Colombian Food Festival 2010

In one night, you could be transported to another place (even another time), where the indigenous taste of grain is prevalent, vegetables kissed by fire divulge their sweetness and the powers of cocoa harnessed, you lose yourself.

Incredible Desserts at the Colombian Food Festival
Sensory delights from Colombia expertly presented in dishes of Quinoa, Root Vegetables, Fish and Chicken accompanied by exciting performances of Salsa, is what I sampled at Trinidad's Colombian Food Festival, and note to self; I need to learn more about Colombian Cuisine because I have been missing out!

A Cornucopia of Colombian Cuisine and the Chef
Dinner and Salsa
Celebrity Colombian Chef Catalina Velez Ocampo graced these shores to exhibit some of the best of what Colombia has to offer. Complemented by the great service of the staff at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad, October 7th was a night of balanced textures, tastes and skill. Some flavors were familiar, others alien but all superb. 
Beautiful and Approachable Chef Catalina Velez Ocampo
The friendly atmosphere made the night even more notable; guests smiled at each other as glances were exchanged from table to table. Conversations struck up over choices at the buffet with complete strangers and insights on the preparation and origins of the dishes shared by the world famous chef herself (sometimes finishing a comment with a broad smile and a playful wink).
Coconut Rice
Decorated with some Colombian Flare
Black Eyed Peas Croquettes and Patacones
The Waterfront Restaurant, ground floor at the Hyatt hosted the event in fine style, each table dressed with a red or yellow rose. A stage set to the eastern side of the dining room, twice featured Salsa dancing during the night, which had staff as well as guests shaking a shoulder or tapping a foot (unconsciously at times) but all in good fun.
Professional Salsa Dancers from Colombia's Salsa Viva School
Grilled Snapper with Coconut Achiote Sauce
Fabulous food was the main event with an array of salads on the menu; root vegetables julienned or sliced, fruit perfectly grilled, lettuce hand torn, other vegetables cubed, sauteed and all creatively combined, delivering authentic Colombian style delight to the palate.
Root Vegetable Salad
Tamarind Glazed Chicken Breast
Quinoa with Vegetables and Almonds
Entrees and sides were earthy, creamy and hearty. Familiar was the incorporation of coconut milk into some dishes like coconut rice and pumpkin soup, along with ingredients like guavas, black eyed peas, bananas, plantains and tamarind. The application of these ingredients in the hands of Chef Catalina is what carried you away to a land steeped in a vast, rich multicultural history different to our own.
Sauteed Vegetables
Desserts were amazing. Coffee sauces, chocolate creations of sumptuousness, fluffy corn cakes and light, creamy mousses.

Chocolate Melcocha with Coffee Syrup
[Front] Coconut Rice Pudding
[Back] Guava Mousse with Mandarin Honey
The festival was a collaborative effort hosted by the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Copa Airlines and Proexport. It was held October 6th-9th, 2010 and I hope it will be continued as an annual event given it's success this year.
The Colombian Flag Proudly on Display
A More than Satisfying Taste of Colombia

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