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Inside Bogotá’s Paloquemao Market

By Patrick Hieger

[Patrick Hieger]

[Patrick Hieger]

As South America rapidly becomes the next “it destination” for a whole new world of modern cuisine featuring unheard of flavors and ingredients that, until recently, were only known by locals, a new flock of tourists from both within the continent and outside are heading to the Southern hemisphere to get a taste of what some of the world’s leading chefs have to offer.  However, no culinary getaway to just about any country in South America would be complete without a trip to the markets that so many capital cities are known for.  Gastro-pilgrims looking to find the best of Lima know that after dining at Central or Astrid y Gastón, a trip to the Surquillo Market No. 1 is a prerequisite for a taste of caldo de gallina, or just to get their hands on one of the thousands of varieties of potatoes that Peru has to offer.  Locals in Santiago know that, if you’re looking for a true taste of the best that Chile has to offer, the Vega Central is the only place you need to go.  But it’s Bogotá, Colombia that plays home to one of the most remarkable city markets on the continent, Paloquemao.  With a footprint of more than four city blocks, a variety of fruits, vegetables, tubers, live chickens, fish, and more, as well as a flower market that would make the Dutch weep, Paloquemao is one of those markets even the most traveled chef can only dream about, and where hungry travelers can get the most authentic taste of Bogotá that a cab ride can offer.

Two things make the Paloquemao such an incredible market: size and abundance.  Located in the southern reaches of Bogotá, far from the Zona G and the abundance of high-end restaurants that make the city a tourist destination on its own, Paloquemao is massive.  Before you even enter the market, a stretch of parking lot nearly two blocks wide, and at least a block deep is covered in flowers.  Everything from roses to sunflowers, daisies, tulips and more are available in every color imaginable.  After you sift your way through the seemingly unending sea of floral delights, a market that is all at once maze, restaurant, grocer, butcher, and kitchen supply store awaits.  Finding the market isn’t difficult.  Finding a way to leave is much more of a task. 

Como Sur Is Looking For Writers (PO / ES)

By Como Sur Staff

[image: Como Sur / Lily Rouge]

Do you follow the latest in culinary trends?  Are chefs your celebrities, dining out your going to a movie?  Are you passionate about food like Perez Hilton is passionate about all things pop culture?  If you answered yes to, well, all of these questions, and you’re a current resident of South America, we’d like to talk to you.

As the leading source for news on all things gastronomy in South America, Como Sur is in a state of expansion, and we need some help.  We need eyes and ears at street level, the kind of people that know what food and restaurant lovers want to read, and how to find it.  Ideally, our writers will be bilingual, but we certainly work with Spanish and Portuguese-only speakers.  We just want the best and the brightest writers who care about giving South America the gastronomy news it deserves.

Currently, we’re looking for writers in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.  If this sounds like  you, send us an email at editor@comosur.com, and tell us a little more about who you are and why you love the world of gastronomy.   We can’t wait to hear from you. 

NYC Fare Has Found A Home In Bogotá’s Zona G

By Patrick Hieger

[Gordo]

[Gordo]

When Daniel Castaño’s friend handed him the phone seven years ago in the middle of New York’s Union Square, he wasn’t expecting to have to move back to Colombia.  After nearly a decade living in the center of the universe, calling chefs like Mario Batali a friend, and working for one of the most successful restaurant empires in the city, a move back home was never really in the works.  It was that one phone call, though, and a little urging from Camilo Giraldo, who would eventually become Castaño’s business partner, that changed everything.

Much to his father’s chagrin, Daniel Castaño moved to New York to train as a chef after already spending four years to become an engineer.  Like most parents, his father didn’t see much future in his son becoming another cook.  However, after graduating from the French Culinary Institute, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the United States, Castaño would be quickly pipe-lined into a seven-year stint under Mario Batali’s tutelage, during which time he would learn the necessary skills to head back south of the Equator and build his own burgeoning empire, which currently shows no signs of getting smaller.

Experience The Amazon In Puerto Nariño, Colombia

By Joanna Marracelli

[Laurent Lhomond]

[Laurent Lhomond]

The Amazon rainforest.  Just the name alone conjures up images and emotions associated with this majestic area.  It spans across of much of the northern part of the continent of South America, covering 7,000,000 square kilometers, which is mostly rainforest.  The Amazon River snakes along this area stretching all the way from Peru into Colombia until it empties into the ocean in eastern Brazil.  The Colombian portion, known as Amazonia, comprises almost one third of the country’s total area.  To help put this in perspective, it’s about the size of California or larger than Germany. We’re talking really big!

