4 feet 2 mouths

walking and eating our way around the world

Archive for the tag “Friends”

Hurting for a Yurting (by Carmen)

It was still a cold, blustery spring when our friend Taylor suggested a summer camping trip. As extra enticement, the campsite she had in mind came equipped with the most fun to say accommodation on earth – a yurt. The heat of summer was still just a glimmer in our eyes but we could already taste the campfire s’mores. We replied with an enthusiastic yes.

Yurt sweet yurt

Yurt sweet yurt

It was months later, in the dog days of summer that Taylor, Andrew, Nathan and I piled into our rental car for the drive to the Belleplain Forest in New Jersey. But NJ didn’t want us. Or so it seemed from the massive effort it took to get into and through the Holland Tunnel. When we finally emerged on the other side we all felt extraordinarily grateful for leading car-free lifestyles exempt from the daily traffic grind. We still had a ways to go since our destination was in the southern end of the state. We passed the time with upbeat music, good conversation and entertaining roadsigns, like the community of Cheesequake. I think NJ just wants to be made fun of sometimes. When hunger got the better of us, we made a quick pit stop for decent Chinese food in a random little town along the way. Thanks Yelp!

Building our fire

Building our fire

After a few hours on the road, we pulled into the campsite after dark and found that friend Megan and Andy had built a lovely campfire for us. What a welcome sight after a long drive.

Lake Nummy (photo source: Megan)

Lake Nummy (photo source: Megan)

Woodsy stroll (photo source: Megan)

Woodsy stroll (photo source: Megan)

The next morning I awoke to the most perfect weather ever. It was not too hot, not too cold; not too humid, not too dry; just right. To get a taste of the surrounding woods we did a quick stroll around Lake Nummy (rhymes with yummy :) before jumping in. While the lake was rather small, the designated swimming area was even smaller. And of course it was watched over by two lifeguards, just in case. Thankfully, we all survived.

Andrew after he successfully hung the hammock

Andrew after he successfully hung the hammock

Hammock views

Hammock views

Improvised hummus wrap (photo source: Taylor)

Improvised hummus wrap (photo source: Taylor)

We ate a crunchy lunch of veggie and hummus wraps and hung around until it was swim time again. While the group headed back to the lakeside, I opted to rest in Taylor and Andrew’s deliciously comfortable hammock while reading my beloved Alexander McCall Smith writing about my favorite city, London. Felt like care-free days of summer camp.

Cooking on the campfire

Cooking on the campfire

Campfire gathering

Campfire gathering

In the evening we gathered around the campfire to assemble some kabobs for dinner. Though by the end of it we were incredibly full on charred veggies and spicy rice we still had s’more room for dessert. Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret about s’mores – the best method for a perfect ooey-gooey s’more is to warm the chocolate. Because lets face it, chocolate tastes better in melted form. To do this simply place your square of chocolate on a graham cracker and place on a grate near the fire. It only takes a minute and your s’mores may forever be changed.

Sea Isle City Beach (photo source: Sea Isle City)

Sea Isle City Beach (photo source: Sea Isle City)

On our final New Jersey day we couldn’t pass up the a chance to visit the Jersey shore. Yes the shore of MTV infamy. Indeed there were the dense looking guys who spent way too much time at the gym and sunning themselves. But this simply gave the beach some NJ credibility. With good waves and decent sand even this California girl has to admit, this was a nice beach overall.

Thanks to Taylor, Andrew, Megan and Andy for a great weekend! Let’s do it again next year :)

Chicago Living (by Carmen)

Lake Michigan Coast

Lake Michigan Coast

Obligatory Cloudgate (or The Bean) shot

Obligatory Cloudgate (or The Bean) shot

We just couldn’t stay away. Our last visit to Chicago was during a July heat wave. We managed not to melt by visiting the beach and ducking into air conditioned restaurants for our fave regional eats – namely deep dish, hot dogs and anything by Rick Bayless. But it wasn’t enough. So this May, Nathan and I set down our backpacks for a whole month.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me recording

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me recording

Wait, wait – why were we spending a whole month in the Windy City? Was this an extension of our travels? There was in fact a very specific reason to plop ourselves in this beautiful city by Lake Michigan. Our wedding was to take place at the end of May and we had a lot of planning to do! It was exciting but tiring times. To take a break from all the planning we fit in a few special meals, good beers, and fun shows. Like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, the excellent NPR Saturday morning show recorded in downtown each week.

Spent a lot of time on our L platform

Spent a lot of time on our L platform

Revolution Brewing

Revolution Brewing

During our month in Chicago we were fortunate enough to stay with a family friend in the excellent Logan Square neighborhood. I thought it fitting that we were next to the California stop on the L (the name for the local train system). It was also fortunate to be very near one of the best breweries in the city – Revolution Brewing. The space has a huge wooden bar in the center of the lively restaurant. My personal favorite was the Rosa beer, which was a beautiful red color thanks to being brewed with hibiscus. It was a truly refreshing beer as the weather began warming up.

Longman & Eagle breakfast

Longman & Eagle breakfast

Lula Cafe cinnamon pasta

Lula Cafe cinnamon pasta

Logan Square has a lot to offer but two of my favorites are Longman & Eagle and Lula Cafe. The former is quite the multi-faceted business with a hotel, full bar and a restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner all on one site. The owners are able to pull it off it with style and as well as delicious food. I find the breakfast menu to be a particularly good deal so Nathan and I walked over one morning to enjoy chicken and waffles as well as a duck hash. Every time I eat there I wonder how they make their food so tasty.

