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December 16, 2012

Bourdain is in Colombia’s FARC country, where automatic weapons are a reality of decades-long guerilla war. He just posted this pic.
I get that he’s a long way from Newton but it’s not be the right moment. (The part that “glorifies” it, Bourdain, is posing with them like they’re characters at Disney World.)
Speaking of FARC, on one of our last nights in Bogota, I asked my friends if they knew of anyone who had been directly affected by the violence that continues to rage in the countryside. 
I was nervous to ask. I didn’t want to presume or offend, as I suspect that Colombians may be sick of Americans assuming they live in the extremely dangerous world of the ’80s and ’90s — when so much has changed.
Immediately they said yes. They both have cousins who have been abducted in the past five years or so. They were returned for a ransom.
I honestly didn’t know what to say.

Bourdain is in Colombia’s FARC country, where automatic weapons are a reality of decades-long guerilla war. He just posted this pic.

I get that he’s a long way from Newton but it’s not be the right moment. (The part that “glorifies” it, Bourdain, is posing with them like they’re characters at Disney World.)

Speaking of FARC, on one of our last nights in Bogota, I asked my friends if they knew of anyone who had been directly affected by the violence that continues to rage in the countryside. 

I was nervous to ask. I didn’t want to presume or offend, as I suspect that Colombians may be sick of Americans assuming they live in the extremely dangerous world of the ’80s and ’90s — when so much has changed.

Immediately they said yes. They both have cousins who have been abducted in the past five years or so. They were returned for a ransom.

I honestly didn’t know what to say.

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November 12, 2012

Just a few more Instamemories I want to preserve from Colombia: 

Lunch at an adorable place called Bandida — proving comfort food is universal.

This ultrahipster gift shop is the ‘secret’ front for Bogota’s hottest club, NN (copyright Stefon).

Crab salad and lamb meatballs at another chic little spot, Donostia.

Perfect Neopolitan pizzas at JULIA, one of Daniel and Camilo’s (super-popular) restaurants.

I swear that the Museo del Oro is just a bunch of ancient drug paraphernalia.

Remember that time I had $9.5 million in my checking account?

Llamas dressed up for Halloween in the Plaza de Bolivar.

Garlicky gambas at an amazing old-school Spanish restaurant, Pajares de Salinas.

Breakfast at Camilo’s (cityboy M. collected the eggs himself — from underneath the hens!).

And finally, M.’s delicious fish of the day topped with a buttery shrimp sauce at a cute places called Gatos (swear we didn’t go there just for the name). 

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November 8, 2012

Can’t talk now, we’ve got a pig with a knife in its neck.

Can’t talk now, we’ve got a pig with a knife in its neck.

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November 8, 2012

El grafiti de Bogota (see Cartagena graffiti here, Paris graffiti here and here, and an adorable dog with NYC graffiti here).

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November 8, 2012

The water covers have frogs on them in Bogota. These are the details I enjoy taking in.

The water covers have frogs on them in Bogota. These are the details I enjoy taking in.

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November 7, 2012

One of the most memorable things we had at Andrés was lomo el trapo: a traditional preparation of beef tenderloin that is unbelievably moist and tender because it’s cooked in salt.

Seeing my interest (slash camera), a cook demonstrated: he spread two cloths with about a cup of salt each and a healthy dose of dried oregano, placed the tenderloins on top, and tightly wrapped and tied them. He then added them directly to hot coals, where they cook for 12 minutes or so (according to these guys).

It was served with chimichurri, a couple other sauces (one vaguely mole-esque, the other garlicky, if memory serves), and a roasted tomato stuffed with a sort of polenta. Bien rico!

I’d love to make this at a party — it’d be fun to get guests involved with the wrapping — though the tricky part would be getting the fire hot enough. 

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November 7, 2012

Colombia is exponentially safer than it was during La Violencia — but there is still a war raging in its countryside and wealthier people are still occasionally kidnapped for money.
And so, at Andrés Carne de Res, they do something very unusual.
They tag mother and child when they enter, and they match those tags when they leave.
This way children (or in our case, baby), can roam free (with the help of fantastically-dressed workers, if they’re not yet ambulatory), and parents need not fear abduction.
Pretty wild, huh?

Colombia is exponentially safer than it was during La Violencia — but there is still a war raging in its countryside and wealthier people are still occasionally kidnapped for money.

And so, at Andrés Carne de Res, they do something very unusual.

They tag mother and child when they enter, and they match those tags when they leave.

This way children (or in our case, baby), can roam free (with the help of fantastically-dressed workers, if they’re not yet ambulatory), and parents need not fear abduction.

Pretty wild, huh?

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November 7, 2012

Andrés Carne de Res

Oh Andrés

Andrés, Andrés, Andrés.

What to say? How to express? I honestly think I’d do a better job dancing about architecture than writing about Andrés Carne de Res. At least then I could deploy a few of the sweet-ass interpretive dance moves I’ve cultivated over many, er, inspired nights with my best lady-friends.

Here are the facts:

A fellow named Andrés set up a roadside shack with a grill and not much else in 1986, and he’s built it into a sprawling firetrap of a restaurant that serves something like 3,000 people on a busy weekend day. It’s about an hour outside Bogota, in Chia, a little town-of-sorts that only exists because of the success of the restaurant. It has city outposts in Bogota and Miami, and there’s even an outrageously shameless knockoff in Queens called El Rancho De Andres Carne Des Tres (I see what you did there).

But that only tells you that it’s huge, and it’s popular, and it’s legendary.

What it doesn’t tell you is that the food is way better than it needs to be — we had excellent chicarrones (fried pig’s skin), mojitos and fruit juices in gourds half as big as my head (that’s very big), michaladas with all the fixings (even limes you squeeze yourself), barely-seared Argentinian beef that you finish yourself on a scorching-hot plancha, and so, so, SO much more.

What it also doesn’t tell you is that it just looks so stunning. Everything is recycled or upcycled — pot-tops become platters, spoons are fashioned into handles of the signature glass mugs. There are whimsical details in literally every available space. Even the water bottles are decorated. It is as visually mind-boggling as the City Museum in St. Louis. Both are wildly, proudly, exuberantly unique. Both look more like waking dreams than a museum or a restaurant. Both make you smile wide.

And then there is the children’s area, where little ones run free, doted on by waiters dressed as fairies and pirates….

And there is the cooking and the cleaning, happening all around you, in spaces that are loud and hot and vibrant….

And the line-dancing and the live music and the costumes and the characters….

And the quiet spot across the street with hammocks where you’re invited to sleep off the booze while waiters bring you a little get-well packet of coffee, Alka-Setlzer, and for all I know, another michelada….

I could go on but it’s probably best if you see for yourself.

(Maybe next time I’ll just dance about it for you — so long as I have one of those mojitos first.)

 

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November 5, 2012

Mama cow.

Mama cow.

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November 5, 2012

Camilo has two adorable akitas. This is the older one, the sweet boy, named Tomodachi. He took us on a little walk around his property (as an animal bred to be a bear-fighter, it IS “his property”) and we ended up at a neighboring farm.

I was hoping to get a major meme-worthy pic of him frolicking with the absurdly cute calf. You know, internet-bait.

This was as good as it got.

Still, heart: melted.

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