Sunday, October 31, 2010

La Bonga del Sinú, Bogota,Colombia: A Colombian Steakhouse With Coastal Hospitality, It's the Tetas!

In the gastronomic capitals of Latin America, you can afford the luxury of experiencing regional cuisines from all over the country, and Bogota, Colombia is no exception.La Bonga Del Sinú, located in the high octane nightlife of the Zona Rosa, features the meat intensive culture of the Sinu, just inland from the Mediterranean coast. Colombia has the distinction of having the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and Caribbean Sea grace its coastal territory. From the savannahs near Monteria, where the first La Bonga Del Sinú began, comes the high quality cattle, served with the coastal charm of Colombia's Caribbean.

Joining me for this carnivires delight was the lovely Patricia, who actually was my inspiration to start really studying spanish.I had just come from a trip to Mexico City and Aguascalientes,Mexico,a pilgrimage I had made to reconnect with my family in Mexico after my father passed away back in 2002, and was set to perform in Colombia,El Salvador, and Honduras.

Colombia was first, and despite all the fearful tales the other band members were telling on the plane, and in the hotel lobby when we arrived, I spied this beautiful Colombiana taking pictures, Patricia. I struck up conversation, and while my band mates were hiding under their beds, I was off night after night bar hopping and exploring the restaurant scene with Paty. Yes, there was a bit of romance, and a wonderful time getting to know Bogota with her at my side every moment I spent in Colombia's capitol.

My Mexican born dad didn't want me to experience the discrimination he went through as a child, and insisted that my grandparents weren't to teach me spanish, nor would he speak spanish to me, ever. But, trying to speak with my family in Mexico using a translator, and Spanish-English distionary was frustrating while I was in visiting them in Aguascalientes, but the week's worth of practice came in handy by the time I arrived in Bogota. I guess you could say the greatest motivating factor was all these sexy and lively latinas that I would be able to talk with.From the moment I met Patricia in that hotel lobby, I couldn't learn spanish fast enough.

Then, it was off to Medellin where I met Paola. Paola was traveling with the tour company, and I got her number before I left. So many reasons to come back. During the time after this amazing tour through Colombia and my next visit as a tourist, Patricia had a boyfriend, and Paola....didn't.So...what's a boy to do?I made three more trips to see my long distance novia, Paola, and Patricia, too. It was such an amazing time for me, immersing myself into Latin American cultures, cuisines, romance, a time of personal growth, and a time where I learned to truly throw caution to the wind.

Paola now is working on her first Colombian soap opera called El Joe, about the life of Colombian salsa singer Joe Arroyo, being filmed in his native Barranquilla, Colombia on channel RCN.I can see here dancing for a brief moment at about 2:50 into this promo video.

Patricia's family now runs a restaurant in Bogota called Odilio Gourmet, where she also works.

In the 8 years that have passed, I'm happy to see that both of these women are happy,doing well in Colombia's always difficult economic situation, are both as beautiful as ever,and are both still friends with me after all these years.Oh, how I missed this place.

My night out with Patricia to experience comida sinuana(Sinuan cuisine) was much more mellow than our wild night at Andres Carne de Res, where I would spend my last night in Bogota on this trip.

The restaurant was locked when we arrived, but I guess they just do that for security purposes, but was open. We were greeted by waiters dressed in coastal cowboy attire, and real nice setting, and great staff.

Anytime there's meat, it's a party. The table next to us with a large group was happily loud, frequently toasting, and even sent a few toasts our way.

We started off with some typical appetizers from the Sinú,tajadas, plantain chips, with cream and aji, a mild Colombian salsa. Much lighter than tortilla chips, and of course, some Colombian Ron Medellin with Coca-Cola.

Butifarra Colombiana has its origin in Spain, in Cataluna, but Colombia has their own distinct preparation. This is a Caribbean coast food from the city of Soledad, and is served in Colombia as an appetizer rather than a main course as it is in Spain.It is made with a natural casing stuffed with pork and chopped bacon, brown sugar,lime,salt, and pepper.This sausage has mild seasoning, so most of what you get is an intense pork flavor, paired with potatoes, and some extra lime.

We had ordered steaks, and with Patricia's Solomillo,a cut from the loin, she got arroz de coco, another coastal treat.Coconut rice is rice cooked with coconut water and flesh, sugar, and some raisins thrown in at the end of this process.We also enjoyed a fabulous side of fried yuca,warm,starchy, with its dense comfortability.

While we drank one ron con Coca-Cola after another, our meats where being cooked on the grill.American steak houses are so sanitized, it's great to smell and hear the sounds of searing meat, and to get a little smoke in your eyes.

When looking throught the menu I tried to flesh out the Colombian cuts, and punta de anca is "the tits." It's cut from the sirloin cap, something akin to Brazil's picanha steak. But speaking of tits, I spied tetas de la vaca on the menu, cow's teats!It's not really teat, but a whole udder steak.Ya know,punta de anca comes from the rear of the steer and I have this udder on the same hot iron, it's T and A.

The steaks were to die for, tender, that wonderful South American saltiness,and so juicy. But the udder steak, not fit for human consumption according to U.S laws, has an airy,mushroom-like texture. Its flavor just floats marvelously on your palate.

La Bonga del Sinú has branches in other cities, but strives to maintain their quality throughout the small chain. This is a fine option to have some carne while you're in Bogota, and an occasion to experience regional Colombian cuisine from the Sinú.

La Bonga del Sinú
Cra. 14 # 93-88
93 y Chicó
Bogota, Colombia
Mon-Sat 11:30am-11pm
Sun 11:30am-9pm

1 comment:

Food GPS said...

Great post. I like your personal connection(s) to Colombia, and calling that plate "T and A" is hilarious.