AGAVEBLU - Exquisite Organic Mexican Food in Vilcabamba

AGAVEBLU – Exquisite Organic Mexican Food in Vilcabamba

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us English version

BY PIERRE VOLTER

D.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s

Fresh

Healthy

Colorful

O r g a n i c

Tasty

“We are blessed by the food gods … The whole world is waking up to the infinite possibilities that are inhered in the cuisine of Mexico”   Greg.

Mexican food touches all your senses and it certainly touched all of mine when I was given the opportunity to sample a selection of some of AgaveBlu best dishes. The presentation was impeccable, it was as much something that I wanted to look at as something that I wanted to taste and eat.

We set the table for 3 and I sat there alone for a short while, a bit overwhelmed I must admit looking at all that colorful food in front of me while waiting for Isamar and Greg, the AgaveBlu owners to join me.

Mexican bonanza in Vilcabamba

I noticed that it took them virtually no time to prepare the meals. This is great. Less time waiting is more time enjoying the food.

An efficient well run kitchen is part of what makes a good restaurant. Margarita is the person in charge, she is fast, loves what she does and does it with a smile.

AgaveBlu kitchen - Margarita
Margarita preparing the chicken

Mexican cuisine goes way beyond nachos, tortillas, tacos and burritos. Actually there is no such thing really as “Mexican food” explained Isamar Velez, the Mexican owner who has lived in Vilcabamba for 8 years. Mexico is a big place and each region has its own traditions and uses different ingredients.

Mole” for example (pronounce “moley”) is the Mexican curry, a paste made out of as many as 10 different varieties of chiles (chili peppers). There is green mole, yellow mole, red mole and depending on what grows in a particular region, the mole will be different. AgaveBlu serves the “dark mole” also called “chocolate mole” because it also contains a small quantity of dark chocolate.

A passion for food

Isamar Velez Garcia is passionate for food, loves cooking and has brought to our small Ecuadorian village the knowledge that she inherited from her parents and grand parents in Mexico city where she used to live. I listen to her with pleasure and attention…

Isamar Velez - Agaveblu Vilcabamba
Isamar Velez – Agaveblu Vilcabamba

We are all foodies in the family. I started cooking when I was 6 years old. I was in the kitchen with my mum, I was in the kitchen with my grandmother. On Sundays we had a day with just one meal that started in the morning and lasted the whole day. I do recall the smell of olive oil and garlic that brings me back to my grandmother all the time“.

“We take the quality of our ingredients most seriously. We have clients who are allergic to certain things. We use olive oil and real farm butter to cook. I also prepare raw food for people who are raw foodists but only on order because it takes more time to prepare and just the Mexican cooking fills my day”.

Many ingredients she explained cannot be found here in Ecuador. Most of the chiles are sourced in their dry form from Mexico (chile ancho, chile guajillo…). Some she grows in her own veggie garden in Vilcabamba (chile serrano, chile jalapeño).

And that brings us to an essential aspect of the AgaveBlu cuisine: it is almost all organic and almost exclusively locally grown, much of it by the owners themselves.

Agaveblu - del huerto a tu plato
Agaveblu – From the garden to your plate
Agaveblu - Locally grown and organic
AgaveBlu – Locally grown and organic

It does not get fresher than that. I asked to take a look at the garden and we went for a 5 minute drive in a taxi up the hills to Mollepamba.

The garden

Despite being so close to the center of the village, it feels like being miles away. This is still largely undeveloped rural land and that is where AgaveBlu grows its vegetables. They started the garden 8 years ago, it has been a lot of work, Isamar says, and has required a lot of compost. The compost is partly made from what is recycled from the restaurant. We recycle everything.

AgaveBlu veggie garden

I noticed a lot of this hardy cabbage variety called “Kale”, a miraculous green that has so many health benefits, still poorly known in this part of the world.

Kale - Col rizada
Kale – Col rizada

Isamar showed me the 3 varieties of chiles that she grows there, then the parsley and cilantro which are important ingredients of Mexican cuisine, then the herb garden with oregano, rosemary and others, and much much more. Her garden is well developed.

Tomatillo

One species that she brought from Mexico and has successfully adapted here is the green tomatillo which is used to make green sauce (salsa verde) that is served with enchiladas and eggs.

“Tart and very savory, but you have to try it for yourself…”

Here they are, Isamar and Greg, with Jorge, their friendly Ecuadorian gardener, showing me what a tomatillo looks like.

