Walking is an efficient way to get around the city defeating traffic and congestion. One can see flowers and trees that are indigenous to the high Andes such as the violet Sietecueros or Tibouchina lepidot to be exact. They grow to 20 meters and bloom in the months of January, July and August. So keep your eyes open for a plethora of purple and hues on Bogotá sidewalks. While dealing with a renovation, I have come across some interesting places, such as Planeta Rica – a specialty food and market with the same name as a junction town in the department of Cordoba and seat to diary giant, Colanta.
A half century ago buffalos were imported to Colombia from India and found pasture on which to graze. Today, 91% of this coastal department’s land is dedicated to livestock, so it comes as no surprise that in Cordoba amazing Mozzarella di bufala is being produced.
With a quiet garden in a modernist Quinta Camacho house, Planeta Rica (Cra 7A No.69-07) offers reasonably-priced lunches of smoked salmon and rugula ($14,000) and a capresse with mozzarella, tomato, and basil ($10,000). If you want to go all the way, try a very Colombian oblea for dessert with two crisp wafers filled with dulce de leche or – as locals call it – arequipe.
Planeta Rica also hosts an organic market with fresh rugula arriving every Tuesday. Here, one can get juicy, red tomatoes, artisan corn bread, Austrian wines, yogurt, and many other gourmet items. All products are natural and 100% chemical free. It’s worth the walk.
By mere chance, as I walked down the Calle 77A with Carrera 12, I found La Peseta Gourmet, named after the Spanish currency which was replaced by the Euro. The shop was a pleasant surprise with wall-to-wall products from Spain, all beautifully displayed. There were gigantic cans of olives, green and black, Riojas, spices, tuna fish, olive oils. I could go on. Best take a full wallet for some great Old World offerings.
I then went furniture hunting in Usaquén. Past lunchtime, I strolled around this quaint part of the city and smack on the north side of the main square, I ran into Café Amarti (Calle 119 No. 6-24). The name didn’t really mean anything to me at the time, but tired, I decided to step through its wooden door front. It was somewhat dark, but the waiter insisted I walk towards the back of the restaurant and take a seat in the enclosed space with towering vertical gardens.
Spacious and impeccably decorated, the food is Italian (and international) with salads, pizzas, pasta on the menu. The waiter arrived with an unusual bread puffed-up like a balloon and oven-baked. It was delightful. I then ordered the Di Mare Sensa Mar – salad of crispy fried pea pods, Lima beans, corn, and varieties of lettuce. The prices for the antipasto, primo and pizzas are very reasonable and the price-quality ratio fantastic. Waiter Orlando was friendly, courteous and made the whole Amartí experience enjoyable. A definite repeat when walking Usaquén.
But remember, never leave home without an umbrella!