A few weeks ago, after my Colombian friend Robert told me about his mother’s delicious home cooking, I embarrassingly admitted that my only experience with Colombian food, was from watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”.
If you’re a regular MyLastBite reader, you know how much I love Bourdain. He’s sort of like a “Fantasy Foodie Godfather” to me, and in my eyes he can do no wrong. Well, except for that one time when he ate warthog rectum in Namibia. I get queasy just thinking about that scene. Usually, whatever Bourdain eats, I want to eat it too.
The Colombia “No Reservations” episode was especially intriguing because I personally thought the country was “off limits” for travel. It seemed dangerous and definitely wasn’t on my “global wish list” of places to visit. I had no desire to voluntarily enter a country filled with battling drug cartels and a corrupt government.
Thankfully, Anthony Bourdain (and the Travel Channel) opened my eyes to the real Colombia.
“What you might not know about Colombia is that it’s beautiful. That the food is really good–with the same kind of fantastic mix of African, European and indigenous influences that makes Brazilian cuisine so interesting and vibrant. That they actually like Americans down there.”
Like so many of his episodes, I watch them over and over, hoping (mostly fantasizing) to someday eat in the exact same restaurants that Tony visits. Colombia is certainly on my travel wish list now!
Luckily for me, since I live in Los Angeles, I don’t need to travel far to experience authentic Colombian eats. Last week I met Robert for lunch at El Cafe Colombia, which is less than fifteen minutes away in nearby Burbank.
I rarely eat lunch (late breakfast, late dinner) so this was a real afternoon treat. Since both of Robert’s parents hail from Colombia (he also went to school there as a child), he knew exactly what dishes (and drinks!) I should try on this first visit.
Owners Reinaldo and Gabriela Alvarez were both charming and very patient with me (and my camera)! Not only did I love the food, but also the imported Colombian treats for sale as well. After a couple glasses of Refajo (soda mixed with beer) and finishing off a hearty lunch, I honestly felt like I had spent the afternoon in South America. Now I can’t wait to take my husband Peter… maybe a breakfast “trip to Colombia” next time!
What we ate:
Bandeja Paisa: Carne Asada , Chicharrón (Pork Belly marinated in garlic, then deep-fried), Patacón, Maduro Frito, Pinto beans and rice topped with a fried egg. Also includes a side of salad and Arepa. $12.95 (I did Bourdain proud, that chicharrón went FIRST!)
El Cafe Colombia
222 So. Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
Dining Date: 9/29/09