Tomatillo

Tomatillo

Jorge told me that he likes his job very much there and has become a big fan of organic gardening.

If you like fish, you won’t be disappointed either.

All seafood is wild caught and comes from a fisherman in Puerto Bolivar (port of Machala). They strive to offer a variety of fresh fish depending on the season.

Meet and chicken are also organic.

AgaveBlu Tilapia/Trucha al Mojo
AgaveBlu Tilapia/Trucha al Mojo

“Apart from the hot peppers and some items that can only be sourced from Mexico, all our ingredients are sourced locally from Vilcabamba or Loja or grown by ourselves.”

Isamar Velez Garcia

Full belly, happy heart

Pansa llena, corazón contento

The menu

AgaveBlu has an extensive “a la carte” menu with everything one expects from a Mexican restaurants and more. For example they have a large selection of Italian style crispy thin based pizzas.

The 4 dishes that we tried were among the most popular ones:

  • Nachos (usually served as entree)
  • Medallon de pollo con mole – chicken medallions in mole sauce – that is the sauce with 10 chiles and chocolate
  • Tacos de cochinita – a specialty of the house – tortillas filled with pork – served with guacamole
  • Pizza Sambuca
AgaveBlu Pizza
Pizza Sambuca
Tacos de Cochinita
Tacos de Cochinita
Tacos de conchinita
Enjoying the tacos de conchinita

I really enjoyed everything but I must say that the tacos were my favorites as well as the chicken with the mole sauce.

 

 

 

 

Drinks

In addition to the usual Ecuadorian brands, AgaveBlu serves the Zarza craft beer from Loja which they have on tap.

They have a good selection of juices, tropical and green. Their coffee is grown and toasted by a local Vilcabamba family. They serve filter coffee, espressos and cappuccinos.

The deserts

After all this savory bonanza, nothing better than a perfect desert. Many restaurants let you down in the desert department. Not so at AgaveBlu. In no less than a few minutes the table was full again, this time with an assortment of 3 different deserts, cappuccinos and a black espresso for me.

AgaveBlu Desets

While enjoying the deserts which were all three absolutely delicious, we conversed a little more about life in Mexico, life in general and what it meant to them to run this restaurant.

Blessed by the food gods

I wish to leave the last word to Greg who summed it all this way:

“We have been blessed by the food gods and we are very proud to be able to bring Mexican food, the patrimony of Mexico, to this part of the world. Because the food is delicious, and it’s fresh, and it’s healthy, and it’s colorful and tasty. The whole world is waking up to the infinite possibilities that are inhered in the cuisine of Mexico. I am just really fortunate to be part of this presentation.”

Customer Feedback

Alan Kales has been in Vilcabamba for nine months. He is an AgaveBlu  regular.

The food here is always superb. I have never had a bad meal.

The food is always superb
Alan Kales “The food is always superb”

Another one of their regulars, Joseph Connelly, aka “Joe”, from New Zealand and long time resident of Vilcabamba, walks by. He says to me that he comes at least 3 times a week to the restaurant, not necessarily to eat but sometimes just to have a drink, chat with people, watch life goes by. I ask him his opinion about the place.

“The food is supremely excellent… It has taste, texture and flavor and the service is excellent”.

Joe - the food is supremely excellent
Joe – the food is supremely excellent

Image50

A special thanks for Greg’s wonderful sense of humor who we see on the photo above handing a $5 dollar note to Joe for his good comments.

This will cost you much more than that !” says Joe.

 

That’s the spirit  🙂

Conclusion

If you like tasty, healthy, organic food, if you like it a little spicy, if you like Mexican food, if you like pizzas or if you want to just spend some time watching life goes by while sipping a good espresso coffee, a good craft beer, this place maybe exactly what you have been looking for.

I wish to thank Isamar and Greg for the wonderful time that we spent together. Not only was the food excellent but their personalities, their charisma and passion for what they do, made me and no doubt makes their customers feel great.

AGAVEBLU - Exquisite Organic Mexican Food in Vilcabamba
AGAVEBLU – Exquisite Organic Mexican Food in Vilcabamba

Contacts

Address: Calle Bolivar (parque central) – Vilcabamba
Tel: +593 (0)980881035  +593 (0)959057384
Social networks:
https://www.facebook.com/agavebluvilcabamba
https://www.facebook.com/agave.azul.vilca

AgaveBluMap

Opening Hours

AgaveBluHorario

 

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