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[photo: Hallwright's]

Celebrate World Malbec Day At Hallwright’s In La Paz (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[photo: Hallwright's]

[photo: Hallwright’s]

When they say that it’s World Malbec Day, they really mean it.  All this week, festivals are happening across the globe, from New York to London, and throughout South America in celebration of Argentina’s most famous grape.  La Paz is no exception.  Hallwright’s, the Aussie-owned wine bar in the highest city in South America, will be celebrating World Malbec Day, tomorrow April 17, with wine specials and live music.  Singer Carla Casanova and guitarist Eric Duong will provide the ambiance, while Hallwright’s will be selling Casa Grande Malbec 2 x 1 all night long.  Happy celebrating.

Cuando se dice que es el día mundial de Malbec, se dicen de verdad.  Toda esta semana, hay fiestas pasando por todo el mundo, desde Nueva York a Londrés, y por todo sudamérica, en celbración de la uva más famosa de Argentina.  La Paz no es excepción.  Hallwright’s, el bar de vinos con dueños Australianos en la ciudad más alta de sudamérica, celebrará el día mundial de Malbec mañana, 17 de abril,  con ofertas de vino y música viva.  Cantante Carla Casanova y guitarista Eric Duong tocarán la música, y Hallwright’s venderá Malbec de bodega Casa Grande a 2 x 1 durante toda la noche.  Felices celebraciones.

Where to Eat Now La Paz

Where To Eat Now: La Paz

By Maribel Rivero

Though Gustu remains the number one destination for foodies heading to La Paz, a new crop of restaurants, as well as some old classics, give La Paz just enough of a foodie culture to warrant a couple nights’ stay.  From fresh-made Italian pastas to authentic Mexican, there’s something to please even the pickiest of palates.  Fancy a drink?  Be sure and find some of the incredible local brews, too.

Gustu
Since opening in April 2013, Gustu has received loads of critical acclaim from the global culinary scene.   Founder Claus Meyer chose two innovative and highly experienced chefs, Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari to cultivate Bolivian gastronomy and form a culinary destination.  Beyond the acclaim, Gustu presents 100% Bolivian food and drink products, including the décor that highlights the riches of the Andes to the Amazon.  Perhaps the most notable experience a diner can have is witnessing the hard working and aspiring young Bolivian cooks via the open kitchen.  As part of the Melting Pot Program, in partnership with Gustu, students are accepted into a culinary hands-on training and education program.  Students complement your dining experience by presenting your chosen entrée with a detailed description of your order to further understand the unique Bolivian products prepared especially for you.

Chez Moustache
In the heart of the Sopocacchi Embassy district you’ll find an unassuming yellow home with a whimsical Llama with a moustache for its logo.  This restaurant has loads of character, with its pictures of moustachioed celebrity icons adorning the walls.  They also house-made pastas and provincial French cuisine.  It’s French food that’s unpretentious and leaves you with a comforting home-cooked feeling.

Yerba Buena
Yerba Buena is housed in the Casa Grande Hotel in Calacotto.  This swanky restaurant is a sure bet for a nice meal and attentive service that perhaps may be amiss in the rest of La Paz.  Chef Luis Fernando Ayala has created a variety of plates that meet any taste from composed salads, common Amazonian fish options, and local meats to sate any appetite.

Paceña La Salteña
From Monday through Saturday you can enjoy a salteña for breakfast or lunch.  Paceña La Salteña presents the classic empanada dough filled with juicy beef or chicken.  It’s all about the right amount of savory juice and filling with the perfectly thin crust pastry that makes the right salteña.  Everyone has their favorite vendor in their neighborhood but Paceña La Saltena does the job just fine. With a variety of locations around town, you won’t have to go far to get one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes.

Expat tip: Be sure to watch the locals as they eat their salteña or you will have juice all over your shirt.

Il Portico
Ill Portico is well known in Mallasa, a suburb area of La Paz.  A 15-minute cab ride is well worth the visit for a perfectly crisp wood-fired Neopolitan style pizza.  Their fresh ingredients are simple but tasty, and their pastas are made in-house.