Just across the square (actually more like a large roundabout) is Lula Cafe. The food was also of very high quality but in a comforting way. Like my pasta mixed with feta, cinnamon, garlic and brown butter. Simple, a little unusual, but ultimately delicious.

Kurowski Sausage Shop

Kurowski Sausage Shop

Polish goodies

Polish goodies

Speaking of comforting, Polish food ranks high for me in terms of homey goodness that just makes me happy. We found gold at Kurowski Sausage Shop, a grocery store full of delectable items like sauerkraut, kielbasa, borscht, dill pickle soup, hunter’s stew and, of course, lots and lots of pierogies. We happily stocked up and wondered if we could move in next door.

Urban Belly rice cake soup

Urban Belly rice cake soup

Belly Shack bulgogi

Belly Shack bulgogi

While I love Polish food, my heart will always belong to the cuisines of Asia. So I couldn’t wait to try Urban Belly. I went with a group and we each ordered a different soup. Through the variety of noodles (udon, rice, ramen and round rice discs), broth bases (chicken, pork), and spiciness levels one theme emerged – each bowl was incredibly scrumptious. We had such a good experience that Nathan and I took a group of family to Belly Shack, a sandwich shop from the same chef. I was a little worried that the group might prefer burgers and fries to the eclectic menu offerings at the shack (example: meatball and noodle sandwich) but everyone came away happy. I particularly enjoyed my bulgogi with flatbread and kimchee.

Fat Rice, a new fave

Fat Rice, a new fave

I thought Urban Belly was an unusual name, but then Fat Rice came and blew it out of the water. Turns out the name is a translation from the more elegant sounding arroz gordo, a specialty of Macau. The whole restaurant is dedicated to Macau cuisine which has a mix of influences – mostly Portuguese and Chinese but also a little bit of everywhere else the Portuguese went. I absolutely love when east meets west so this was right up my alley! While I really wanted to order the arroz gordo (a rice dish with a variety of meats and seafoods, chinese sausage, tea eggs, linguiça and sofrito) it is meant to serve 6. We still considered it though :) Instead we settled for Piri Piri Chicken with peanuts and potatoes in tomato sauce, Crazy Squid and large spears of stir-fried asparagus. Tangy, spicy, tingly, nutty, sour – everything melded together perfectly. From the concept to the food to the decor, this has become one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.

Newlyweds

Newlyweds

Hot Doug’s hot dogs as celebration

Hot Doug’s hot dogs as celebration

And then we got married! Or at least it felt like it happened that fast. All the efforts of not only me and Nathan but our families culminated in what will forever be one of the best days of my life. A smile creeps onto my face anytime I think back to that wonderful weekend full of family, friend and love. And what better way to cement our union than to eat gloriously delicious hot dogs at Hot Doug’s?

Soaking in the modern “Flamingo” sculpture in Chicago downtown with friends

Soaking in the modern “Flamingo” sculpture in Chicago downtown with friends

Filafill

Filafill

Having so many of our family and friends in Chicago at the same time was somewhat surreal. We tried to spend as much time as we could with everyone over the wedding weekend. Most people wanted to check out downtown so we wandered around, admiring architecture together. When we needed refueling we visited Filafill, an excellent falafel and sandwich bar where you fill up your pita with as many sauces, pickles and veggies as you like.

Chicago’s sweet side (clockwise from top left: olive oil cake at Floriole; decadent doughnuts at Glazed & Infused; cookies and hot chocolate at Hot Chocolate, sundae at Margie’s Candies)

Chicago’s sweet side (clockwise from top left: olive oil cake at Floriole; decadent doughnuts at Glazed & Infused; cookies and hot chocolate at Hot Chocolate, sundae at Margie’s Candies)

I will leave this food heavy post off with a sweet ending – dessert! Nathan and I have sweet tooths to be sure. While we revisited Floriole for a moist olive oil cake we were happy to discover Glazed & Infused this time around. They offer some seriously decadent doughnuts in unique flavors like maple bacon. Based on a recommendation from my dad, we also made a trip to Hot Chocolate for (what else) hot chocolate. It was smooth and had perfectly balanced sweetness and richness. Finally, my favorite is Margie’s Candies, an institution since 1921. You walk in and you are transported back in time before artisanal gelato and fancy toppings. There is no salted caramel here. Just simple (but huge) sundaes with lots of hot fudge to drip over it. And you can’t forget the neon maraschino cherry on top!

Thank you, Chicago, for being a sweet setting for us to start a new chapter in our lives.

Eating Pain Au Chocolat in Luang Prabang (by Carmen)

Monks enjoying a walk in the sun

Monks enjoying a walk in the sun

I’m pedaling furiously, with a scooter in front and a scooter behind me. I’m on a simple wood and iron bridge with two sets of narrow planks for scooters and bicycles to use single file. The river below peeks out through gaps in the decking. As I ride, brow furrowed in concentration, it hits me. I’m in Laos, cycling across a wooden bridge with scooters and this feels somehow normal. I have now been traveling so long that the unfamiliar has become standard. The thought brought a smile to my face.

Nathan enjoying a coffee at Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene

Nathan enjoying a coffee at Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene

Our crusty baguette and warm pain au chocolat

Our crusty baguette and warm pain au chocolat

Crossing the bridge occurred on our last day in Luang Prabang but from the beginning the town offered a mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. For example, I woke up our first morning craving some comfort. We had survived a 27 hour bus journey and I wanted a reward! So we headed over to Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene for some coffee and pastries. I bit into the warm-from-the-oven pain au chocolat and realized how very long it’s been since I’ve had such a buttery, rich delicacy. Taking our time at the cafe was a wonderfully slow introduction to Luang Prabang.

