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eG Foodblog: Panaderia Canadiense - Surf, Sand, and Sierra

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#31 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:37 AM

Alright folks, massive update time. I'm very sorry that I didn't get to this last night, but the journey that was supposed to be 8 hours went sort of ''planes, trains and automobiles'' on me in a very Ecuadorian way and took 12 instead (and two separate busses and a taxi), so at 10 pm when I finally arrived at the beach, all I wanted was whatever food I could lay hands on and a bed to fall into. The internet cafe was also closed. I've rested and eaten now, and with that apology let's get to it!

I decided yesterday that if I couldn't get it on the bus or at a bus stop (apart from a bagel sandwich, which I had with me), I wasn't eating it - and that means you get a tour of a quintisentially important facet of travel in Ecuador, namely, bus food.

In Ecuador every bus station has shops that look like these, which sell essentials and snacks.
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I bought a Bon Yurt (pronounced Bonjour; cost: 50 cents) with Froot Loops to start off my day right. I love this stuff - it's thin sour yogurt and just enough cereal to give it a bit of crunch.
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Later on, I had the bagel and cheese sandwich I'd packed for this very occasion (and you can see I was hungry, as there were only a couple of bites left when I got around to taking the picture!) and some Rizadas Picanticas, which are sort of like spicy sour cream and onion potato chips; they're my favourite flavour.
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Next up were Maní Dulce and Encocado Dulce, which are sweets typical of the lower highlands around Santo Domingo de las Tsáchilas, a town that is (hypothetically!) about halfway to my destination. Due to landslides, it wasn't. We took the long detour.... Maní Dulce is fresh boiled peanuts coated in crunchy salted panela candy with sesame seeds. Encocado Dulce, on the other hand, is balls of coconut and ginger in a sort of molassesly type syrup. Those who have been to Jamaica are familiar with this sweet as a tart filling; Ecuadorians bypass the pastry and roll it into balls. Whichever way you slice it, it's delicious.
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The brief lunch stop made by the bus driver was in Puerto Carmen, and that lunch consisted of a hastily grabbed Batido de Piña, some sweet oranges, and some Pan de Yuca, an intruiging tapioca-based bread with cheese. Pan de Yuca is made differently in each province; this is the first time I've ever had one with a yellowish dough. Batidos also deserve an explanation - they're fruit frapped with ice and either milk or yogurt; in this case, yogurt. Sort of like smoothies, but with extra pulp.
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About 3 hours later, a fellow got on selling Empanadas de Verde, which have green plantain dough and in this case a pleasantly spiced chicken and mashed potato filling. Just about anything can come stuffed into an empanada shell, so it's always worthwhile to ask before you buy. These were extremely fresh, having just come out of the oil at the roadside stand. To drink, because at this point we were definitely into the coastal hills and it was 36 C in the bus, I bought a bottle of frozen tamarind juice, sort of a bus version of a slushie. Tamarind is stupendously refreshing when it's cold. This was hour 8 of the trip, and the empanada man was the last vendor to enter the bus.
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Finally, as I dragged my weary butt to the beachfront. The only remaining place with food was a burger joint, so we all got a round of cheeseburgers (and the fries were on the burger rather than the side!), a chocolate shake for me, and 1L of beer (the big bottle) split three ways for my travelling companions. Hunger is really the best seasoning - I wouldn't normally touch a burger like this with a 10 foot pole, and I'm not entirely certain what the meat was (if indeed it was meat - I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't tempeh, and I was waaaay too tired to ask) but at the time it was the best thing I had ever eaten. Mission accomplished, I returned to my hostal to find a kitten napping on my bed, debated what to do for five seconds, crawled in next to it, and passed out.
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Next up: what to do in a tiny fishing village when it's 6 am and you need coffee, right friggin' now....
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#32 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:54 AM

