Tag Archives: Colombia

What is a Cholado?

colombiaOur over-the-top icy treat of choice in Chicago was the Mangonada, but on a trip to NYC (I think we were driving by this place) we recently learned of a Colombian answer to this fruit/ice/cream/sugar concoction – the Cholado. A cholado consists of shaved ice, topped with fruit syrup, fresh fruit, coconut flakes and sweetened condensed milk (and maybe even a cookie). Though the cholado recipe can vary by region (or country) the traditional syrup flavors include passion fruit and mora (Colombian blackberry). Cholados are also found all over Jackson Heights, Queens if you can’t make it to Colombia, and Serious Eats has a power ranking. Find a recipe for a DiY cholado at Sarepa (if you have access to tropical fruit) or Ezra Poundcake and My Colombian Recipes (if you don’t).

cholado

Cholados by lorenalreyes

 

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Discovering the Lulo Fruit

colombiaWhen we were visiting La Unica (1515 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL) in Chicago we were intrigued by their milkshakes / licuados. They had some pretty exotic flavors: mango, mamey, blackberry, papaya, passion fruit, guanabana, and one we had not seen before – lulo. Turns out lulo is one of the most popular fruits in Colombia and Ecuador (where it is called naranjilla). The outside of the lulo looks like an orange, but the inside is green with seeds like a tomato! The flavor is a bit citrusy with a touch of pineapple, and really tasty. A popular way to have lulo is in a drink with lime and sugar called lulada. We have also since seen a lulo licuado at Brasa Roja (3125 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL) in Albany Park. If you see it – definitely give lulo it a try!

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Barroco arepas and more in Cleveland

colombiaWe are recently back from NYC, and had a hankering for some arepas. Fortunately, Cleveland has a self-proclaimed areperiaBarroco (12906 Madison Ave Lakewood, Ohio ). We visited Barroco on an unseasonably warm day, which meant we were able to enjoy the outdoor patio alongside our starchy treats. We were not disappointed, the simple but bright patio was a great place to enjoy some juice or a cerveza on a nice day. By the way, did we mention that Barroco is BYOB? However, even if you sit inside, you are in for a visual treat – the walls are covered with murals, twinkle lights, photographs and the accumulated scrawlings of other customers.

BarrocoPatio

The menu is an interesting mix of Colombian and other South American influences, and there is something for everyone (even vegetarians). You can get a starter of shrimp ceviche ($11) or opt for the larger “picado” platter which is an assortment of pork, chorizo, yuca and ($40). For a traditional Colombian meal – you can get the national dish of sausage, rice and beans, Bandeja Paisa ($19). However, we were in the mood for the specialty of the house – arepas ($12 each) – of which there were both traditional and more avant-garde versions. For example, you can order a arepa with Bolognese sauce or buffalo chicken. We got two kinds of arepa in the more traditional vein: first the Reina Pepiada – Grilled chicken breast with avocado, red peppers and feta cheese; and next the Ropa Vieja – braised beef in tomato sauce with black beans, feta and mozzarella.

Barocco

The arepas were freshly made from white corn into neat squares and generously filled (as you can see above). We appreciated that the masa was made in-house and you could really taste the difference. In terms of fillings, the ropa vieja was particularly delicious and comforting.  We also shared a side of guacamole with plantain chips, and each arepa came with a size of expertly fried sweet plantains (did someone say plantain?). Once spring rolls around again we hope to give Barroco’s outdoor patio a visit again soon. In the meantime, we will enjoy exploring the quirky interior while we get our arepa fix.

Barroco

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Discovering Pan de Bono, Colombian cheese bread

colombiaWe are huge fans of Brazilian pão de queijo, and we were excited to try its Colombian cousin the “pan de bono” or pandebono on a recent trip to Miami. No, not BUENO, bono. Hmmm. Like pão de queijo, the dough is made from tapioca flour, however, the addition of corn flour also gives it a more bready texture, and it is a bit sweeter than pão de queijo. Our first stop to try pan de bono was a Colombian bakery, Ricky (several location, we went to 252 Buena Vista Boulevard #108, Miami). We were hooked instantly on the slightly-sweet cheesy bread. There is nothing better than a cafe con leche and a pan de bono for breakfast in Miami, at least for me. I have not tried any pandebono offerings in Chicago yet, though I am intrigued by this recipe from Lucky Peach. Do you know of a good place for pandebono?

pandebono

Pan de Bono at Ricky Bakery

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Dinner and a Show at Sabor a Cafe Colombian Steakhouse

colombiaSabor a Cafe (2435 W Peterson Ave. Chicago, IL, 60659) is deceptively small, but inside it is actually both a music venue and a restaurant with a great atmosphere. Our particular draw for the night was a show by the Brazilian singer and pandeiro player Clarice Maghalães, one of our favorite young Brazilian artists. The inside of the restaurant is divided into two parts, and at the back of one half is a small stage, as well as other creative flourishes like an indoor portico and Colombian murals. Sabor a Cafe also has a big meat-heavy menu to keep show-goers happy, but there are also vegetarian starters like arepas and empanadas ($2 or less apiece).

Sabor a Cafe

Dinner and a show at Sabor a Cafe

While perusing the menu we  ordered a somewhat unusual drink – hot chocolate – but the interesting part was that it was served with a mild white cheese, which our server instructed us to crumble into the drink. We did and it was pretty good, not too “cheesy” at all, though we are not sure this would be a regular addition to our mugs of hot chocolate. For appetizers we ordered a requisite for M – the Ceviche de Camaron / shrimp ceviche ($11.99). This rendition came in a cup, like a shrimp cocktail but with a spicy citrus and tomato broth. Though not too similar to his favorite Peruvian ceviche, M was happy with his choice. In terms of mains, there were many traditional Colombian dishes, like Bandeja Paisa ($15.99) which is a mix of steak, sausage, beans and an egg. This is certainly a meat-heavy menu and if you are looking for steak (in many varieties) you won’t be disappointed.

