72 Hours in Medellin: Day 1 Parque Lleras

Day 4 in Colombia was also Day 1 in Medellin. L and I had a 10AM flight out of Bogota airport so we had to get early-ish to get ready, eat breakfast, and get our butts out the door. It was a bright and sunny morning, which I appreciated because I didn't want there to be any delays in our travel to the airport or in our flight.
However, that being said, it had rained pretty severely the night before which meant that there was some minor flooding along some of the roads we took into Bogota.

I tried caldo de papa for breakfast, which reminded me strongly of a Korean soup (kalbi tang), and it was delicious. It's a beef broth with beef short ribs, potato, and cilantro sprinkled on top. The beef was obviously super hearty but the broth was really light and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And, because I'm a pig, I also had an arepa and a little cup of coffee.
L's dad graciously drove us to the airport.
Our flight to Medellin was really easy. I fell asleep before we took off, woke up, and realized we were still just sitting on the runway. We ended up taking off almost 45 minutes after our original departure time but we still managed to land around the time we were supposed to. The flight was probably less than half an hour.
From the airport, we took a bus into town. It only took us as far as San Diego so then we called an Uber to take us to the hotel.
We stayed at the 574 Hotel in the El Poblado neighborhood. It was located just a few minutes from Parque Lleras and the El Poblado metro stop; the location was v. convenient. It was modern, clean, and the staff were really kind. I can't recommend this hotel enough. It was in a quiet, safe neighborhood to give you a good night's sleep but located close enough to all of the fun stuff that we didn't feel like we were missing out on anything. My only complaint would be that the door/wall to the bathroom is just frosted glass so it didn't offer much in the way of privacy. Luckily, neither L nor I are so modest that we stressed out about it.
We didn't really have anything planned for this day (or any day at all, frankly) so we decided to just walk around our neighborhood and Parque Lleras and take it easy.
For lunch, we were going to try L's cousin's friend's French pizza restaurant but I guess she didn't know he'd completely just closed it up and left to do something else so we ended up at La Causa because it was in the same neighborhood and looked cute.
We each started with a glass of the mandarin orange juice, which arrived iced and in tall glasses that looked fantastic. It had obviously been freshly squeezed before it was brought over to us because I could still taste the citrus oil from the rind.
For her main, L had a tuna sushi roll.
I opted for a ceviche. After all, this was a nikkei restaurant, which means it serves Japanese-influenced Peruvian food. This one was actually called the 'ceviche nikkei' and it was salmon and avocado swimming in leche de tigre (tiger's milk) topped with crispy sweet potato pieces. I had been introduced to tiger's milk at a ceviche restaurant in Lisbon and knew I would love it. It's basically coconut milk flavored with loads of lime and ginger and garlic and it's so savory and punchy and tasty.
After dinner, we went in search of some more parks. We stumbled across this weird outdoor gym where dudes couldn't help but take their shirts off. Or maybe they require you to remove your shirt before you go work out? L was dying of embarrassment that I took a photo but I was like, whatever, they're never going to see me again.
We ultimately ended up walking through this park, which was actually really nice. There were plenty of walking paths, it was really green, and there was a water feature running right through it.
The only thing I regret is that we probably would have had time to go out to one of the cable cars near the hills on this day but I didn't even think of it. I hadn't really planned anything solid for our next two days in town so I had assumed we'd be able to do it. Oh well; there's always next time!

Anyway, we walked around and then ended up heading back to our hotel room to just lounge around and relax until our dinner reservation. Oh yeah, so actually, I had planned one thing and of course it was food-based.
I had read only the best things about this place so when I found out I was able to make the reservation online, I did it. I made the reservations about a month in advance, which was good, because they fill up pretty quickly. I opted for the outdoor jardin (garden) seating, which was lovely.
I knew they had a prix-fixe tasting menu with wine and L was game so that's what we ended up doing.