Alright! At 6 am, almost nothing food-related is open in a fishing village. When one needs coffee, one goes to the market and finds a comedor (tiny open-air eaterie) that has hot milk on the burner. And one drinks instant and chats with the fishermen, who, having come in minutes ago from the really early morning shift, are having dinner here. The fishermen asked not to be photographed, and the comedor was so packed with them that it was standing room only *, so all I have is a picture of the coffee itself, which was a domestic brand and much better than the usual Nescafe. Ecuadorian instant coffee tends to be micropulverized, which does something good to both the way it dissolves in milk and also the flavour.
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At 8, when other cafes open, we switched to a beachfront place. This was Nescafe instant, but they also had a real coastal breakfast item: the Bolón de Verde. This is a ball of green plantain stuffed with some sort of cheese and deep fried. Properly made, they're ambrosia, and improperly made, they're hideous little cannonballs of starch and lactose. There is no middle ground. This one was properly made.
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--Quick Aside--
* When selecting a comedor, it must meet two out of the following three criteria to be considered safe:
1. It must be clean and smell good
2. It must be busy
3. Police should eat there.

Any two conditions mean you're safe. All three at once mean that you wait until there's space at one of the tables. Cops will not eat anywhere that will make them sick, and they're also good judges of economy.
-----

Since my companions did not partake of the plantainy goodness, slightly later on it was brunch time. Using our usual selection tactics, we settled on a seafood restaurant on the beachfront. Oh I am so glad we did.

I had Pulpo en Salsa Maní, a specialty of this region of Manabí. It's tender rings of fresh octopus stewed in a thick yellow peanut sauce, with rice and patacones to mop the yumminess up with. Words simply do not describe how scrumptious this was. There are a million ways that an octopus dish could go wrong, and this didn't hit a single one of them.
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My companions had Shrimp in the same sauce, Corvina Apanada (fried breaded fish, in this case a Sea Bass of some sort - Corvina is a catchall term for any mild white basslike fish), and Shrimp and Veggie stirfry.
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*burp*

I'll be back after dinner - it's time to wander up the beach and see what the catch of the day is. The cloud of royal Frigatebirds means that somebody's cleaning something, and new boats are constantly coming in.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#33 Shelby

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:23 PM

Mmmmmmm.....YUM octopus. I love it. Seriously, I'm drooling.


While on your (way too long of a) drive were you marking off things you saw on that paper?

Edited by Shelby, 23 October 2012 - 12:24 PM.


#34 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

Ah, that was Bus Bingo. Since there are four of us on this trip (myself, my mother, and my two aunts) we had cards made up for things we saw on that trip, to help us forget how looooong it was going to take. The loser buys the ice cream. I'm proud to say that while I wasn't the first to call bingo, I only had one square left and thus am not in the hotseat.
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#35 Shelby

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:32 PM

Ah, that was Bus Bingo. Since there are four of us on this trip (myself, my mother, and my two aunts) we had cards made up for things we saw on that trip, to help us forget how looooong it was going to take. The loser buys the ice cream. I'm proud to say that while I wasn't the first to call bingo, I only had one square left and thus am not in the hotseat.


I wanna hang out with you guys! Sounds fun!

I need to introduce that game to my family....except the loser would probably buy wine lol.

#36 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:34 PM

As always, you're all welcome to visit me!
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#37 LindaK

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:32 PM

Elizabeth, this blog is just the getaway that I need! Love the bus ride, love the octopus, laughed at "eat where the cops eat" advice, and nodded at the "ambrosia" vs "cannonball" description of the Bolón de Verde. So true for so many fried foods, from wherever.

I hope you find great meals for the rest of your trip. I'm looking forward to lots of great seafood. Thanks for blogging!


 


#38 Peter the eater

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:50 PM

Amazing food, thanks Beth. Cooking under the Southern Cross is on my list.

"Planes, trains and automobiles'' is a beauty adverb.
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
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#39 Tri2Cook

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:09 AM

*burp*

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

I was already enjoying this blog... now I'm loving it.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#40 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:48 AM

Loving your description of your adventures. What is the peanut sauce for the octopus? Sounds very intriguing.