Wat Xieng Thong stencil

Wat Xieng Thong stencil

Me modeling proper wat attire - shoulders and knees covered

Me modeling proper wat attire – shoulders and knees covered

Mirror mosaics

Mirror mosaics

Nearby the cafe was Wat Xieng Thong. The beautiful stencil work at the wat inspired Nathan and I with decor ideas for our future home. I also loved the pretty mosaics that adorned the outer walls. In the main shrine, they had the life size figure of a wise looking monk in a meditation pose. These statues are sometimes metal and sometimes wax. The wax ones always make me look twice, thinking its an actual person.

Monk mentorship

Monk mentorship

Within the wat complex we saw many monks working on the grounds. Monks in Southeast Asia are not necessarily ordained for life. Instead, some are only participating for a few months or years to bring honor to themselves and their families. That’s partially why a significant portion of the monks are young boys.

Monks performing their morning alms walk

Monks performing their morning alms walk

Luang Prabang is a center of spirituality for Laos and therefore has a greater monk population. This is part of its mystique and also part of the tourist draw. One morning we awoke before sunrise to watch the morning alms procession. It is supposed to be a fulfilling experience to see people giving freely to the monks so that they may eat that day. However, it has become something of a tourist circus with big cameras being stuck in monks’ faces. But the monks handle it with grace and, hey, everyone has got to eat.

Wat rooftop

Wat rooftop

Street side noodle soup

Street side noodle soup

Speaking of eating, we made our way to a street stall for lunch after our wat visits. It was a simple noodle soup; not as complex as some the ones we were enjoying in Vietnam. But it was still full of comforting vegetables and a toothless cook bidding us “merci beaucoup” as we waved goodbye.

Mekong sunset cruise

Mekong sunset cruise

Later in the day, we were able to meet up with Julia and Jonathan again! Like us, they are fans of trying new, unfamiliar foods. Unfortunately, one of their meals did not quite agree with them. Therefore we took a nice and easy sunset cruise along the Mekong River.

Beautiful mineral rich water

Beautiful mineral rich water

Kuang Si Waterfall

Kuang Si Waterfall

The Mekong is not the only popular water body in Luang Prabang. We also visited the Kuang Si Waterfall. I had expected a pretty little waterfall but I was surprised to find such beautiful, bright turquoise waters. We used a side trail to reach the waterfall so it felt like our own little discovery…at least until another group of tourists showed up to our photo op space to take their pictures.

Further downstream

Further downstream

Nathan can't get enough cliff jumps in

Nathan can’t get enough cliff jumps in

The weather was absolutely perfect. Not hot, not cold, not humid, not dry. It was such a pleasant walk as we made our way downstream. Before long we found the swimming section and within seconds Nathan was jumping into the cold water. Julia and Jonathan joined in but I was content just sticking my feet in.

Farming along the road to Kuang Si Waterfall

Tad Sae Waterfall

Tad Sae Waterfall

Thailand has some big spiders

Thailand has some big spiders

We could have enjoyed the swimming hole a bit longer but there was another waterfall on our itinerary. Tad Sae Waterfall is accessed via an easy, stone path winding its way through the jungle. Or so I was told. I had stubbed my toe at the Kuang Si Waterfall and did not feel up to visiting the second one. While I recovered, Nathan, Julia and Jonathan enjoyed the natural beauty of Tad Sae.

Huge moss covered tree overlooking Big Tree Cafe

Huge moss covered tree overlooking Big Tree Cafe

Before we knew it, our final dinner with Julia and Jonathan was upon us. It had been awesome to visit Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Luang Prabang with them! Together we toasted all the good times over Korean food at Big Tree Cafe.

BBQ lunch

BBQ lunch

Biking with scooters on the wooden bridge

Biking with scooters on the wooden bridge

Which brings me back to the wooden bridge I mentioned earlier. Nathan and I decided to rent bikes and ride to the bus station for tickets. This took us out of the normal tourist zone pretty quickly. On our way back we noticed a smoking hot BBQ and decided to stop for lunch. We ordered what we thought was a pork chop on the grill, which turned out to be a slab of pork fat. Whoops! Not bad with some beer and tamarind hot sauce.

Example of hillside tribe clothing (photo credit: TAEC)

Example of hillside tribe clothing (photo credit: TAEC)

One of our last sights of Luang Prabang was the excellent Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre which clearly outlined the various ethnic hill tribes of Laos. They each have distinct languages, customs and dress. Fortunately we were going to see some of these tribes first hand since our next stop would be a three day jungle trek to visit mountainous villages. We bid goodbye to the cosy comforts of Luang Prabang and boarded a bus to Luang Namtha.

A Tourist in San Francisco (by Nathan)

Downtown SF and trolley car

Victorian buildings of San Francisco

San Francisco definitely has a charm to it.  The Victorian style homes sit shoulder-to-shoulder on rolling hillsides.  There are beautiful bridges and bounties of delicious food. Who could forget trolley cars, light rail and a commuter train- public transit for the local traveler.  To our benefit, Carmen and I were able to once again return to San Francisco, we visited some of our favorite eateries and sat in the sun enjoying the few moments of heat that we could get.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco City Hall

A recommendation to any tourist in SF: bring a jacket, always.  So many believe that because San Francisco is in California that it will be warm, that there is actually a summer, but it is always cold.  I too forgot and I clung onto the one long sleeve and jacket that I brought for the two weeks.  A jacket is especially necessary if you are visiting San Francisco’s most spectacular piece of architecture, the Golden Gate Bridge.  It spans the mouth of land that confines the SF Bay closing off the enormous Pacific Ocean which means it is often covered in fog.  Another favorite architectural sight is the city hall sitting prominently with a magnificent dome.

