The 4 Hottest (and Coolest) Rooftop Lounges in Cartagena

Ananda rooftop KPATTMAN

What makes Cartagena hot? I’m not talking about the temperature, which soars all year round. I’m talking about its boutique hotels, with their rooftop pools, lounge areas and bars all surrounded by fantastic views of the historic city.

Read about four boutique hotels in the historical section of the city that are worth the trip up to the roof in Société Perrier.

Edible Flower Farm Tour in South America, Part II – What We Ate

Continued from… Part I of Edible Flower Farm Tour.

As the rain abated, we stepped out into the fresh green of the backyard garden. Alejandro pointed out notable plants and flowers on our walk over to the farm.

We passed a thick pine picnic table that was oozing resin. The smell of pine penetrated the air. Brown mushrooms grew in various places from the wood.

Not edible”, cautioned Alejandro.

Mushrooms

Our garden tour took us up past a small pond and then we walked, single file, down a narrow path to a group of cages holding chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits, all waiting for their special moment on the dinner plate (yes, guinea pigs are food here).

We admired delicate whitish-pink curuba flowers, a member of the passion fruit family, and papaya plants with small papayas clinging to the trunk.

Down at the gate we nibbled on delicate pink petals that had the surprising flavor of green apples.

Green apple

We crossed the country lane and walked down the dirt road to the vegetable garden. To the right is an old stable that Alejandro will use as the structure for his restaurant. The concept of the restaurant is to cook everything over an open fire; “Caveman style”, he comments. And of course, the vegetables will be farm fresh.

In the vegetable garden, the neatly planted rows were sown with seeds Alejandro had brought from France, the U.S. and Italy as well as seeds available in Colombia. To the left were neatly tended rows of vegetables, and to the right edible roots and fruit trees. Towards the back, behind the stable, young tomate de arbol trees stood in a line, with their fruits almost ready for picking.

Farm

I’ll admit: I was hesitant about this flower eating idea. Some of these plants were just not things I’m used to eating. For instance, a tall shrub with fern-like branches grows in the middle of the garden. Alejandro encouraged us to try it, so we cautiously tasted a few leaves – the first time that I’ve eaten a shrub. But to my relief, the strong licorice taste was pleasant.

Is this really edible?

We entered the rows and, under Alejandro’s direction, began sampling the plants we found along the way. To the far left was the broccoli row. The plants had shot out long stems with green and white flowers that, not surprisingly, tasted like broccoli. The next row had coriander, and the flowers have a distinctive taste similar to the leaves. A tall bush that we found unrecognizable turned out to be a pink pepper plant. The leaves are edible, and, surprisingly, they taste like…pink pepper.

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The aracha plant (which I can’t find an English translation for) has a hollow stem and a bland taste, similar to its root, which is used in South America for soups.

Tasty stem

When I got to the clover patch, I stared down at it, wondering if Alejandro was right and that stuff was edible. I mean, for humans. After watching others eat a few leaves, I also picked one, and was surprised by its distinct lemony tang. This lemon clover can be candied or pureed and used as a refreshing  garnish for soups.

Clover

We came across a line of borage plants, the silvery green leaves shimmering against the dark soil. But I just stared at Alejandro when he said they taste like cucumber and oysters. That leaf tastes like seafood? I accepted the leaf he held out to me, brushed off the soil clinging to it, and took a cautious bite. He was right. Cucumber and seafood in one very vegetarian leaf.

Borrage

Another tasty one

Thyme

On the way out to the road, Alejandro picked a stem from the ditch by the side of the road, broke it into pieces and gave each of us a piece to try. “It’s called Palo de Araña”, he explained. That name (Spider Stick) didn’t seem reassuring, but everyone else tried their piece so I did too. The reddish stem tasted acidic. Not among my favorites.

So the question was, how did he know what to eat and what to stay away from? Since he was a child, his father had taught him about the wonderful flavors around him. That sense of curiosity, which makes for a creative chef, has kept him not only tasting all these years but also sharing his discoveries.

Eating those delicate colors with their subtle, surprising flavors and unusual textures was a unique experience, thanks to this inventive chef with a passion for the farm fresh Colombian experience.

