My boyfriend is very picky when it comes to choose a place to eat. Especially when we’re abroad. Sometimes it takes us hours until we find a restaurant that he approves. A real pain in the neck. What can happen when you’re that choosy? Well, after hours of wandering and an argument, you can stumble upon a nice place with unbelievably great food. That’s how we found La Cocina de Pepina in Cartagena de Indias.
The place is very small, modest and neat, with no more than 20 seats. Best to go as a couple. The first thing you notice is that there is no set menu. Instead all dishes are written out on a blackboard (not more than 8 dishes in total). That was when I realized the food must be great as the dishes differ everyday so you can be sure everything is made of fresh ingredients.
The waiter took his time to walk us trough the menu, explaining how they were going to serve the dishes, what the ingredients were, pointing out which one was spicy. That was quite an amazing thing, especially for us as we didn’t have the faintest idea about Caribbean food. By the time he finished describing the food, I had felt like ordering all the entrees and main courses! The sad thing is that we couldn’t do it as the place was slightly more expensive than an average restaurant in Cartagena. Eventually we chose (only) 3 dishes to share. We could have ordered an additional dish because portions were rather small. But still, three were enough for 2 (not very hungry) people.
First we had an eggplant marinated in oil of olive, lime juice and garlic with plantain chips. I am a huge fan of eggplant so this dish was what chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream are for a PMSing girl. I couldn’t love it anymore! Then we tried a dish with a lovely name of cat’s head (cabeza de gato in Spanish) – little balls of mashed boiled plantain with garlic, onion and annatto, served with sour cream. You should know that annatto is kind of bitter and you may not enjoy the flavor too much. It was good but here’s something that I learned: annatto is not my favorite flavor whatsoever.
So I politely let my boyfriend finish the cat’s head and waited for the last dish – boiled shrimps with avocado sauce. This one looked like a usual shrimp dish but tasted like summer. The flavor was sweet and fishy at first and then acid. I could definitely taste lime juice, coco and cilantro mixed with something spicy. God! That was like a Mexican party in my mouth!
Believe me or not but La Cocina de Pepina is by far the place with the most mouthwatering and authentic food . That’s definitely where you should go if you want to try the best traditional Caribbean dishes. I regret only one thing: I wish I had tried mote de queso – a traditional soup made of Caribbean cheese. What a shame!!! Well, eventually, after a couple of cheap mojitos I managed to forget about my mistake of not trying mote.
P.S: I received no compensation for writing this post. I paid for the food (and it was worth it).