Back to living in North London. Doing two of my favourite things. Cooking and eating.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
In Situ – El Jardin Botanico
The Botanical Gardens in the centre of Medellin is a welcome respite from the chaos and madness that the city is. The greenness of the place immediately relaxes you. The noise of the flowing traffic outside melts away the further you walk deeper through the gardens.
Our visit here was the first, and I so wish we had come here before. Anything on a bright sunny day to escape the pollution and heat of Medellin.
It kind of took me back to Kew Gardens, which always had the same effect on me. Although we paid for the year’s membership and we never used it that much. A waste.
Deep inside the Gardens, is Situ. Our mission for today. A spying mission. A chance to see how the well to do people of Medellin spend their money, and also a chance to finally eat some decent food. Well, that is an unfair attack on the cuisine of Medellin and its surroundings. Some of the typical Paisa food we have eaten has been very good. But to be honest, I am getting sick of beans and rice. So let’s say, it was nice to be able to eat some different food.
The restaurant is open on both sides. One facing the gardens, the other facing a small pool full of fish. It was larger than I had expected, and it was full. As we had no reservation we were shown to a table in by the pool. Which gradually became more and more baked in sun. We kept moving our table inwards, at one point we were almost connected to a party of four. Who would have welcomed us to join them if the waiters had not closed the shutters in time.
The menu of Situ, as I said before is unlike your typical Paisa food. Phew. Some of it is there, but with a more modern twist and thankfully smaller portions, and a higher price tag. Why is that?
We were tempted to do a full 3 course meal. Well we were on a spying mission after all. But luckily an apparent wine deal saved us. A half bottle of white, which they were trying to promote, came with some cheeses and bread. Why not we said. The wine was from a small unknown Chilean winery and was very good. The cheeses on the other hand were a bit of a disappointment. What came were 6 small balls of cream cheese rolled in either cracked black peppercorns, dried herbs or macadamia nuts, with some thinly sliced bread(ish) and 2 strawberries. One of which was not ripe. Oh god was this a sign of things to come. It’s amazing that someone actually came up with this idea. But what is more amazing is that they went through with it. But we are in Medellin after all. A city where people still eat beans and rice on average 3 times a week, and what they call mozzarella is a yellow block of stringy cheese. But more of that later.
Thankfully the rest of the meal was a delight. So I have put the cheese incident behind us and best forgotten. But had to get it off my chest.
My salmon was cooked to perfection. When the waiter asked me how I wanted it, I almost replied, “How it’s supposed to be cooked.” Thankfully I bit my tongue. The lemon mayonnaise had a little tartness to it, which went well with the salmon and the mash. Don’t ask why I had a rolled platano and a huge basil leaf on my plate. Well they do love to garnish.
Lina’s juicy pork chop was coated in a lovely tangy tamarind sauce, with some papa criolla wrapped in a fried platano. Let’s not mention the rosemary sprig. Like I say they love to garnish.
It was a good meal, the conversation flowed along with the wine. Maybe we should have ordered a full bottle. But it has been over a month since a drop had passed my lips. So probably best not to have tempted fate.
We shared a pudding of a chocolate and passion fruit cake. I was sublime, and I love squirty cream. I’m sure the waiter took offence when I took the large mint sprig off and tossed it onto the table. I must make this my crusade. “No garnishes that are larger than the food you are serving.”
All in all it was a great afternoon, with some great food, great wine and good service. The one thing Medellin has in tonnes is good service. I’d be amazed if I ever get bad service here.
Until the next spying mission. Let’s hope it’s as good as this one.