BCU Elciel

El Cielo

By Ann Mealor

A joyous, culinary journey into unchartered, unexplored territory.

That was our dining experience at El Cielo.  Meaning ‘heaven’ in Colombian, El Cielo is indeed a ‘little piece of paradise’ gloriously sited on the banks of the Miami River, in the city’s downtown area

Cool and chic, an open kitchen and long white, marble cocktail bar, lit by flickering candles greeted us on arrival.

Fans gently whirred above and colourful cocktails were expertly shaken and stirred as we sat at the bar sipping prosecco whilst studying the menu and admiring the décor of Colombian wood, coral, orchids, ferns and quirky objets d’art.  We decided on  the recommended 10 course tasting menu.

Attention to detail

The restaurant was buzzing with cheery diners.

The Linen napkins, which stand upright on our table, are held in position by small leather belts.I loved the attention to detail.

Our first course arrived – a white, chalky looking tablet, the size and shape of a soluble aspirin, regally presented in a mother-of-pearl shell.

The waiter poured warm water over it, but before we could tuck in, our aspirin metamporphasised  into a warm, hot cloth with which to wipe our hands.

Full of surprises

Our meal continued to be full of surprises!

Each course had a history to it, a little piece of Colombian tradition that the waiter explained.

Following our hot cloth, came the first edible course – delicious meatball croquettes and plantain and cheese mini pasties, served on a large glass platter with swirls of a mustard coloured pepper sauce and scattered dots of green jalapeño.

Colourful, tasty and earthy as we tucked in with our hands.

Next up was a small shot glass of foam into which the waiter carefully dripped a couple of drops of dark coffee – unusual but pleasant and unexpected.

Then came one of my favourite courses – the chocolate experience!

The waiter then poured warm, chocolate sauce over our fingers and palms which we then licked off.

It tasted delicious, and I felt as if I had just taken part in a food fight in a very sophisticated restaurant – it was a surreal moment!

Ashley also managed to slurp up surplus sauce from his bowl, and cover his face in chocolate at the same time, before the waiter cleansed our hands with warm water.  It was a really fun and tasty experience.

Our waiter explained that our hands would be left with the aromas and memories of the Colombian jungle throughout our dining experience.

The Amazon Tree of Life

Next came a delicate and aromatic corn and coconut milk soup followed by the Amazon Tree of Life – a warm bread made with tapioca flour stuffed with a handcrafted Colombian cheese similar to mozzarella.

The flat bread was presented on a handmade dish of copper and Colombian wood, evoking the native spirits.

It came with a delicious dip, traditional ‘hogao’ of roasted tomato and coconut, that looked like a bowl of black dust or charcoal, but when the bread was dipped in, the spicy red tomato sauce lay hidden beneath.

A scrumptious work of art, as was each and every dish, including the Smoking Cow.

The waiter came to the table carrying a wooden platter covered by a huge glass dome filled with swirling smoke.

On putting the dish on the table, he lifted the lid and wafted the smoke in our faces so we could take in the spicy aromas.

The smoke dispersed to reveal two forks on the wooden plank, both holding sushi rice, one topped with a slither of tender fillet beef and the other with succulent smoked salmon.

Two tasty, Japanese bite sized morsels with drama in abundance!

A colourful dessert of lavender and vanilla ice cream in filou pastry cases with a crunchy crouton balanced on top was followed by a second – a platter of pink, violet and white icing sugar scattered with different sized boules and buttons of jelly, ice cream and mallow.

A fragrant pink rose petal to rub between the hands ended a delightful culinary cabaret.  It was indeed a fabulous feast for all the senses.