Ceviche

Our requisite order of Ceviche + maduros

We opted to share the Parrillada ($18.99) a large plate (board?) of grilled steak, grilled chicken breast and grilled shrimp with chorizo, baked potato, grilled onions, yuca and more plantains. However, if you are not in the mood for such a huge combo, there were a variety of smaller a la carte meat dishes and combos, including carne asada ($12.99) or chicken skewers ($6). We were impressed with our parrillada, all of the meat was grilled to perfection, and we also liked all of the starchy side dishes. Along with the ceviche, the parrillada was more than enough for the two of us.

Sabor a Cafe

Enough for two? Yes.

Another good thing about the dinner and a show model as that you pace yourself a little more. After a short break in gluttony, we settled on a decent chocolate cake for dessert (which also had some sort of cherry flavor in it), but we were also tempted by the Brevas con Arequipe / figs with cheese ($3.99) and the Platano Maduro con Queso y Dulce de Guayaba / Plantain with cheese and guava ($3.99). Maybe next time! Sabor a Cafe pleasantly surprised us with a good show, and good food to match. We will definitely be back.

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South American Cheesy Bread

We love cheesy bread products, and in Brazil, the Pão de Queijo is practically a national treasure. However, other countries in South America have their own delicious cousins of Pão de Queijo, including Paraguay’s Chipa and Colombia’s Pan de Bono, as featured on Our Eyes Eat First.

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Colombian Food Renaissance

This Atlantic article describes the revival of Colombian food culture, and how the combination of new chefs, local food & creativity put Colombia back on the foodie map. Sounds great to me.

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Colombia: Las Tablas

Las Tablas
2942 N Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL

We  had been warned that to really enjoy Las Tablas you have to prepare yourself for an epic onslaught of starch and meat. We were prepared. We entered Las Tablas’ Lincoln Avenue location (There is also a newer Irving Park Location) on a Saturday night, and the place was packed to the gills and the bar was lively. We had a reservation but even had to wait 20 minutes for the party to clear out a bit. The decor inside was nice, with cute Botero reproductions lining the walls.

Looking at the menu we saw a distinct emphasis on… well, meat. However, on the large menu there were ample non-meat options to serve as teasers for the main event. We started off the meal with an order of Las Tablas’ 2 cheese empanadas ($2.5 each) and a rather more unusual appetizer of Aborrajado ($8) which was a plantain stuffed with guava jelly and soft white cheese. They made a mistake with our empanadas by giving us a meat order – and quickly made amends by bringing our correct cheese order out in addition. Though the meat empanadas were good – we actually preferred the cheese empanadas, maybe it’s the Wisconsin influence.

The appetizer portion of the dinner concluded our meatless run, and we pulled out all the stops for the main course. M ordered the “Matrimonio” which was a combination platter of chicken breast and Entraña skirt steak – the specialty of the house ($20). L ordered another combination platter with steak and shrimp ($20). Alongside each dish came plantains, potatoes and some somewhat unappealing fibrous yuca. The steak was definitely the house favorite for a reason. The chicken and shrimp were good, but not as memorable since they had the same spice rub as the beef. The portions were so huge we ended up taking about 1/2 of each portion home each, which served us for another meal and a half.

We washed everything down with a Las Tablas Limonada, a homemade lime cordial, which reminded us of the Venezuelan drink Papelon con Limon. For dessert we chose the Brevas con Arequipe ($4.5) a simple dish of figs covered in a semi-soft caramel sauce, much like dulce de leche, but with a slight sour flavor. Though not as sweet as it’s cousin, dulce de leche, M gobbled up the figs.

We stumbled out of Las Tablas in a veritable food coma, one induced for less than $60 no less. Though we sometimes had to shout to make ourselves heard above the din, Las Tablas is a great place for carnivores to share a lively dinner.

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FTC: Santander chocolate

When the World Market by me was going out of business *sniff* I stopped by one last time to scavenge. I picked up a mug and tea strainer, a tiffin box and a 70% Cacao & Espresso Coffee chocolate bar by Chocolate Santander. I am glad I did, though of course how can you go too wrong by combing two delicious flavors: dark chocolate and Colombian coffee. The dark chocolate was very smooth, and not bitter, and the coffee was not overpowering, and turned out to be a great compliment.

These artisinal bars are made in Colombia of 100% Colombian coffee and specific origin chocolate of the “Criollo” and “Trinitarian” varieties. Little did I know that Santander chocolates are made at the factory of Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, a company established in 1920. The company produces other varieties as well. Hopefully I will be able to find them elsewhere (RIP World Market)!

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FTC: Caramels from Dulcelandia in Chicago

colombia.pngMexico FlagDulcelandia is a a chain of Mexican candy stores found across Chicagoland. Today I got my hands on assortment of caramels bought from Dulcelandia (though I have never been), and I am excited to say they were pretty tasty. I can’t wait to go to Dulcelandia myself to get some more sweets. Don’t tell my dentist!Cachitos

  • Ricos Besos: Did I lose a filling? Pure, chewy little chunks of milk caramel from Mexico. The chewiest imaginable.
  • Cachitos: These candies from Mexico were my favorite of the three. Cachitos are swirled chocolate and caramel pinwheels. Bite-sized and perfectly melt-in-your-mouth tasty.
  • Bianchi: Bianchi are little milk caramels with a gooey chocolate center from Colombia. They almost reminded me of a chocolate Werthers.
  • Arequipe: Arequipe is the Colombian word for a dulce de leche. These are from the same company as Bianchi, and have the same outer hard caramel shell with a gooey ducle de leche center.

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