The first wine was a fizzy cava, which was bright with light citrus notes and was totally up my alley. It was fruity but not sickly sweet and who doesn't like to start off a celebratory meal with a few bubbles?
The first course to accompany the cava (or for the cava to accompany?) was an appetizer course with three bites. The bite on the left was baby trout, the middle was a sun-dried beef, and the right was chicharron (deep fried pig skin) with crema and caviar. We were instructed to eat from right to left and it was divine. The salty pops of caviar with the smooth cream and the crispy chicharron was a texture and flavor explosion. The sun-dried beef had a deep, earthy flavor and it's what I wish beef jerky tasted like. The baby trout was super tender with a v. light and crispy batter that made the most satisfying sound when bitten into. It had that lovely 'ksssk' noise that I'd compare to when you bite into a Muncho.
Our second wine was a semillon. It was a light, fruity, semi-dry white wine. This one might've been my favorite from the whole bunch.
Our second course was a tilapia ceviche in fermented leche de tigre. Two experiences of leche de tigre in one day; how did I get so lucky? The tilapia was insanely fresh. The flesh of the fish was so soft with just enough resistance to contrast the thick and luscious tiger's milk. If the server hadn't come back so quickly to collect our plates, I would have licked that surface clean.
Our third wine was riesling from France. Actually, maybe this one was my favorite? I love Rieslings because they've got enough sweetness to make me feel like I'm drinking juice, which ultimately makes them pretty dangerous.
Our third course was a crab empanada. The filling was so savory, the crust was deliciously crisp, and the pickled veggies that accompanied the dish was perfect because the acid balanced out the deep fried crust. There were also three little dots of savory vanilla custard as well, which worked surprisingly well with the empanada. Vanilla inherently smells sweet to us because the association is always with ice cream or cakes but it just did something to balance the strong, briney flavors of the crab.
Our fourth wine was a pinyeres blanc from Spain. This was a bright, acidic wine, much drier than the previous wines we had been served.
Our fourth course was lechon (roasted pork) on a corn tortilla. This pork was the most tender pork I have ever eaten. There was barely any resistance when I bit into it, which was great because we were meant to eat this like a taco and I didn't relish having to struggle with it, especially since corn tortillas are notorious for falling apart. The tortilla itself was made with a relatively coarse-ground corn which meant it had incredibly toasty corn flavor.
Halfway through our meal, they brought out a warm little loaf of bread and butter. We each took a bite and it was good bread, but we wanted to leave room to guzzle all of our wine (because at this point, we each had a few unfinished glasses next to our plates) and for whatever other dishes were still coming our way.
The fifth wine was the first red wine. It was a pinot noir from Italy. I'm not a big red wine drinker so to be honest, I don't have much to say about this except that they'd obviously let it breathe because it didn't have that gross tanin-y mouthfeel that I always experience with red wines. It was dry without being bitter and really rich and earthy-tasting.
This red wine accompanied a fish dish, which was fantastic. They "carved" the sea bass at the table for us and also encouraged us to suck any remaining meat off the bones, because that was the best part.
The fish was really meaty yet tender. The skin was delightfully crispy. And our server was totally correct. The meat left on the bones was the best part because it was super fatty and flavorful.
The final wine presented to us was a tempranillo from Spain. Again, I need to emphasize that I am not a red wine connoisseur (or an any wine connoisseur, if I'm being honest, because I prefer beer and the occasional old fashioned) but it was good. Again, they'd let this one breathe so it wasn't bitter and weird. It was a mild red that drank pretty easily. Although, perhaps it drank so easily because by this time in the meal, I was well on my way to being tipsy.
Our final savory course was a 45-day dry aged beef served with potatoes gratin. The beef was so tender, it basically melted in my mouth. The aging process had led to a beef with incredibly deep and rich flavor that I've never experienced before. The potatoes were nothing to write home about, but maybe that's just because they were forced to share a space with incredibly delicious steak.
The final libation presented to us was a cocktail made with a Colombian rum and a sugar cane alcohol called "guaro." Now, I know rum is made with sugar cane but the difference is that rum is aged and guaro is ready to drink as soon as it's been distilled which means it still has a bit of sweetness and it isn't quite as potent. That being said, this cocktail had zero other mixers so it was pretty deadly.
For dessert, we were presented with a trio of sorbets with cookie crumbs and berries. It was the best possible dessert to be served after such an intense meal because it was fresh and light and probably aided in the digestion of our meal.
After dinner, we needed time to unwind and digest. We thought about getting a beer but our bellies were too full so we just parked our butts on a bench in the park and people-watched until our stomachs had gone down enough to allow us to waddle back to the hotel.