Como Sur | South American Gastronomy

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The Como Sur Best Of 2014 Awards: Voting Starts Now

By Patrick Hieger

Como Sur 2014 Awards Logo RedIt’s hard to believe that another year has passed. It’s even harder to believe that so many incredible things happened this past year. New restaurants opened. Big events got bigger. Loads of new cookbooks came out. And we got to eat so much incredible food. Yes, 2014 was an incredible year for South America and its cuisine, and we want to recognize the countries that made it great.

As of today, we’re opening the voting for the Como Sur Best of 2014 Awards. And there is a lot to choose from. Not only were we able to broaden the awards this year to cover each of the countries we focus on, but we were able to include various categories in each. We’ve got books from Brazil, new restaurants in Bolivia, events, chefs, and more.  So it’s time for you to vote.

The survey below passes through the countries that we regularly focus on, with categories for each.  At the end,  you’ll find categories for the overall continent. There’s a lot to choose from. Happy voting!

Juan Manuel Barrientos On Opening El Cielo In Miami, And The Busy Year Ahead

By Patrick Hieger

[Mario Alzate]

[Mario Alzate]

As if 2014 hasn’t already been busy enough for young Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos, it looks like 2015 is going to be even crazier.  At just 31, Barrientos is on the verge of opening the third location of his highly-acclaimed El Cielo, this time in Miami.  In addition to franchising his successful pizzería, trying to write a cookbook, and managing a foundation that brings ex-guerrillas and wounded soldiers together via learning how to cook.  

Amidst the clamor of banging hammers, people asking his opinions on color schemes and plates, we had the chance to catch up with the chef at the forthcoming Miami location of El Cielo.  Friends, family, and workers moved steadily around him, and although he and his team were about to start cooking trials the following day, he seemed completely relaxed.  

Read below for the complete conversation, and get inspired to do even a third of what this chef has already accomplished at such a young age.  And get ready for a beautiful new restaurant that’s set to open in downtown Miami in less than two weeks.  

It Looks Like La Paz’s Manq’a Program Will Head To Colombia (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[Manq'a]

[Manq’a]

When Claus Meyer speaks, you listen.  It seems that when the Noma and Gustu co-owner mentioned in an interview back in September that he was thinking of bringing his non-profit system of cooking schools to Colombia, he wasn’t lying.  As part of a two-day workshop last week in Bogotá entitled Co-Creation: Gastronomic Schools In Colombia, Manq’a Bolivia was on hand to discuss implementing the program in Colombia.  No official opening date has been announced yet, but this will be a huge move for Meyer, the Manq’a team, and Melting Pot, as their ‘food for social change’ programs spread beyond the borders of Bolivia.  

Inside The Breakfast of Champions: Arepa Con Huevo

By Joanna Marracelli

DESAYUNODECAMPEONES

Both Colombia and Venezuela can lay claim to fame for creating the quintessential street snack, the arepa.  What the pupusa is to El Salvador or a gordita for Mexico, so is an arepa for these countries.  In Colombia the arepa runs deep, going back centuries as a food consumed by the indigenous people which was later passed on to the farmers.  Today it is the premier street food in the country with countless regional variations existing from north to south.  Just like in Venezuela, particular styles, fillings and even the dough can be different depending upon where you are.  By far the most common arepa is the simple grilled variety, found on almost every street corner throughout the country.  Often a thick cake grilled directly on the street over charcoals and slathered with butter, sometimes stuffed with cheese, it is a completely irresistible snack.  If that smell of corn grilling over an open fire doesn’t grip you and make you stop in your tracks, nothing will.

Street Food In Bogotá? Ask A New Yorker

By Patrick Hieger

ASK THE PROS COLOMBIA.JPG

Although chef and restaurant owner Daniel Castaño was born and raised in Colombia, he’ll tell you quite honestly that he spent the formative years of his life on the streets of New York.  At just 18 years old, having shunned a traditional career in engineering, he headed off to the Big Apple and enrolled in culinary school, embarking on an education that would last more than 10 years, working with some of the city’s best chefs including Mario Batali.  During those formative years, while he mastered the art of pizzas and pastas, dreaming of the day he would open his own Italian restaurant and show off all he’d learned, he ate across New York, taking in the good and the bad, the high and the low.  He may not live in the city any longer, but he’s certainly still an expert.

Now that Castaño is back in Bogotá, running six restaurants with his business partner Camilo Giraldo that, in their own unique way, pay homage to his time in New York, who better to ask about eating on the streets of Bogotá than a seasoned pro who knows how to navigate between the mediocre and the excellent.  With a thriving street food scene that ranges from fresh juices to melt-in-your-mouth arepas, eating in Bogotá is as easy as heading out to the corner.  Knowing which corner to head to, though, is another story.  Below, we’ve got Castaño’s take on what’s best to eat on the street, should you find yourself hanging around Colombia’s capital city.  

The World’s Largest Arepa Was Made In Colombia This Past Weekend (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[Caracol Radio]

[Caracol Radio]

This past weekend in Colombia, the small town of Ventaquemada unseated Venezuela as the record holder for the world’s largest arepa, as part of the city’s annual arepa festival.  The massive corn cake, which measured at over seven meters in diameter, used more than 600 pounds of dough made of wheat and corn flour, and over 350 pounds of cheese to stuff it.  Achieving such a feat took over 100 workers and 12 hours to complete, working on a massive griddle assembled in the middle of town.  Speaking on the new official Guinness World Record, Ventaquemada mayor said, “What we want is to give an identity to the arepas that we make here, as part of some very strict quality and flavor parameters, in order to be recognized with a Denominación de Origen for the arepa de Ventaquemada.”   Venezuela, are those fighting words?  [via Caracol]

A Surfer and A Cyclist Are Trying To Rescue Colombian Coffee

By Patrick Hieger

[Azahar]

[Azahar]

For Tyler Youngblood and Keith Schuman, the road to owning a burgeoning coffee export and roasting business based in Armenia, Colombia wasn’t exactly paved.  In fact, there was no road.  However, like so many other travelers that head to South America looking for the last great adventure or a new opportunity, a chance meeting in Peru back in 2010 gave the now business partners a chance to create not just a new opportunity for themselves, but for a whole industry in need of an overhaul. 

The Anatomy Of A Colombian Lulada

By Joanna Marracelli

ANATOMY OF A LULADO

Colombia’s dining scene has been exploding these past few years. Chefs there are more geared up than ever to propel the country into one of the hottest spots for destination dining on the continent.  With another successful Bogotá Wine and Food festival held last month in the bag and plans to make next year’s even bigger and better, Bogotá will surely be forging ahead this year to push Colombia over the top.  Dishes like ajiaco, sancocho and patacones are become more well-known.  Not to be missed is the vast array of Colombian tropical fruits, which are being utilized in everything from street cart drinks to desserts at top restaurants in Bogotá’s posh Zona G.

The lulada has to be one of the most refreshing drinks on the planet, but for Colombians it’s just another great way to utilize the massive amount of fruit. It is the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  Originally coming from the south of the country in and around sizzling Cali, it has migrated its way up north and now you can enjoy an icy cold lulada almost anywhere in the country.  Still, it remains a drink best appreciated in one of Colombia’s more steamy locations for the ultimate cool down factor. Created from what is perhaps Colombia’s most beloved fruit, the lulo (known as naranjilla in other Latin American countries), a zippy, acidic, tropical fruit is grown throughout the country and forms the base of the drink.