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Valentine’s Day in Cuenca 2019 + Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre (Episode 68)

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Cuenca Ecuador!!!

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon who recently moved to Cuenca from the US requested a Valentine’s Day video and we were happy to oblige.

I was going to make it a surprise, but I decided against it because that’s not really who we are. We’re very practical people and I would rather have Amelia pick out her favorite flowers and chocolates instead of trying to guess what she wants. And she chose flowers and chocolates that I would have never bought, so everything worked out.

We also had a very special Valentine’s Day Dinner at Café Libre in Cuenca. This was an experience we’ll remember for the rest of our lives!

The Cuenca Flower Market on Valentine’s Day 2019

The Cuenca Flower Market was PACKED with people and flowers on Valentine’s Day 2019. The explosion of colors was truly amazing and beautiful.

Cuenca Flower Market

Amelia bought some maroon lilies and white margaritas. We had never seen maroon lilies before so that’s what Amelia wanted. The margaritas have such an incredibly strong and wonderful aroma and they fill our entire house.

Cuenca Flower Market Lilies

Zatua Miski for Chocolates & Snacks

We stopped at Zatua Miski for some chocolates on our way back home from the Cuenca Flower Market. We bought a box of truffles to go.

Zatua Miski Truffles

Since it was still early in the day and our Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner at Café Libre didn’t start until 8PM, we decided to have a snack, as well. Amelia got a delicious cappuccino and I got a mango, maracuya and lemongrass smoothie.

Zatua Miski Drinks

Then we split a delicious fruit smoothie bowl. It was the perfect amount to last us until dinner.

Zatua Miski Smoothie Bowl

Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre

Café Libre often has special dinners by reservation only, but this was the first one we attended. And boy are we glad we did! It was one of the most amazing dinners we’ve ever had!

Everything was timed perfectly. Paul opened the doors exactly at 8PM. They had personalized place cards on the tables directing us where to sit.

Café Libre Place Card

The abreboca was delivered to the table soon after we sat down. After each course, we had just the right amount of time to let the flavors linger while we enjoyed each other’s company before the next course was delivered.

Café Libre Abreboca

Abreboca

Café Libre Tartar

Vegan Tartar

Café Libre Risotto

Vegan Risotto

Café Libre Dessert

Cacao y Sal Postre

Café Libre Verrine Dulce

Verrine Dulce

The surprise Final Energizante was a shot of Shilajit, which is an aged and fermented Himalayan moss that is believed to be an aphrodisiac. It tasted a bit like vegetable bouillon, but I can’t say for sure it had any affect on my libido. Thanks to my beautiful and intelligent companion, my libido always runs pretty high! 😁

Café Libre Shilajit

Shilajit

We forgot to mention in the video that we actually had THREE desserts! The grand finale was a couple of heart shaped bon bon’s with a gooey chocolate center. YUM!!!

Café Libre Bon Bon

ALL of the courses were decadent and delicious. Vegan risotto is one of my absolute favorite dishes and Amelia about died when she tasted the Cacao y Sal postre (dessert). Paul went to each table to explain (in Spanish and English) the ingredients, preparation and significance of each course, enhancing the experience even more.

Café Libre Toasting

Red Wine & Mojito

This was a TRULY special Valentine’s Day Dinner! Experiences like this make it hard for us to believe we live in a small city in the mountains of a small country in South America. With two glasses of wine, two mojitos, plus tip, this experience cost just $76. In the states, this would have easily cost over $200. In fact, we had a similar experience (although not nearly as special) at Planta in South Beach back in November that cost $220 with tip.

If you’re in Cuenca, Café Libre is one of the must visit restaurants.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Flower Market + Fresh Tea & Cold Beer in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 20)

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Today we did another one of our Sunday afternoon city walking tours. On our way to the Cuenca Flower Market, we stopped by Télicioso Tea Room to get some of our favorite tea. Then, after we bought Amelia some new earrings and some beautiful flowers at the flower market, we went to Simón for some papas fritas y cervezas (we recorded this in March 2018 before I realized I still had high cholesterol, which you can read about in my blog post on LottaVeg: Can Vegans Get Heart Disease?).

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery in Cuenca, Ecuador, and the interesting people we encounter along the way. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

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People & Places

Télicioso Tea Room on Calle Larga in Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia read an article stating that most commercial tea bags contain plastic, so she decided for our health and the environment, we would start making our tea from fresh tea leaves.

We first went to Sukasa to get a teapot. It’s a very “American” store located in Gringolandia. We’ll do a video of Sukasa and the surrounding area at some point. Gringolandia is the area where most of the older gringos live in Cuenca.

The next stop after we acquired our new teapot was Télicioso Tea Room. It’s located next door to Café Libre, one of our favorite plant-based, vegan restaurants in Cuenca. Télicioso has a wonderful assortment of fresh tea leaves.

Telicioso Tea Room Cuenca Ecuador

The owner, Katherine, speaks fluent english and is very knowledgeable about tea. She has some of the same flavors and a few new ones each time.

Telicioso Owner Cuenca Ecuador

You can reuse your tea bags so be sure to take them with you. She’ll also tell you how to measure the tea and how much to use of each kind.

