La Albarrada refers to the stunning riverside promenade that runs along the entirety of downtown Mompos. It’s where all the action happens, and the spot is believed to have influenced the description of the fictional town of Macondo in Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude. You’ll find kids jumping into the river from the trees, mule-and-carts delivering fresh fish to regular punters, and old men reading the newspaper while women sit gossiping on the benches. Oh, this also happens to be the place to try some of the best traditional street food which you won’t find elsewhere.
As well as boatloads of fresh fish and pineapple coming in off the river, you’ll also find stands dotted along La Albarrada selling bollos, (an indigenous mincemeat and maize-dough snack wrapped in banana leaves) avena artesanal (a creamy oatmeal drink infused with cinnamon and ground cloves served in empty coke bottles) and plenty of empanadas. The best way to go about it? Take a stroll and get involved!
To outsiders, the town is most famous for its dulce de limon and queso de capa. However, locals all know and love the smoky, garlicky aromas that ooze from Luis Enrique’s house – he’s the king of Momposino butifarra: chains of small pork meatballs seasoned with salt, herbs, lime and garlic and smoked over an open-flame parrilla (BBQ). This meaty treat is lovingly prepared by the Enrique family by mincing the meat by hand, wrapping the balls in tripe, boiling them and, finally, smoking over the BBQ; a process that takes five hours.
You might spot Enrique selling his butifarra in the streets (easily recognisable as the man banging a metal bowl with a stick and shouting “butifarra!”). However, a stop by his house offers a fascinating look into a centuries-old technique and, of course, a taste of fresh-off- the-BBQ meatballs. Call ahead for details on +57 313 550 31 31.
Foodies with an uncontrollable sweet tooth travel far and wide to taste Colombia’s most sought-after dessert: Doña Ada’s dulce de limon; a sweet, candied lemon that has been left to slow cook in sugary water. The result? Clear, soft and very sweet lemon skins with a hint of acidic citrus flavour.
Doña Ada unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but her daughter – a lady in her 70s- still carries on the tradition using the same method and ingredients that her mother taught her under the very same roof. Located along La Albarrada, look out for the house with the Doña Ada sign and ‘hay dulce de limon‘ scribbled on the front door with chalk.
The best part about Momposino street food? It’s always on the move! During your visit here you’ll see vendors cycling past with whole tray-loads of food. They’re most likely selling queso de capa; a mozzarella-style cheese made from fermented cow’s milk. Don’t miss the chance to try the bocadillo version; queso de capa filled with tiny surprises of guava jam, or the casabe con queso; a crispy-thin yuca-flour bread that is often served as an accompaniment to the cheese.
They may not look particularly exciting, but Ramon Ponton Navarro’s casavitos are among the country’s best sweet treats. Made entirely from pulverised casava root, these delicious folded pastries are filled with sugar, coconut and anise. The making of casavito is a painstaking process: the cassava root must be wrung out by hand to get rid of any liquid, then mashed into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar, and cooked very carefully over a hot iron stove before being filled with the sugary paste. Visit the Ponton Navrarro’s family home (call ahead for details on +57 310 654 62 88) to see first-hand how it’s done.
Finally, if in doubt, head to the beautiful squares of Santo Domingo and Plaza de la Inmaculada, as well as Calle del Medio; the town’s most bustling street. From bollos and avena artesanal to butifarra and queso de capa, you’re bound to find some of the tastiest street food here. Be sure to go on a hunt for diablitos in the plazas too; a small, crunchy cheese and cassava snack perfect for the afternoon munchies.