Alejandro Cuellar uses edible flowers to make fascinating creations:

Huerta Santa Beatriz Salad, named after his mom, has several variations. One is a carrot puree base with  langostines, vinaigrette made with langostine oil, coriander leaves, beets, capuccina flower and clover.

Another dish that caught my attention: Dill panna cotta with suero costeño, elderberry flowers and pine leaves.

For more info, photos and explanations check out Alejandro Cuellar’s blog.

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Edible Flower Farm Tour in South America Part I – The Trip

My South American edible flower adventure started at a gastronomy workshop headed by the president of Madrid Fusion, José Capel, in Bogota, Colombia. A group of food writers, magazine editors, bloggers, chefs and restaurant owners gathered at a Best Western in a posh area of town to listen to a consideration of what’s involved in being a food critic.

While talking with Diana Garcia, voted best Colombian chef this year in the La Barra awards, she introduced me to Alejandro Cuellar, another creative and innovative Colombian chef. As we conversed, he mentioned his passion for edible flowers and his plans to open a restaurant in the mountains surrounding Bogota. A description of his family home and farm, where he has an edible flower garden, turned into an invitation extended to me and another writer to tour the farm and taste for ourselves.

Who could pass that up? Invitation accepted.

The adventure began in Zona G with Alejandro, a few chefs, and another writer. Then we were off, waking through the morning drizzle of Bogota’s rainy season. On the busy 7th Avenue in the financial district we caught a bus. The sign said it would go to La Calera, up in the mountains.

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On the way I listened to the chefs as they talked about ingredients, Colombian fruits and flowers and vegetables. Elderberry was discussed in detail: how to make it into jam, Colombian capers, vinegar and tea. Alejandro spoke with the passion of a crazed chef, explaining Colombian ingredients to us foreigners.

Soon the bus stopped at a mall, which was really just a few little shops stuck together, seeming very modern in the middle of fields and farms and the astonishingly green mountains, with fuzzy cows living the good life on the mountain sides. We got off the bus and our small group was quickly on a little one-lane road which led to Alejandro’s family home.

Continue reading Edible Flower Farm Tour in South America Part I – The Trip

Drinking in…Cartagena

Cartagena at night KP Attman

Cartagena, a Caribbean city on the Colombian coast, was declared a UNESCO site due to its fascinating history and enthralls visitors with flower covered balconies, quaint museums and a thriving dining scene.

Evenings in Cartagena are a special time. Night falls and the lights twinkle on throughout the cobblestone streets, illuminating the centuries-old churches, plazas and homes, and horse and carriages become the preferred means of travel.

This is the moment to feel that Cartagena enchantment, whether it be at a secluded poolside bar to enjoy a signature cocktail or at a club to absorb some amazing Colombian energy.

Read this article published in Société Perrier.

 

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The Biggest Small Brewery in Bogota Tour

BBC, or Bogota Beer Company, is one of the artisan beers made in Bogota, and one of my personal favorites. So when I was invited to check out the biggest small brewery in Bogota, I couldn’t resist.

Here are some of the highlights.

Very small brewery

As you can see, it really is a small brewery.

Words to live by

With some important philosophy on the walls…

Perfect diet

I agree with Sofocles here; the perfect diet is composed of bread, vegetables…and beer.

Continue reading The Biggest Small Brewery in Bogota Tour

Vivir a lo italiano en Manhattan

Eataly: el mercado artesanal de gastronomía italiana más grande del mundo. Aquí los elementos de un mercado abierto europea se unen con un centro de aprendizaje para crear un espacio de inspiración y creatividad. Visitar Eataly es vivir a lo italiano, con toda la energía y entusiasmo que eso implica.

Eataly NY

Esta es una tienda con historias para contar.

Como dicen en Eataly, la buena comida une a todos. Algunas de las mejores experiencias de la vida se vive en la mesa de comer. Y esa mesa de comer es bien grande en Eataly, donde se combinan un mercado de manjares y vinos Italianos, un centro educativo gastronómico y siete restaurantes boutique.