Hallwright’s
If you eat a heavy lunch like most Bolivians, then a light snack is all you need at night.  There is no better place to enjoy artisan charcuterie such as Llama salami and goat cheese from Tarija than Hallwright’s in Sopacacchi.  A simply adorned colonial building turned into a vinoteca, Hallwright’s is the perfect option for the end of a week or light dinner option with wine recommendations from the knowledgeable staff.

Flanigan’s Cave Gourmet
For a slightly higher-priced option, Flanigan’s offers diners a Mediterranean experience with quality choice cuts of beef, fresh pastas and salads, and a great wine selection.   The interior are handsomely decorated, with a minimalist feel, making it a sure bet for an elegant evening for two.

Los Girasoles
This unassuming eatery is not fine dining but it’s definitely fine Mexican food.  You feel like you’ve just walked into a Mexican home with the smell of guajillo chiles cooking away creating a mouth-watering aroma.  The smell of tortillas toasting on the comal, ready for the perfect taco paired with a Corona or Dos XX makes the Mexican experience complete.  Stick to the tacos and ask for extra lime for the guacamole.

Pampa y Rio
Pampa y Rio features fish flown in daily from the Beni, the Amazonian area of Bolivia.  Paired with meats from the low lands of Santa Cruz, Pampa y Rio makes for an excellent surf-n-turf option.  Handsome décor and friendly service will warrant a second trip.

Las Cholas
For a sure bet for street-fare classics, Las Cholas, located on the rim of Calacoto, is known by any taxista.  Las Cholas is a permanent row of stalls that serves up guaranteed authentic Bolivian street fare options such as pork sandwiches with escabeche “sandwich de chola”or “anticuchos” beef heart or chicken heart skewers served with salsa, made with a personal touch from la casera.  It’s a must visit for any traveler new to La Paz and even for locals.

[image: La Paz Restaurant Week]

Three Picks For La Paz Restaurant Week

By Maribel Rivero
Though restaurant week began last week in La Paz, don’t worry–you still have five days left to enjoy the deals.  Here are three restaurants with varied ambience to consider as part of the restaurant week deals.  As part of restaurant week, participating restaurants are offering a three-course menu for 100Bs.  Below, three options to choose from.

[photo: Casa Grande]

[photo: Casa Grande]

Yerba Buena | Casa Grande Hotel Calle 16 | Calle 16 Nº 8009, Calacoto ?| 591-2-2774000
Casa Grande Hotel offers a beautifully-designed restaurant called Yerba Buena.  Guests are welcomed with a warm reception from the hostess and seated in the dining room with plush turquoise banquets, crisp linens, and simple but eloquent dining ware.  Perhaps the ambiance seems a bit regal for a weekday evening dinner or casual lunch.  However, Restaurant Week celebrates the reason to dine anytime and Yerba Buena is the restaurant to try since you may not think of this restaurant except for a very special occasion.   The restaurant week menu is offered for lunch and dinner.

Here’s the menu:
Ensalda templada de muslos de pato confitadados, championes salteados, mezclum de lechugas

Principal (a elección)
Medallones de Res en Salsa de Hongos, Pappas Fritas y Gratinado de Carotes
Muslos de Pollo Jugosos En Salsa de Parmesano, Penne Rigate Coliflor y Mantequilla Negra
Risotto de Hongos, Verduras de Temporada, y Nube de Parmesano

Postre (a elección)
Tartare de Frutas con espuma de coco

 

[photo: Trip Advisor]

[photo: Trip Advisor]


Chez Moustache | Calle 16 Nº 8009, Calacoto | Casilla Nº1132 |? 591-2-2774000
For a more centrally located restaurant in Sopocacchi, Chez Moustache is a must try! This restaurant, open just over a year, is run by Frank Ouvrard, chef and owner.  This Frenchman came upon La Paz through years of travel throughout Europe, United States, and finally to the Southern Cone where he stopped in Bolivia.  Bolivia seemed to share the same qualities that he possessed–mysticism, character, and a little craziness.  Chez Moustache is a French bistro with simple and comforting dishes.  Approaching the restaurant by spotting the logo with a llama and its skinny, stereotypical French moustache for a logo, you have a sense this restaurant has a lot of character.   The walls are decorated with pictures of famous men and their moustaches like Albert Einstein, Charlie Chapman, and Ghandi hung against subtle and warmly yellow-painted walls.  Try to sit in the small solarium with a tranquil view of the backyard.

