Monday, March 8, 2010

Playa Koralia, Colombia - Paradise

After purchasing my first MacBook Pro last week, I have been toying around with iMovie.  I took an incredible amount of video during my trip to Colombia.  Here is a video of our trip to Playa Koralia, a "nature resort" about thirty minutes from Santa Marta.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bayona: An Unforgettable Experience in the French Quarter

In the past week and a half I have been in six different time zones and boarded twelve planes.  Travel-weary, it goes without saying that I was not exactly looking forward to spending an entire evening out in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where I found myself with my colleague, taking several clients out to dinner.   After being given several choices of New Orleans' top restaurants, we had decided on giving Bayona a try as it was founded by famous woman chef Susan Spicer.  Since we were all in N'awlins for a women's conference, we figured we'd stick with the theme.

All ten of us piled out of our taxi van onto rainy Dauphine street.  As soon as we stepped into the classically-furnished Creole house and my nose got a whiff of the smells wafting from the kitchen, my exhausted eyes perked up- I knew we were in for a treat.  We were escorted upstairs to the small private dining room which I figured, about 100 years ago, served either as a master bedroom or a large attic.  The white wood paneling instantly made me feel as if I was eating a cozy dinner at home.  One look at the menu and I was in heaven.

In between our lively conversation centering around women in finance, the Los Angeles food scene, and the benefits of social media, our group ordered virtually half of the menu.  On the left side of the menu were the classic dishes which had been served at Bayona from its infancy.  On the right were the choices that changed daily.  Most of us ordered from the left side...

For starters we tried the Crispy Smoked Quail Salad with pears and bourbon molasses dressing, the Crawfish Empanadas, the signature Cream of Garlic Soup and the Veal Sweetbreads with lemon caper butter.  The quail salad was a crowd pleaser.  The crawfish empanadas had a unique taste to them and the empanada crust was done well.  My hands-down favorite were the sweetbreads.  Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, melted in your mouth.  My friend from Michigan, not even knowing what "sweetbreads" were, marveled at the taste...until I told her what they were.

The two winning entrees were the Peppered Lamb Loin with Goat Cheese and Zinfandel Sauce & the Redfish.  Both are pictured below.  Unfortunately, because the Redfish was on the right side of the menu and I failed to take down its' accompaniments, the picture will have to do.

Finally, even though nobody in the table could possibly fit any more in their stomach (and in true AMERICAN fashion) we ordered desserts.  We loved them all- take a look...
The night ended with everyone overfed and happy- the perfect ending to any evening.  If ever you find yourself in the French Quarter- Bayona is a must.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Hotel Las Americas, Cartagena

After the crazy days of Carnival in Barranquilla, we decided to head to Cartagena for some R&R and to tour one of the most historic towns in all of South America.  If travelling to Colombia, do not miss Cartagena.  Sunset cocktails at Cafe del Mar, several awesome restaurants within the fort walls, and spectacular scenery abound.  Here is a video of the day we spent at one of Cartagena's best hotels: Hotel Las Americas.  Just a few minutes from the city center, this hotel had amazing service, food, and a pretty beach.  Very Carribbean. Totally my scene.

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Agave Azul, Santa Marta

Right in el Centro Historico of Santa Marta, on Calle 14, there is a gem of a Mexican restaurant: Agave Azul.  Run by a former NYC chef, Mike McMurdo, this restaurant displays all that is delicious and fresh with Mexican cooking.  The best part is that it is in Santa Marta, a town admittedly not known for its culinary achievements.  Of my ten days in Colombia, we ate at Agave Azul four times, which allowed us to sample the entire menu.  Not convinced?  Check out the reviews on Trip Advisor for yourself...

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Barranquilla Carnival 2010

The Saturday of Carnival was unlike any experience I've had.  Early on in the day several of us donned our costumes for El Batalla de Flores, the main parade of the 5 day festival.  The theme of our group was "El Pechiche Cosmico".  Evan dressed as Captain Planet, Dave dressed as David Bowie, and I dressed as the Solar System.  It was 5 kilometers of dancing, amazing costumes, and carnival music.  Take a look!

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Carnival Street Food!

Our first night in Barranquilla, Colombia for Carnival held many surprises.  Espuma (foam), arena (powder), and Colombian ron (rum) was everywhere.  In a matter of hours, Kim and I learned how to to rumba with the best of them.  And, after several hours of nonstop dancing, we all needed some sustenance.  Tony Bourdain has travelled the world and has eaten street food in several different cities.  I would venture to say that this street food fest took the cake.  Warning: if you have a weak stomach, watch for only a few minutes.  If you are a vegetarian or a vegan: skip this post. 

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First Days in Santa Marta, Colombia

Before all the madness of Carnival in Barranquilla began, I had an itch to go surfing.  On an amazingly gorgeous day, Evan and I set out to Finca Casa Grande (just known as Casa Grande) on the aptly named "chicken bus" out of Santa Marta.  45 minutes later, we were there.  Casa Grande is the most accessible spot to surf on this part of the coast of Colombia. Costeno Surf Camp is right on the beach there and run by our friends- Ryan and Colm.  Unfortunately for us, the wind caused the waves to blow out- we spent most of our day paddling around and checking out the surrounding land.  We had dinner with some of the crew on the beachside restaurant Ben & Joseph's... Not a bad way to spend the day!

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