The area around Cayambe is noted for its dairy products including its cheeses. It is called by many American tourists the Wisconsin of Ecuador. I tried the queso de hoja (leaf cheese). I wasn't keen on it because it was a rather bland cheese and I like bolder flavours.
At the Café de Cayambe, they offered me a tomato juice, but they told me it was sweet. I was mentally prepared for the savoury tomato juice to which I am accustomed. They explained later that it was a "tomate del árbol" (tree tomato) which is an entirely different thing. It was sweet and it tasted like nothing I had before. An hour later at the Otavalo Market, street vendors had these tree tomatoes on display. Sadly, due to the difficulty of transporting them, they are not available in the United States.
Well, I finally did it, folks- I tried the "cuy" (guinea pig, for those from Roxboro). I want to thank Fernando for telling me about this delicacy. I must admit that even on the eve of my trip to here, I was somewhat ambivalent to try it, but I seized the opportunity at La Choza Restaurant in Chalturas two days into my trip. Don't get cuy downtown because you'll pay $15 per cuy, double what we paid in the countryside. Sergio's and Christina's daughter Thea loves animals and she was mortified that we would eat guinea pig in front of her. It was fried such that there was little evidence of its former self. There was so much breading that it dominated the meat which, honestly, to me, tastes like chicken. Now I have a new problem: I like cuy and there are very few places I can get it in the United States.
Hand-carved woodwork is very common in northern Ecuador. There are many shops, particularly in the village of San Antonio (no, there is not a little Alamo here) that feature nothing but this type of craftsmanship of all shapes and sizes. Local craftsmen also do leather work in northern Ecuador.
Abdon Calderon and Sucre (CORNER), Otavalo, Ecuador
Good for: Couples
Cotacachi Imbabura, Cotacachi, EC
Good for: Business
The Hacienda Cusin is just outside Otavalo, at the foot of the Imbabura Volcano. It was built in...more