We have all heard of the eco-park, eco-hostel, eco-hotel, eco-lodge, eco-anything, but one segment of ecologically sound choices should include what we eat as well. Around the world people are becoming more open minded in what they do with their time, their bodies and even their trash. The eco-restaurant is a new and emerging genre of food which includes gastro-pub sensibilities and earth friendly sustainable practices. The ingredients are typically sustainably grown or produced and may even be culturally sourced.
Bakuru, located on the outskirts of the small town of Armenia, Colombia is no exception. The architecture is clean and simple while the interior décor is open and uses a lot of natural light elements along with the large glass windows which give stunning views of the central corridor of the Colombian Andes. Immediately we were greeted, seated, handed our menu’s and given our own recycled glass jar full of fresh filtered water. (Cultural side note: I usually have to ask for water to be brought whenever I eat at the average Colombian restaurant)
Bakuru: Cocina Del Pacifico – Km 2 Via Pereira, Armenia – www.bakuru.org – 318 529 8604
My favorite part of all was the food, of course! The recipes are recuperated traditions from the Embera peoples and their Afro-Colombian neighbors in Bahia Solano, a small community in the north pacific region of Colombia. Used with special permission from the native communities, they are a walk off the beaten path of tipical Colombian cuisine which will tantalize your senses with their fresh flavors. The eco-part comes in the form of carefully selected preservative free gourmet ingredients.
For lunch I opted for the “Quebrajado”: Mussels with ripe platano cubes and fresh oregano (picked from plants there in the restaurant!) in a coconut milk & wine reduction. The mussels were soft and flavorful combining the elements of sea salt and the coconut milk flavors with that extra taste which comes from the oregano and wine. I drank a juice which was made from chontaduro (palm fruit), cardamom, honey and almond milk. For dessert I ate a scrumptious native specialty made from toasted cacao beans covered in honey and fresh guava ice cream. The tastes were combinations of familiar Colombian ingredients but in a much different context than I had previously eaten. On the side were fried yucca chips with the Bakuru version of special sauce which has a sour creamy taste that contrasted perfectly with the saltiness of the yucca.
After our scrumptious meal I had a chat with Tatiana who together with her brother Andres has worked to preserve and restore the indigenous traditions featured on their menu. They explained to me how they own a reserve in Bahia Solano which uses profits to work with and help local communities, especially the Mecana community which is a mix of indigenous natives and afro-Colombian peoples who benefit greatly. In a country where many indigenous communities have been displaced and their traditions lost, the efforts of Tatiana and Adres are nothing less than heroic.
And of course Daniel thought hanging out at Bakuru was the coolest thing in the world!!