Category Archives: Wine & Food

Fun Food Friday — Cuenca, Ecuador; Cositas Restaurant Review

Cositas Restaurant on Simón Bolívar

On our first evening in Cuenca, Ecuador, Ursula and I asked various locals where they enjoyed eating for a taste of traditional local food. Several recommended the place you see here — Cositas 10-24 Restaurante. How good was this place? Good enough that Ursula and I broke away from the tour group the next night and, with two tour comrades in tow, returned for a second helping. More on the second visit and our companions in a moment.

Cositas 10-24 Restaurante

On our first visit to Cositas we noticed the wall was adorned with innumerable photos of celebrities and body builders.  Here we met an expatriate American who claimed she was the former spouse of one such body builder who also had starred in several movies. I asked the name of the actor/body builder expecting to not recognize the name at all, but she surprised me when she replied, “Steve Reeves.” “Hercules?” I asked. And, yes, he was indeed the actor from the ’50s Italian films Hercules and Hercules Unchained. She was very pleased that I recognized the name well enough to associate it with his most famous role.

Ties and Celebrity Photographs

Our dinner companions on our second visit were Purviz Eivazi and his lovely wife Fatemeh, a delightful couple from Henderson, Nevada, originally by way of Iran. An absolutely wonderful couple whose company we enjoyed very much.

Parviz Eivazi

Fatemeh Eivazi and Ursula

Unfortunately, Cosita has no printed menu, and I failed to make note of our orders on these two visits, but both Ursula and I recall that the meals were very good (obviously, since we returned), and that Purviz and Fatemeh also enjoyed their choices. In place of traditional menus, photographs and descriptions of various offerings are displayed on the wall as you first enter and behind the cash register.

Menus behind the Register

Menus on the Wall

Everything was nicely prepared and delicious, as you can see from these photos of our dinners:

Cositas Restaurant

Cositas 10-24

Cositas 10-24

On your visit to Cuenca I can highly recommend this enchanting place with its unique choice in decorating accessories, intimate dining areas, and charming owner and staff. Google Maps seems a bit confused as to the location, so beware. Costias 10-24 is at 4-49 Simón Bolívar Street between Mariano Cueva and Vargas Machuca, about three and a half easy walking blocks east of Parque Calderón.



Filed under Fun Food Friday, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, Restaurant Review, travel, vacation, Wine & Food

Ecuador — Road to Cuenca; Cocoa Farm

Cocoa pod

On the morning of Tuesday, February 16, 2016 our tour group boarded the bus and headed out of Guayaquil southeast bound for the city of Cuenca. This is a 200-kilometer/125-mile journey that normally takes about three and a half hours. But we had several stops to make along the way, the first of which was a cocoa plantation.

Plantation flowers — not cocoa

We learned much about cocoa farming that day. For instance, the cocoa bean comes from the cacao (cocoa) tree, or Theobroma cacao, and there’s a lengthy process between that bean and your Swiss chocolate bar.

Baby cocoa pod

Slice open a cocoa pod and you’ll find cocoa beans coated in a slimy fruit pulp. Beware the pulp, as it’ll play havoc with your intestinal track if eaten. Fermented however it makes for an interesting alcoholic beverage:

Cocoa beans

Remove one of those slime-covered nuggets and slice into it to find the actual bean:

Sliced unfermented cocoa bean

This is how the sliced bean appears up close:

Sliced cocoa bean

That bean is far from ready for use, however. The first process involves laying the beans out to dry, which also results in the pulp liquefying and wicking away from the beans as the pulp ferments. The dried beans are then placed in bins and fermented for about a week, with each bin being stirred several times throughout the process. In the photo below, the higher bins contain the newest beans and the lowest bins hold the beans that have undergone the longest fermentation period:

Cocoa bean fermentation bins

Once the beans in the lowest bins have fermented enough they are shoveled into wheelbarrows and dumped out to dry in the sun. The middle bins are then emptied into the lower bins, and the upper bins into the middle bins. This fermentation and later drying are critical, for without this process the cocoa bean retains a taste similar to raw potato.

Cocoa beans curing in the sun

At this particular cocoa plantation we were given samples not only of chocolate from their cocoa beans, but also liquor from the fruit pulp of the cocoa pods.


Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation, Wine & Food

Fun Photo Friday — Baja Test Kitchen Tour Favorites

Wine bottle still life

Below is today’s photo gallery and slide show of Baja Test Kitchen tour favorites of the Ensenada wine country:

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Filed under Fun Photo Friday, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation, Wine & Food