The Chile Lady of Paloquemao

Not the chile lady.
Not the chile lady.

It took six months for her to smile. But, I find that sort of fascinating. The lady in the photo is not her but I liked her style.

Boxes of dried chiles.
Boxes of dried chiles.

When I moved to Bogota, I was told about the chile lady. It took me a long time to find her because Paloquemao market, while not immense, can be confusing because so many of the stalls look exactly alike. Now I know that she’s a right turn from Peter’s Chinese vegetable stall, located in the Chinese vegetable alley.

The Chile Lady was wearing a chile shirt last weekend.
The Chile Lady was wearing a chile shirt last weekend.

There is also a “Mexican” stall but I usually get my chiles from the Chile Lady of Paloquemao.

Cucumber Kimchi – It Is Really Easy!

Thanks to Paloquemao market, I’m able to find “Asian vegetables” to make Asian food. This includes kimchi.

Cucumber kimchi in pride of place on the table.
Cucumber kimchi in pride of place on the table.

In Dhaka, I organized Korean cooking lessons and it was possible to buy Korean goods at the Korean mart in Dhaka (and I had my special Korean place in Dhaka to supply me). In Bogota there is no Korean supermarket with ready-to-eat small dishes (other than Maki Roll restaurant which has a few items for sale). Also, I haven’t found my kimchi source (Casa de Coreana‘s is the best in Bogota, in my opinion), so I decided that I would have to make it myself.

Hand made cucumber kimchi.
Hand made cucumber kimchi.

The recipe is easy to find on the Internet (Maangchi is one of favorite) and I used her easy recipe involving fish sauce. I made it and it was delicious!

Cucumber kimchi made by me.
Cucumber kimchi at six hours old.

The Secret Speakeasy Restaurant of the Gilded Age of Bogota

Gilded chocolate brownie a la mode.
Gilded chocolate brownie a la mode.

Going out has become a form of theater and the secret speakeasy of Bogota delivers (just like the one in Buenos Aires). It’s called NN (because it’s a secret) and the name is a coded part of the front, a shop called Miss ElaNNia. One has to make a reservation with one of the waiters. I don’t have the number. You’ll have to find a friend who can make the reservation.

Magnificent decor.
Magnificent decor.

On the appointed night, one shows up at Calle 71, No. 5-65. The location is on a quiet street off of Septima, a main road. It is possible to see glimpses of something grand through the windows, but ignore that to get more out of the experience. The front is a shop selling kitsch. You need to go into the shop which actually has cute items for sale.

The biggest Baileys ice cream sandwiches, evah!
The biggest Baileys ice cream sandwiches, evah!

At the appointed moment, a brilliantined waiter will appear and lead you to the back. Once you enter, you walk through past the kitchen, up winding back stairs, only to pop out on the other side of the looking glass. This entry makes the experience feel clandestine.

The front.
The front.

The staff play their roles well even if the service is a bit slow (take your time and drink in the ambiance). The inside of the restaurant is luxurious. They have large round tables with booth seating allowing for parties of ten. There are also smaller tables for intimate conversations. While the cathedral style painted ceiling adds a palatial feel, the restaurant still manages to feel cozy. The music spans Frank Sinatra, Erasure, and more modern beats, interrupted with live jazz from the balcony.

Teddy, is that you?
Teddy, is that you?

The food was French or European and some of the dishes were good. The food was of mixed quality. But, the desserts and ambiance made up for it. The cheese fondue was more of a cheese soup than a fondue. The creamed spinach with bacon was delicious. The steamed mussels with fries was not special. They also have salmon and Beef Wellington. I’ll be back to try more of the menu and get my own portion of spinach. Including several bottles of wine and desserts to share, we each paid around 120,000 pesos (50 U.S. dollars) for dinner, tax and tip.

Baked Alaska. Theater continues in the dessert course.
Baked Alaska. Theater continues in the dessert course.

The gilded brownie is actually a combination of soft mousse and utter decadence. Appropriate for a Bogota entering its golden age.

Beyond Roses, Bogota’s Eternally Flowering

I'm not a botanist so I don't know what it's called.
I’m not a botanist so I don’t know what it’s called.

Depending on how you look at it, because of Bogota’s constant weather of 65 F (18 C) with some sun and some rain every day; it is always fall or always spring. The flowers I’ve shown here are just a few from the same block.

I think it's a hibiscus.
I think it’s a hibiscus.

As I wander around the streets of Bogota, I tend to think it’s an eternal spring because every single green tree or bush is blooming. It is really pretty. Colombia is famous for its rose exports, but I even think that the non-blooming plants look pretty.

So linear and graphic.
So linear and graphic.