I have been to several place since arriving in Medellin. But, De Ida y Vuelta is by far the best cultural find so far.
Restaurant Herbario in Poblado, owned by two long-time friends by the name of Carlos, who are also the owners of Bonuar near the Museum of Modern Art was an experience unlike any I have had thus far in Medellín.
The restaurant with its tall ceilings, clean lines, floor-to-ceiling wine walls and wooden tables, also had a second floor overlooking the dining area. Before our meal even began, 2 massive glass windows on the second floor opened up and the restaurant’s band began playing some great background music with their 2 guitarists and a pianist.
Herbario also has some interesting facts about it that sets it apart from other restaurants around the world.
First, it supports the deaf culture by inviting deaf interns to learn how to be in a kitchen and be part of a cooking team.
Second, it pays fishermen a fixed rate to fish for their tuna with rods, rather than nets, to keep the tuna from bruising before they get to the restaurant.
But, I have to admit, I didn’t try the food there even though I heard it was excellent. Instead, I was there for an event they host every few months called De Ida y Vuelta.
This is a brilliant plan that was put together by the Carlos’ to bring all of Colombia to Medellín, especially since many paisas don’t have the time or money to visit the rest of the country.
Basically, Herbario chooses a few of the best chefs and restaurants throughout Colombia and invites them: the chef, his cooks, their food and their equipment, to come to Medellín for one day and share their cuisine.
The chef prepares a tasting menu of his best dishes and a sommelier is brought in to match each dish with the perfect wine.
Herbario houses about 80 people, and there is usually only 1 seating for the day. During this time, all guests are served at the same time and are introduced to the food and wines by the chef himself, and the sommelier.
This past Saturday I went for the cuisine of Astrid and Gaston, a Peruvian restaurant. This restaurant in Colombia is also the only one that is not run by a Peruvian chef, and he is considered one of Colombia’s best chefs, Francisco Rodriguez.
On the menu, he offered shrimp, tuna, cow, pig and his famous dessert, Mango Ravioli with a chocolate cake. With it was paired sweet wines, dry wines and red wines.
The seating cost 200,000 COP ($111 USD) per person and everyone was waited on hand and foot.
Because the preparation takes places in the moment, and 80 guests need to be served at the same time, the chef and sommelier went into discussion abut the cooking process, ingredients and general love for food in between meals.
The meal lasted about 5.5 hours and every minute was spectacular.