Chef Frank offers a new menu everyday for Restaurant Week choosing one of three options for the first, second, and third course during lunch only.  Perhaps my choices will be repeated, which were a Crepe de Poulet, Ravioles de Res Gratin with mushrooms and onions, and Bolivian chocolate mousse topped with a crème anglaise.  Everything was perfectly seasoned, wonderfully comforting, and filling.

(P.S. Ladies will have a giggle in the restroom as you take a seat to a very nice view on the wall.)

[photo: Trip Advisor]

[photo: Trip Advisor]

Pampa y Rio | Calle 16 Nº 8009, Calacoto | Casilla Nº1132 | ?591-2-2774000
Located in San Miguel, this restaurant should be frequented often since they offer fresh seasonal fish from the Beni.  Opened now for two years, they recently started serving lunch as well as dinner.  They offer their Restaurant Week menu for lunch and dinner.  This restaurant has beautiful dark hard wood tables with leather runner trimmings resulting in a handsome décor, giving Pampa y Rio has a comfortable yet elegant ambiance to enjoy a well prepared meal.  The three course menu for Restaurant week includes a tamarind cocktail, fish meatball in a tasty mix of onions and parsley, hearty fish lasagna, and a trio of desserts to completely satisfy your appetite.

[image: Hallwright's]

Valenwine’s Day At Hallwright’s La Paz

[image: Hallwright's]

[image: Hallwright’s]

See what we did there?  Hallwright’s is the newest, hottest wine bar in La Paz, Bolivia, and they’d like La Paz lovers to come and celebrate Valentine’s Day with some selected wines.  For a mere 100 Bs. per couple (about $30 US), guests will receive a welcome glass of sparkling wine, a “bouquet” of wines including rosé, red, and white, as well as chocolate fudge to nibble on.  Reservations for tonight can be made by calling Hallwright’s at 67024250.  This sounds like a fantastic way to spend a romantic evening at 4,000 meters.  Salud!

[image: La Paz Gourmet]

La Paz Restaurant Week February 11 To 21

[image: La Paz Gourmet]

[image: La Paz Gourmet]

Though weeks are only seven days long and not one restaurant week on the planet is ever actually only one week long, we still wanted to let you know that La Paz is holding their 10-day restaurant week starting today.  From February 11 to 21, diners in the miles-high city will be able to enjoy a taste of 12 different restaurants around the city, Gustu not included.  However, something tells us that if you’re reading this and you’re in La Paz, there’s an awfully good chance that you’ve already eaten at Gustu, and it’s time to broaden your horizons.

Sponsored by website Qué Planes (queplanes.bo), the participating restaurants will offer a 100 Bs menu throughout the course of Restaurant Week, which will include an appetizer, an entrée, a dessert, and a drink.  At the going rate, that’s about $18 US for a three-course meal.  Not too shabby.  And, although Gustu does tend to steal much of the praise for fine dining in La Paz, you might just be able to find a hidden gem or two that’s worth talking about.  Enjoy!

Maribel Burger

Burger Week: Meating Patty In La Paz, Bolivia

By Maribel Rivero

Maribel Burger

Burgers may seem synonymous with American cuisine, perhaps because they do it right! Juicy meat, paired with a variety of personal preference toppings, between a proportionate bun, makes a very satisfying sandwich.  Latin America loves their meat and, thus, burgers fit the bill.  So it’s not unlikely to find a good burger in La Paz.  Bolivia has its controversial history with burgers, what with McDonald’s unprofitable 14-year run in Bolivia, resulting in their closing in 2002.  Articles report on their failure and interviewees report on the Bolivian homemade food culture not accepting fast-food.  However, I can’t help but notice the burger chain explosion from my visit in 2003 until now, 2014.  Burger chains like Toby and even Burger King are alive and well to fill the void.  For quality burgers in La Paz made with quality meat, less than store bought bread and a personal touch, here are my top five.  They may not be gourmet, boutique, or vanguard, but they are burgers and these place do a good job to fill your burger fix.

