Confess. You’re after the dough! Not the kind that goes to the bank, but that which comes from bakers. And Bogotanos really like their dough.
In fact, many very traditional bakeries continue to occupy corner lots across this metropolis, namely Pan Fino, Pan Pa’ Ya, Doña Dicha and Pasteleria Toledo. These establishments specialize in traditional pastries and sweets, usually heavy on the cream and sugar, such as the time-tested Brazo de Reina. Then, rows of minced pies (pasteles) filled with chicken or beef, and of course, those endearing yuca rolls from the Valle de Cauca, known as pan de yuca.
While these businesses continue to churn out Colombian household favorites, often to accompany a hot mug of chocolate, increasingly there are artisanal bakeries sprouting up across the city, with gluten-free loafs, as well as international favorites: the ciabatta and the sour dough.
Many bakeries in Bogotá are also improving on texture and taste by giving the dough a run for its…well, dough. Take the baguette at Grazia (Calle 69 No.5-04) as one example. Created by chefs Rafael Haasz and Claudia Oyuela, this French classic stick has the bite for those in the “knead-to know” of the city’s Gastro Zone.
Just across a small park behind the Spinning Center Gym, is the bakery of Camila Marulanda (Calle 68 No.5-53). As you wander into this vibrant space with several tables, a very friendly Camila, showcases her baked goods and daily selection on a series of wooden shelves, and which include lean doughs such as Farm bread with cranberry and pecans, muesli bread and multigrains.
While the breads are fast movers in this venue which also serves as a smooth cup, Camila Marulanda’s breads are baked with dried fruits and nuts for health-conscious clients and the neighbourhood vegan in mind.
I heard from a friend of a friend, that Arbol de Pan’s sour dough was worth a walk south along the Carrera Quinta to the flourishing foodie district of the Calle 67. The brainchild of chef Olga Lucia Visbal, a graduate from the Gato Dumas School of Cooking, Arbol de Pan (Calle 66 No. 4A-35) delivers on nutritional
breads which are crafted in the ‘Bread Tree’s’ kitchen and are hardly the com- mercial loafs sold in local supermarkets. Arbol de Pan’s rotating selections include a much-coveted sour dough, puffy ciabattas perfect for sandwiches, as well as baskets filled with almond croissants.
If France gave us baguettes, New York a perfect bagel, then Germany is country of pretzel perfection. One German café and bakery, Brot (Calle 81 No.7-93) is a popular meeting place near the Zona Rosa and its reputation and influence for fresh breads and pastries extends far beyond the soon-to-be baptized “Coffee Zone” or Zona C. One of the house best-selling items is the pan de chocolate, and its easy to see why: the pastry is brittle with a generous portion of Colombian chocolate.
Working the wheat in Chapinero is Felipan (Calle 51 No.9-73) and an arti- sanal bakery/restaurant located down from the Séptima as you head towards the Galerías shopping district. Serving vegetarian lunch specials and a popular lasagna, Felipe’s breads have a real following and are meant to accompany his classic India-inspired no meat platters.
Catering to different dietary needs, yet staying the course with traditional European pastry and cake recipes is Paste-Lita (Cra 13 No.90-28) and which recently opened it doors in the Chicó neighbourhood. An initiative by the husband and wife team, Daniel Reyes and Lina Bermeo, Paste-Lita was born
from a childhood dream of Lina and a subsequent graduate thesis on how to set up an artisinal bakery and tea house in Bogotá. Pastel-Lita strives to be deliver to foreigners a selection of their national sweets and savouries, all accompanied with a very English cup of Tea. Blending tea varieties with cup- cakes, scones or a slice of Black Forest, the owners make and bake everything in their locale; and for $12,000 pesos you’ll be treated to a lunch special which includes a sandwich, cupcake and cold tea infusion.
If you live in the Art-Deco meets Victorian barrio of Teusaquillo, and you love variety in your yeast, then Del Horno (Calle 28A No.16-29) is right up your sunlit alley. Founded by Lucas Reyes, Del Horno, rises to the occasion with its soft breads, raisin wheat rolls and oven baked cereal loafs, all neatly presented in wicker baskets.
If you’re a fan of bread, Bogotá boasts its very own bread society, known as the Club del Pan. This community of professional and amateur breadmakers, host a website dedicated to showcasing recipes, the nutritional elements of certain breads (whether made commercially by larger outlets or by city artisans) and membership entitles you to participate in lectures, workshops by many of the city’s experimental bakers. So when on go, get to know your Bogotá dough.