Dolores Park and SF skyline

Bi-Rite Basil, Olive Oil and honey lavender ice cream

We did find time to lie in the park.  Dolores Park is large and filled with people that try to soak up the mid-afternoon warmth before the fog seeps in over the hills.  We read, people watched and turned away the magic truffle salesman.  The sweets we had in mind were: ice cream.  Bi-rite is at the far north-east corner of Delores Park.  A mile away is another glorious ice cream institution named Humphrey Slocomb.  We ate at both (on separate days).  There was basil and olive oil infused at Bi-rite and sesame seed and Szechuan strawberry sorbet at Humphrey Slocomb.

Dry fried chicken wings at San Tung

Xiao Long Bao at Kingdom of Dumplings

We spent a handful of days visiting consulate offices in San Francisco.  It is amazing how many Visas are needed to be secured before traveling for seven months.  China was definitely the most scrupulous, but to celebrate we ate Chinese, twice! We went to San Tung for best chicken wings and Kindom of dumpling for you guessed it: dumplings.

Mission Chinese hot and spicy everything

Cheung Hing barbecued meats

And then we ate more Chinese.  I didn’t realize it fully when we left the Bay Area, but many of our favorite places pulled the spicy, oily flavors of Asia right onto our doorstep.  Our first stop was Dol Ho that serves some awesome hole-in-the-wall dim sum.  Then Mission Chinese for fiery meats and vegetables.  One of our favorite Chinese barbecue places is called Cheung Hing; juicy meat hangs in the window and fried suckling pigs are wheeled out to families preparing for a party.

Chairman Bao food truck in SF sunset

We made time for street food.  San Francisco has a blossoming street food culture with delicious food trucks and mobile eateries.  One of the best things in the Bay Area in recent years is the advent of Off The Grid.  This organization has been organizing food truck circles and street markets all around the Bay Area.  Carmen and I would attend a 10 truck one in Berkeley on Wednesdays, but the mother of all events is the Friday scene in Fort Mason with almost forty trucks.  Our favorites were Chairmen Bao’s tofu steamed bun, Happy Dumpling, Azalina’s Malasian banana balls and copious amounts of Magnolia beer.

Phở roll at Rice, Paper Scissors

The next day we decided to get even more of the action at the annual Street Food Festival in the Mission neighborhood.  This conference and festival is fun because trucks and restaurants mix to provide a “small item,” “large item” and drink.  Our favorite was a mushroom phở roll at Rice, Paper Scissors.  From sambusas, bread pudding and pão de queijo; this event had it all.

A glorious Tartine Bakery assortment

One of the best places on this planet for baked goods is Tartine.  There is something wrong with how good everything is at this place.  We went a couple times, but our favorites are the bread pudding, croissant, and their country bread loaf.  We also had a toasted almond and pecorino sandwich that was so rich that we needed to take a nap afterwards.  One night we cooked with some friends and re-created their lemon almond tea cake, very easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Suppenküche spätzle

Another favorite is Suppenküche, a fabulous German restaurant to die for (and die by).  Their cheesy spätzle is one of our favorite dishes alongside one a German beer from their long list of taps.

Bay Area Friends

All that food was nothing in the enjoyment of seeing all of our wonderful Bay Area friends.  We stayed in multiple houses and apartments.  We camped, slept on floors, couches and air mattresses, but the real fun was spending time with some of the people that know us best.  There were long nights drinking, dinner parties cooking up feasts, and casual lunches, brunches and late night dinners.  We truly have a family of friends in San Francisco and they will surely be missed.

Berkeley Bites (by Carmen)

Last time I wrote a about Berkeley it was to say goodbye to a city that had treated me well.  Seven months later we have returned, not as residents but as visitors.  After we attended the Sonoma wedding we ventured back to Berkeley to stay with friends and revisit old haunts.  It was wonderful to be back in a place I’m so familiar with, where it feels like I know every nook and cranny.  But as I walked around the sunny, tree lined streets, I didn’t feel regret about leaving.  I appreciated the good food and easy walkability of Berkeley but was confident I had made the right choice to move on.

Berkeley Farmer’s Market

River Dog stand at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market

There was only one moment of weakness.  On Thursday evening we attended the organic farmers market and were reminded of the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available in California. After the market we made our traditional stop at Vintage Berkeley to be tempted by their excellent selection of wines, all of which are priced under $25. We also made our way to the best cheese shop in the world, The Cheese Board Collective. The woman behind the counter was totally excited for our idea of stuffing squash blossoms with ricotta and immediately brought us some amazingly delicious samples to try. Following this routine with a home cooked meal constitutes what I consider to be a perfect Thursday evening, one we enjoyed many times while living here. Aside from all the friends we sorely miss, this foodie path pulled on my heartstrings the most.

Produce at Berkeley Bowl

Heirloom tomatoes!

And then there is Berkeley Bowl.  My love of food and cooking was awakened in Berkeley and I feel that this wondrous grocery store played a role.  To be sure, it is not for everyone.  The enormous variety of good quality products at low prices, not to mention their glorious produce and bulk sections, makes it popular.  With so many people there is a certain amount of jostling to be expected, especially near the bottleneck by the berry section.  But Nathan and I had a strategy: 1) divide list based on sections of the store, 2) enter, we each pick up a basket (carts will just slow you down) and try cheese sample, 3) Nathan goes to deli counter, I head over to dairy, 4) meet up around yogurts (or, more often, retrieve Nathan from nearby wine section), 5) Nathan selects meats and seafood, I find packaged and canned goods, 6) Nathan gets nuts, flour, etc. from bulk, I start in on the produce leaving my basket in a nearby aisle in order to increase maneuverability, 7) Nathan joins me in produce to select fruit, 8) get in the check-out line and breathe!  Oh how I miss it.

