Breakfast in Medellín, Colombia (the country’s second largest city) is arepa (a patty made with ground maize dough or cooked flour); scrambled eggs; and a hot chocolate with cheese in it. “We do hot chocolate with cinnamon and cloves inside. We drop the cheese inside and it melts. The cheese is white and creamy. It's amazing. We call it the Colombian hot chocolate.”
Medellín is the hometown of Razid Kulvietis, the jovial and slick-haired owner of Colombia Organik. Rather unlike Kulvietis himself, the tiny CBD cafe is barely noticeable. Its tawdry signage and a brightly chalked menu spruiking BLTs, caesars and schnitzels make it seem like one of those train-station stands that survives by selling potato scallops and $3 coffees. Behind the signs and chalk-written menus, though, is Colombia Organik’s second identity, the one that sells the cheesy hot chocolates, arepas and some of Sydney’s best Colombian food.
This second identity is mostly down to the work of Moraima Cohen, Colombia Organik’s off-site chef. “She's makes homemade food and delivers it every day,” says Kulvietis. “In the Latin American community she is so famous. She's been here for 35 years.”
One of the only things she doesn’t make is the arepa. They look like maize-based tortillas, and can be stuffed, topped or served with almost any major ingredient or recipe in the Colombian cuisine. The menu at Colombia Organik says the arepa comes with shredded beef, chicken, avocado and cheese, but you can ask for whatever you want – bacon, fried eggs, or Medellín style, “with fresh cheese on top and scrambled eggs mixed with hogao, a salsa made with tomato and onion, slow cooked. That's beautiful,” says Kulvietis.
That’s just food from Kulvietis’s hometown, though. “In other cities the breakfasts could be different. Some people have caldo de costillas or tamales. Every city has different kinds of food.” Tamales are doughy corn cakes common throughout Lain America. Chef Moraima Cohen’s Colombian version is mixed with large vegetable chunks, chicken and pork, and then steamed in a banana leaf. Caldo de costillas is a beef rib and potato soup from Colombia’s mountain regions.
Soup is another essential part of Colombia’s cuisine. The most famous version is aijaco. “It's a chicken and potato soup with a special herb called guasca. It’s very traditional, it's from Bogota.” Kulvietis serves it in a traditional clay bowl with its classic accompaniments; rice, avocado, cream, capers and a protruding hunk of corn. Don’t be intimidated by it all – there’s no cultural rules here – put it all in the soup, eat each part on its own, however you like.
Unfortunately, Colombia Organik only has four tables, so dining here can be difficult, depending on when you arrive (early lunch is your best bet). Those who miss out on a seat can console themselves with a lulada (a fruit juice made with Colombia’s native lulo) and one of Cohen’s empanadas or Colombian doughnuts to take away.
810 George Street, Sydney
0433 500 502
Mon to Fri 7am–4.30pm