After I took a step into the dark room, the iron door closed behind me. I was shut inside a vault! I would not be able to get out in the next few minutes, at least. I began to hear bird calls, as well as wild animal cries, accompanied by drum beats. Where were these hypnotic sounds coming from? Before I entered into a trance, dozens of small, golden objects flew in front of me. Gold earrings, gold plates, gold decorations that shone floated across the room. The drumbeats replicated the rituals of the Muiscas and other ancient indians who lived in Colombia, South America, in the 1500´s, before the Spaniards found them. They became one with nature, as they dressed in golden art that disguised them as condors, eagles, toucans, parrots, crocodiles, vampires, snakes, and more, to obtain the "powers" or special abilities that these animals possess.
The treasures the Muiscas obtained by bartering with other towns would motivate Europeans to begin several unsuccessful treasure hunts, on a quest to find the famous golden kingdom, or "Reino Dorado".
I was in the gold vault of the exhibits at the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) in Bogota, Colombia. After leaving this magical "portal" to the Muisca kingdom of the 1500´s, under the pitter patter of soft rain, I was free to find arequipe and guava candies as I explored the clean downtown streets that surrounded the Spanish buildings that were placed when Bogota was one of the viceroy capitals of the Spanish empire.
Guava and Dulce de Leche- a luscious combination
The creamy, sweet arequipe lay inside the purple-toned, candied guava half like a jewel inside the setting for a large earring. That was the first time I had ever tasted this incredible combination of flavors. Because I don´t have any fresh guavas yet (the guava season takes place around August) to make the candied guava halves, I decided to use my homemade guava paste instead, to make a pastel gloria for the first time.
1 lb. Puff Pastry
4 oz. arequipe or dulce de leche (Latin American milk candy)
4 oz. guava paste
4 oz. farmer´s cheese or queso fresco or mozzarellaPreheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the puff pastry in half. Make a 10-inch round with each half. Place one of the rounds in a 12-inch cake pan. Recipes advise making puff pastry desserts like these on a cookie sheet, but I prefer to do so in a pan that has sides, so that any of the liquid that leaks out won´t fall on the oven floor. So far, I have not been able to make a puff pastry concoction that does not leak! Butter the arequipe/dulce de leche onto the center of the dough circle, taking care to leave a wide margin all around. Add the grated farmer´s cheese on top, followed by the guava paste. Make the second puff pastry circle. Lightly brush the edge of the dough circle with a very small amount of water, then place the second dough circle on top, and press it shut all around with your fingertips. Cut small slits with a knife, all around the "pie", to seal it shut. Bake for an hour in oven.