(April 11 – written by Dave)
Nearly every country or region that we visit has some sort of local food specialty. There were the fish tacos in Baja, the cinnamon rolls in the Alcan Highway roadhouses, the oyster omelettes from Bay Center Washington – the list goes on.
Well here in Cartagena (and perhaps in Colombia in general) one of their local treats is the humble pan blandito, or simply soft bread. More often than not, the dough contains mozzarella cheese and they change the name to pan queso. Pan queso is remarkably simple but right out of the oven also remarkably tasty.
Today for lunch we bypassed all of the fancy tourist cafes and visited the almost famous bakery in old-town called El Pandequeso. We picked up a handful of small, near bite sized pan quesos, and headed for a bench in the main square. The pan was still warm from the oven – soft and a little bit gooey. Wow, it was good. I had an eye on Nancy’s last roll but got nowhere neat it, just too slow.
We headed back to the bakery after lunch to pick up a few extra rolls for brekkie tomorrow. I’m not sure that they’ll make it to the morning, or if they’ll taste as good a day later and a little bit cooler. If not, I’m sure that we’ll find more of them out on the road riding. Walking back from the bakery, we started seeing pan blandito and pan queso everywhere. It seems that they are quite common once you know what to look for. There are many different shapes and sizes – the key being characteristics being cheese, soft bread and gooey warm – hard to go wrong really.
For those interested, check out this link and maybe you can make some of your own pan queso.
So tomorrow we head out of Cartagena, making our way south through Colombia towards Medellin. We have a short day planned as getting out of a city is never that much fun and we can’t really tell how far this city of 1 million people extends. We have enjoyed Cartagena – yet another place that deserves more time and/or a second visit. And more pan queso to sample for sure.
A few more Cartagena photos…