Is food an important topic when you travel? Then you will love this cooking class in Cartagena.
I met with Romario in November 2021, during my 45-day stay in Cartagena de Indias. My goal is to show you all the exciting experiences you can have in Colombia.
In this article, you will discover the details of two activities we did with our local chef:
- A delicious Cartagena cooking class | 4 traditional recipes
- A fun Cartagena cocktail class | 5 drinks
Read on to find out if you want to discover the best Cartagena’s flavors.
👉 Want to know everything about Cartagena? To learn where are the best places, and avoid tourist traps and beginner’s mistakes? Nothing could be easier. I put it all together in our guide to Cartagena de Indias.
Cooking class in Cartagena: Overview
- Price: < 60 USD
- Duration: 3h30
- Type: Group experience; min 2 pers.
- Where: Cartagena’s old city
- My opinion: A delicious cooking class in a building specifically dedicated to the culinary arts. Romario’s dishes will make you salivate from start to finish. And you will easily impress your friends at home.
- Book it here
Cartagena cooking class: My Experience
I press the button on the doorbell. In front of me, there is a wide wooden gate painted in blue and white.
Romario’s face appears between the bars. It is a combination of a teddy bear and a rugby player. You want to hug him.
His old job? Professional chef!
He has worked in many restaurants, passing through Barranquilla, Bogotá, and Lima.
Nowadays, he runs his own business giving cocktail and Cartagena cooking classes.
It’s much more entertaining. I can create delicious Colombian dishes, help people do the same, and see their reactions. In the kitchen, I had no contact with them.
His bright eyes don’t lie. He loves giving cooking classes.
Romario has invested with friends to have a building on 2 floors dedicated to cooking classes and cocktails.
There is a long wooden table on the first and second floors that can easily accommodate a dozen people. Rolling induction plates allow travelers to cook, numerous water taps, and tons of kitchen utensils.
Today’s program? A delicious sensorial exploration of Colombian specialties — you’ll probably salivate in front of your screen.
We start with homemade arepas that we will fill in two different stuffings.
- A combination of aguacate, sweet onions, and tomatoes.
- A mixture of boiled chicken with chopped vegetables and carrots.
Cooking class tip: Remember to cover the arepas when cooking so that they do not dry out.
Then we move on to the patacones.
Patacones with hogao and shrimps
It is a fruit of the same family as the banana — plantains.
We cut them into 1cm chunks and then boil them. Once softened, I crush them with a wooden press, and then I boil them again to turn them into crunchy chips.
I prepare a hogao (tomato, onion, and garlic sauce) and shrimps fried in butter as a side dish.
This is my favorite dish from this Cartagena cooking class.
Cooking class tip: To successfully make patacones, you should cook them over medium heat. They will then have a perfect texture to be crushed.
Now it’s time for the main course.
Fish in Bijao leaf and a Yuca purée
We marinate a fish in cumin, garlic, and pepper sauce and then roll it in two Bijao leaves. The whole thing is then placed in the grill – be careful to turn it regularly so that the leaves do not burn.
At the same time, I prepare a Yuca purée, incorporating pieces of cheese and a smoked bell pepper coulis.
Cooking class tip: Burn the bell pepper in the oven and then place it in a closed plastic bag. The skin will come off easily!
Hmm… something is missing.
It’s always nice to end on a sweet note.
That’s good. Romario has planned a coconut pineapple pie and a lulo ice cream!
And, of course, everything is homemade.
Coconut pineapple pie and a lulo ice cream
The coconut is cut into small pieces, mixed, and cooked over a slow fire with panela sugar. As for the pineapple, I fry it with white sugar. This allows keeping its nice bright yellow color.
Cooking class tip: Cover the coconut pieces with water in the blender. It will caramelize the coconut as it cooks in the pan.
👉 How to plan your cooking class with Romario?
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Why book this Cartagena cooking class
Booking a Cartagena cooking class is a great way to learn about the local cuisine and bring back some delicious flavors at home.
Let’s see why Romario’s cooking class is a must-do in Cartagena.
Cooking class inspired by a friendly local chef
Romario and his team are from Cartagena and are passionate about their work. The menu of this culinary experience has been long studied to allow travelers to learn local recipes while having fun.
With your cooking utensils in hand, you follow the instructions and listen to Romario’s anecdotes about specific ingredients.
You’ll eat delicious food during this cooking class
The quality of the meal pleasantly surprised me.
There is a subtle preparation for each dish to awaken the taste buds.
Let’s take the arepa as an example.
It’s the most renowned snack in Colombia, and I’m usually not a big fan — it’s tasteless.
It won’t be the case in this Cartagena cooking class!
First of all, Romario knew how to make an arepa that was not dry. Then, we cooked 2 tasty toppings to fill our arepas. The result was a delicious meal.
And the list goes on:
- The shrimps fried in butter were a perfect match for the patacones.
- Cooking the fish in Bijao leaves adds a pleasant smoked flavor to the flesh.
- The lulo ice cream is 100% homemade.
Before every cooking class, Romario and his team go to the Bazurto market to buy local and fresh ingredients.
