• Cafe Condesa (Antigua, Guatemala)

Like water for chocolate.  We had watched that movie in Spanish class and discussed the title.  What do you think they mean by this?  We had not known it was a Mexican phrase where the water to make hot chocolate boils so furiously that it is a metaphor for anger.  We make hot chocolate with milk, we had replied.

I was not in Mexico, I was in Guatemala, but it was still the first time I had seen tradicional chocolate with water on a menu.

Café Condesa had been written up on the sheets I had photocopied from a guidebook.   Whilst I am reluctant about reviews from such sources, this charming café turned out to be a top tip.  It is in a colonial house on the main square and can be spotted by the bookshop at the front.  Walking past the shelves, the café is in a large courtyard towards the centre of the building.  The courtyard is both peaceful, sunny and has wifi (yes, I am a geek I know).

Before reaching Antigua, I had been stuck in Puerto Obaldia, a tiny village that acts as a gateway from South to Central America.  It was the only place I disliked on my whole trip.  There was no electricity during the day, barely any food let alone anything vegetarian but worst of all the people were so unpleasant that I truly believe they hated anyone who was not from their village.  Plus, the only way to escape was by boat and they refused to take us (despite them asking for a ridiculous sum of money) because it was slightly drizzling.  We were stuck.

With this in mind, you will understand why I was so excited to finally have a delicious meal.  I was so excited in fact that I wanted to try everything on the menu.

Vegetarian sandwiches, what a novel concept.  I ordered an open sandwich with a white bean puree, spinach and a tomato salsa.  It came with a side salad of seeded cucumber, capsicum and tomato.

Craving potatoes I also got a dish of fried ones with spring onions.  They were buttery and soft, like a home cooked meal.

Wanting to continue the flavours of this delightful courtyard, I ordered a hot chocolate with water and an apple pie.  The hot chocolate was amazing, so smooth and rich with slight spices too – I was addicted and could not but help return nearly every day for one of these.

The pie was apple with blackberries and cloves.  It was similarly delicious.

The next day I was back again, ordering another hot chocolate, this time with a slice of Macadamia pie which I had spotted in the cabinet of Café Condesa’s take-away shop front next door.  It was amazing.  The macadamias were fresh and were help together by a buttery caramel.  The short-crust pastry was not perfectly presented (with uneven edges as if squashed together by hand) but still perfect in texture and flavour.  I was now also addicted to this pie and returned the next day for more.

The only other thing to note, is that I did also eat breakfast here one morning.  I had scrabbled eggs with tomato.  The serving was generous, something I could have made myself but that I enjoyed eating in this setting, with of course a mug of hot chocolate.

Cafe Condesa
5 Avenida Norte No. 5
Antigua Guatemala
(502) 7832 0038