Ahora Eataly llegó a Nueva York.

Para conocer mas, lee este artículo publicado en Casa Viva Cocina: Eataly- Casa Viva Cocina

Eataly cheese

CNN Insider Guide to Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia, often called the Athens of South America, has plenty to offer both business travelers and tourists. And when I talked with the editor at CNN about what kind of article he wanted about the city, he generously gave me guidance.

I thought that people should have access to an overall idea of what to see, eat and do when visiting the city, a mini insider guide to Bogota. The editor at CNN thought that would be a good idea, too, and I set off to research the article.

The result was the CNN’s Insider Guide to Bogota, an overview of my footwork around Bogota to find the best places to stay, eat, and have a good time. I hope you enjoy it!

Portfolio

kp Attman’s published clips

Here are links to some of my published articles.

Inspired to write

In English

Insider’s Guide to Bogota – CNN guide to Bogota

Getting a Piece of Cartagena – Investment in Cartagena

Taste of Home – In search of the best bagles in Bogota

Colombian Cultural Heritage – UNESCO sites in Colombia

Da Quei Matti – Pizza cooked to perfection in a wood burning stove

Sweet Success – The story of French success in Zona G

Colombian Ingenuity – Colombian street vendors

Drinking in…Santo Domingo – Where to get your vitamins in the D.R.

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And some in Spanish….

Business Class – Esquire article: interview with Air France-KLM general manager

Tentaciones Catalanas – Delicias de España

En Voz Baja – Speakeasies en los Estados Unidos

Historias destrás de las botellas – Historias de amor y creatividad que fascinan

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An inspiring breakfast

An inspiring breakfast environment at Hotel Casa Deco

Expats Blog

Potatoes, Peppers and Corn at a Colombian market

Corn, peppers and potatoes are staples of many Latin American diets, and Colombia is no exception. During a recent visit to the Palo Quemado market in Bogota, I found some interesting variations of basic ingredients I thought I knew plenty about.

This corn is missing a few teeth….

Colombian corn pp

But husked and cleaned…

Corn husking pp

and then ground….

Corn work pp

I added eggs, milk and a touch of salt and raw sugar and made some nice corn pancakes.

Purple corn pp

And corn comes in this festive purpule hue also, good for making chicha.

This man makes a living selling husked corn for 2,800 pesos/kilo….

Corn seller pp

While this one dedicates his time to potatoes…

Potato seller pp

Potatoes that come in odd colors and sizes, like these blackish/purple ones…

More purple potatoes pp

And these little bright purple beauties….

Purple potatoes pp

Peppers are also abundant in this market:

Pepper baskets pp

Available in a rainbow of colors.

Peppers pp

Off to the Market: Paloquemao Food Market

Paloquemao is one of the largest food markets in Bogota. They sell both wholesale and retail, and you can buy meats, fish, veggies, fruit, flowers, beans, quinoa, seeds, coffee…and anything else you can think of (and many things you’d never imagined).

A good place to start the morning is at one of the bakeries. The intoxicating smell of fresh Colombian breads led me here – almojabanas, buñuelos, pan de bono. Of course, accompany it all with a tinto (the traditional way to drink coffee in Colombia, black).

You can also try a truly Colombian breakfast – caldo or calentao. 

The flower selection at this market is unbelievable. Come early and browse through the flowers that farmers bring in every morning; there’s a huge selection and cheap prices.

Paloquemao is the place to get all your vegetables. You can even pick up fresh sugar cane to sweeten your coffee or for baking. You can get fresh ground corn as well as banana leaves, which are great for wrapping tamales.

Eggs are available in large quantities, whether from quails or chickens. Apparently, some retailers believe no refrigeration is necessary in cool Bogota.

Peppers come in bright colors and varied sizes.

Peppers in Paloquemao Market, Bogota

And root vegetables take on odd shapes (these are cubios).

Cubios

And after all that exertion, fuel up with the excellent lechon on the loading dock beyond the fish section.

Lechon Paloquemoa Market Bogota

Calle 19 #25-02, Bogota

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Everything Edible in Colombia