Category Archives: Events in Colombia

Bogota Wine & Food Festival 2016

What the festival is about

Since 2011, the Bogota Wine and Food Festival (BWFF) has been bringing attention to Colombia’s fascinating culinary scene. The festival gathers together chefs from around the world to cook, talk, eat, and most importantly, share their knowledge.

This time it’s all about Colombian ingredients. Sporting the question A Qué Sabe Colombia? (What does Colombia Taste Like), this year’s festival is all about what you’ll taste here in this country of biodiversity.

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Book Fair in Bogota Remembers Gabriel García Márquez

FILBO 2014

Bogota’s immense book fair, FILBO, will be showing their love for their favorite Colombian author, Gabriel García Márquez. Every year, FILBO features a country and shows off the best of its literary talent, and this year the country they invited is…Macondo. For those of you whose literary tendencies run mainly to books originally published in English, you might be saying to yourselves, “Mac what?”

Macondo, curiously enough (considering its position in the book fair), is not a country, or even a place. Not a real one, at least. It’s a figment of imagination, but a very important one – created by the fertile imagination of Márquez, Colombia’s darling, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Since Márquez, affectionately called Gabo, died last April, Colombia is giving homage to “the most emblematic place in literature,” as some consider Macondo.

Macondo, that imaginary place that is a blend of towns and communities from Gabo’s youth, will certainly be a fitting center to remember this literary giant in Colombia. 3,000 square feet of expo space will be dedicated just to Macondo. Multimedia exhibitions based on the mythical, surreal world will introduce visitors to the Colombian reality, or perhaps the lack of it. There will be conferences, workshops, children’s activities, plus food and music from the Caribbean.

The book fair has some heavy weights backing it up – the Colombian Chamber of Books, the Ministry of Culture and other governmental organizations. Not to mention the famous authors from around Colombia and the world that will be in Bogota for the fair.

Yes, books are a big deal for Colombians.

Beyond the world of Macondo, there will also be encounters with authors, forums, expos, workshops, conferences and press conferences for professionals in the world of books. There will also be numerous concerts, giving words in song their moment to shine.

But you may be asking, what does this have to do with Flavors of Bogota, a food blog? Well, FILBO will have food, too. Chefs and authors from Colombia and abroad will present their culinary works, cooking classes and discussions.

Of course, most of the books will be in Spanish. So if you prefer those books in English, check out a new anthology available in the Macondo pavilion, Was Gabo an Irishman? Newly published, this book highlights over 20 expat and Colombian writers that express their appreciation for Gabo in essays that cover every aspect of life in Colombia. (Disclosure: I wrote an essay that has been published in the book.)

Where, when, and how:

Corferias, Bogota

April 21 – May 4, 2015

10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m.


General: COP$7,000

Children: (4-12 years old) COP$4,000

See the FILBO website for details on how to get there, the complete program, and even videos.


A Restaurant with a Mission: Abasto in Quinta Camacho

Sausage sandwiches at Abasto

We always seem to have the desire to celebrate those in our community whose creative impulses make them look beyond themselves and their immediate benefit and see the big picture of the community they belong to. These are people who manage to reach deep within and find what matters most, and then publicly present that for others to share.

For women working within the male-dominated restaurant industry, that’s not easy to do. But Chef Luz Beatriz Vélez has been doing that for years. As chef and co-founder of the restaurant Abasto in Bogota, she has been busy focusing on local ingredients and working with farmers and artisan producers.

Of course, Luz Beatriz hasn’t been alone in her mission. Her search for fresh, local ingredients in Bogota led her to found Abasto in Usaquén (a neighborhood in the north of Bogota) with Benjamín Villegas of Wok fame. That was back in 2007, at a time when the farm-to-table mentality was barely mentioned in the city. This is food that goes beyond the search for the freshest ingredients. It’s food with a social message, a call to buy from the local farmer and promote fair trade in Colombia.

Luz Beatriz Velez and her crew at Abasto
Luz Beatriz Velez (that’s her on the right) and her crew at Abasto

Not surprisingly, the awards have followed. Year after year she’s been on the ‘Best of’ lists at the La Barra Awards, a sort of Oscars for the food industry in Colombia. In 2012 and 2014 she was voted Second Best Chef in Colombia. And Abasto took the award for third best casual restaurant in 2014 (this year’s  awards are coming up soon, so we’ll see who wins).

One of Luz Beatriz’s passions is arepas, those little patties made of corn flour or ground corn that are the backbone of the Colombian diet (Abasto gets creative and makes them with other vegetables). In fact, her passion for the bread of Colombia led her to take her arepa recipes to Madrid FusionMadrid’s prestigious gastronomic festival.

Some ingredients don’t come from that close to Bogota – for instance, it’s obvious that octopus can’t be found in the high plains of Bogota, but it can come from Colombian coastal waters; and in Abasto, that’s where it’s from.

Check out the webpage to see the different fruits and vegetables used in Abasto. Chonto tomatoes made with native seeds. Gulupa. Granadilla. Cubios. Ají wai-ya. Macadamia from the coffee growing region of Colombia. Marañón (cashew) from Tolima. Homemade marmalades and organic honey. Their homemade breads are brought over from the Usaquén store: rye, quinoa, or squash breads, scones and muffins. Their organic coffee comes from small farms, and is roasted in the Abasto Bodega in Usaquen.

