A Weekend in Cartagena, Colombia
We flew up to Cartagena for the weekend to relax and enjoy some delicious seafood. Above is sancocho de robela, a typical stew made with any kind of meat (in this case, sea bass), plantain, potato and yuca. This stew, which I had at La Casa de Socorro, was delicious, light and flavorful. This might be something I’ll try to make when I get home…who doesn’t like a sopa de pescado? As an aside, despite taking French in high school I grew up in a Mexican neighborhood, so my Spanish vocabulary is fairly extensive. Unfortunately, I can’t string together a coherent sentence, but at least I can be understood…eventually.
Arepas con huevos y carne: Basically a fried corn cake stuffed with an egg and meat. They served this for breakfast at the hotel and it was really difficult to resist. For some reason, the egg yolks here are gigantic. We also had a version of this in Bogota, but it was pan fried rather than deep fried (so I felt a little less gross). Regardless, I am a sucker for cornmeal…
We also had lunch at La Vitrola, a restaurant that locals and tourists all say is a can’t miss for “foodies” (I hate that word). I can understand why people love this place–it offers a modern interpretation of traditional Colombian dishes. Unfortunately, we were still kind of full from our giant breakfast, so didn’t get to try everything on the menu. My favorite was a friend’s grilled grouper with tamarind & chili sauce. My dish (above) was also good: grilled grouper with coconut risotto. The risotto reminded me of Vietnamese desserts, which sometimes have coconut and sticky rice.
This fruit, which the fruit monger (can I use “monger” in this context?) told me is called mamey, is bright orange inside. It kind of looks like butternut squash but tastes like a cross between a mango and a loquat (though not as juicy). I really liked this one…much tastier than the sapote I tried in Thailand back in December.
Not sure what these are called, but the fruit monger told me they were similar to apples. The green ones are tart like apples, but the reddish ones are juicier, with a tomato-like consistency but much sweeter taste.
We had our best meal at La Cevicheria, which Anthony Bourdain also visited on his trip to Cartagena. I was a bit worried that it would be all hype, but was pleasantly surprised–bright flavors and super fresh seafood served with a side of patacones (mashed & fried plantain chips)! We had intended to order two ceviches and a paella but, due to a misunderstanding with the waiter, called off the paella. The ceviche portions were huge!! I could easily have eaten here for multiple meals…