There is No Way Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Getting Any Work Done in Cartagena 02.21.2011

I have no idea how Gabriel Garcia Marquez gets any work done in Cartagena. Getting away for 20 minutes to write a blog post has been impossible, I can’t imagine trying to put out an entire book here.  Granted we are with a large group of friends in celebration mode, but I’m assuming Mr. Marquez also has a busy social life. 

I’ve been going from one experience to the next and I keep thinking:  I have to write this down.  But then the next experience shows up.  There’s been a lot of touring, talking, and moving from one meal to the next.  And each meal involves a lot of lingering.  You know how I love to linger.

The second night we were here – Saturday – was the night of the big birthday dinner for my sister-in-law.  We headed over to Restaurant Vera, which is at the Tcherassi Hotel, a boutique hotel founded by a Colombian fashion designer, Silvia Tcherassi

Vera’s chef is Daniel Castana, a protégé of Silvio Batali.  The Italian flavors in the food are so present, yet delicate. 

I want to tell you, though, about the space, which does help a meal along – there’s no way around it.  What is so good and comforting for you at home is so because your mother – or whoever – made it for you at home.  And so it was that the space at Vera is all white; open skylight; trees covered in white lights; clean lines everywhere you look – it is spectacularly bare and spectacularly sensuous. 

There were about 45 of us seated at several long tables.  As has been the case for the weekend’s previous meals, the conversation and company were happy-making.  The meal was served family style; I’m only going to focus on what stood out for me.  Also, the wine selection was perfect, but I was too engrossed in conversation to document what we were drinking.

We first started with foccacia that was fluffy and mildly salty – just the way I like it.  We were then served carpaccio and “asparagi – esparragos, queso de cabra” wrapped in procuitto. The asparagus was out of this world. 

The next item that I loved was the ravioli amatrice.  Each piece of the pasta had so clearly been made with the utmost care and love.  When I took the first bite, I could taste the pecorino in my head.  Intense, to say the least.

Next came chicken with a salad.  I think I could have done without this, but not because it was bad.  Each course was symmetrical to the previous, but the chicken did not seem to fit into that symmetry.  The dark, dark green spinach salad, however, is another story.  Wow.  If you had placed a vat of that in front of me, I would have been perfectly happy.

We spent the rest of the evening noshing on dessert, coffee, wine, and talking.  As fabulous parties often evolve, people get up and mill about the room starting conversations elsewhere. 

A couple at Cafe Havana.
After dinner, horse carriage rides had been arranged for everyone from the restaurant to the Café Havana in the old party of the new city.  Eric and I did not stay long because I’m finding that by 11 p.m., I want to collapse into bed.  But, if you are in Cartagena, gather up some energy and head to the Café Havana.  Latin music, dancing, fabulous drinks, and a room fired up with body heat.  

Eric and I took a taxi back to the hotel shortly after midnight.   I don’t like to regret – and really hate to admit regret – but I wish I had sought out a Red Bull or two that evening and ventured back with the rest of the group around 2ish.  The kids have sucked the life out of me and I have become one of those people who fantasizes about sleep.

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