A cooking class well-organized
During this cooking class, you’ll notice that Romario is used to being in the kitchen. The preparation of each dish is in a precise order.
While guests cook, an assistant is continuously washing the kitchen utensils. Then, once a dish is ready, you can bring your delicious meal to another table and eat it while it’s still hot.
You don’t have to wait until after the end of the cooking class to eat!
And trust me, it makes a huge difference.
I loved being able to enjoy my dish and discuss it with Aleja. It motivates you to go back to the kitchen to prepare the next meal even more.
At the end of this Cartagena cooking class, you won’t be hungry anymore!
A place dedicated to the hosting of top cooking classes
This 3-story building located in the historic center was built to provide top cooking classes.
On each floor, you will find several sinks to wash your hands, a couple of large tables to cook and enjoy your meals, and all the necessary kitchen utensils.
Thanks to the large surface area of each floor, travelers can easily cook or move around without getting in the way.
You’ll taste Cartagena’s real gastronomy
The cooking class I did with Romario was an introduction to Colombian cuisine.
But this is not the only course available!
Travelers who wish to discover the flavors of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts can book cooking class number 2 “Cartagena Meal“.
They will be able to discover typical dishes of the region, such as the patacón soup, the coconut rice, the Posta, and the famous Enyucado dessert.
How to book this Cartagena cooking class
We loved Romoario’s cooking classes. Therefore he is now part of our network of reliable local partners!
To help you book this experience, we created his profile here: https://www.tomplanmytrip.com/travel-to-colombia/booking-experience/cocktail-cooking-classes-romario/
Inside, you’ll find all the information you need about this tour and an online form to contact Romario directly.
He will come back to you to organize your delicious Cartagena cooking class.
Alternative: You can also book a cocktail class
This cocktail class aims to learn while drinking and having a good time.
This activity lasts less time than the cooking class (approx. 2 hours) and you’ll discover Colombian spirits and local fruits.
I did it. I drank it. I loved it.
Here is how it went.
When we arrive, 6 bottles of alcohol are lined up on the table.
Romario is accompanied by a cocktail apprentice and a person dedicated to washing the utensils.
Nikki, an American traveling alone, decided to join us for this class.
It’s a great way to have fun and meet people.
Nikki is not wrong. Romario’s sweet cocktails warm the heart and loosen the tongue.
Romario offers us a shot of aguardiente to put us in good spirits.
Have you heard of it?
It is the star liquor of Colombia. It’s made from sugar cane and flavored with anise. Hot, it is not good. Cold, it is still bad —to my taste.
It is customary to crunch a piece of orange or lemon to forget the strong taste. With salt, it is even better.
In Colombia, you can’t refuse a shot of aguardiente. It is a disgrace for the person who hands you the glass —ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit here.
The cold aguardiente goes quickly down my larynx, then down my trachea. I make a slight grimace and a discreet “eeesch”.
Let the class begin.
The first cocktail is … Paneladiente.
In front of me, there are already all the ingredients. I just have to listen to Chef Romario’s instructions.
I squeeze a lemon to extract the juice. I use it to cover the thin slices of Panela, a typical Colombian sugar. In Viterbo, we visited a local fabric of Panela.
I add a mint leaf, then grind everything with a mortar.
Then, I transfer the whole in a shaker without forgetting the crushed ice and 6 cl of Aguardiente.
Now it’s time to get the muscles out.
Je secoue, I shake, Yo agito.
That’s not enough, Tom. Keep going.
It’s challenging this Cartagena Cocktail Class!
After 1 min, the texture of my cocktail is getting thinner. I get a coffee color.
I add a small slice of dried lemon for decoration. It’s ready!
Everyone toasts and then we sit at a square table towards the entrance. Romario has placed yuka fries, accompanied by Peruvian chili and sour cream.
Everything is homemade.
While we enjoy our first drink, Romario and his team wash the utensils and prepare the table for the next cocktail.
In all, 5 cocktails are prepared, and 3 snacks are devoured.
I’ll give you the names, but not the recipes. Even if the cocktails offered by Romario change regularly, I don’t want to spoil the surprises!
- Mango e playa
- Titan en el arbol
- Eden del Guayabo
As the cocktail class goes on, the laughter gets louder, the smiles become wider. Some even start to sway to the music.
It’s time to go out and dance in Cartagena.
As the cooking class, the cocktail class is well thought out:
- The size of the glasses is reasonable.
- The drinks are relatively simple to make.
- The ingredients used are typical of Colombia.
- There are 5 breaks to enjoy your drink, get to know the group, and have a snack.
- You receive the recipes for the cocktails in your email box.
👉 How to plan your cocktail class with Romario ?
The bottom line
Romario’s cooking classes are perfect for travelers who love to eat well. The space dedicated to this experience is pleasant and the quality of the ingredients used will allow you to make delicious local dishes.
Travelers with less time will love the cocktail course. It’s a fun way to start the evening in the historic center of Cartagena.
Where to travel after Cartagena
- San Bernardo Islands
- Rosario Islands
- Rincon del Mar
- Santa Marta
- Paso del Mango
- La Guajira
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Visit Caño Cristales (the most beautiful river worldwide)
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