On Friday morning we walk down the stairs out of El Centro to the New Town and after 25 minutes arrive at Villa San Carlos, the pick-up point. We join seven expats from the US and load up into the mini-bus for the 30 minute ride south of the city to La Yunta, a restaurant, furniture, and gifts store along the highway to Loja. Four more expats join us at the restaurant.
La Yunta partners with chef Patricio Coronel, the owner of Restaurant Corvel in Paute to put on the cooking class/demonstration. Chef Patricio speaks Spanish, so Solidad from La Yunta has arranged for an interpreter for the predominately English speaking class.
Chef Patricio begins by making the soup: Locro de Papas Paueñto. This traditional Ecuadorian soup contains two types of potatoes, achiote, garlic. We learn how to cure a new Ecuadorian cooking pot with the interior skin of a plantain. The ingredients of the soup quickly come together then lightly boil. Chef Patricio's special blend of dehydrated spices is added at serving time.
For dessert Chef Patricio prepares Miel con Queso, basically a sweet sauce made with panella (sugar cane), lemon peel, a little water and spices which is heated then poured over a slice of mozzarella cheese. It is tasty and a good balance of savory and sweet.
After the class we have an opportunity to browse through the furniture and gift shop. The products are high quality. We also chat more with our classmates, learning what has attracted them to Ecuador and gaining tips from them for our stay. The mini-bus arrives delivers us back to Villa San Carlos by 1 pm as promised. It has been a very enjoyable morning.