For coffee lovers in Bogota – and around Colombia – today was an exciting day. The largest coffee fair in Latin America, Cafes de Colombia Expo, got off to a caffeinated start.
I’m packing for a trip. I’m surrounded by the usual disaster scene: suitcases are scattered around my living room, my closets look like they’ve been ransacked, and items on my packing list are getting crossed off. It’s complicated to pack for a trip – and I’m just packing for two.
Now imagine packing for 1,000.
That’s the challenge facing Juan Manuel Barrientos and his team at El Cielo. They’re taking his famous restaurant – with locations in Medellin, Bogota and Miami – on the road for the months of September, October and November.
Taking the El Cielo Restaurant on the road
What’s involved in taking a luxury tasting menu on the road?
Good planning. And lots of it. After more than a year of planning, the team is ready to take this nearly 5,000 km trip. With 1800 plates. And 500 luxury Italian wine glasses. With a 13 member cooking team. And of course, all the implements that have helped Juan Manuel earn his place as one of the top chefs in Latin America.
Imagine that packing list.
Why all the work? The 10 year anniversary of his El Cielo restaurants. And since not everyone can get to one of his restaurants, he’s taking the experience to Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, and Cali. So if you look at a map of Colombia, you’ll see that they’re going way west, way east, and quite a ways north.
Juan Manuel keeps his menu focused on Colombia and its traditions, and that’s no exception for this tour. He’ll be changing the menu slightly in every area he visits to accommodate some regional ingredients, and the 13-course meal will include:
- Ropa vieja croquettes
- Chocolate therapy
- Gallina ravioli (in Bucaramanga this will be served with hormiga culona)
- Posta cartagenera
- Yellow butterflies (don’t worry, you won’t be eating real butterflies)
- Ceviche with Colombian fruits. The fish will be marinated in typical Colombian fruits rather than lime. These fruits will vary according to the area, so in Barranquilla count on the flavors of green papaya, guanabana and guyaba agria, in Bucaramanga feijoa and curuba, in Cartagena mangostino and in Cali lulo, borojo and chontaduro.
- Colombian desserts
- Coffee tree experience
If you’re going to be in any of the cities on the our route, here are the details you need to join in the tasting experience.
El Cielo Tour by Nacimiento
Barranquilla: October 11 and 12
Bucaramanga: October 18 and 19
Cartagena: October 26 and 27
Cali: November 1, 2
Cost for dinner
How to purchase tickets
Only by Whatsapp message – +57 350 532 4747
“Why do you love coffee?”
I was in one of Bogota best specialty coffee shops, Amor Perfecto, with a tour group. Light came streaming in the café on that sunny Bogota morning, and the intoxicating smell of freshly ground coffee made us all a bit dizzy.
Over the sounds of coffee cups clinking against saucers and the typical chatter of a busy cafe, the tour guests crowded in to catch the barista’s answer to my question. The barista thought for a few seconds before answering, and then…what an answer he gave!
Grown on mist covered hills by successive generations of hard-working families, coffee from Colombia is considered some of the best in the world.
However, how can you learn to appreciate and evaluate specialty coffee? Coffee experts often intimidate beginners with complicated questions and impenetrable explanations.
(Of course, they don’t do that on purpose).
Here at Flavors of Bogota we used to feel intimidated. Listening to the experts was like trying to understand someone speak in a language we’d never heard before. Their lips were moving, but we weren’t understanding the info.
Since I spend a lot of time cooking, I get attached to certain cooking implements. Has that happened to you? If you love to make cakes or bread, perhaps you have a special relationship with your mixer and oven. Or perhaps you can’t live without your backyard barbecue grill or that wine paraphernalia you’ve carefully collected over the years.
When you move abroad, though, those culinary affections can vary. Living in Latin America, my container of corn flour, which I reach for daily, is like an old friend. Perhaps you have a favorite yerba mate brewer. Or that perfect pan to fry plantain.
For me, there’s a special place in my kitchen and my heart for my budare.
You’ve probably heard about espresso, but you may not have tried it. Espresso drinks are a central part of coffee scenes in many countries around the world. However, when faced with a long menu of drinks with names you’ve never heard of, you may get confused about how to order an espresso drink. Here we’ll help you figure out how to order an espresso drink in Bogota.
In Bogota, Sunday brunch has been trending for some time. Many of the restaurants at top hotels boast a brunch menu, whether buffet or a la carte. Coaxing Bogotanos to leave their homes on Sunday mornings for a hearty meal isn’t tough – it’s traditional to go with the whole family to get their fill of tamales and hot chocolate and buñuelos.
When you look around at what’s offered for Sunday brunch in Bogota, there’s a definite tendency towards American or Colombian traditions. Waffles or tamales, scrambled eggs or empanadas, it can be hard to break that mold (not that I mind the waffle mold).
However, Tamarine broke the mold.
“And a glass of water for each of us,” my friend requested, handing his menu back to the waiter.
I smiled at him. A glass of water. What a superb idea.
I leaned towards him and asked, “Will we get it before our breakfast is over?”
I’m fascinated by brunch. Growing up in the United States, Sunday morning was brunch morning. We loved to go out as a family to see what delights were hiding at our favorite brunch buffet. Fresh waffles dripping with syrup, eggs made just the way we wanted them, and plentiful meats lured us back again and again.
However, in Colombia the word makes me cringe a bit. Especially the all-you-can-eat buffets, which are often pricey and with stale, tasteless offerings. After numerous disappointments, I’d sworn off most brunches.
The brunch at the W hotel, though, sparked my interest. I love the hip feel to the hotel and the offer seemed irresistible: an all you can eat buffet, complete with a waffle section.
When people suffer, we want to help. Even a small act makes a difference to a person in need. Maybe the only thing we can give is a hug, a few words of encouragement, or perhaps a smile. Those tiny acts can seem like very little, but they can change a lonely child’s world, comfort an elderly person, or convince a single mother that she can make it through another tough day.