2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Cuenca Perspectives by Jim: MADAME RESTAURANT -- CUENCA, ECUADOR

Cuenca Perspectives by Jim: MADAME RESTAURANT -- CUENCA, ECUADOR:                   Madame Restaurant -- Cuenca, Ecuador This decade has been a breakthrough for Cuenca in the culinary arts department. The l...

Wednesday, August 9, 2023


                 Madame Restaurant -- Cuenca, Ecuador

This decade has been a breakthrough for Cuenca in the culinary arts department. The last two years has seen a plethora of upscale restaurants which have opened in the city, and most of them are located along Parque Calderon. I did quite an online spread some months ago on Matilde Mansuon Restaurant A restaurant that brought stature to the culinary scene, with its many rooms resplendent with different décor in each room, and styled after Versailles Palace just outside of Paris. The food and service is excellent, and below is the link to Matilde.


The reason I mention Matilde , is that it is just across Parque Calderon from Madame . Similar in design in that both occupy the second floor of their respective buildings. Each restaurant is divided into a multiplicity of dining rooms, with each room decorated in its own style from the other rooms.  Matilde strikes me as more proper and aristocratic in its décor, when contrasted with Madame Some of the rooms in Matilde where the ceilings are painted with skies and cherubs, was befitting Louis the XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, before they both lost their heads with the beginning of the French Revolution. 

Jim Mola ready for a night out with friends at Madame

Madame, on the other hand, is classy and gorgeous and has its own style of panache. 

The dining rooms are more cluttered than Matilde, but for those who prefer more private seating, even the small dining areas are divided by sofas and chairs into smaller areas that give a couple or a party of guests more of a feeling of intimacy and privacy. The music is absolutely perfect for the environment, although we always have to ask them to turn the sound down. The music should not interfere with conversation, and neither should it be the focal point, but a quiet backdrop for setting the mood. When lowered, it is so relaxing, and sets the atmosphere beautifully without sounding like elevator music.

Let us begin our tour of Madame .

Guests are greeted at the entrance by a large gold statute that friends tell me is modeled after Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey.  Not being a scotch drinker, I had to look up an illustration, and it appears to be on target.  

Madame is like a gentleman's club of the turn of the last century through most of the first half of the 20th century.  The dandy above with his top hat, tux, and cane sets the tone.  It may very well have been a place in general where the well-heeled gentlemen might find the madams most to their liking as well for the evening.

Once people make their way pass the statue of Johnny Walker, the stairway, divided into three tiers, leads to the second floor to Madame.  Unfortunately, like Matilde, Madame does not have an elevator for the handicap.  The building surprisingly by Cuenca's standards is not that old in a city where some buildings were constructed in the 16th and 17th century in the historic district of El Centro.

This building was actually a home built a century ago in the 1920's. 

Below is one of the first items people spot when they arrive in the restaurant, which is a grand piano. 

Below is a hallway outside the various dining areas.

A closeup of Mathias.  God blessed him with everything:  good looks, good health, high intelligence, commonsense, athleticism, charm,  a strong ethical code, great technical skills in creating his own videos, and empathy and compassion. Mathias is now twenty, and will begin his second year at Azuay University in September.

One of the first rooms customers come into contact with is the sumptuous barroom.  

Below is the bar.

Below are two more photos of the breath-taking bar area from a distance.

The photo below especially captures the spectacular ceiling and cornices in the bar area.

Madame has a special drink called the Buddha Bar.  The drink is a mixture of Gin, Vodka, and Tequila.  It also has some liquor which gives it a blue color.  I like the taste of the drink.  It is more on the slightly sweet side.  It does take two drinks to get a buzz despite the different alcohol mixtures.

As you can see, the Buddha doll was rapped in a robe, which they don't do anymore.  However, you notice the flower petals, which I use to eat with the drink.  Last time, the petals may have been plastic, which I found out the hard way when I bit into one of them.

I believe my first time at Madame was with Maria Rosa, and the jovens; Mathias, Esteban, and Andres.  Below is Andres at the far end of the table.

Ironically, the drink isn't just delivered on a plate, and I am surprised I never took a photo.  However, the plate also includes some kind of dry plants, which the waiter lites as it sets off a fire and the plants deliver the scent of incense, which floats around the table until the fire burns out.  I don't know if that has some spiritual significance, or if it is just a novelty the restaurant created.  However, it is a nice touch.

Now, let us tour the various dining rooms of Madame.

Each salon is decorated differently with its own basically French Baroque style.  Notice how the wall paper and ceiling tiles vary from room to room.  The place has a feel of ambience and sophistication that makes for a beautiful dining experience. 

The dining rooms have French doors, which a number of them open to individual balconies.  Couples, if the weather cooperates, can eat outside on one of the balconies and enjoy the fabulous view of Parque Calderon and the colonial architecture of the buildings surrounding the square, as well as whatever night-life and entertainment may be taking place on any given evening in the core of El Centro.

Most of the furnishings and chandeliers are actually from the original house of the 1920's.   The current owner, Christian Munoz, also has a history of interior decorating, and he achieved a magnificent work of art in creating the design of Madame.  His friend, Javier Baculima, assisted in suggestions in planning of the layout of the various salons and the interior design.  Baculima also has a background in the restaurant business, and is the owner of the restaurants "Cristo del Consuelo" and "Consuelo" both located in Cuenca.  It is not uncommon to find one or both of the gentlemen at the restaurant.

Above, the lamp shade is a favorite of mine.  Esteban Rios wasn't drinking alcohol, so the lamp shade did not windup on his head. Otherwise, he might have done his version of Shimmy, Shimmy Coco Pop on one of the tables. (jijijiji)

So many of the boutique hotels and upper-scale restaurants have such beautiful wood-carved staircases, intricate ceiling designs, and beautiful chandeliers.