Telicioso Owner Tea Bag Cuenca Ecuador

While you’re waiting, you can channel your inner child and enjoy a little swing time like Amelia is doing in this photo.

Teliciouso Swing Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca Flower Market

One of our favorite places to visit in Cuenca is the Flower Market located across the street from the New Cathedral. It’s so beautiful that it topped the worldwide list of National Geographic’s Top 10 Outdoor Flower Markets. It truly is breathtaking.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Many of the booths at the Cuenca Flower Market are run by indigenous Ecuadorian women adorned in their traditional garb as you can see in the video. But many of the younger women wear western style clothes consisting of jeans and long sleeve t-shirts, like the woman in this photo.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

You can buy all sorts of flowers by the bundle or in premade arrangements at the Cuenca Flower Market. The women who work at the market are always busy making new arrangements, but they’re eager to help you pick out the perfect flowers for your home or special occasion.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Ecuador is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers and they’re incredibly abundant here…and reasonably priced. A dozen roses typically cost less than $5, and they’re ridiculously beautiful. The buds are huge and they’ll last for as long as two weeks. Place them in a central location in your house and their aroma will welcome you home when you open the door.

The lilies that Amelia bought in the video also smelled fantastic. We could smell them all over the house! That bundle cost us $8, which is more than we usually spend on flowers, but they were also more exotic than the roses we usually buy. On the day we went, the roses looked a little wilted so we opted to try something new.

A lot of street entertainers gather near the New Cathedral and the Cuenca Flower Market, like this father/daughter duo. You have to watch the video if you haven’t already. Her little dance is ADORABLE!!!

Daughter & Father Playing Music Cuenca Ecuador

Simón Restaurant

When we visited Ecuador on our exploratory trip, Simón was the very first restaurant we tried for dinner. They don’t have much in the way of vegan options, but they do have a delicious vegetable soup and a vegetarian panini that can be veganized by leaving off the queso y mayonesa (cheese and mayo).

Simón Cuenca Ecuador

They also have some of the best papas fritas (french fries) in all of Cuenca. Most of the papas fritas are pan fried in Ecuador, rather than deep fried. That means they aren’t nearly as oily. Plus, the papas are far more delicious here, which means the fries are muy delicioso.

We know these aren’t healthy, and neither is the beer, but we’re not perfect. We eat a whole-food plant-based no-oil (WFPBNO) diet at home, but we like to enjoy some delicious papas fritas and cold beers on occasion (at least we used to before we found out about my high cholesterol). It probably looks like we enjoy it more than we actually do since we tend to record videos when we go out to restaurants, but these are (were) a rare treat for us.

Besides, we want to show people that you can still enjoy your favorite food and drinks, and still be vegan. Our friend Rosy from Fratello Vegan verified that all of the Club beers, as well as Pilsener beers, are vegan…so bottoms up!

Simón Papas Fritas Cuenca Ecuador

Every place we’ve ordered papas fritas in Ecuador serves them with mayonesa, and most of the time it’s in a small condiment bowl. That means it probably (hopefully) gets thrown out when we don’t eat it.

Rather than waste it, we order our papas fritas “sin mayonesa” (without mayo). The server always looks at us funny and usually still brings it anyway, but at least we try not to be wasteful.

Cuenca Planetarium

Cuenca’s Planetario is located in Parque de la Madre. We haven’t been inside yet, but the outside looks cool. They just finished giving it a fresh coat of Martian red. We’ll take you inside someday.

This photo was taken pre-paint job, but I thought it looked out-of-this-world with the crazy clouds mixed with blue sky behind the dome and the guy sitting on top of it. The bottom of that ladder wasn’t touching anything. It was tied to the top of the dome with a rope and dangled alongside while the guys climbed on it to strip the old paint and then repaint it.

Planetarium Cuenca Ecuador

They must not have OSHA here because we’ve seen some pretty crazy behavior from construction workers. While walking home one day, I saw a construction worker standing on top of a brick wall two stories high hitting the bricks under his feet with a sledgehammer to knock them loose. He then bent over, picked up the bricks and threw them down into a dump truck parked on the sidewalk below…all while balancing on a wall no wider than 5 inches! ¡Fue muy loco! (He was very crazy!)

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our visit to the Cuenca Flower Market, Télicioso and Simón today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel to help us spread the word about veganism. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

hola – hi/hello
¿Cómo están? – How are you?
Bien. ¿Cuál es su nombre? – Well. What is your name?
Bienvenidos a mi sala de té. – Welcome to my tea room.
Veinti tazas – Twenty cups
Necesitamos practicar mucho. – We need to practice a lot.
Naranja, jengibre y manzana té – Orange, ginger and apple tea
Algunas flores – Some flowers
Veinte dólores – Twenty dollars
¿Cuál es el nombre? – What is the name?
Los lilios – The lilies (the spanish word is spelled lirios, but lots of words are different here in Cuenca and in Ecuador)
Tengo hambre – I’m hungry
La macana – the scarf (this is a Cañari word, the language of the indigenous people)
Papas fritas y dos cervezas – French fries and two beers
Sin mayonesa – Without mayonnaise
Salsa de tomate – Ketchup

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video