Tag Archives: dinner

Eating like a local, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The guilt we feel for not eating purely local food is, of course, entirely of our own making. I’m sure no-one – local, tourist, or blog reader – really gives much of a monkey’s. Be that as it may, we were resolved to get back to trying more unusual food, shop in small tiendas and follow unsuspecting Ecuadorians into neighbourhood restaurants in the hope of finding new and exciting gastronomic experiences.

Our first foray came in the form of bus food; that is, snacks often sold by men and women who wander down the aisle between stops, baskets filled with pre-chopped fruit, deep-fried tamales, and mysterious packages wrapped in black plastic bags, usually served with scorching hot chilli sauce, or syrup (sometimes both). Long bus journeys are a bit of a necessity in South America, as the distances between major towns and cities are vast. As such, we were soon on the look-out for something to eat on our 14hr journey south from Quito, and it wasn’t long until we were rewarded. As five heavily-laden women squeezed onto the bus, the sweet aroma of freshly steamed corn on the cobs filled the air. These were served, piping hot, with a generous slab of fresh cheese (something like a cross between mozzarella and halloumi, and delicious). Later, we’d maintain our salt and fat intake by tucking into cheese tamales, bought as we passed through some of Ecuador’s less salubrious neighbourhoods which were heavy in both petrol stations and hopefully named ‘love hotels’. From a feeding perspective at least, things were going well.

Having arrived in Guayquil late at night, we were ready for a proper meal by morning. The town is a fairly standard urban centre, our opinion not helped by its immediate comparision to the hot and beautiful Galapagos Islands, and the fact it was pissing with rain. In a rush to escape the weather, we ducked into the nearest strip of food stalls we could find and took a seat. Tenedor del Oro is a chain, serving Ecuadorian classics from breakfast through to dinner. Having fared so well before, I opted for fried plantains with fresh cheese, while the Egg Poacher chose a ‘Guayaco’, much the same as mine, but the plantain and cheese are mashed together, formed into a ball and then deep fried. There was also a side of fried egg, while we both had what can euphemistically be called DIY coffee: a tiny cup of instant granules, a mug of hot water, and some sugar.

It can’t be said this was our finest meal – the cheese had a somewhat sour aftertaste, while the eggs had been fried a long, long time ago, the yolks sagging like collapsed souffles. We certainly weren’t hungry anymore (and unlikely to need to eat again for many days to come), but a pressing desire for vitamins drove us straight into the arms of the nearest smoothie stall – proving that, as with most things and despite good intentions, you can’t win them all.

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Horse & Groom, Bourton-on-the Hill, Wiltshire

The Greenstocks have pulled off the nigh-on impossible, running a pub with rooms that keeps locals and tourists happy in equal measure. The Horse & Groom sits atop Bourton’s eponymous hill, overlooking some fine Cotswold golden stone buildings and the verdant fields beyond. In such rural surroundings, you can expect the country set – chaps come in a rainbows’ array of chinos and ladies are immaculately presented, but we scruffy Bristolians were made to feel equally welcome by brothers Tom and Will. After a fabulous dinner we retired to our room with a giant bed and a bath deep enough to disappear in, somehow still salivating at the thought of more food to come. The breakfast menu is left in your room the night before, and it’s a well-chosen list of traditional fare: muselis and cereals, followed by organic bacon and eggs or fresh fish, cafetieres of coffee or lashings of tea. We were up early (goodness knows why) and ate to the sultry sounds of the hoover, but the food was well seasoned, freshly made and generously portioned. Much of what they cook comes from their own veg patch and kitchen garden, and the chefs look mighty pleased to be here.

Price: double rooms from £120 per night (including breakfast).

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Filed under B&B