Food is such an important part of travel. It’s an exciting way to discover a new culture. So, we took some of our clients to a cooking class last week with friend and chef Francisco Larco from Galería Café in Quito. One of the fun experiences available at this little café is making your own corn tortillas (locally known as tortillas de maíz en tiesto), plus a good cup of coffee. This traditional Quiteño delicacy dates way back to the 18th century and though it is still very popular at coffee time, you rarely see it cooked on the typical adobe hot plate called “tiesto”. But this is exactly what you will do at Galería Café!
The table is set nicely with all of the ingredients needed for each person. These include: toasted corn flour, water, butter, egg yolks, and the cheese filling (soft cheese, onions and achiote, the latter also known as annatto).
You mix all of the ingredients (except the cheese filling) until you get a soft, uniform dough.
Then, you make a flat, round tortilla about the size of your palm and put on the cheese. You close the tortilla making sure the cheese is covered while you keep shaping it round. Lastly, you roast it over the pan for about 4 minutes each side. There is the no need to add oil or butter on the pan to cook the tortillas as the heat does all the work.
While the tortillas get ready, we prepare the chilli sauce (ají de piedra) with fresh chilli peppers, cilantro, onions, salt and water. First, we grind the pepper using a volcanic stone grinder. When we start to get a paste, we add the water and salt. We continue grinding until we get a homogeneous sauce and add the cilantro at the end. Proportions can vary according to taste.
Then, to top things off, we prepare the coffee. We use Ecuadorian coffee from Zaruma, a region in the southern province of El Oro. We grind the coffee beans and put them in the cloth filter or “chuspa”, pour hot water, and let it drip down into our pot.
Finally, we serve ourselves and enjoy!
This culinary experience can be easily added to your Quito tour. Contact us for details.