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Panaderia Canadiense

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

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Can you tell us about Cecilia potatoes, please.

Cecilia potatoes are a particular local cultivar - they have reddish skins, gold meat, and if you cook them even a hair too long they disintegrate into starchy moosh. They're generally considered to be the ideal potato for Locro (thick potato-based soups) since if you peel them and toss them into a broth, they'll dissolve completely. It is through great trial and error that I have learned how to bake these critters - they take far less time than other potatoes of similar size, and are best done in a pot with only a little oil. I generally cook these with turkey because they're a reliable indicator of when the meat is cooked - when the smallest Cecilia starts to crumble, it's time to eat.

I go to the trouble because they're delicious. Even without butter they have a very creamy flavour and a delicate texture that I really like. Incidentally, my normal baking potato is called Atahualpa or Chola; those have red skin with white polka-dots and sometimes have purple stripes inside as well; they're waxier than Cecilias and can bear overcooking.

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And this is the last you'll hear of me until I arrive in Puerto López tonight. I'll do a massive update then, but for now I've got to run or I'll miss my bus!

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still very curious about those bagels: if you split one and toasted it would it brown then? not of course the cheesy top!

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Ha! One page into this and you've already ensured I'll be spending some time at those bagels. Loving the second blog, just like the first ...

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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....

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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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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 (log)

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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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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.

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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!

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

"Planes, trains and automobiles'' is a beauty adverb.

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*burp*

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

I was already enjoying this blog... now I'm loving it.

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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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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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--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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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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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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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.

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

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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.
: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!!

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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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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!

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