58 • Vacations
SUN-KISSED EDIBLE SOUVENIRS
FROM SUN DESTINATIONS
From Colombian coconut concentrate to Mexican mole pastes,
we've got warm-weather pantry favourites sure to make any kitchen sunny,
even in the dead of a Canadian winter.
By Mary Luz Mejia
Fall 2017 • 59
CARIBBEAN COAST, COLOMBIA
If you've ever had the slightly sweet, nutty and delicious coconut
rice in Colombia's Caribbean coast (Cartagena, Barranquilla or
Santa Marta, for example) and fallen in love with it, you'll want
to head to a local grocery shop and pick up a jar of titote. It's
a coconut paste concentrate that's all-natural and incredibly
delicious in said rice dish, which is usually eaten with a filet of
fried white fish. And if you feel like quaffing back a local spirit
in Colombia, go for a bottle of clear-as-water Aguardiente. The
translation of this is fire water, so don't let the initial, innocent
aroma of anise fool you!
Few people realize that some of the world's finest chocolate comes
from Grenada. At the small Grenada Chocolate Factory, three
visionaries founded an organic cocoa farmers and chocolate-maker’s
cooperative that would change the world of chocolate for the better.
Their award-winning bars are a sensory surprise, especially if you like
the rich boldness of a good dark chocolate, one of their strong suits.
Described as robust with the deep, dark fruit flavours of figs, the
balanced "tree-to-bar" result is always a sweet ending.
All that fresh, sea-salt tinged air! All of that Vitamin D!
It's enough to make you want to pack it up in your
suitcases and bring it home with you. Since that's not
readily do-able, we humbly suggest you pack the next
best thing: some sun-kissed, edible souvenirs. Here are
some of our favoritos!
BRAZIL "RUM" CACHAÇA
When in the colonial splendour that is Oaxaca, make
haste to Susana Trilling's Seasons of My Heart cooking
school, where she sells her special mole pastes.
Mole, or sauce in the ancient Nahuatl language, is a
hand-made, multi-hour labour of love that can take
upwards of 30 ingredients to make. Trilling's mole
sauces (she offers the complex mole negro and mole
coloradito in a paste) make preparing one of the many
mole-accompanied traditional dishes a breeze, so that
you too can look like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen
once you get home. And you'd be wise to pick up a
bottle of small-batch-produced mezcal, tequila's
whisky-like, smoky cousin, produced in the surrounding
region by proud mezcaleros.
Once considered Brazilian "rum”, cachaça has
evolved from "poor man's moonshine" to a more
refined, barrel-aged, hand-crafted affair. The
sugar cane-based spirit's artisanal producers use
fine oak or indigenous wooden casks to give it
colour and flavour during an aging process that
can last from one to 12 years. Ninety-nine per
cent of cachaça stays in Brazil, and given that
more than a billion litres of the stuff is produced
yearly, that's a clear indication of how much
Brazilians love it! If you're in Rio, head to an
upscale Zona Sul market for a top notch bottle,
including Leblon Prata, Magnífica Reserva
Soleira, or top-ranked and 12-year-aged Vale
Verde if you feel like a splurge.