In fact most of the things I miss about Berkeley revolve around food.  So with that in mind I present my personal Best of Berkeley list.

Zachary’s Roma Pizza

Zachary’s Chicago Style Pizza

Best Place for Deep Dish Pizza: Zachary’s.  This place is right up there with any Chicago deep dish restaurant.  Actually, its rich tomato sauce beats out any competition.  The Bay Area deep dish debate generally revolves around Little Star (cornmeal crust) vs. Zachary’s (flaky crust), with the occasional Paxti’s lover thrown in.  I can appreciate both styles but for ambiance, employee benefits (Zachary’s is a co-op) and satisfaction guaranteed, I will always head to Zachary’s.

Thin crust from The Cheese Board

Cherry corn scone and english muffin from The Cheese Board

Best Place for Thin Crust Pizza: The Cheese Board Collective.  Another co-op run pizzeria (hey, this is Berkeley!) makes my Best of Berkeley list.  Quite simply, it serves the best veggie pizzas with lots of garlic and herbs piled on a chewy crust.  Plus they give you the bonus half slice with each order. Go to the shop and bakery next door to sample any cheese you can think of a grab a cherry corn scone.

Chilaquiles Verdes from Picante

Best Place to Get Over a Hangover: Picante.  When does good Mexican food not make one feel instantly better?  And for the perfect pick me up, I have two words: chilequiles verdes.  A tangy tomatillo sauce is scooped onto two fried eggs accompanied by rich black beans.  Sop it all up with fresh tortillas.  Wash it down with a cinnamon sweet cafe de olla.  Heaven. Evidence of its excellence: Nathan and I ALWAYS order different dishes at restaurants in order to share and have more variety.  When it comes to Picante’s chilaquiles verdes, we do not share. We each order our own.

ACME Bread

Best Place to Buy Bread: ACME.  In a tiny little bakeshop on the corner of Cedar and San Pablo, the glory of good bread is celebrated.  Everything is good here.  Puts all other supermarket breads to shame.

Brazil Cafe

Tri-tip sandwich at Brazil Cafe

Best Place to Eat Al Fresco: Brazil Cafe.  Walking past this cheery food stand with the Brazilian music blasting round the clock, it’s hard not to stop.  They rope you in with lots of grilled goodies, either stuffed in sandwiches or on top of rice. And then they drizzle on a tangy green garlic sauce that takes it to a whole other level.

Yes, more pizza. This time at Gather

Best Place to be a Localvore: Gather.  The inventive cuisine at Gather is already well known as it was one of the first to really push eating locally.  And they do it in style, with plenty of great vegetarian and vegan options that are packed with flavor.  Their pizzas are excellent and have these special crusts in which the dough is somehow pinched to create pearls of bread around the pie. Yum.

Bakesale Betty sandwich with a strawberry shortcake

Best Place to That Sells Only One Thing: Bakesale Betty.  Ok fine, it sells maybe 5 things and is technically in Oakland.  But you really only go there for one thing – the fried chicken sandwich.  It’s perfectly crunchy and crispy and topped with well-dressed jalapeno coleslaw that rocks.  Followed with a strawberry shortcake or cookie, it’s a decadent treat perfect for a sunny afternoon.

Salsas and tacos at Comal

Best Place to Feel Like You Are In SF: Comal.  This restaurant opened in the 7 months that we were gone and we are already sad that it wasn’t here sooner. Berkeley has some great food but for that buzzing, urban cool ambiance we usually head across the Bay to SF.  But this place was hopping on a Monday night, maybe because their sophisticated cocktails are hard to resist.  As for the high-end Mexican food, we were pretty much licking the plate.

View of the Golden Gate from the Berkeley Hills

And of course there’s more. Phil’s Sliders for its perfectly proportioned gourmet mini-burgers. La Note for its scrumptious French style breakfasts. Ippuku for its awesomely authentic Japanese izakaya cuisine. La Mediterranee, for its completely addictive, savory sweet chicken filo rolls.  Cafe Coulucci for its Ethiopian stews to be sopped up with the spongy, sour injera bread.  I could never name all the places.  All I can say is thank you, Berkeley, for supporting my eating habit with such good options!

Putting the Fork to the Pork in New York (by Nathan)

Did you hear that? Of course you didn’t, my stomach just grumbled.  And my stomach always grumbles at the thought of New York City.  If you have not eaten yet, then I suggest grabbing a snack because our recent trip to New York had the objective of FOOD.  New York has it all: wonderful international restaurants, majestic sights and an accessible urban landscape; there is everything to satisfy any insatiable appetite.

All this walking around is hard work and all this eating takes some serious coordination.  Our first trip to New York made a minor dent into a long list of places we wanted to try.  This trip we needed progress, so Carmen got to work weeks ahead to make a map of all the restaurants.  The days were planned to visit the sights nearest the places we wanted to eat, simple right?  To make this trip successful we needed to create more meals, and thus, the addition of “pre” and “li” into our vocabulary.  For example, preakfast=pre-breakfast and linner=late dinner.

Brooklyn Bridge

As a repeat of our last trip we stayed with our good friends Taylor and Andrew in Brooklyn.  Their apartment is perfectly placed between multiple subway lines and the Brooklyn Bridge is just a jog away.  They are amazing hosts are an enticing reason for Carmen and I to Move to New York after the trip.       

