Magical ice cream on every street corner
The city of Quito was built around the rugged and arduous relief of the Andes mountains, settling in the hollow of a basin surrounded by volcanoes. A magnificent natural setting which impresses as soon as you step off the plane!
You set off at once to explore the historic old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Roam around the streets, looking at the houses with their colonial architecture. You point out their pastel-coloured facades, like sticks of candy lining the city.
And the sweet theme continues… as street vendors selling ice cream are never very far away. You will often come across them, armed with a delicious mountain topped with cones; they are almost part of local folklore. As they serve you, you notice that they do not keep the ice cream in a refrigerated tub. Amazing! Their secret is to whip the eggs until they are really stiff and then fold them into the strawberry or vanilla helados, the only two flavours sold by these vendors.
Enjoy your ice cream as you wander past the specialist shops; some streets are even nicknamed after the items they sell, so there is Shoe Street, DIY Tool Street and even Football Shirt Street! In fact, in Quito, almost every road has its own specific type of business and shops.
Soothed by the smooth flavour of the ice cream ‘that never melts', you continue on your way to La Compañía which recalls the religious heritage of the capital. Inside the 17th-century church, you admire the rich Baroque ornamentation which makes the church one of the seven wonders of Ecuador.
García Moreno N10-43
At the end of the day, head to Plaza de la Independencia, also known as the Plaza Grande, which is home to Government Palace and the cathedral. This is the historic heart of the city. You will come across lots of locals meeting up for a lively chat, while others take advantage of the clusters of trees to relax in the shade.
If by chance, you feel like having another ‘magical' ice cream, you are in the right place. Just off the Plaza Grande, there is a cafe of the same name, famous throughout the city. In this highly symbolic setting – it is located on the site of the first house built in the 16th century during construction of the city – prepare for a unique experience; you order Los Corridos, ice cream made in a large, shallow paila pan, another surprising taste sensation and very different from street ice cream. This one does in fact melt, and so will you… with pleasure at the sight and taste of it.
As you wait to be served, the light starts to lose its intensity and the church bells begin to ring. A man covered from head to toe in a purple robe and pointed hat makes his way towards you. This is a cucurucho or penitent, a traditional figure in Quito. In his hands, he carries a vaporous cloud or rather your dessert, made up of balls of smouldering soursop and naranjilla ice cream, two local fruits, one being sweet and the other sour. That is another indulgent treat for you! So, you will have had two very different taste experiences in Quito: one in the street, the other in a restaurant. It goes without saying that in the Ecuadorian capital, indulgent treats take many forms.
Café Plaza Grande
Garcia Moreno N5 16