Abasto-style corn muffins
Abasto-style corn muffins

They use a variety of Colombian cheeses in their dishes: queso paipa, cuajada de Choachí, queso costeño, siete cueros del llano and campesino de cabra. Breakfast is one of my favorite times at Abasto, with an array of arepas (guajira, mote, egg, quinoa, purple corn) and some of the best pancakes I’ve had in South America.

Abasto recently opened up a new version of itself in Quinta Camacho, Bogota. I was invited to the launch, and curious about Luz Beatriz’s new project, I joined the chefs, food writers, editors of food magazines, bloggers and other supporters of Abasto to check out the new place.

Arroz caldoso at Abasto in Bogota
Arroz caldoso at Abasto in Bogota

This Abasto is right on the corner of Carrera 9 in Quinta Camacho, Bogota.  Just a few blocks to the west of Zona G, which has long the main focus of the gastronomic scene in Bogota (guess what the G stands for), Quinta Camacho is the natural extension of the G Zone. The area is filled with English-style houses; a neighborhood that entrances with its Old World feel, restaurants with gardens out front, and parks that run through the middle of the streets.

Abasto Quinta Camacho resides in a large two-story house from the 1950s. Downstairs, the kitchen houses a Josper oven, which is a mix somewhere between an oven and a charcoal grill, and makes a very tender product.

Josper oven in use at Abasto
Josper oven in use at Abasto

At the launch, we ate:

  • Grilled hearts of palm with lemon and olive oil: grilling them brings out a nutty taste.
  • A creamy arroz caldoso, something similar to a risotto, with shrimp and a spot of avocado.
  • Empanadas filled with papa criollo and hogao with lulo aji. Does that sound like Greek to you? These are flavors that you just have to come to Bogota to try.
  • Sausage sandwich with chimichurri on homemade bread.
  • Grilled octopus with tomato veggies and a touch of ginger.
Grilled octopus at Abasto in Bogota
Grilled octopus at Abasto in Bogota
  • Chontadura empanadas with cubio. Frankly, when they told me what this was, I did not want to eat it. I’ve had chontadura on the streets of Bogota, and it hasn’t been a pleasant experience – a bland, flavorless mass of orange. And improperly cooked cubios are a grey, slimy mass of root vegetable. BUT don’t get discouraged – these empanadas were wonderful, crispy on the outside and flavorful on the inside. The cubio sauce was tangy and refreshing.

Roast beef at Abasto in Bogota


Appetizers  from COP$11,000 to COP $15,000**

Main dishes from COP$18,000 to $35,000

Calle 69A # 9-09, Quinta Camacho, Bogota

** COP means that the prices are in Colombian pesos, not that there are Colombian meal police watching what you eat.**


Food Festivals in Bogota in December

Las Puertas del Cielo Fair Bogota

Saboriarte 2014

This weekend, December 6 and 7, the Tourism Office of Chía will turn the Parque Santander into one of the biggest food festivals of the State. Twenty thousand people will be heading outside of Bogota to try a wide variety of Colombian foods.

Food events will include:

  • Wine tastings
  • Coffee cuppings
  • Olive oil tastings
  • Bartenders will be doing their thing
  • Presentations with local, national and international chefs
  • Organic food market

Andrés Carne de Res, Teattroria, Galápagos, Lima Cocina Peruana, El Despacho and other Colombian restaurants will be there.

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why a food festival in Chía?” Well, here’s a little-known fact: in Chía there are about 250 restaurants and 50 coffee houses, so they know about food.

There will also be arts and crafts and live music, so it will be a celebration of Colombian culture. To find out more, check out the Saboriarte Chia Facebook page.

When: December 6 and 7, 2014

Where: Parque Santander, Chía


Las Puertas del Cielo

Las Puertas del Cielo fair in Bogota, Colombia

Another event featuring food (and more) is the twentieth edition of Las Puertas del Cielo. It’s coming up this month, on December 14.

This festival, which promotes music, art, design and food, draws about 7,000 people out to the Hacienda San Rafael to enjoy a day under the sun while checking out the other fashionable people.

120 companies will be there with their art, clothing and music, like: TLB records, Republicana, Pepita Mendieta, Hook & Moor swimwear, Tridi Lab, Shuz-Shuz, Paco, Calderon & Sumner, Pineapple to go, Birds Shoe Company,  Dukao, Enana Perez, and more.

For food lovers there will be plenty of restaurants at the fair: Pinole, Gordo, Julia, I Love Choripan, El Andariego, Rústica DC, El Tambor.

When: Sunday,  December  14, from 10 – 6 pm

Where: Calle 133 Nº 50-00 in front of the Centro Comercial San Rafael

How much: Free

To make it even easier to get there, they’ve even provided free transportation to the fair from the Carulla supermarket on Calle 63, and also from the one on 85.

You can bring your pets ; it’s a fun day for them, too.

Here’s a video of the last Puertas del Cielo to show you what it’s all about.