About a month ago I was having lunch in one of the many seafood joints in the city. Feeling unadventurous and urgently hungry on that particular day, I decided to go with a standard corrientazo menu rather than curb my decision by flicking through the host of options in the menu as I tend to order the wrong thing when I’m starving, usually opting for something carb heavy. Halfway through my lunch an unavoidable scent of goodness hit my nostrils and I was forced to turn around to locate the source of said scent floating through the air. Honestly I haven’t smelled something THAT good since the last time I was in my mother’s kitchen.
My Sherlock Holmes-precision sniffing traced the scent to the table of my dining neighbour. Sitting there just a table away from me was a gorgeous bowl of Cazuela de Mariscos (seafood casserole/stew). I was immediately hit with an overwhelming sense of food envy causing me to nearly drop my fork mid-bite but my primitive instincts kept me chowing away at my mediocre meal while I kept perving on my neighbour’s Cazuela. I made a mental note to return ASAP and was back the following week.
I had heard about the Cazuela awhile ago from many different Colombians but was reluctant to try it in Bogota as I have a policy of avoiding seafood when I’m not near the ocean but the eyes don’t lie and that Cazuela that I saw was simply destined for my belly. Cazuela de Mariscos is to the coastal region what Ajiaco is to the Andean region. A Cazuela is essentially a mish-mash of seafood slow-cooked in coconut milk. The recipe can vary from kitchen to kitchen. I ordered the largest one on the menu which came with a variety of prawns, clams, fish, conch, calamari and lobster. Think of it as the super-bowl of seafood. A feast worth living for.
As a “costeño” (I’m Aussie), I have always loved seafood and without exaggerating the Cazuela has to be hands down one of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever had and I tried it in Bogota of all places. I can only imagine what it must be like having a big bowl of it on the beach as Bourdain did when he came to Colombia with Parts Unknown. Yeah, I can see myself taking a trip up to the coast pretty soon.
PS: In the midst of my post-meal food high, I completely forgot to note down the details of the restaurant but I assure you dear readers I will return very soon and will have the treasure map laid out for you.