Wandering Chef: Michael Ferraro in Bogotá

Wandering Chef: Michael Ferraro in Bogotá

Michael Ferraro, the chef of NYC’s Delicatessen restaurant, traveled to Bogotá last year to participate in the Bogotá Food & Wine Festival. Here, he shares the most memorable moments from his trip.

Favorite Neighborhood in Bogotá
“Candelaria is Bogotá’s historical district and it became my go-to spot for street food. Walking through the hilly open streets is exhausting, but the reward is the food you stumble upon. One thing to try is obleas. This Latin American version of a wafer is was served with a fantastic homemade blackberry jam and dulce de leche. Sweet, tangy, and creamy, it was the best street snack I ate, period. Plus, it only cost $1.50. At another spot a short distance away, I saw two little girls running a stand. They couldn’t have been more than 12 years old but they were serving guanabana juice with lightly sweetened milk for $1.25. Guanabana has an exotic fruity flavor with subtle hint of coconut. It’s quite good.

One rule to live by when you travel is, when you see a line, the food must be good. I saw a long lunch line at a food stand and of course decided to join in. The stand was selling every possible type of empanada—beef, chicken, vegetarian, among others. The shell was light and fluffy and the filling was hearty and packed a ton of flavors. They were served with a chili sauce that had vinegar and fresh herbs that gave the empanadas a great boost of flavor. And they were just $1.25 a piece.”

“There’s a large, open market in the center of Bogotá and it sells everything you can imagine. Walking around felt like browsing and extensive library of exotic fruits and vegetables. I also saw cool kitchen gadgets, fresh flowers, butcher stands, and live chickens.”

Favorite Dish
“I made sure to try every dish possible while in Colombia. One of my favorites would have to be the lechona. It’s a popular Colombian dish that starts with a full hog that is cleaned out, then stuffed with rice, other meats, and seasonings. It’s then roasted for twelve hours. When plated, you get served the stuffing with the crispy roasted skin. It’s delicious and succulent, which is enough to get me back to Bogotá. Every year I participate in Pig Island, a New York festival where all these great restaurants and chefs come together and prepare whole hogs. For this year, I want to play with making my own version of lechona.”

Culture Fix
“While walking around I stumbled upon the Botero Museum. Many of the chefs I was with, myself included, hadn’t heard of the artist Fernando Botero before, but we all had a great time admiring his work. Botero exaggerates the figure of recognizable people. His works have a light-hearted humor with a satirical approach to political issues. Although the Botero Museum focused mainly on Fernando Botero himself, it also showed work of other artists.”

Title photo by Rich Tragar on AFAR; other photos courtesy of Michael Ferraro.

I grew up in Pt. Pleasant, NJ (yes, the Shore), escaped to school in Boston, and fell in love with travel when I went abroad to study in Australia. After nearly ten years of eating and drinking myself silly in NYC, I’ve finally reached the west coast. Things that make me happy: the ocean, books, mountains, bikes, friends, good beer, ice cream, unplanned adventures, football, live music.
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