Your first taste of Tarija, Bolivia!

by Chef Noly and Bella
(Chicago, IL and Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

Located in South Central Bolivia, the department of Tarija is the land of wine, music and dance. This fertile and temperate valley is a perfect location for growing grapes and has made Tarija famous as the wine producing region of Bolivia. I've posted three recipes on my food blog for you: a drink using brandy made from the grapes of Tarija, a Tarijeño entree and a relish/salad which is almost as popular an accompaniment to Bolivia food as llajua. Visit my food blog for the recipes.

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Jul 08, 2010
Your first taste of Tarija, Bolivia
by: BoliviaBella

I just spent the last 10 days in chura Tarija (lovely Tarija) traveling all over, checking out all the cool tourist destinations (and possible new discoveries I'll be presenting to you), visiting hotels, eating at lots of different restaurants, and more, all so I can begin to structure our new TARIJA SECTION on for you!

Tarija is famous for its PASCUA FLORIDA (flowery Easter) and I had the privilege of watching the locals of San Lorenzo as they cut and tied over 100,000 big yellow Easter flowers to the dozens of arches that line the streets. I participated in the inauguration of Tarija as a new Earth Hour city on March 27th. I visited Tarija's famous vineyards in the valley, survived multiple wine tastings (not to mention Tarija's "singani", brandies, and other delicious beverages), somehow got through election day (which had been inexplicably scheduled for Easter Sunday, something that lost the government not a few supporters from what I'm told) and met some of the most interesting local characters and well as several key authorities that work with tourism and culture. In all, it was exciting, exhilirating, and exhausting with 18-hour days and long nights recharging camera batteries over and over again, but it's all for you and it'll all be online very soon!

I wined, I dined, I tried all the local fare, including the recipes Chef Noly is going to share with us today! In fact, it's really fitting that she's decided to share these! I'm hoping it'll get you excited to learn about a region of Bolivia that hasn't been promoted much (touristically speaking) but absolutely SHOULD BE! Tarija is so lovely and so enchanting and it's people are so friendly and warm, that I changed my flight back to Santa Cruz not once, but twice!

I'm absolutely going to honor Tarija by designing the best and most complete information you'll find on this region online! (I've come back with information on all the hotels and restaurants I personally visited, viewed and critiqued for you, and over 3000 photos of great places you just HAVE to see and learn about so it's going to take me a couple of weeks to put it all online but boy am I excited!)

So let's start with these great recipes. Tarijeños say, "el que vino a Tarija y no tomó vino para qué vino" (he who comes to Tarija and doesn't drink wine, why did he come?") and also apply the same saying to their famous SAICE - to visit Tarija and not eat saice is like... a sin, or at the very least a grave offense!

I ate saice at the local market (surprisingly clean and perfectly safe). It was prepared by Doña Pastora, Tarija's most famous saice maker (she starts at 9 am and it's all gone before 10:30). She's so well-known that for over fifty years Bolivian presidents have visited her market stall for saice when they're in town. She's as much a part of Tarija's heritage as it's wine, singani, and Easter flowers. It was a real treat to meet her in person. Enjoy!

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