The first bit of good news about La Colonia Columbian & Ecuadorian restaurant is the large parking lot in back, complete with a rear entrance. Parking on Central can be a bit of a challenge. The second is the music, Latin and so appropriate to the setting. The third arrives shortly after placing the order—a tomato de arbol (wine tree tomato) milk shake. Having no previous experience with wine tree tomatoes, or with tomato milk shakes generally, I am skeptical but intrigued. The server attempts to explain what a wine tree
tomato is, but we run into a language barrier. All I can say is muy bien. It is sweet, but not too, and tastes of tomato in a surprisingly positive way. It reminds me that a tomato is, after all, a fruit. The fourth bit of good news is that the muted TV up on the wall (not generally my favorite feature in any setting) is showing highlights of last night’s Twins game on a Spanish version of Fox Sports. And I love the Minnesota Twins in any language.
Sipping on my shake, I eavesdrop on the one other couple sharing the room. The late middle-aged man describes a recent DNA ancestry test. He is surprised by the results (less Scandinavian than anticipated). The woman appears to be entranced by the story. Perhaps they are dating. When I run out to my car to retrieve my cell phone, they promise to watch over my laptop. Nice people. As noon approaches, other customers drift in, taking their places in surrounding booths. La Colonia has three separate seating areas and a small bar area. A two-for-one happy hour is advertised. The place is clean, attractive, and comfortable.
For the main course I order Encocado do Pescado, described as “cod fish cooked in a coconut broth and served with rice, avocado, and sweet plantain”. The fish is meltingly tender and has a delicate coconut flavor, which is enhanced by the garnish of chopped cilantro. The fried plantains are tasty and not overly greasy. The rice is rice and the avocado is avocado. A ramekin of fresh-appearing and perky-tasting hot sauce is served on the side.
When I conceived the idea that became “Eating (and Writing) Up Central”, I expected this adventure in near-weekly eating and blogging to be fun. But it far exceeds my imagination. This marvelous diversity of places and people and food is within two miles of home. My only regret is not starting sooner. After working my way up Central Avenue NE and visiting all the non-chain restaurants as far up as 694 (this will take awhile!), my plan is to continue weekly adventures. Maybe museums, or parks, or galleries, or historic buildings, or off-the-beaten path neighborhoods. Ideas? You, too, could fashion your own adventure and share the experience with others.
My novel Borderland continues to take shape. Claire, the main character, is slowly being transformed and awakened, despite a bad self-inflicted haircut and a embarrassing encounter with funeral home director Richard Davies while seeking to avoid Brad, her scary apartment manager.
Until next week.