Court Street Bagels

The classic New York Bagel is an essential start to any day.  The bagels are pillowy and bulbous and the typical shop has an overwhelming number of spreads to choose from.  We grabbed a few for preakfast on our early morning arrival.  I am still of the opinion that Montreal has the best bagels that are baked over a fire and served to you crispy and hot. But to avoid a fist fight I held my lips tight.

Doughnut Plant’s PB&J, Banana Cream, Blueberry and Crème Brûlée

The lower east-side of Manhattan contains a plethora, yes, a plethora of restaurants.  We find ourselves in this area for meals and drinks throughout all hours of the day and night.  For breakfast we hopped over to Doughnut Plant.  We ordered up peanut butter glazed and boysenberry jam filled square monster and a few smaller delights.  A few blocks away was BabyCakes, the unmatched delicious and vegan bakery.  We had to visit it on a separate morning.

Magnolia Cupcakes

For lickfast (late-breakfast or lick-fest) a few cupcakes are essential.  Time it right and a trip to Magnolia Bakery is smooth like frosting.  Time it wrong and the packed  counter is a scene of elbow-throwing cupcake-grabbing madness.  Unscarred, we made it out with some treats to bring back to Brooklyn.

Best Street: Kati Roll, Bao-B-Q and Mamoun’s Mabrumeh + Falafel

Walk to the east and there exists the best street in Manhattan!  MacDougal between 3rd and Bleeker in Greenwich Village has everything and more so arrive hungry.  We came here on our last trip because of a recommendation from our friend Manish.  The food is so good that it was the first stop on the agenda when we arrived in New York.  First off there is Mamoun’s Falafel dishing out pita falafel sandwiches for $2.50.  A few doors down is a hopping NYC pizza joint named Artichoke; further on Kati Roll assembles phenomenal street wraps.  Across the street Bao-B-Q puts together a sweet and spicy pork sandwich on a steamed bun.  I am sure there other delicious restaurants within five steps in any direction, but we were excessively full and needed to waddle our way to another area of Manhattan.

Carmen relaxing on High Line Park

A beautiful day from High Line Park

Typically, we then walk of our large prunch from MacDougal St. at High Line Park.  I say “typically” because I have successfully accomplished this twice.  High Line Park is one of the perfect gems of New York City.  The abandoned elevated rail line was converted into a meandering vibrant pathway for strolling, people watching and enjoying the fresh air.  We walked through the flower gardens; we stopped to relax, talk and gaze out into New York’s colorful architecture.

Szechuan Gourmet

One thing that I loved about China, and a reason why I am going back, is the food.  The cuisines across China vary as much as those across Europe and Sichuan Chinese food is the cuisine that most tingles my tongue.  The food is smoky and spicy and they use small peppercorns that physically numb the tongue and mouth.  Since we were feeling snacking, our love of those flavors brought us to Szechuan Gourmet.  We ordered two classics – dan dan noodles and home-style tofu.  We left the restaurant with our mouths still sizzling and a deeper craving to travel to Asia.

BBQ Pork Belly Bun at Momufuku

An essential restaurant for every visit to New York is Momufuku.  There are three different Momofukus, try them all, but do not escape without eating in at least one.  The Korean fusion fare is succulent and bursting with flavors no matter what is ordered.  This time we went to Ssam Bar.  We ordered up an array of deliciously simple roasted pork belly buns and spicy noodles.  The juices subtly squirt out with each bite and the indulgence is completed with a sucking of the fingertips.

Statue of liberty from Staten Island ferry

Hundred year old house of my grandparents

We did see more than just restaurants.  Alongside thousands of other tourists we boarded the Staten Island ferry.  We said our “hellos” to the statue of liberty and grabbed a bus to get us into the interior part of the island.  Walking through the historic neighborhoods we found the house where my mom was born.  It is fun being in a place where my relatives played in the streets.  I imagine my grandparents, whom I never met, and their little German community sixty years ago.

Nathan enjoying a “cococone”

New York is hot in the summertime, ice cream is cold.  And what is cool is a saucy man driving around in his big gay ice cream truck.  We first heard about this truck while at a street food convention in San Francisco.  The owner described how and why he started his business and when in New York we had to try some.  He serves up basic soft serve with a twist.  He creates his own toppings, such as salted caramel then dipped in chocolate or wasabi pea dust.  We ordered a toasted curried coconut, a unique flavor combination with soft serve but it really worked.

Spaniards frolicking in the fountain

We slipped into a bar for drinks and the final match of the Euro Cup.  Hundreds of Spaniards and hispanophiles descended onto Washington Square to jump cheer and celebrate in the fountain.

$3.50 at Prosperity Dumpling

For prinner we headed to a dumpling shop in Chinatown.  At Prosperity Dumpling we ordered pork and chive pan-fried dumplings and veggie soup dumplings.  We made the mistake thinking that the dumplings would be Shanghai style, with soup inside, but in fact they arrived to us in a soup broth.  At $2 for 10, this restaurant turns out thousands of these delicious pot stickers.

Xi’an Famous Foods

Dinnertime: a few blocks away is a restaurant that we had to return to for a 2nd meal.  Xi’an Famous Foods serves Muslim Chinese food.  They hand-pull all their noodles and their cumin-rich lamb burger is exceptional.

Pudding at Rice to Riches

Everything you can imagine exists in New York.  Case in point: a restaurant that only makes rice pudding.  There are twenty-five flavors, toppings and cheeky quotes that make up a fun atmosphere. Next time you are in New York try Rice to Riches and as stated on the wall “order the large, you are fat anyway!”

Reuben at Katz’s Deli

Next we strolled over to an institution that has perfected the pastrami sandwich.  Yes, Katz’s Deli smokes and carves a meat that is really special and celebrated by the world.  This trip we ordered it as a Reuben that adds Swiss cheese and sauerkraut to an already great thing.  The sandwich is huge, bring a friend and split it.

