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Last post on Guatemala to provide some closure. Fernando’s Kaffee was really difficult to find, thanks to limited language skills and nonexistent map read abilities. Oh, and the fact that cafe hopping seem to be a gringo thing doesn’t help when I ask the locals for directions because they don’t know where it is. Thankfully I persevered, and after wandering around haplessly for a good half hour finally arrived at the cafe. The small shop is cozy, with a dark front room set up with the espresso machine and pastry displays opening up into a very cozy courtyard with tables set around a lush garden. I could have spent all day just sitting in that garden reading a book or surfing the web, wifi enabled.

Fernando's espresso

Fernando's espresso

 Of course, I would also order a drink, an espresso in fact. The owner, Fernando, is a coffee fanatic and roasts his own coffee on-site for extreme freshness. The double espresso I sampled was testament of his fervor, impossibly smooth with a beautiful golden crema and fragrant aroma. As a souvenir, I also brought home a few packs of hand peeled, home made chocolate covered cacao beans, each enrobed in a dark, bitter sweet chocolate and packed with crunchy, nutty cacao bean segments. The spicy version, where the chocolate has been spiked with pepper is especially addictive and gone in minutes once I brought it back to the office to my ravenous coworkers, so I am excited to hear that Fernando is planning to start an e-commerce site with global shipping too!

Fernando’s Kaffee

7 Avenida Norte No. 43D

www.fernandos-kaffee.com/index.html

 

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Seedlings

Seedlings

I had no lack of coffee in Guatemala, where I spent mornings waking up to the fragrant aroma of coffee at our little B&B, Casa Madeleine, and refueled in the afternoons at the numerous coffee shops in Antigua. Coffee is Guatemala’s most prominent export, and since I was at the source of my favorite libation, I decided to spend some time visiting a coffee plantation.  Finca Filadelfia, located just outside the city limits of Antigua is not your typical small scale cooperative farm. Instead it is a sizeable commercial operation set in a very lush and plush estate, complete with its own hotel. Besides the coffee tour, the plantation also offer horse rides and zip-line excursions for the more adventurous. Me? I was content sitting in the tour trucks that resembled open-air military vehicles going through the grounds.

It was an intimate tour perhaps due to the intermittent rain, with just me, 2 Israeli men who also happened to live in New York during a point in their lives and our very chatty, very enthusiastic guide J. We watched grafted coffee plantlings grow undisturbed inside enclosed tents, learnt the differences between robusta and arabica plants and picked out coffee beans (and discovered worms in the overripe ones). Inside the processing facility, we were quizzed about the hows and whys of coffee selection, grading and roasting. Of course, we also spent time sipping espressos afterwards as we shared our own experiences drinking, cooking, burning those precious beans. I left thoroughly impressed by the sheer number of steps it takes for the coffee to end up in our cups and the entire tour operation, to the point that I then steered about 10 more friends to take the tour in the following days.

http://www.rdaltoncoffee.com/

Walking down the aisle

Sara and Dad walking down the aisle

I was fortunate enough to attend Angel and Sarah’s wedding in Guatemala last weekend and was it a lovely affair! The sanctuary serene, the bride blushing and the groom could not stop grinning throughout the whole event.

Table setting

Table setting

 The reception was set in a room draped with white curtains and twinkly lights, the tables set with giant bouquets of flowers in shades of cream and amber.

wedding cake

wedding cake

The cake too, was white and accented with curlicues of gold, and inside a creamy, moist marble cake. According to the bride, the cake tasting da to be done long distance, with Angel’s aunt transporting slices of cake from Guatemala to NYC, but the extra effort was definitely worth it!

hors d'oeurves

hors d'oeurves

The table numbers were replaced with 16 cities that had special meaning to the wedded couple. Needless to say, I was on the New York table, with my coworkers and some other friends, noshing on savory and sweet appetizers to amuse ourselves whilst we waited our turn at the buffet table.

A very full plate

A very full plate

Truth to be told, I was a littled disappointed that Angel opted for a posh do at the Casa Santo Domingo instead of a bbq at a ranch, complete with a roasted whole cow. Oh well… Still, the buffet was varied and very tasty. Of the three meat entrees, I remember the pork with fruit salsa to be really moist and tender. While the savory choices were more continental, desserts had a local flair. I enjoyed the killer flan, but the giant green figs steeped in honey and anise water was a little too much even for me, the avowed saccharine fiend.

the garter tradition

the garter tradition

This has nothing to do with food, but I love the picture! Anyway, here’s wishing the Solis a very long and loving marriage!

You can have your fruit this way…
chico fruit! + angel the hand model

chico fruit! + angel the hand model

But it is so much more fun when you have it in a cone!

jocote sorbet outside the shop

jocote sorbet outside the shop

Tucked away at the back of the crumbling Cathedral in Antigua Guatemala is La Tienda de Dona Gavi, an apothecary with a twist. While the soaps, essential oils and medicated shampoos lay in full display, the ice-cream freezer stays hidden behind the counter, surreptitiously away from the casual shopper’s eye. Even the wooden signs announcing the flavors are placed inconspicuously on one side of the narrow doorway. It is perfectly understandable therefore, for one to browse through the entire shop without stopping for some icy treats. To do that, however, would be remiss as the ice-cream (or sorbet) flavors are unique and outstanding. On my first day, I had the best bite during this entire trip. Jocote fruit, a small, red local plum is immortalized in a scoop of yellow sorbet, refreshingly tart, with the taste of stone fruit and the bite of citrus. I smiled all the way walking home with my cone. The next day, pink zapote, sweet with a musky melony flavor. Day 3 got me a pale green scoop of avocado, very subtle, perhaps a little too subtle and too sweet, but well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. At 18 q ($2.25) per scoop, a little pricey for Guatemala, but it is definitely a step-up to the generic icecreams that are in abundance in the town and a worthy stop.

La Tienda de Dona Gavi

3 Avenida Norte 2 # (Right behind the crumbling Cathedral)