Above, I am glad that I did not have to learn to type on one of these antique type-writers.  It was bad enough learning how to type on a manual Royal typewriter of the early 1960's.  Andres is enjoying himself.

Either Andres is making a friend of this collie or he is about to be his dinner.

I would have a very difficult time picking a favorite restaurant now in Cuenca.  Each has its uniqueness and the chefs at most of the high-end restaurants truly know what they are doing


Maria Rosa ordered a fruit plate and was astonished at the size and colorful arrangement of what was placed before her.  Let me not forget to give the bartenders their due.  They mix drinks very well.  

The waitstaff is excellent.  In fact, two of the waiters are always there ready to serve my table.  Gabriel speaks English, and Renee doesn't, but provides the proper service as well.  Both are from Venezuela.  My friends and I highly appreciate their service.  I consider then amigos. 

Madame has a more limited menu then the other upscale restaurants. Nonetheless, there are some marvelous appetizers.  The sandwiches are extraordinarily  huge, served on loaves and all the right spices to make them very delicious. The sandwiches are a meal in themselves. I especially enjoy the generous smoked salmon. The main entrees are limited to about six to eight dishes.  I love the chicken cordon bleu, and the steak, both of which are cut in long thick strips with filling between the strips that really set the flavor of the meats off and are unique to the chef's creativity.  They are a wonderful blend of the unique taste to the palate.  The steak here is ever so tender.  Tender steak is not easy to find in Cuenca.  Friends of mine have had the langostas (lobsters) and were very pleased with them. Just recently a new entre of rigatoni pasta with a delicious sauce more on the sweeter side than normally found in Italian cooking with a bountiful cornucopia of logistinos (prawns) mixed with the pasta was mouth-watering.  One could also choose chicken in place of the logistinos. The dinner preparation style is Madame chef's uniqueness to these sumptuous meals.

Above is Esteban with his mother as they show off some of the many pillows throughout all the dining rooms. Here they sit on a sofa and they can eat from the table on the left which is maneuverable  Esteban is sixteen and will be entering his last year of high school in mid-August.  He is just  beginning his first employment for the first round of national elections until school starts, so he is excited to begin his first job and make some money until school starts for the colegios in Mid-August. Esteban attends the Alborada private school.  Like Mathias, he is an excellent student, handsome, hardworking, loves to lift weights, and has his own distinctive way of being charming.  Both he and Mathias play the piano, mess with the guitar and enjoy it, but with all their other responsibilities, they don't always get a chance to practice as much as they would like.

Andres is thirteen years old, and loves to be helpful and imítate his older brothers. Here he looks like he could be a handsome fixture in Madame.

What I enjoy most about Madame is the atmosphere.  The excellent service, the music which sets the right mood.  Everything comes together in this restaurant with all the right vibes.  I especially like to come with my lady friends.  It is such a relaxing atmosphere that I can stay for hours, and it is a great place to spend an evening for romantic couples as well.

Above is a very good friend, Paul Tacuri, whom I have known almost since I arrived in Cuenca and with whom I traveled to Peru and Argentina in early 2020, just before the plandemic began. Here is Paul with his novia, Jesse.

Here is a photo of an evening with Pauline Farren, and of course, the little Buddha.  Pauline, like me, lived in Chicago for a number of years.


Pauline Farren and Jim Mola at Madame

Pauline and I also took in the Van Gogh exhibit when it was in Cuenca.  

A meal at Madame

Luisa Nelson holds the record with me for spending four and a half hours conversing and dining at Madame.  I enjoyed every minute of it and every minute of it with Luisa.

Below, Maria Isabel Latta is passionate, full of life, and curious about everything.  She is also the only partner I have who still dances.  Luckily, she is Ecuadorian and lived a number of years in the U.S, so she is great at asking questions from the waiters that take us beyond what two English speakers might hesitate asking or even understanding.  

I believe this was Maria's meal of octopus with shrimp on top. We are so lucky to be near the Pacific.  The camerones (shrimp), calamari, (squid), logistinos (prawns), cangrejos (crab), and pulpo (octopus) are always served tenderly.  I have yet to have rubbery tasting seafood like in the states.

Here Maria tries on one of the French hats on display in one of the dining rooms. 

An evening at Madame with Kay Forgione.  The only person in my group, other than Sieg and Karen, who can walk miles and can walk faster than me. Well, at least she could until she had an accident about a month ago.  Hopefully, she will be back in her stride in another week or two. I can count on Kay to spend time at the best restaurants, and the preparations better be good or she will let them know about it.  We both had a lovely evening at Madame.

Below, I also introduced friends, Sieg and Karen Braum to Madame.

Madame also has sumptuous desserts unique in presenting them beyond the predictable.  The tiramisu was such a delight, very smooth in taste and texture.  I am amazed at all the different ways tiramisu can be prepared and Madame's tiramisu is distinct and delicious.  Mathias had a heavier dessert of rich chocolate with pistachios.

Much to my surprise, I found this photo of Jerry Ramos in my collection, who passed away on February 7th. I can only remember being at Madame with Jerry once and we were joined by Ray and Linda Lewis, who I unfortunately don't have a photo of them or any of us from that evening. Just this one photo of Jerry. Six months already. Unbelievable how fast the year is passing. Hardly any occasion passes that someone doesn't bring up Jerry's name and how much he is missed.

I truly do love an evening at Madame.
The atmosphere is perfect. Everything about the place resonates with tranquility, bliss, and comfort. The service is impeccable. As Jerry would have said, Madame is a little slice of heaven.