Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Rouki rides the hobby horse at Capristano.
Our first lunch in Ibague finds us at Cafe Capristano, a sort of outdoor cafe that seems to have been tacked onto a building at a street corner. Nothing is fully enclosed and nothing is contained in anything that we would think is a building, yet the environment is warm, friendly and ensconced from the cacophony of the streets just outside the window.
Lunch is pretty simple. A menu of the day is on offer with pork, chicken or beef options. I choose the chicken and it's delicious. The chicken is thinly sliced and cooked on a plancha. It's slightly overcooked and maybe tending towards the dry side but the thinness of the cut, as well as the crisp caramelization of the exterior, and the liberal seasoning makes it just right. What would have been a disaster back home has been skillfully piloted to deliciousness. The potato and salad are okay and more perfunctory than anything else, but the poached banana is a knockout.
Looking at the cross-section, it's not your typical banana but a variety that I usually see at Latin or Asian markets. The meat is a deep golden yellow and holds up well to cooking. From what I've gathered, the banana is cooked in butter, sugar and milk rendering it sweet with a rich lusciousness that was absolutely perfect with the chicken. I was originally weary about ordering the menu of the day and only did so because everyone else was doing it and I didn't want to seem out of place, but the result was absolute delicious goodnesss.
The asparagus soup was also a tasty starting course. Rich while being light and delicately balanced. Just enough cream was added to smoothen it out and a reserved, but proper hand with the seasoning. I wanted to drink the soup from the bowl instead of maintaining my civility and the use of the spoon.
Chicken with cheese, baked potato and poached banana.
The really nice thing about Colombia, and I'm guessing Latin America in general, is the prevalence of fresh juices and lemonades. Forget your sodas, on offer with lunch is a lemonade made with what we know as limes. It's zesty, sweet, refreshing and delicious. And did I mention they make them by hand, to order? I sucked down two of them.
Afterwards, we ordered some coffees from Capristano's baristas. The cafe is next door to the venue and their baristas are attending our training and we wanted to see some of the skill level we'll be dealing with. Watching baristas is always an interesting exploration that reveals different methodology. The barista at Capristano tapped the portafilter roughly 47 times each time she made an espresso (we counted). Luckily for the portafilter she taps lightly and with a plastic tamper. But she grinds the coffee to order.
The espresso and cappuccino were decent enough. Milk slightly on the hotter side but not offensive and the espresso was decent.
Rodrigo arrives with samples from the baristas.
Pondering the espresso and cappuccino.
Calle 11 No. 4-29
Parque Murillo Toro, Ibague