Cooking School!

LOCATION:  Cartagena, Colombia
WEATHER:  Hot.  High 88

Most of our restaurant meals have been in medium-to-high end restaurants.  Today, we checked out the “dive” near our apartment.  It is always packed with locals and has music blaring out onto the street. 

Surprisingly, they sell bottles of craft beer, which we sipped on while we waited for a table. They were $2.50 each.  George had grilled pork which came with fries and a salad for $5.  I nibbled off his plate. It was very good, and lots of food.

Then, it was time for cooking school!  This was a tour offered through AirB&B in a small restaurant near us.  It was just delightful.  An Indian family joined us.  It was led by the chef and a teacher who could speak some English.  The idea was to make, then eat, a typical Colombian meal.

We each were assigned a station with a small cutting board, plantain, coconut chunk, and herbs.

First we started the coconut rice, starting with raw coconut.  It takes a long time, first becoming sort of caramelized before adding more coconut milk and rice.  I volunteered to squeeze the milk out of the coconut mixture.

Here it is after cooking awhile.  It takes on a brown color and a light caramel taste.

While it was cooking, we started the postones – plantain fritters.  We peeled the plantains, then  fried them.

After they were soft, we  squished them into patties and set aside.

Next up was the red snapper. 

We each were given a whole fish which we “massaged” with salt, pepper, oregano, lime juice, and lots of garlic.  Then we covered them with slivers of bell peppers and onions.  We drizzled on olive oil and white wine, then wrapped them in aluminum foil.  Off to the oven for baking.

We made a drink with panela (hardened sugar cane), water, and lime juice. 

Our last task was to make empanadas.  The technique is similar to making tortillas.  We filled some with a meat mixture, and some with cheese.

We placed the empanadas in hot oil.  We dipped the plantains in a garlic/salt water broth, and re-fried them. 

Now, two hours after we started the class, we were ready to plate the meal.  I made my rice “mountain”

Then, we added the plantains, empanadas, and fish to the plates

Wow!  Quite a feast!  We took it to the restaurant’s dining room, and enjoyed a very nice meal.  Based on the price and description of the tour, this was a big surprise.  I thought it would be just small portions, but it was a lot of food!  Later, I talked with the teacher who told me that they have only been doing this about 3 weeks, but it has been a big success.  I wish them the best of luck. 

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