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Food Hotel: Deep Blue, Providencia, Colombia

Food Hotel: Deep Blue, Providencia, Colombia
This Caribbean paradise is quickly earning a reputation among foodies thanks to the reopening of the Deep Blue hotel with its luxurious suites and ambitious chef, Walter Arango.
 
There is a fashionable argument that the journey is more important than the destination. This is hopefully true if you’re on Chris Rea’s road to hell but unlikely when there’s a seven-course lobster menu awaiting your decanting.
 
Some may consider travelling to a tropical island hundreds of miles off the Colombian coast as a tad excessive for a meal. Happily, those killjoys won’t read this and would not appreciate Providencia anyway. This Caribbean paradise is quickly earning a reputation among foodies and the fleet of foot thanks to the reopening of the Deep Blue hotel with its luxurious suites and ambitious chef, Walter Arango.
 
Breakfasts at the Deep Blue come from a short menu including sumptuously rich eggs Benedict. The accompanying fruit juices
are worth exhortation, in particular the beautifully washed-out swirls of the pineapple juice. As you would imagine in a country that exports such large quantities of fine Arabica beans, the coffee is refreshing and delicious.
 
According to my wife, these were: “The best breakfasts I have ever had.” As a former professional cook of luxury breakfasts, I thought she might have forgotten some of my more notable creations. “I think the setting helps,” she added sympathetically but all too tardily.
 
There was no faulting the view, which looked onto a jetty stretching over the Caribbean towards Crab Quay—a tiny island surrounded by turtles.
 
As you would imagine, the standout food on the island has been plucked from the waters surrounding Providencia. As well as helping to provide dinner, the
Food Hotel: Deep Blue, Providencia, Colombia
local reef is beloved by that select group who spend their holidays clad in rubber and submerged.
 
Trundling around the island on golf buggies or strolling along the long beaches, there are plenty of beachfront restaurants serving platters laden with a cornucopia of seafood delights, coconut rice and fresh salads. Black crab, calamari, prawns and the freshest fish beckon—and it is difficult to avoid a golden slice of patacon, a deep-fried patty of crushed
plantain.
 
After a cold beer or two with lunch, the wily imbiber heads along the beach to a fragrant Rastafarian bar to enjoy an eye-wateringly strong rum and coke as the sun signs off for the night.
 
Our visit to Providencia culminated with dinner on our last night—our wedding anniversary—celebrated with the seven-course
lobster tasting menu.
 
Our table was laid out in glorious isolation at the end of the wooden jetty. To mark our route and save us falling in the sea, rows of candles twinkled along either side of the walkway. The table itself was surrounded by tropical flowers and lit by lanterns and whatever the heavens could lay on from above. Over the evening, the hazy moon set behind the mountains
denying us its light and adding to the danger of a wet end to the meal.
 
This being South America, we started with ceviches: lobster in coconut cream and fleshy mango; squid in light, lemony segments, and prawns in a spicy tomato sauce. To cleanse the palate, we were presented with a shot glass of coconut mint “sherbet”. It was intended to be nigh on frozen but the tropical heat had taken its toll—such are the horrors of eating in
paradise.
 
Onto the next course, lobster wrapped in a banana leaf with a passion fruit sauce. Past the crisp, grilled exterior, the seafood was imbued with a tang of the sharp fruit—delicious.
 
The following dish was the finest of all: flame-grilled lobster—obviously—wrapped in prosciutto in a rich tomato sauce.
 
Within the basil-spiked sauce were nuggets of garlic-coated croquets; a head of garlic foam floated on top. It was not a dish I expect to casually knock too often at home but one I will fondly remember.
 
The menu then took a softer turn; our ubiquitous crustacean friend had been flambéed in coconut cream and served with sticky coconut rice. Again, tiny slithers of basil cut through the coconut’s sweetness, and a balsamic reduction added further depth.
 
And so to the last lobster dish, which came as a warm carpaccio. In the darkness, it resembled a mini pizza with the seafood as the base. On top, sat avocado pieces, pesto, roasted peppers and basil but, sadly, the garlic positively fizzed and rode roughshod over everything else.
 
Pudding was another broad spread of flavours, including old favourites, such as a crumbly apple strudel, caramel-sweetened coconut flan and a tiny chocolate muffin. The sweetcorn ice cream might well be a classic of Providencia but it was too weird for my wife—I loved it. The prevailing heat had troubled the coconut pieces in coconut cream and vanilla ice cream.
 
Aye carumba, as I wish they really said in Latin America!
And so it was over, seven never-less-than spectacular courses. Somewhat befuddled by the enormity of it all, we meandered back to our suite with glasses of heavily iced whisky (apologies purists but it was still hot) to contemplate. Wary crabs and flighty lizards scrabbled to avoid us as we headed through the gardens. At that point, it was difficult to reflect,
beyond the sense that we had had an utterly extraordinary experience.
 
Deep Blue
Isla Providencia, Colombia
Tel: (0057) 3214582099 / (0057) 8 514 8423
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