One of my favorite parts of my trip to Bogotá was our excursion out to the village of Subachoque. Subachoque is about an hour West of Bogotá in the rolling hills of Colombia. The soil here is a rich and black, the climate is temperate all year round; something is being cultivated on every slope and valley, mostly potatoes and carrots. We spent the day in and around Subachoque, the peace and tranquility, the lush green surroundings and the fresh air were welcome sensations for all of us city-goers. I could have stayed in Subachoque for my entire week in Colombia. I hope to come back some day.
Colombian Drinks December 20, 2010
There are unique drinks prepared in every region of Colombia and in Bogotá a wide variety of these drinks are available. I’ve been trying as many as possible during my short stay in Bogotá. Don’t worry, the majority aren’t alcoholic! This is not an exhaustive list, just what I’ve been able to try and what I’ve seen is most common in this city.
Baking in Bogotá December 18, 2010
Baking in Bogotá is a challenge because we are at about 8,600 feet of altitude. Until now I always ignored the short notes after recipes with adjustments for high altitudes, now I understand. The family I am staying with has horror stories of brick brownies they nearly threw off the balcony they were so tough. They were justly frightened when I said I wanted to bake for them, and so was I! Thank goodness for Epicurious.com. The website is put together by the people who write Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines, so they know a thing or two about cooking. They have an excellent article all about High-Altitude baking that saved my butt! You can look it up under articles and guides at their website.
As some of you chemistry nerds may know, there are three variables that affect baking at high altitudes:
- Water boils at a lower temperature.
- Moisture evaporates quicker.
- Leavening gases (air, carbon dioxide and water vapor) expand much quicker.
This means that if you follow a regular recipe at high altitudes, your cakes, cookies, brownies, breads etc.. are likely to either collapse, become hard, not cook entirely or become stale quickly. I wanted to prepare my crowd-pleasing chocolate idiot cake (flourless chocolate cake) and Washington state-shaped sugar cookies my sister had gifted me for Christmas (I know, my sister’s the best!). Online I found there are several simple adjustments to make to ensure recipes turn out alright. Here’s what I adjusted based on my research:
- For my flourless cake I barely mixed the eggs (to prevent their bubbles from rising and collapsing), I increased the oven temperature by 25 degrees and baked it in a shallower pan for less time.
- The box cookies came premeasured with flour, sugar, vanilla and leavening agents, all I had to do was add eggs and butter. I decided to add a few more tablespoonfuls of flour, increase the oven temperature and bake them less.
Both my cake and cookies turned out great!! The cookies spread out a bit more than expected and ended up looking like blobs rather than Washington states, but the family couldn’t get over the fact that they weren’t rock hard and loved them anyway!
I’m curious what bakers do here…Right now I’m sitting at a lovely French bakery eating a chocolate croissant and cappuccino. I know, I could be anywhere, right? But believe it or not, I’m in Bogotá, Colombia. Like I said before, this city is very cosmopolitan, it has developed exponentially in the past ten years. I remember when I was young and my father had to come here on business, he would be picked up at the airport, taken to his hotel and escorted to meetings without ever being on the street on his own. It was much too dangerous. Today there are still dangerous neighborhoods, but the city has improved tremendously. It’s very impressive!
Fruit Frenzy December 17, 2010
Anyone who has crossed my path on this trip knows that the easiest way to make my day is to have me try a new fruit I’ve never seen before. I go nuts. I love fruit, and here there are so many different tropical fruits to try! When I went to El Paloquemao I bought as many as I could afford, and the family I’m staying with surprises me daily with more! Here are some I’ve tried in order of tastiest to least favorite.