Charlie Papa | Av. Ballivian #999 | La Paz, Bolivia |
Charlie Papa is an American-themed restaurant that could be likened to well known operated American establishments like Chili’s and TGI Friday’s.  Open since 2006, it has a favorable environment for large groups that can enjoy not only a burger but also other favorites like chicken wings, chicken fingers, pizza, salads and some pasta dishes.  An outside playground and adjacent patio seating are perfect for families.  There are six types of burgers to choose from, all cooked to your preference on a grill.  It comes complete with a soft, locally-made sesame bun that melds with the hot patty so it’s not unwieldy with each bite.  The patties are hand formed Santa Cruceña beef, on par with Argentinian grass-fed pasturized cows, which results in lean, yet tasty meat.  Thick, crispy semi-skinned French fries round out the meal.

Burger options at Charlie Papa include:
Classic: 180 grams of Cruceña beef, with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, tomato, and iceberg lettuce.
Suiza-180grams of Cruceña beef, mozzarella, mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomato, and lettuce.
Beer Burger- 180grams Cruceña beef mixed with beer and chipotles, cilantro, cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and palta.
And a wide variety of others.  Most of the burgers come in at a mere 45 Bolivianos, except for the 250 g mammoth Sud Africa, at 55 Bolivianos.  Take your pick.  They’re all a steal.

Factory Bar & Grill | MegaCenter | Irapavi | La Paz,Bolivia
Factory Bar & Grill is an American-themed restaurant offering the usual suspects, including wings, burgers, and ribs to name a few.  This restaurant / bar includes a variety of festive drinks including a typical Margarita served in a glass big enough for five to share.  Inside, there is a huge bar with a variety of mixed drink options, including Bolivian draft beers.  Factory has been around since 2009 in La Paz, 1 year in Cochabamba, and will open this month in Santa Cruz.  Burgers are made with 180 or 250 grams of Cruceña beef at 55 and 59 Bolivianos, respectively.  They even offer slider versions of their six different burger varieties that include:
Tex-Mex Burger- sour cream, guacamole, queso cheddar, pico de gallo, and jalapeños.
Jalepeño & Blue Cheese Burger- Toppings self explanatory.
Cowboy-bbq sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese
Austin Burger- cheese, un-crisped bacon, and alfalfa sprouts.
Chimmichurri Burger- chimmichurri and provolone cheese
Chili Burger- sour cream, nachos, and chili con carne.
Double Decker- 2 x 100 grams of beef topped the house special mayonnaise sauce.

Dubliners | MegaCenter | Irapavi | La Paz, Bolivia
Located right next door to Factory Bar & Grill, this restaurant / bar is themed with Irish pub icons and dark wood furnishings.  The owners also own popular expat eateries in the touristic area of Calle Sagarnaga. Their menu features steaks and entrees typical of a gastropub from across the pond.  Dubliners’ burgers are made with Cruceña beef and a bun that is proportionate, but not housemade.  Their fries, like Charlie Papa’s, thick, crispy, and semi-skinned.  They serve Bolivian beers like Paceña, Bock, and Pisco de Oro.  Imports and even some Mexican beers are offered.   Guests have the option of 4 burgers at 250 grams each with these topping variations:
Dubliner- Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mayonnaise based slaw.
Tex-Mex- Cheddar cheese, un-crisped bacon, bbq sauce
Blue Cheese- Blue cheese Salsa
Bypass- Cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce and salsa golf

Highlanders | San Miguel |  Calle Juan Capriles #1259 | La Paz, Bolivia
Highlanders is a Tex-Mex haven with Mexican dishes like guacamole and chips, enchiladas, fajitas, and even gorditas.  This Tex-Mex fare is defined as food from Texas, which includes BBQ ribs and unique Texas plates like Chicken Fried Steak combined with Mexican entrees.  This family-run eatery has kitschy artwork with the Texas Republic flag, iconic beer brands, beautiful wood work in rustic picnic tables and chairs that have the republic star carved out.  They opened in 2001 and recently opened in Santa Cruz, Bolivia as well.  Although they only have one burger offering, the server did note that they hope to match their expanded burger offerings as in Santa Cruz.
The Tex-Mex burger is 200 grams of Argentine ground beef , grilled with a BBQ sauce cheese, lettuce, and tomato, all served with fries and a side of ranchero beans.  The burger bun is housemade.  Beer offerings are all by the bottle including local favorite Saya, Mexican imports such as Corona and Negro Modelo, and Heineken.

