sour tang of maracuya (passionfruit), the berry deliciousness of mora (blackberry), the creamy lulo, the refreshing melon and the indescribable tomate de arbol (tree tomato). From Colombia onward I will hold maracuya dear to my heart.

Fresh juice

Fresh juices!

Almojabana
This savoury cheesy bread, best eaten straight out of the oven, has cast a spell on our hungry bellies.  We found ourselves craving this small button of tastiness nearly every morning.  And, we both agree, that Pan Pa Ya in Bogota makes the most magnificent almojabana.

A delicous and delectable cheesy treat

A delicious and delectable cheesy treat

Aijiaco
A soup created with chicken, 3 types of potatoes, corn, heavy cream and capers sounds like an odd mix but this traditional soup became a solid favourite after the first spoonful.  Comforting, filling and with a bit of a zip from the capers this Bogotan specialty will be sorely missed but hopefully recreated.

Capers, chicken and potatoes...

Capers, chicken and potatoes...

Arepa de Huevo
Originally from the coast, we first tried arepa de huevo in Bogota where Odette (yet another gracious Colombian host) gave us a crash course in how to make them.  Turns out our skills are not very good but with Odette’s help the end product tasted just fine.  Amazing that cornflour, egg and salt can taste so scrumptious.  Salsa Brava and a dollop of sour cream completed this tasty breakfast.

Deep-fried with an egg in the middle!

Deep-fried with an egg in the middle!

Pan de bono
Almojabana’s cheeky cousin, pan de bono filled our stomachs with sheer bliss when we visited Cali.  With a harder skin, reminiscent of a bagel, on the outside and soft chewy bread on the inside it was too hard to say no to just one… so we didn’t (which is why there are no photos!).

Sigh Colombia, it is with sorrow and jeans that don’t quite zip up that we bid you adieu.

After chilling out in Bogota we headed for Colombia’s Zona Cafetera.  Arriving late in the afternoon, after driving the terrifying La Linea, we rolled into Salento where we toured a small coffee plantation to see where the world’s favourite hot beverage comes from.

It all starts with this plant and the legend of a goat herder in Ethiopia who noticed that his herd became a bit livelier after eating the berries from a shrubby tree.  Curiousity got the best of him and he boiled up a batch of berries, had a sip and created the world’s first cup of coffee.

Coffee Plant

Coffee Plant

Tim, the owner of the plantation and the hostel we stayed at in Salento, explained that there are two types of beans: Robusta and Arabica. Arabica is considered to be more suitable for drinking and, due to this, 75% of the world’s coffee produced is Arabica. However Robusta contains more caffeine and is most often used in blends.  South American nations tend to produce Arabica while Robusta is grown mostly in Southeast Asia and Central Africa.

Seed from the Bean

Seeds from the Berry

The berries are harvested and sorted at certain times of the year depending on ripeness and colour. Inside each berry are two seeds, which we call beans.  The beans are then soaked in water to remove their natural sugars. Then they are dried in sunlight and during this time every available concrete surface is covered in beans throughout Central and South America.
The beans are then sorted and roasted for specific amounts of time depending on the desired taste.  Lighter roasts have more caffeine and less flavour while darker roasted coffee is more flavourful but contains less caffeine.  So, those hardcore coffee drinkers who order the blackest roast possible aren’t really as hardcore as they believe.

Skin that is removed from the bean

The outer skin is removed from the bean

Beans are then ground and brewed to make the tasty drink we know and love. In fact, we love it some much that from 1998 to 2000 6.7 million metric tonnes of coffee were produced. And Colombia is the second largest producer of coffee worldwide coming in at 10.5 million bags!

Coffee Love

Coffee Love

Ah yes…my favourite softdrink in miniature. Seriously how is it that we Canadians only have a mock version (CPlus) of this tantalizing orange beverage? Sigh. Mini deliciousness.