Spicy Totto Ramen

Still hungry?  Ramen is the perfect late night supper.  Toto Ramen served up a spicy and rich broth that is some of the best we have ever had.  The wait was well over an hour, but worth it.

Typical eye-pleasing NYC street

One thing that every tourist can agree on in New York is that there is too much to do.  There are many sights and neighborhoods to explore.  A day can be filled wondering the streets and peeking around the brick and mortar buildings.  Every block has something special to see and every building has character and history to its presence.    New York is calling us, inviting us to live and explore more intimately, but now is a time for travel.  Goodbye NYC until next time.

Carmen and Nathan at Clove Lake Park

(Note: Ok, we didn’t actually consume all of these dishes in one day – it took about a week! But what an epic day that would be. Talk about food coma)

Old Friends in Cusco (by Carmen)

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Cathedral at night

Nathan and I arrived in Cusco at about 6 in the morning. The streets were empty as we walked the uphill journey from the bus station to our hostel. We dropped off our stuff and headed out to walk again and explore the city. The streets had started to fill up but it wasn’t with locals. Everyone seemed to be from somewhere else.After traveling for so long in places with relatively few foreigners, it was jarring to be in a city practically overrun with tourists. This was both good and bad.

View of the Plaza Mayor from above

The good thing was that they were ready for the tourist hoards with a variety of restaurants, cozy cafes, gift shops, bars, info centers, etc. The bad thing was that they used the opportunity to charge inflated prices for some of the city sights. The cathedral, for example, would have cost $10. The ticket to see local ruins costs $70! These are very high prices compared to the cost of
living in Peru. Someone is making a lot of money but it doesn’t seem to be reinvested in the sights nor in the town outside of the central tourist zone. Seeing how things are in South America, it probably ends up in a few government officials’ pockets, unfortunately.

Stone wall made without mortar or metal tools

But some sights were worth shelling out some money. In the 15th century, Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire. It was here that they built their finest temples and palaces using their best stone masons. Of course, the Spanish destroyed everything and rebuilt all the temple sites as churches. But there are still traces of the original grandeur. For example, a beautiful wall is just off the main plaza. It shows how magnificently the giant stones were placed together with no mortar or metal tools.

Another example of this fine stone work was at Qorikancha, the golden temple that celebrated the sun. The work was so precise and detailed. It would have been amazing to see it before the Spanish looted the gold that covered the entire walls.

Jumping for joy in the Sacred Valley

The true highlight of our time in Cusco, however, was seeing our Bay Area friends. Back in January we decided to do an epic 6 day hike to Machu Picchu. To acclimatized to the high altitudes we all spent a few days in Cusco. It was awesome to do this exploration with them. First we met up with Dan and Randy and got caught up over pancakes and paninis at Jack’s Cafe. Together we took a tour of the Sacred Valley, the farming region outside of Cusco that holds a few sacred ruins.

Terraces in Pisac

Nathan in an Incan trapizoidal doorway

The first set of ruins were the terraces and homes of Pisac. Built high into the hillsides these settlements were both closer to the apus, or mountain gods, as well as protected from invasion.

Temple at Ollantaytambo

Next we hit the town of Ollantaytambo which was strategically placed at the intersection of three valleys. It had intact terraces and fountains that still operate today.

Women demonstrating the dying of fabrics

As part of the tour we stopped at a textile factory where women spend a few months dying and weaving textiles, make some money, then head back home. The demonstration of how the alpaca wool is spun using a dradel looking thing, dyed with natural plants and weaved on a loom was a sort of a sales pitch but interesting nonetheless.

Lomo Saltado

That night we met up with two more dear friends, Brenda and Drew! We all went out for some roasted chicken but Nathan was a rebel and ordered lomo saltado, or beef stir fried with potatoes, onions, and tomatoes in a tangy sauce. This is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes. The combination of flavors and cooking styles reflects the Chinese influence on Peruvian cuisine.

Group at Sacsayhuaman

Tunnel

The next day we all took a bus 8km outside of Cusco. Together we walked the road back, exploring the various ruins along the way and ending at the famous and spectacular Sacsayhuaman. We hired a guide for this last site and within minutes we found ourselves in a pitch black tunnel dug out of the rocky hillside. As we emerged into the sun once more we found a circular area partially line with stones. The guide explained that a pool of water may have been there once to reflect the stars. I sat on the throne overlooking this pool area, trying to recreate it in my mind. It became very apparent how thoroughly the Spanish destructed these sacred sites and structures.

Me on the throne

The three tiers of Sacsayhuaman

What is left a Sacsayhuaman is whatever the Spanish couldn’t destroy. That includes three large terraces that formed the foundation of three important Incan temples. The temples are long gone but the enormous stones that formed the terraces would have required great effort to move. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but each wall is about 15 feet tall! The field in front of the terraces is the last battleground of the Inca against the Spanish, with the latter barely gaining their victory.

Chicharron

We finished off our ruins tour with a lunch at a chicharron restaurant. A few slabs of fried pork, onions, mint and some pink speckled potatoes hit the spot.

Cuy times

But there was one more dish to try before we all left for our hike to Machu Picchu: cuy (guinea pig). For anyone hesitant about trying this unique delicacy, I think the picture confirms your worst nightmares. Fortunately, none of the members of our group were intimdated. We dug in and found that cuy offered a dark, gamey taste. It was fun to try but not anything I’ll be craving soon.

I enjoyed how history came alive in Cusco. But it was time to pack our bags and start the hike of a lifetime.