Risky Business Resto Pub |  Calacotto | Av. Julio C. Patino #551 Esq. Calle 12 de Calacoto | La Paz 2121, Bolivia
Risky Business is a small neighborhood restaurant in the southern area of La Paz.  It’s a great place to have a late lunch with a beautiful outside patio. Their burger will satiate any burger craving with a juicy 180 gram patty and “campesino” fries (hand cut fries with their skin).  Beer offerings include Saya Amber or Negro on draft, Paceña, Bock, and Pico de Oro.

[photo: Stannum Boutique]

Spotlight: Stannum Boutique Hotel, La Paz

Though a city like La Paz has long been known for its altitude, its incredible topography and the two mountains that loom in the near distance, snow-covered throughout the year, it seems possible that a hot new social side could be developing in the 2-mile high city.  With a restaurant like Gustu drawing a considerable amount of international traffic, Feria Tambo looking towards its third year and a steady stream of tourists always coming to get a gander at the natural highlights, it’s no surprise that the comforts of modern culture would start to become more and more readily available.  At La Paz’s Stannum Boutique, modern comfort and luxury are just what discerning tourists will find.

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stannum Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of  downtown La Paz, a perfect jumping off point to loads of nearby attractions.  Tucked away on the 12th floor of the Edificio Multicine, Stannum is a quiet retreat from the hustling streets of Bolivia’s highest city. On the bottom floor of the building, you’ll find a small mall with clothing shops, a movie theater, various restaurants, and other attractions.

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 different rooms are available, and each offer different views of La Paz’s incredible topography.  On the north side, get a view of Illimani, the snow-capped, inactive volcano that has become a La Paz icon.  To the south, get a view of the peaks that surround La Paz as it descends from 4,000+ meters downward.  No suites are available, but king beds are standard in each of the single rooms, with double rooms available as well.  Each of the 20 rooms comes equipped with a desk and desk chair, large closets, flat-screen televisions with cable, a mini-bar, and air-conditioning.

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as amenities go, there are plenty.  Located on the bottom floor of the building, Stannum sports a large gym, with free access for all guests.  The lobby bar / restaurant features a breakfast buffet including local pastries, juices, fresh fruits, breads, and more.  A lunch and dinner menu is available all day long, and features dishes like Caesar salad, various paninis, and even traditional Bolivian dishes.  Fancy a cocktail?  The fully-stocked bar can offer you the cocktail of your choice, though the Singani sours are highly recommended.  Other ammenities include a business center with high-speed WiFi and two flat-screen computers, on-site laundry services, and transportation to and from the airport.

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

[photo: Stannum]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stannum Boutique is located at Calle Arce #2631, in the Edificio Multicine.  Reservations start at around $100 US per night and go up from there, depending on who you book with.  A variety of rooms are available from double rooms to standard king rooms, and even premium king rooms with special views and large office spaces.  Planning on traveling to La Paz soon?  Don’t hesitate to make Stannum your first stop for hotel needs.  With a friendly staff, comfortable rooms and a host of amenities, you won’t find a better deal.

[photo: Como Sur]

The Second Edition Of Tambo Comes To A Close or, Gustu, Part 1

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

By: Patrick Hieger

The second edition of Bolivia’s largest and most important culinary festival, Tambo, officially came to a close yesterday.  Late in the day the clouds took over the sky and rain started to fall, but after four days packed full of national Bolivian dishes, culture, dancing, music and more, a little rain wasn’t enough to ruin the festival.  According to the president of MIGA, the organizing body behind the festival, plans are already underway to make 2014’s Tambo even better than this year’s which, given the amount of Bolivians and the international talent that attended the festival, sounds like a delicious challenge.  I’m already hungry for more chicharrones, quinoa and mocochinchi.

