Will I See You Again, Charco? A Restaurant I Will Return To In Uruguay

Warm, freshly baked rolls and olives to start the meal.
Warm, freshly baked rolls and olives to start the meal.

“How is the food?” “Delicious, but it makes me sad.” “Why?” “Because I can only eat this.” “But, we have more food in the kitchen.” “But I have only this one night.”

Smoked salmon, calamari with tartar sauce, and panko crusted shrimp with mango salsa.
Smoked salmon, calamari with tartar sauce, and panko crusted shrimp with mango salsa.

This was the conversation I had with my young waiter who looked like he had stepped out of a commercial for polo and Polo.

I had wandered around Colonia for a few hours when I heard the lap of waves at the end of a cobblestone street. Charco restaurant is down at sea level, perhaps even a bit below. They have a counter along the windows so that one can sit facing the waves while eating.

The shrimp with mango salsa.
The shrimp with mango salsa.

I managed to get a table because I wanted to eat dinner at 5 p.m. Apparently later that evening, all the (seven) tables were reserved. Charco is the “house” restaurant of a hotel. The hotel only has seven rooms (or something like that) and next time I visit Colonia, I might try to stay there.

A seat with a view.
A place setting with a view.

My seafood platter was good. I loved the fresh tart pomelo juice (I like my juice fresh and I’ve tried quite a few!).

Fresh pomelo juice in a curvacious glass.
Fresh pomelo juice in a curvacious glass.

But, what I really impressed me was the freshly baked mini breads (and the olives) which came out as an appetizer. The bread had been baked like Italian pizza with corn meal on the bottom. This helps to keep the bread from sticking to the oven but it also adds a crunchy sweetness to the rolls. Warm, buttery, and sweetly corny. All six for me!

The hotel as seen from the street.
The hotel as seen from the street.

When I chatted with the waiter, who spoke beautiful English, I asked him if he was from Colonia. He was. I asked if he had seen some of the world. He had. I asked if he thought that Colonia was the best town in the world. That was why he came back.

A mysterious door at the end of a street. Don't resist!
A mysterious door at the end of a street. Don’t resist!

Colombian Colors

His dad was showing him how to wave the flag.
The dad enthusiastically showed his son how to fly the colors.

With Colombia taking part in the beautiful game (soccer), I have seen lots of people wearing the national colors.

These kids were actually watching Celine Dion on a karaoke machine.
These kids were actually watching Celine Dion on a karaoke machine.

Soccer is the national sport and Colombians are passionate about it. They also like baseball but really, it’s all about “football.”

A father and his kids in Bogota.
A father and his kids in Bogota.

The three colors of the Colombian flag represent the gold found in Colombia; the blue seas, and the red blood shed fighting for independence.

That is the most patriotic monkey I've seen here. Doesn't even detract from the beautiful woman.
That is the most patriotic monkey I’ve seen here. Doesn’t even detract from the beautiful woman.

Colombia’s national day is July 20. Maybe I’ll see more patriotic colors then.

A little girl who is the gold in her father's eye.
A little girl who is the gold in her father’s eye.

Getting Yelled At In A Restaurant In Mandarin, Again

The spread of Chinese food.
The spread of Chinese food.

One day, I had the brilliant (so I thought) idea of ordering a whole bunch of items at my favorite Chinese restaurant in Bogota. I figured that given the price of ingredients, I might as well buy the food ready-made. Also, ordering many dishes would allow me to nibble from many different dishes… I got an accomplice who rather fancied the idea for herself. So we ordered quite a few dishes including a few repeats (sometimes you just don’t want to share the appetizer, am I right?).  — Pause here… we waiting in anticipation… —

Suddenly, the chef came out of the kitchen. He yelled at us in Mandarin for five minutes. Five minutes of gesticulating and yelling. I kept smiling. Five minutes of the chef yelling at us that we had ordered too much food.

Baby greens.
Baby greens.

Finally, the Colombian waiter stopped him by saying the Chinese word for “to go.” The chef stomped back to the kitchen. Then I laughed. I had leftovers all week long.

The bean dish is called "ants on a log" but it's different than the celery, peanut butter, and raisin dish with similar name.
The bean dish is called “ants on a log” but it’s different than the celery, peanut butter, and raisin dish with similar name.

The following time, I took a larger group and when a Mandarin speaker tried to get chummy with the chef, the chef recognized me and said, “She knows.” And this time I completely understood him.