I have said many times that Ecuador will never make it on anyone’s “Best Food” list. I’ve found local food to be healthy, sustainable fare but certainly not fare suitable for a fancy restaurant menu somewhere. I was WRONG! There is as least one place and one chef who is worthy of note right here in Bahia.
For Diane’s birthday, we enjoyed a great whale watching excursion, a bit south of us, on Saturday morning. We returned by mid-afternoon, gathered up Carmine and packed a bag for an overnight stay at Casa Ceibo Resort Saturday night.
‘Round these parts, Casa Ceibo is arguably the best resort experience available. It is a world-class destination with guests coming from Australia, France, Germany and other countries to enjoy a top-quality resort experience.
Situated behind massive gates, along the bank of the wide Chone River… access is strictly controlled by a guard at the gate house, it took me 10 minutes, a week or so ago, to convince the guard to allow me inside to check the place out and make a reservation.
Once inside, I was immediately transformed to another life…one of wealth and opulence; lush landscaping meticulously kept, clay tennis court, driveway ending in a circle and the structure…well….magnificent! I’ve heard that Casa Ceibo was once the spectacular home to a local Shrimp Farmer whose private jet regularly flew him and his family from the airport in San Vicente to the states to conduct business. The shrimp farming industry is still recovering from a devastating disease that swept through the farms some years ago, virtually destroying the industry at that time.
I took my abbreviated tour last week. Noted the artistically designed inlaid tile pool, gorgeous grounds, stunning rooms with huge tubs and showers, phenomenal attention to architectural and design details, and amazing woodwork. I also took a look at the menu, chatted with the manager and made the reservation. I ordered a couple of extra things to make the Babe’s b’day a bit more special.
The Pocket Babe had made arrangements for her tennis instructor to meet her at Casa Ceibo for a late afternoon lesson on the clay court in the late P.M on Saturday. Now…before you begin to think we’re all snooty and such…the tennis guy charges 10 bucks per lesson and the use of the court was free with our stay. Yes, this was surely a splurge and one that we won’t do again anytime soon but what the hell!!!
While Diane was playing tennis, Carmine and I settled in for a nap watching guy T.V. Diane returned, elated! She really loves tennis and now plays very well. Playing in this environment, on a clay court was truly a treat and she loved it! She even wore her cute tennis skirt for the first time.
When she returned from the court, we relaxed on the terrace for a while, enjoying the view. After sunset, we both showered and headed to dinner around 7:30 in the resort’s dining room. Our Spanish allows us to survive quite nicely, if barely, but some things on the menu remained a mystery. Our server answered our questions. We sat, enjoying our drinks and a great view of the spectacular lighted grounds through the window next to our table as our order was prepared.
First to arrive was our salad consisting of sliced, ripe tomatoes, alternating in a circular pattern around an artistic platter with slices of mozzarella cheese. A drizzle of Balsamic and fresh herbs topped each plate. Scrumptious!!!! And, as always here in Ecuador, the tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes.
Right on time came the entrées. Served together (a rarity here), we both ordered a chicken and mushroom dish. I also ordered a small, cold plate consisting of Swordfish in a spicy, seasoned cream sauce. The swordfish was sliced thin…very thin and laid upon a shallow bed of the cream sauce, within which was swirled a bit of aji for spice. Reminded me a bit of spicy creamed herring.
The entrees were, in concert with the rest of the place, stunning!! Small medallions of chicken breast were served in a delicate mushroom glaze highlighted by several different types of mushrooms. It was light and perfectly seasoned, the chicken, melt-in-your-mouth tender! There was a nice portion of risotto that was the best I’ve ever had on several continents. The portions were so generous that neither Diane nor I could finish ours.
For our dessert, the chef had baked an exquisite chocolate cake served with a warm chocolate drizzle. Perfect! Even the café con leche after dinner was great. If only we could afford to eat like this every day! Neither our wallets or waistlines could afford that but for a special occasion, it would be tough to beat.
Recently, a deeply wounded soul questioned my motives when I posted an opinion regarding another local business.
“What’s in it for you, Donald?” came the loud, finger-pointing accusation.
The answer now, as then, is nothing. No one pays me for my opinions and I get no financial rewards for offering them. In fact…in this case I paid handsomely, from my own wallet, for our experience and loved every moment!
If your budget permits a splurge and you’re in our area, check out Casa Ceibo. http://www.casaceibo.com/