Not to be overshadowed and, perhaps, a bit more important to the weekend’s events, the second edition of the International Symposium of Biodiversity and Gastronomy came to a close on Saturday, and the message couldn’t have been clearer.  Though acclaimed chefs and journalists like Ignacio Medina, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Virgilio Martínez, and Diego Salazar took the stage during the first two days of the festival (see the coverage here and here), it was Gustu’s presentation that seemed to carry the most weight.  Left for the very end, prior to the closing comments, the team behind Gustu, sans Claus Meyer, made it very clear what their intentions are and what they could mean for Bolivia.

Chef Kamilla Seidler took the stage to roaring applause from the crowd.  Though Gustu may not be widely recognized throughout La Paz, as evidenced by many taxi drivers’ lack of knowledge on how to even arrive, it seemed that everyone in the symposium tent knew exactly what Gustu, and its foundation Melting Pot Bolivia, was.  To the right of her demo table sat two of Gustu’s cooks / students, awaiting their chance to talk Bolivia.  Seidler was first to speak.  To her right, the Melting Pot Bolivia banner.  To her left, the Gustu banner, who’s slogan reads, in Spanish, “We believe we can change the world through food.”

This isn’t about Denmark, she said.  It’s about Bolivia.  It’s about the kids, the Melting Pot students.  We want to put Bolivia on the map.  Seidler, with her white skin and blonde hair, stood in front of room filled mostly with Bolivians, a few Peruvians, and a few others of us mixed in, and made it very clear that giving Bolivia a chance is her main objective.  Her Spanish is clean, deliberate, learned during her time spent working at Spain’s Mugaritz.  Appearances, origins aside, it’s clear that she’s focused on being in Bolivia, focused on making Gustu something valuable, focused on more than just being the chef that brought high dining to one of the poorest countries in South America.

Though Claus Meyer presented at last year’s symposium, Gustu wasn’t yet open.  The construction was underway and the idea was in place, but the restaurant hadn’t yet had the opportunity to show what it, and its team, can do.  Seidler spoke passionately about Bolivian ingredients and how they’re only starting to discover what’s available.  The menu changes every six weeks to give both the chefs and their diners a chance to see what’s new, what new discoveries have been made.  “It’s not a museum,” she said.  It’s a process.

About Bolivia or not, Denmark naturally came up.  Two of key players in Gustu’s management hail from Copenhagen, three of the key players have lived and worked there.  It’s funded, in part, by a Dane.  Its owner is co-owner of Noma, the second-best restaurant in the world.  The need to talk about Denmark is understandable, forgivable in its intent.  It’s an inevitable link.

To that point, though, Seidler made it clear that she, along with Jonas Andersen, Michelangelo Cestari and Joan Carbó, are outsiders, but in being so they bring a different point of view.  A point of view and a new set of eyes.  A new way of seeing things.  The goal is push forward and celebrate Bolivian cuisine.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to say, “Hey, there’s more than one way to do that.”  That’s what Gustu aims to do.

As she finished to another round of applause and moved over to prepare some dishes using native Bolivian ingredients, the chef handed the microphone, the stage, over to her cook and student, Kenso Hiroze.  I expected him to be timid, but he took the mic with authority.  He jumped right into the mantra, talking about how Bolivia needs to praise the best the land has to offer, “marvelous things from nature.”  It’s not about discovering new things, he said.  The undiscovered is already new.  And with that, the crowd once again roared with applause.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Hiroze went on to talk about how food can and should make you feel like a kid again.  It should take you back to your childhood which, he said, is what Gustu has done for him.  Gustu has made him see the splendor that Bolivia has to offer.  Certain flavors have taken him back, caused him to ask why he doesn’t eat that anymore.  Pride, overall, was the point of his speech.  “I’m Bolivian and I cook Bolivian.”  What more could he say?

Though nearly impossible to follow such a commanding finish from one of the students whose lives Gustu hopes to further and enrich, Joan Carbó took the stage to talk specifically about the same new and undiscovered Bolivian products that each and every panel of the symposium talked about.  Carbó, a Spaniard, is in charge of Gustu’s ‘Laboratorio de Alimentos Bolivianos,’ or L.A.B., for short.  Need a comparison?  Think Noma’s Nordic Food Lab, which focuses on new and undiscovered Nordic ingredients, and their use in gastronomy.  Denmark pops up again, but the model for discovery is almost undeniably perfect.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Carbó made it clear that he is not a chef, but rather a researcher, a forager, if you must, the head of discovery for Gustu.  His Spanish accent and piercing eyes took immediate control as he talked about the joy, the pride of discovery.  Another outsider taking a deeper look at the hidden treasures awaiting discovery in Bolivia.  “Traditional dishes are like photos,” he said.  His goal is to help create more photos.  New photos.  Fresh photos.

