Chilcabamba – Culinary delights in the high Andes
“Ecuador is a real paradise for any chef. The variety of products, the ease of obtaining them, the local farmers who care for their vegetable gardens as if they were puppies… it’s a luxury,” explains Álvaro Reinoso. The Brazilian-Ecuadorian chef seems infatuated with his country after having been gone for almost a decade.
The last time he resided in Ecuador, in his twenties, his adventures in the world of avant-garde cuisine had not yet begun. He had not yet set foot in Spain’s world-renowned Celler de Can Roca, or the well reputed Maní, in São Paulo, under the tutelage of award-winning Daniel Redondo. Today, Reinoso is a culinary magician, full of molecular artistry, inspirations worthy of El Bulli, and a real desire to make traditional Ecuadorian cuisine a divertimento of tasteful emotions.
Outside, the wind blows. We see the páramo, the mountains, the glorious Cotopaxi that looms over us all; cows grazing in the distance, a hummingbird pecking at its feeder, and chuquiragua bushes raising their orange head full of pride, against the wind. Why here? Why not here? Álvaro goes out to handpick volcanic stones to present his culinary inventions, he searches for medicinal herbs and teas, he picks clovers from the Pita River, inspired by everything that surrounds him, by every flavor that makes our traditional Ecuadorian food a delight for us, but a true unknown within the International culinary world. “It would be nice,” he admits, “to take our cuisine to the level, to that dialogue of high gastronomy… I think it deserves it.”
A unique menu
A shot that turns into the classic Quito figs-with-cheese desert, a forest green bite-sized morsel that turns into a Cayambe bizcocho, frozen mistelas that explode like a thousand chocolates in your palate, a plantain-based nest with trout, fished minutes ago. “The idea is that every taste is a sensation… It has to be good, but it also has to be fun to eat,” says Álvaro, inviting adventurers to combine the spectacles of Mount Cotopaxi with the most avant-garde culinary treats in the country.
The twelve-course tasting menu is served only on weekends and by reservation. An excellent traditional menu is served daily for lunch and dinner.
Loreto del Pedregal. Cotopaxi – Ecuador.
To view the gallery, please click over the image.