#41 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:02 AM

The peanut sauce for the octopus appears to be based on heavy cream, octopus juice of some sort (I suspect some of the stock from cooking it has a role to play), achiote, and peanut butter. It's both incredibly rich tasting and incredibly thick. The dish is always served with lime to cut the weight of the sauce.

Now: yesterday's catch of the day, coffee time, and ''dinner'' (the lunch having been so filling as to remove all temptation to eat anything much heavier than a crepe....) Something went hinky last night with transferring photos, but it all seems to be working today (huzzah!).

Down at the fishing boats, the day's haul was coming in. Yesterday's catch was primarily Corvina (the lungfish looking ones with full body dorsal and caudal fins) and one fish that the fisherman told me was a ''Colorado'' (literally, the big red one - does anybody recognize it? It seems so familiar and yet I can't quite place it... A grouper of some sort maybe?)
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Bonito (these are smaller examples of this fish - they're normally about 1/4 of the size of tuna),
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Ocean Perch and striper,
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and one fisherman had a particularly lucky day and went home rich: he brought in a Picudo (swordfish) and a pair of small sharks. Billfish of any description are big-ticket items; a single one can fetch over $300. Shark is similarly valued, and has only a very short catch season (September and October) - but unlike other fisheries, all of the shark is used here. Fins are removed and sold to Asian markets, and the body is cut into steaks for domestic consumption.
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Cocktail hour meant a Frappucino Amaretto - yummmers. Just what every gal needs after a hard day's walkin' down the beach: a coffee milkshake with amaretto and chocolate syrup in it. One of my aunts also went for a chocolate crepe, which was lovely - a layer of bittersweet ganache drizzled with condensed milk. This is a pair of photos that aren't working even today, so you'll have to take my word for it!

Dinner, if you can call it that, was a rather unlikely Ham and Cheese Iguana and some Equilibrias (domestic aguardiente rum and cola). I couldn't resist the iguana - it was just the weirdest but at the same time most appetizing thing at the local bakery. It was delicious, and also surprising, since the baker simply said it was ''salt bread'' but made no mention of any sort of filling.
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#42 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:07 AM

Thus far today I've only had breakfast (I'll be off in search of yumminess shortly - I'm holding out for either lobster, or shrimp encocado). It was coffee and digestive biscuits, followed a while later by fresh papaya juice.
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#43 pastameshugana

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:01 AM

--Quick Aside--
* When selecting a comedor, it must meet two out of the following three criteria to be considered safe:
1. It must be clean and smell good
2. It must be busy
3. Police should eat there.


:D When living in India we had essentially the same considerations - a brilliant indicator of safety when choosing a dosa joint.
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#44 judiu

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:38 AM

Beth, I did a huge mental WTF over the "ham and cheese iguana" ! :wacko:
Then I saw the picture and laughed, mostly in relief ! :wink: They are beautiful, I hope the bakers are proud! Do they come in other flavours besides ham and cheese ?
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#45 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:56 PM

Yeah, I thought there might be confusion there, and figured that I should explain the Ham and Cheese Iguana a little. Given that I have only ever eaten one of these in my entire life, and that the baker made no mention of alternative fillings, I suspect that they are only ever ham and cheese. However, a perverse part of me thinks that they're the coast's version of Guaguas de Pan, and I fully expect to find one full of guava jelly or something similar.... We'll see if the bakery has them tonight, and if they have some different filling. Assuming of course that I've got room left over from dinner.... The Ham and Cheese Iguana is easily the most bizarre use of bread I've ever encountered, but in a good way.

Since I last posted, it's been lunchtime and cocktail hour.

For lunch: no luck with encocado or lobsters within short walking distance (I did something to my foot, which is now quite sore, and I don't want to have to go too far!) but there was an Arepa con Camarones Hoga'o, which is a Colombian seaside favourite and which sounded tasty. Hoga'o (literally, ''drowned'') is a sauce based on tomatoes and green onions, in which the shrimp are poached. The arepa tasted like it was made from rice.
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My dining companions opted for a really stellar cream of chicken soup, and Patacone Pisa'o de Camaron Apana'o (stepped-on plantain with breaded shrimp), which was a giant fried plantain with delectable breaded shrimp on top. Of course, we all broke off bits of the patacone and dipped it in the soup, which was unlike any cream soup I've ever eaten before. Soooo yummy.
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Plates at the end of the meal:
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(and you should all know that it's entirely possible in this blog that I'll show you an empty plate or bowl and simply describe the meal to you. Yeah, I'm bad, I know it.)