Working hand in hand with both the chefs and the students, Carbó said that he wants to develop ingredients to be able to help push Bolivia to the limits of gastronomy.  Everyone has a role in the process.  Outsiders and Bolivians alike.  Pushing towards the end of his speech, his tone increasing in power and excitement like a presidential candidate on the campaign trail, he put forth two goals.  The first, to see that Gustu, and Bolivia, are represented on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants next year.  The second, to see that Gustu, and Bolivia, are on the World’s 50 Best list within three years.   Bolivia, and its ingredients, on the world stage.  Come to the restaurant and get involved, he implored the crowd.  “Nuestra casa es su casa.”  Roaring applause.

Next up, Mauricio Zarata, another of Gustu’s cooks / students.  Two years prior, he wasn’t thinking about cooking.  He came to be at the restaurant by chance.  And there he has learned to have pride in himself, in his nation.  “We should’t envy other nations.  Other nations should envy us.”  Bolivian products are centuries old.  They’re simply awaiting peoples’ curiosity.  Zarata, as did his fellow cook, ended on a high note, his voice full of excitement and passion.  Let’s see to it that there’s less poverty, less malnutriton.  Let’s support what’s ours.  Let’s support Bolivia.  “Everybody with me on three.  Viva Bolivia!”  One.  Two.  Three.  The tent roared.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

As Gustu’s time on stage ended, the symposium slowly came to a close, but not before some closing remarks could be made.  Tambo has been a good example of how the country can work together, said Conny Teornstra, director of ICCO.  What guests have seen at the stands isn’t just about food, but about biodiversity and a dynamic country.  Preparing for 2014’s Tambo isn’t just up to the coordinators–it’s a job for everyone.

MIGA Director Alvaro Montes’ voice seemed to crack as he talked bout the sense of melancholy that comes in closing such an event.  Bolivia is rich, and full of marvelous people, he said.  This is a moment to reinvent Bolivia.  Movement is irreversible.

Michelangelo Cestari, Gustu co-chef and manager, spoke last.  It was short and sweet.  It’s time to integrate the region.  If countries aren’t sharing, we all suffer.  For others to respect us, we have to respect what’s ours.  And with one final native dance and another massive round of applause, Tambo’s 2nd annual International Symposium came to a close.  Melancholy was, probably, the best word to describe the moment.  Hope and uncertainty hanging together like clouds and sun.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Tambo, the festival, ended Sunday with a party, a two for one deal on entry, more food and more culture.  The message, though, was set in stone when the symposium ended on Saturday.  It’s time to move Bolivia ahead, and it’s going to take everyone’s cooperation.  Outside, once the closing remarks had been made, the demo table moved away and the clean-up process had begun, guests at the symposium had their own thoughts, their own remarks.

For some, the message was a rousing success.  Yes, Bolivia needs to move forward.  Yes, Bolivia and its people need to take pride in their ingredients, in their country, in themselves.  For others, it wasn’t so much skepticism as it was hesitation.  Is the message that these non-natives are delivering to a country that has never been cutting edge too dictatorial?  Can one restaurant really hope to achieve so much, through food?    There are no guarantees, no definitive answers.  Hope, constant collaboration, and support seem like important options at this point.

And that’s Gustu, the message.  Part one.  The reasons.  Gustu hopes to be a mantra, a message, a manifesto, and an impetus for an entire country.  Every person involved, from the locals to the outsiders wants to see Bolivia, not just La Paz, and not just their restaurant, grow and move ahead.  “The movement” was one of the most widely used phrases of the weekend.  And it really feels like there’s a movement happening.  Live and in person.

Gustu, the restaurant, is a different beast entirely.  Modern, big, a presence.  The message is one thing.  The food, and how a demonstration of what Bolivia has to offer and just how incredible it could be–well, that’s a slightly different story.