Friday, October 31, 2014

Bogota-Colombia's Vibrant Capital

Arriving at the vibrant capital of Colombia leaves you virtually breathless.
The city is situated at about 2700m above sea level and boy - you gasp for oxygen when you arrive.
The local advice to avoid altitude sickness is "Caminar despacito, comer poquito y dormer solito" which means "walk slowly, eat little and sleep alone"
We took the advice, rested a bit after our arrival and then plunged ourselves fully into discovering Bogota.
Traffic is chaotic and sometimes it seems that all of the over 7 million inhabitants of Bogota agree at driving their cars all at the same time in the same street-then you have what people refer to as a "trancon" or traffic jam.
The climate is quite unpredictable and most days you have all 4 stations in one day which means radiant sunshine in the morning, heavy rain or thunder storm at midday and variations of the former in the afternoon.
The cultural life of the city is amazing: Gorgeous museums (the newest addition is the Fernando Botero Museum), theatre, live  music peformances from classic to Cumbia and Vallenato and the extraordinary puppet theatre of Jaime Manzur which features from the month of November on the Nutcracker and other classic master pieces.
Colombians have a reputation of being very friendly, well-educated and speaking a beautiful Spanish.
They continue to battle against the image of drug and crime problems of their country which certainly exist, but there are as well the millions of ordinary Colombians who work hard for their living and live a decent life.
We had a wonderful time rediscovering this exciting country, visiting Bogota and the beautiful Caribbean town of Cartagena de Indias.

A recreation spot near down town.  

Bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Fe de Bogotá

Writing on the wall: Remembering Colombian literature Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom Colombians called affectionously "Gabo"

The newest addition to Bogota's cultural life : Gorgeous museo Botero

Mona Lisa with a twist as seen by maestro Botero

The museum is situated in an old colonial style house with a beautiful patio

The "al agua patos" café where we enjoyed a delicious brunch

And nice ambience

Best tropical fruit granola I ever tried

Amazing sandwhiches - this one with a Mediterranean flavour

The classical versión with ham and eggs

Local flavor with shredded meat and tasty onions

A colorful small house cheering up a rainy day

Visting the studio of our dear friend maestro Armando Villegas,a great Peruvian- Colombian painter who recently passed away

Live music show at a restaurant owned by the King of Cumbia and Vallenato music and Grammy award winner Carlos Vives

A sign at the entrance that reminds you to better not bring your personal weapons with you :)

"The "place to be for the young,rich and beautiful- Harry's Sasson, listed among the 50 best restaurants in Latinamerica.

A more traditional ambiance for private dinners

The open kitchen

And the stylish bar

Street musicians at a fleamarket in Santa Barbara

Thank you for joining me at this visit to Bogota, see you soon. 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Breakfast Delight-Dill Pesto&Scrambled Eggs Baguette

Are you traveling light or are you the kind of traveler that brings half his home with him, just in case?
I belonged for years to the second category, bringing heavy suitcases along, causing astonished looks from fellow travelers and furious ones from my husband. He is usually a very relaxed and patient guy , but when it comes to too much luggage....
I know, I know, over packing tops the list of biggest travel mistakes but the temptation of being prepared for every kind of weather, occasion, sport, allergy- whatever - was irresistible.
Until I got my luggage lost at a Spanish airport and had to live out of my emergency package from my hand luggage for 2 days.
First, I wanted to faint, then I remembered all the Jungle Camp and Survivor reality shows ( I seriously compared me to them, being in Madrid!!) and thought, if they could I could manage too.
Realizing how little you really need and still being able to have fun was surprising.
Of course I tricked a bit and shopped for 2 or 3 basic things.
No, it was not a Chanel suit, just a shampoo ( I hate the one you usually get at the hotel) and an umbrella.
Lesson learned, I'm traveling light since then, bringing only the basics and actually enjoying my new freedom.
Should I ever have an emergency like being invited spontaneously by the Queen, I'll buy what I need , but not bring it along just in case.
So this week we are traveling to Colombia and despite of the two climate zones we will be visiting, my luggage will be a small one and my husbands smile a big one.

But before leaving, I wanted to share with you this little breakfast or brunch treat that makes you start the day with an energy kick and will spoil your taste buds.

You need:
4 thin slices Prosciutto
30g ( about 1/2 cup) fresh dill
40g pine nuts
30g grated parmesan
1 clove of garlic
3 spoonful olive oil ( this is aprox. depending on the consistency of the mixture)
1/2 baguette, cut in medium slices
For the scrambled eggs:
4 eggs
1/2 spoonful olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 spoonful whole milk
salt and pepper
-Bake prosciutto on parchment paper at 200 C until crisp.
-Mix dill, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor adding bit by bit the olive oil until obtaining a smooth mixture.

-Roast baguette slices in oven until golden brown and crispy.
-Whisk whole eggs with milk, salt and pepper thoroughly to incorporate air.

-Heat olive oil and melt butter in a non stick pan. Don't overheat, this will discolor the egg mixture.
-Let the mixture just sit, then, with a wooden spoon or a flexible heat proofed spatula scrape the bottom frequently until just set.

-Do not overcook! The egg mixture should be soft and still a bit moist.
-Spread pesto evenly on the baguette slices.
-Top with scrambled eggs and crispy prosciutto

Serve immediately
Serves about 12p.











Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gingered Carrot Orange Soup

Springtime has officially started in our hemisphere but it seems that the climate didn't get the news: they days are still grey and cold.
So I thought it would be nice to have something vitamin loaded and colorful on the table.
Have you ever had a graving for something orange colored that doesn't taste like pumpkin ?
Carrots are the answer!
This soup is a firework of flavors and is great for your health too.
Immune boosting ingredients, the natural sweetness of carrots and a spicy ginger touch.
Its great to warm you up on a chilly autumn evening and cheer you up with its bright, orange color.
In Lima, even outside its still winter, people are flocking to fitness centers, running, cycling and hiring personal trainers.
It's probably not the kind of people that are working out the whole year round for health and fitness reasons but the ones that are panicking because summer is around the corner and they want to bring their bodies in shape.
Lima is a city located at the sea, beaches are always crowded and you know what they say about competition and the laws of the free market.....
Anyhow, this is a recipe sans regret for the health,figure and fitness conscious.
You need:
500g organic carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
11/2 spoonful Olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
1 spoonful freshly grated ginger
1 clove
11/2 l vegetable stock
crème fraiche or sour cream for decoration
1 spoonful chopped cilantro or parsley ( I personally prefer cilantro, it adds a nice flavor to the spicy sweetness of this soup)
1/2 cup freshly squeezes orange juice
1teaspoon orange zest
In a large pot sauté the onions and garlic until onions are translucent and fragrant.

Add carrots and ginger and sauté untril slightly soft.

Add stock, bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let simmer until carrots are soft.

Add orange juice and season with salt and freshly grated black pepper.
Let the mixture cool down, then add the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until a purred soup forms.

Add orange zest, serve hot and decorate with a bit of crème fraiche and cilantro.

Serves 6 p.

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