Cocktail hour involved Margaritas on the beach, a deadly combo to polish up a sunny day. I'm half snapped as I write this (three Margaritas later... I think I may have mentioned in my previous blog that these things are my Kryptonite....)
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And the catch of the day is various types of Pargo (snapper). The fishermen say it's the only thing that was running today; only one of the boats had Corvina, and only one shark came in (a small nurse shark)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#46 IowaDee

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:15 PM

A small point but i'm impressed by the lovely plates and dishes the food is served on. No soggy paper plates or nasty foam
in sight. I'm enjoying this so very much.

#47 janeer

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 07:18 PM

fun to see the fish--and the fish bread. Lovely cocktail time. All very interesting.

#48 nikkib

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:57 AM

--Quick Aside-- * When selecting a comedor, it must meet two out of the following three criteria to be considered safe: 1. It must be clean and smell good 2. It must be busy 3. Police should eat there.

:D When living in India we had essentially the same considerations - a brilliant indicator of safety when choosing a dosa joint.


now i know - will remember this for future reference!! great blog!!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#49 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 05:09 PM

Sorry for such a long delay in updating, folks - the guide knocked on our door bright and early this morning to tell us that the sea was finally calm enough to make the crossing to Isla Plata, which is the real reason I'm on this particular beach rather than one that's closer to home. (And to be clear, ''calm enough'' translates as ''the swells are only 2 meters'' - lucky for me, I don't get seasick even in much higher seas.) To this point in the day, I've had a cup of Nescafé, a banana, and a hastily devoured mortadela and queso fresco sandwich, none of which was photographed simply because it was one of those ''eat it quick or the sea turtles will get away'' things. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Dee: I'd have to go to either McDonalds (eewwww) or a really scuzzy restaurant (one that does not meet my admittedly rather simple criteria) before I ever saw foam plates - even beachfront shacks and the roughest comedores here have beautiful melamine or china tableware. I think it's part of the country's zero tolerance policy for non biodegradable anythings. Even the plastic bags I take home my groceries in are oxi-biodegradeable plantain and corn based plastics.

Last night's dinner was another Manabita specialty: Corvina de la Roca (Chilean seabass) al ajillo with a cilantro crust, in Salsa de Mariscos (seafood sauce). Every chef here does Salsa de Mariscos a little differently; on my last trip to the beach, it was a cream-based sauce with chunks of lobster and shrimp in it. This time around it was tomato based and filled with succulent squid squiggles, tender chunks of octopus, huge shrimp, small mussels, and some several concha (a type of mangrove clam that I have only ever seen in Ecuador). On the side is a rice preparation I've only ever had on the coast - I have no clue what's in it, and it looks like regular white rice, but one bit says it's clearly not. I am embarrassed to say that this dish conquered me - it was so rich and filling that I couldn't finish it, and had to settle for picking my favourite parts out of the sauce.
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My dining companions went shrimp crazy, and opted for Camarones Apanado (breaded, deepfried shrimp in light beer-based tempura batter) and Spaguettis con Camarones (exactly what it sounds like, with a red sauce based on shrimp stock and fresh tomatoes.)
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Now: I've had my mochachino and I'm still regaining my land legs. Isla Plata was my destination today, and as I mentioned above, I forwent my usual breakfast and lunch for the opportunity. This island is where Captain Drake is rumoured to have stashed the silver he plundered from the Spanish galleons he sacked off of Ecuador's coast (hence the name, which means Silver Island - the landing spot on it is Drake Bay), but the real reason to visit is that it's the closest island habitat to the mainland of one of Ecuador's most famous residents: the Blue-Footed Boobie. Isla Plata is a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the birds, and conditions are such that it's rather difficult to visit it, especially in this season. I was stunningly lucky to get a space on one of the three boats that departed today, and even luckier to have been in the one that spotted the season's last Humpback Whales (they breed in these cool coastal waters when the Humboldt current rises towards the Galápagos.) So, with the risk that this become a travel blog, I'd like to share a bit of what I was here to see:
Boobie mother and 1-month old chick
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Sea Turtles, mate
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And finally, some sort of Butterflyfish
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Unfortunately, my camera is not waterproof, so I have no photos of the hammerhead sharks, manta ray, or other reef dwellers that I saw while snorkeling.

I promise to return with lobster for dinner - I'm ravenous!
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#50 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:36 PM

As promised. The chef actually apologized because the 12 inch long lobsters were not very big, so she included two on the plate. I ordered them al ajillo and they came perfectly done. Slurp. I would like to mention at this point that up to the lobsters, none of the plates I have shown you have cost more than 8.00 USD (the lobsters cost 20.00 USD). Not only am I eating amazingly well, I am also doing it without breaking the bank.
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My dining companions opted for Langostinos a la Plancha (giant estuary crawfish on the grill) and simple chicken medallions.
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Belch. I am so full of seafoody goodness that I am completely ready to just waddle back to my hotel and fall into bed. Which would definitely be the plan if I didnt have to pack....

Tomorrow is another travel day, so look forward to a late update with all new bus food!
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#51 radtek

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:40 PM

Hi!

This has been an awesome pictorial. You have me drooling with the Arepa con Camarones Hoga'o! Shoot I'm due for a walkabout. Ecuador looks totally cool.

BTW a trick to bagels is to add add about a tsp or so of sodium hydroxide (lye) to the boiling solution. This creates that wonderful golden brown crust.

#52 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:49 PM

Radtek, have you tried the lye with doughs high in non wheat grains? I will, of course, but it would be interesting to know if it has the same effect on lower gluten preparations.....

The Arepa Hogao is actually Colombian food with an Ecuadorian twist (and it is fairly common style of fusion here). It is also very easy to make at home. Once I get back to semicivilized Quito, I will borrow my friend`s fusion cookbook and find the recipe for the Hogao sauce.
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#53 C. sapidus

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:33 AM

PanCan: I just caught up with your adventures and I am enthralled.

I love the tropical bus Bingo! I wish we had thought of that when our boys were younger.

I want that Pulpo en Salsa Mani

Coincidentally, I recently met an old acquaintance who has been running a shrimp farm in Ecuador for the past few years.

More seafood! :smile:

#54 Shelby

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 07:50 AM

Every update is amazing. I love the boobie birds--the baby is so fuzzy and cute! And the Salsa de Mariscos--I wish I could stick my face in the computer and have a few bites.

#55 tikidoc

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:32 AM

Radtek, have you tried the lye with doughs high in non wheat grains? I will, of course, but it would be interesting to know if it has the same effect on lower gluten preparations....



I make my bagels with 25% Kamut (Khorasan wheat), so a non-traditional grain, and I still get great browning using lye.

Loving your blog. I have spent a little time in Ecuador (as well as several other places in Central and South America) and lived in Panama for a year, so I'm getting the travel bug reading your blog.

#56 JTravel

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:40 AM

I want shrimp, by the water, on an arepa> I love this. Amazed at the quality and variety of the food....and it's interesting about the dishes. Would an "only English" speaker be able to find and buy such things....following your rules of course?

#57 radtek

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:49 PM


Radtek, have you tried the lye with doughs high in non wheat grains? I will, of course, but it would be interesting to know if it has the same effect on lower gluten preparations....



I make my bagels with 25% Kamut (Khorasan wheat), so a non-traditional grain, and I still get great browning using lye.

Loving your blog. I have spent a little time in Ecuador (as well as several other places in Central and South America) and lived in Panama for a year, so I'm getting the travel bug reading your blog.


I believe it to be the starch reacting with the lye that causes it to gelatinize and turn color, which becomes a nice golden brown while baking- almost like a pretzl.

#58 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:39 AM

Hi folks! No, I didn't fall off a cliff on my way back up to Quito, but it was the bus ride from hell (12 hours, the last three of which on twisty mountain roads in peasouper mist, and the driver didn't want to stop anywhere for bathroom breaks, and in fact wouldn't until all of the women in the bus threatened to pee on his seats...) Yesterday was reserved for the world's largest indigenous market, and I left before internet cafes opened and returned after they had all closed. I have megaupdates coming your way.

I want shrimp, by the water, on an arepa> I love this. Amazed at the quality and variety of the food....and it's interesting about the dishes. Would an "only English" speaker be able to find and buy such things....following your rules of course?


Depends on where in the country you choose to travel. Beach places, like Puerto López, tend to have a high percentage of multilingual people living and working there - the restaurant where I had the shrimp arepa, for example, is owned by a Colombian-Ecuadorian couple who also speak English, French, German, and ISL. However, the place in the market where I went for 6 am coffee? That's Spanish only, since it's not somewhere that a tourist is normally likely to venture. Since I'm not really a tourist, I knew to look for it, but anybody who's just vacationing would never have even thought to go to a market comedor. Highland and jungle places, outside of major cities, are less likely to have English speakers in them.

However, almost the first vocabulary that any decent traveller in a foreign country accumulates (apart from please, thank you, and pardon me) is to do with food, so it's not really all that difficult even in areas where a little English isn't spoken. I learned basic Spanish by hanging out in farmers' markets in small towns in the south of the country, and asking ¿Qué es esto? (what's that?) You figure out pretty quickly what you like and don't like, and for the first while I kept a little list in my pocket with translations of most of the more common foods, so that I could figure out menus quickly. If you like shrimp, for example, you'll learn pretty quickly that they're the camarones on the menu. What took me the longest was figuring out the difference between Langostinas and Langosto (crayfish and lobster, respectively) as the seasons for both are relatively short and even if they're on the menu, they're not necessarily in the kitchen....
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

#59 Panaderia Canadiense

Panaderia Canadiense
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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:21 AM

Update time, part 1: Bus trip from Hell, to Quito. This was a second opportunity for two things (besides a roadsore tush and a serious nap deficit): bus food, and bus bingo. I won the bingo, and in keeping with this blog's theme of not eating the same things twice (I omit coffee from this, of course) here's the haul.

Pretrip, it was back to the comedor for a last cup of coffee. We got there before the fishermen, so I can actually show you the establishment. It's three plastic tables, about 18 lawn chairs, and a cooking nook.
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For breakfast, a Tres Leches purchased from the bakery across from the bus stop. This was a fabulous example of the dessert - a piece of Brazo Gitano (a rolled cake but in this case with a condensed milk filling) bathed in vanilla cream, with whipped coconut cream on top. It was cold and very fresh, an disappeared promptly.
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This was followed by a tub of Milk Fudge from the bus station in Portoviejo - not technically bus food but rather bus station food, but who's counting? This stuff is marvelous - all the flavour of gooey manjar de leche, all of the texture of smooth, creamy fudge. And I'm also going to show you the stand I bought it from, which was stocked with all manner of milk-based confections. Portoviejo is in coastal cattle country, and the main breed are Brahma cattle; the sweets available to me here remind me strongly of Indian gulabi.
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Next up, a scary empanada from, I think, somwhere near El Carmen. This was an ill-advised purchase, really - I was very hungry and they smelled lovely. However, it was filled with some sort of... well.... how do I describe it? Nondescript goo? Plantain, or tapioca, or what? I'm not even sure I want to consider what it was. Oh, and some shredded chicken as well. Ugh. I finished it out of sheer morbid curiousity, as I was at the time more curious about what the goo was than I was prudent about what I was eating. In other circumstances I'd probably have chucked it out the window.
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These coconut cookies, however, were quite nice. Sort of like mildly coconutty digestives.
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And the final thing I was able to get on the bus, before the driver decided to close his doors and push onwards like a mad fiend, were in the town of Chone, and were a pair of coastal specialties: Muchines de Yuca and Corviche. The former is finely grated yuca (manioc) formed into sticks around cheese and then deep fried. The latter is plantain dough around a fishstick, also fried. The muchine (gold) was stellar, the corviche (brown) uninspiring and dry.
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We woozed into Quito at 10 pm, and the only thing open, bless its caffeinated little soul, was Coffee Tree, a 24-hour latte joint. Mochaccinos for everyone, and off to bed!
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

#60 Panaderia Canadiense

Panaderia Canadiense
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  • Location:Ambato, Ecuador

Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:57 AM

Yesterday was a trip into the northern hemisphere (it's possible here, and yes, I stopped on the equator and stood with one foot on each side of the line - I do it every time I pass!).

Breakfast was a mochaccino and a slice of mora cheescake. Thoroughly lovely.
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And onwards and upwards to Otavalo! This town, in the province of Imbabura, hosts the world's largest indigenous market, which is at its peak on Saturdays. Despite what it may look like (it was in fact a balmy 23 C), it's winter here right now, which means that the market is primarily dedicated to alpaca products (everything from scarves and sweaters to alpaca leather slippers and rugs). In the summertime, it switches over to cotton, which is grown in the surrounding areas. The outskirts of the market are farmers' territory, although everything is sort of mixed in together. It all spans an area of about 100 square blocks. The Otavalos are an autonomous government within Ecuador, and are perhaps one of the most successful native groups in the world - all commerce here is owned by guilds of producers and goes back into the community's wellbeing. If you've ever seen Alpaca Camargo branded woolen goods up north, this is where they're made.

In the van on the way up, we ended up stopped at a traffic jam. Lovely sunny day that it was in the desert between Quito and Otavalo, enterprising souls were selling ice creams. From left to right, these are: coconut-strawberry, mora-cream, and coconut-cream.
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And here's the market at Otavalo itself. I am now kicking myself for not taking more photos for you, but we were heavily into the shopping vibe. The outskirts are an interesting blend of commerce - here dry goods are being sold right next to clothing.
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Lunch here was a hastily grabbed fast-food chicken sandwich and fries. Caravana is a locally owned franchise with (and this strikes me as slightly odd, since I'm used to the North American method of doing things) table service. The food is inexpensive, fast, and reasonably tasty, although I must say I'm not a fan of the untoasted, soggy buns.
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Dinner, however, more than made up for lunch's faults. This is one of the best things that can be eaten in Imbabura province.... Just north of the provincial capital, Ibarra, lies Lago Yaguarcocha, site of a famous battle between the Inca and the preincan Ibarra culture. It's now a destination for locals to relax and spend a pleasant afternoon; we arrived as the moon was rising over the ridge and my photos didn't turn out at all, but we were really here for the fish. The lake is an extinct volcanic crater fed by subterrenian springs, and it has been stocked with Tilapia, which grow to an enormous size in its cold, clean waters. Numerous eatieries devoted to catching and cooking these fish line the banks of the lake. Between five of us, we managed to devour three Tilapia, two of which were classed as ''small'' (they were only 25 cm long, and about as broad), and one of which was a ''medium'' (30+ cm and fat!). For reference, the inner surface of that plate is 30 cm long. The fish was lightly flour dredged and then fried in hot oil, and came to us still sizzling. On the side, you can see patacones and some fried yuca as well. The fish had been out of the lake less than 5 minutes, and it is probably the best in the world (and I've eaten a lot of tilapia in a lot of different places).
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*slurp* *burp* *yum*
Needless to say, I never visit this province without visiting the lake.

Cheers! Sunday is my mother's birthday, and we'll (with great luck) be dining at an Ecuadorian haute cuisine restaurant, so I can show you how one of the country's more famous chefs treats what you've been seeing all week. Off to reserve a table! (For the curious, the restaurant we'll be going to takes reservations in the morning for the evening's dining, and you have to make them in person.)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)





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