Visiting this area can, thus, be daunting for the visitor.  Traveling to the cities in the Amazon is a reality far away from the images that you imagine in the jungle.  The cities along the river and in the basin are just that, cities.  Leticia, Colombia functions just as any other city would.  Loud motor cars, ATM’s, crowds–you get the idea.  If you are imagining dug-out canoes packed to the brim with bananas and tribes of indigenous people, you can forget about the big cities.  True, they offer convenience but not much else in the way of an Amazon River adventure.   

Rafael Osterling On Colombia, Peru, and the Importance Of Leaders

By Patrick Hieger

[BWFF]

[BWFF]

As the first panelist at this year’s edition of the annual Bogotá Wine and Food festival, Peruvian chef Rafael Osterling basically set the running tone for the entire event.  He already owns two restaurants in Bogotá and said he’s been coming to the city since the 80’s, but definitely feels that there’s still many changes that need to happen before the city can become a true culinary capital of South America.  He’s also quite proud of Peru and what the country and its cuisine have managed to accomplish by spreading so quickly to the world.

After his panel, we wanted to catch up with Osterling and have him elaborate a little more on not just Colombia, but Latin America as a whole, and what it will take for the region to become what many are hoping will be the next ground zero for first-rate world cuisine.  Always full of smiles, but ready to speak his mind and tell the truth, Osterling is passionate about his country and its cuisine, first and foremost.  Read below for a slightly different take on Peru, the future of Colombia, and the power of Mexico. 

Talking Food, Colombia, and Identity With Dominique Crenn

By Patrick Hieger

[BWFF]

[BWFF]

Dominique Crenn’s talk last Thursday as part of the Bogotá Wine and Food fest was, perhaps, the single best panel of the entire festival.  She basically gave over the microphone to the crowd, and got a conversation going about Colombia, pride in tradition, and how the young cooks in the crowd can be the change in the country’s future.  The general consensus was that it is a lack of pride that’s missing, not just in food traditions, but in the chefs themselves.  By the end of the conversation, though, it was clear that each and every culinary student, chef, food-lover, and Colombian in the room was eager to get going on a new path to make a difference.

Afterwards, we took a few minutes to expand on Crenn’s chat, and dig a little deeper into her philosophies on food, and how important it is.  Even as an adopted native of the United States, she knows that no country is perfect, and that our food systems need to change.  Read below for the interview, and maybe you’ll find some inspirational nuggets in there for yourself. 

Bogotá Wine And Food: The Day After Observations

By Patrick Hieger

[Patrick Hieger]

[Patrick Hieger]

With a five-course brunch and an inspired new look outlook on where Colombia can head as a leading culinary force in South America, the fourth annual edition of the Bogotá Wine and Food fest officially came to a close yesterday.  Over the course of five days, guests of the various talks and cooking events throughout Bogotá were given a strong dose of perspective from national and international culinary professionals on just what Colombia needs to become the next hot spot for destination dining on the continent.  Next year’s festival will undoubtedly bring even more talent from around the world, and Bogotá will have spent an entire year pushing ahead, offering more great restaurants and gastronomic highlights to explore.

The main highlight of the closing weekend was the street food festival that featured local restaurants and chefs, as well as invited talent cooking up traditional Colombian dishes and innovative new takes on local ingredients.  Chefs jumped from one booth to another to help out as lines grew longer with happy guests coming back for seconds.  Live musicians punctuated the laughter, the happy sighs after delicious plates, and the camaraderie that the wide variety of chefs shared as they helped to support Colombia and its incredible larder.  And the food was some of the best of the entire event, little bites bursting with a variety of flavors new and old.

With every cooking event nearly sold out for five days (two turns of the closing brunch were packed full), Bogotá Wine and Food certainly did its job of raising a huge amount of money for the Fundación Escuela Taller.  Although a few of the big names that were expected to arrive dropped out at the last minute, the success of this year’s festival will undoubtedly allow it to become bigger and better next year, assuring that the lineup of speakers will be top notch.

Below, some observations on the five days of the festival:

Recap: Bogotá Wine and Food, Day 3

By Patrick Hieger

[BWFF]

[BWFF]

Ladies and gentlemen, late last night in the outskirts of Bogotá, at a massive dance club that, by day, serves heaping portions of meat, a new phenomenon that can only be described as “crotch motorboating” was created.  We’ll have more on that towards the bottom, but just let the idea soak over you.

Due to a few logistical snags and timing issues, several chefs, like Enrique Olvera and Ignacio Mattos, that were supposed to attend the festival had to cancel last minute, so day three, the final day of chats with chefs and other professionals was cut short.  However, with the three Roca brothers kicking the day off and Renzo Garibaldi taking down an entire leg of beef (later topped off by that new dance phenomenon) ending the day, it wasn’t as though we were missing much.  Bogotá continued to excite, inspire, and make us hungry.

Day three, the hits, below: