As I walk through the arch at Putumayo, there are certain clichés that start running through my head. I could say that it is a spacious retreat nestled in a quiet camino near the beautiful beaches of Cala Gracio and Cala Gracionetta. I could say that it is mellow and relaxed with soulful 80s grooves caressing the eardrums. I could even go as far to say that this is the only place on the island that currently seems to have a breeze, which is most welcome during this mini-heatwave that my pasty English body is struggling to handle.
Putumayo is all of these things, but the more unforgiving of you may say we’ve heard this before. Maybe you will translate nestled retreat as empty and hard to find. You may confuse mellow and relaxed with boring. You may even have something nasty to say about the breeze, damn you!
But you would be wrong, clichés are clichés for a reason and every so often you manage to find that special somewhere that deserves them. I lounge on an outdoor sofa and soak up that sweet sweet breeze whilst taking in the marvellous aromas coming out from the kitchen. ‘Tambourine Man’ by The Byrds wafts out of the speakers and I feel most content with my lot.
Owners Julie and Peter are the most amiable of hosts and explain the 15euro set menu over pre-meal drinks. As all of the food is cooked from fresh on the premises, you have a choice from two starters and two mains along with either ice cream, coffee or a liquor to wash down the food. I like this. I love the fact that the kitchen doesn’t feel it has to cater to the masses by churning out loads of options from frozen and has confidence in its own food.
Peter graciously keeps me company so that I don’t have to sit on my lonesome. Julie as head chef is a little pre-occupied as she flits in and out of the kitchen. She is cooking up Surinam finger food and I must admit that I’ve never indulged in Surinam food before, but it smells amazing and I’m excited to try a new cuisine especially now that I know how fresh it is.
The starter comes out and I’m treated to a fresh and crisp chicken and crabstick salad. Unlike some typically Spanish salads consisting of just onion, lettuce and tomato, this salad is packed with fresh leaves, sweetcorn, cucumber, onion, tomato, something I don’t recognise but tastes wonderful, and a refreshing pink sauce. The bread soaks up the remaining liquid and I’m ready for the main course.
I’m now a solid convert to Surinam finger food as a plate of chicken, pork, vegetables and rice with special sauce hits the table with sides of hot salsa and a refreshing little dish of what I think is pickled cucumber and onion.
The chicken is out of this world. It’s been marinated beautifully and falls off of the bone. Peter spots my look of satisfaction and tells me that every time they have large family gatherings, there are always fights over the last piece of chicken. I’m lucky as Julie has another piece in the kitchen which she is kind enough to give me! I seem to have waxed lyrical on the chicken, but the rest of the plate is almost as special. The vegetables are tasty and obviously fresh, the rice is fluffy and the special sauce adds dimensions of flavour.
I wash this down with some ice cream and a little hierbas, and then try to coax the recipe for that chicken from Julie. She laughs pleasantly and tells me that a recipe won’t help me. She learnt from her father that you don’t taste your own food when cooking and that you need to smell it. She also never uses salt, which makes me wonder how she gets those amazing flavours.
I don’t wonder for long, I’m just happy that I’ve found a new cuisine that tastes so good. Every day the menu is different with new dishes and I’m told that the soup is incredible. Fingers crossed that it’ll be heading into my stomach at some point soon!
I seem to have continued waxing lyrical on the food, but it isn’t just about the Surinam flavours. It’s a great setting for a night out. There’s little better than drinking from their special selection of very reasonably priced champagne and listening to one of the many regular live acts until the early hours. On Tuesdays they have an open-mic night for singers and comedians featuring the fabulous Nikki Belle. On Sundays they have a delicious barbeque with live lounge music by a variety of guests. If this isn’t enough, they even have their own shop selling a decent selection of clothes, bags and jewellery.
The space is also available to hire for children’s parties, weddings, hen nights and pretty much anything else. I just advise one thing, don’t hire outside caterers…you won’t want to miss out on that chicken!