A taste of Latin America in Adelaide

Posted on November 20, 2013

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By Tim Ashdown.

Today on the chat show blog we get to know the dynamic duo behind one of Adelaide’s fun new eating spots.

Some time in my early 20s I mentioned that I wanted to visit Venezuela. It seemed like a good place to find some adventure and, of course, I never went. I’m not adventurous, but in those days I liked to pretend.

At almost the same time Nela and Carlos were planning to make the exact same trip, in reverse, from Venezuela to Adelaide, South Australia.

What I imagined was a good place to find some adventure turns out to be a tough place to live. “We decided to apply for a visa because Venezuela was in a very bad political situation,” says Nela.

“We had two options: we could go to Canada or Australia. We decided to come to Australia because, coming from a tropical country, the weather here is much better.”

In parts of Venezuela the average annual temperature gets as high as 35 °C. Meanwhile in Canada, the temperature once got down to -62 °C.

Photo from lynndove.com

Photo from lynndove.com

“If I moved to Canada I think I would have been back in Venezuela after two weeks,” says Nela. Adelaide was a good call.

But before they arrived in Australia they went on an extended food tour, visiting different countries and sampling local dishes.

“We travelled for two years around South America and Central America trying to get the best authentic recipes,” says Carlos.

When they explained that they were hoping to open a South American restaurant in Australia, the locals they met were happy to share recipes, techniques and wish Nela and Carlos all the best.

The restaurant they eventually opened on Goodwood Road in Adelaide is called Candela, which means “flame” or “fiery”. It’s also the name of the feisty Latino woman Nela and Carlos came up with to characterise their business.

Meet Candela

Meet Candela

“Candela represents the South American spirit,” explains Nela. “She represents fire, hotness, dancing, Latin American women.”

Which is appropriate. Venezuela produces Miss Universe winners like we produce lifesavers.

“They call it the country of beautiful women,” says Nela, casually adding, “we won another Miss Universe not long ago, maybe a week ago.”

If this sounds like the kind of culture you want to learn more about, Candela is the place for you.

“We are trying to create a little corner of South America in Adelaide,” says Carlos. “We want people to enjoy their food, enjoy the colours, enjoy the flavours, enjoy the music, enjoy sharing.”

And don’t worry if you’re not an expert in Latin America cuisine.

Mmm… alfajores.

Mmm… alfajores.

“Sometimes people don’t know about the food so we explain the menu,” says Carlos. “Then they try the food and we see their happy face and we are happy for the day.” Which is just how I like to imagine it is in Venezuela.

You can find Candela at 120 Goodwood Road, Goodwood, in Adelaide. It is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 4:30pm, and 5:30pm to 9:30pm on Saturday.

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Posted in: Food