Monday, August 18, 2014

Paute, Ecuador

Yesterday, we went on a day trip to Paute with our landlady and other tenants from our building. Our first stop was at the local market. According to our guide, farmers come down from the surrounding mountains and join the locals for Mass. Then, they set up their stalls at the market and sell their produce, bread, eggs, milk, clothes, etc...the town center and market were packed with people buying supplies for the week or even for a month. 

This little lady, we were told she was in her 90's, enjoyed meeting us gringo's. 

We visited the market for about thirty minutes. And, after a seven month search, I was able to finally find fresh turnip greens. I asked for turnips, Nabo, in Spanish and our guides father walked me to a booth that he thought would have them. They did! What's interesting is that there were no turnips, only the greens. Now I wonder if turnips are even eaten in Ecuador. I have yet to see them in the stores or mercados here. Anyway, here is how the greens looked during and after cooking. By the way, I paid 50-cents for two large bundles of greens. 

Mike purchased a bag of sweet potatoes, a rare find, and several loaves of homemade cheese bread. After our quick visit to the market we got back on the van and headed over to the Hacienda San Juan Pamba, in Paute. 

Here is the history of the hacienda. 

Current owner, and his daughter Isabel, were our hosts and guides. 

When we arrived we were shown to one of the garden areas and were treated to a mid-morning snack consisting of a beverage and a type of corn tamale with anise spice called Chumales. Here are a few photos of the outdoor dining area. 

The weather was perfect. The temperature was probably in the low 70's! After our snack, Isabel and her father took us on a tour of the hacienda and explained, in detail, the history of the hacienda, the history of their family, and they reminisced about family vacations there. At one point there were 100 employees catering to the needs of around 100 vacationing family members. Isabel explained that "back in the old days" her family would leave Cuenca and would vacation for three months at the hacienda in Paute. The hacienda is in great shape. It has been well cared for and is stocked with family antiques. 

A map made of leather. 

The family owned the first car in Cuenca. Here is grandma driving the car. 

Other areas within the hacienda. 

The hacienda had a sugar cane mill on the property. The building has been renovated to include a large meeting/dining area and included a twenty bed dormitory in the loft area that once was used for storing grain. 

And more antiques. 

After the tour we were directed to one of the dining rooms for lunch.  We enjoyed avocado soup, wood fired grilled chicken, rice, salad, and llapingacho (fried mashed potatoes with cheese). For dessert we enjoyed two very sweet almost candy-like items with sort of an applesauce consistency. One made with milk and the other made with guava. With dessert we enjoyed coffee or Cedron tea. 

After lunch we were taken on a tour of the four acre property. It was beautiful. These pictures do not do it justice. 

This is the outdoor brick oven where our chicken was cooked for lunch. 

After the tour we sat outside and spent the afternoon chit chatting and laughing. A couple of people napped and enjoyed the hammocks. Towards the end of the day we all gathered around for a cooking lesson on how to prepare empanadas. Very easy to make and mucho delicioso!

In case you want to try and make these yourself here is the recipe. Make sure you use carbonated mineral water. 

Shortly afterwards we got back on the van and headed home. A great day with friends!

Group photo.