4 feet 4 paws 3 mouths (by Nathan)

What is it about the companionship of a dog that is so rewarding?  There is of course the loyalty between the animal and the owner and something soft to pet whenever the need.  But there is also the unconditional love between the two.  Chile and Northern Argentina have an abundance of stray dogs.

On a daily basis all types of dogs roam the street, sleeping in plazas, playing in parks and just being happy dogs.  The amazing part is that all of these dogs seem really healthy with shiny fur, seemingly well fed and the most sweet demeanors.   Sometimes they follow you.  The join you in your walk, they frolic along side of you with an occasional nudge or lick.  Then after just minutes or hours the relationship is severed.  This is the story of some of our newest and lost friends.

I write this sitting on a bus after leaving one of the kindest dogs we have spent time with.  Carmen and I stayed the last few nights in Tafí de Valle; it’s a tiny town, but we were able to spend a long day hiking.  An hour into our trek and we were in the wilderness with infinite lengths of rolling hills and a scattering of wild horses.

Our shaggy friend keeping us safefrom the horses

Suddenly this dog runs up from behind us barking, but not at us, instead he was herding the horses away from us.  He stayed with us the entire day nudging us with his head, rolling into us as we took a break to eat cheese.  He was so content to just have someone to walk with.  We hiked for hours, scrambling down rocky mountains then jumping rocks in the creek.  When we arrived to the town he joined some of his dog friends and although saddened, I was happy it was a clean break-up.

Enjoying a long hike

Then at the bus station the following morning this black shaggy dog with brown paws and eyebrows prances across the field.  The dog was absolutely elated to find us, thrilled to see us after probably searching the entire night.

He tried to say good morning to everyone, but instead we watched a woman push him away with her boot disgusted that this thing would try to get close to her.  He liked it, willing to accept all the petting he could get.  It must be easier for some people to act aggressive in these situations; they harden themselves against the world, locking down all emotions.

I’m different.  My new friend plopped between my legs and immediately fell asleep.  I must have been the only safe thing he has had in weeks.  Then, it was time for me to board the bus.  My friend looks longingly at me, Carmen gives him a last pat on the head and we leave, his heart broken and a little of mine too.

I also remember the tall skinny one that was white with brown patches in Santiago.  He walked with Bobby, Stephanie, Carmen and me for a half hour.  He was very skilled at crossing the street.  Can you imagine dogs walking only on sidewalks, stopping at red lights and only crossing after looking both ways and a “walk” signal?  The dogs in Santiago can do this!  This dog was particularly sweet, with so much joy just to be walking with some people.  An occasional nip of my fingers or throwing his body against my kneecaps was his way of saying that he liked my company.  Suddenly we saw our local bus, we ran for it, paid our fare and our friend pressed his face against the glass, and barked “Why can’t  I come?”  He ran alongside of us weaving around people, leaping in and out of the street, then, when almost being hit by a car, he gave up.

Mollar pre-Incan pillars and another companion

Then there was the little female that followed us into the archeological site in Mollar.  I gave her some rind from our cheese and she looked at me with the excitement of a child´s Christmas.

Carmen and another friend

Another dog followed for five hours on the sacred Incan ridgeline of Isla del Sol in Bolivia.

I do not want to forget the famous Pancho of Lujan de Cuyo, the half dachshund, half pug and a half something else.  He waddled his way through the winery of Pulmony with us. And there was the skittish black shepherd in Mendoza that found us three days in a row.  He had some sort of death wish because he liked to bite front bumpers.  I doubt he is still alive.  There was also the mother and pup that fought for our affection.  The most adorable puppy trotted around with us at the hot springs, so clumsy that I thought he was going to fall into the hot water.

Numerous friends, numerous relationships have ended, but are not forgotten.  Although it is sad that there are so many strays it has been nice to make these new friends.  Throughout South America we have had an obvious language barrier, but for some reason a scratch behind the ear does not work for most Brazilians.  To a dog I give a little recognition and they give loyal unconditional love.  They are indiscriminate with their friendship and similarly I can only hope to be that type of friend.  To be a companion that is compassionate, without judgment and loyal to the end.

**Two weeks after writing this, Carmen and I were stopped in our tracks by a not so friendly enormous rottweiler.  We had to load our fists full of rocks and a very spiny bush.  Luckily we were able to sidestep him on another road.  On another occasion a pack of three dogs went for me in Bolivia and I was able to stave them off with a few rocks.  There is a distict difference between the homeless loving strays and the fiercesome dogs left to roam away from their homes.

Terremotos in Santiago (by Nathan)

View from Santa Lucía

View from Santa Lucía

Sometimes the best way to see a city is with friends by your side.  When those friends live in foreign countries, even better!  Santiago is a flourishing city wrapped with steep mountains and bustling with 50% of Chile’s population.  Many of the best sights and food are only known to locals, so we were excited to temporarily move in with our friends Bobby and Stephanie.

Vinyards and Chilean flag

Vineyards and Chilean flag

Lunch at Bodega Isidrio

Lunch at Bodega Isidrio

The last time we were together we had a great time exploring the wineries of Napa Valley.  For our first day in Santiago, we decided to repeat the experience with a day trip to visit the Casablanca wine region as well as the coast.  There are few better Saturdays than sipping on wine and going to the beach, so we had a perfect day planned.  On a beautiful morning we rented a car and ascended from Santiago to find a valley lush with grape vines.  Our first stop was Emiliana Organic Vineyards.  The excellent tasting took place in a beautiful glass, wood and stone building.  We bought two deliciously inexpensive bottles and we were on to the second winery.  Cerro San Isidro is a modern, bleach white villa perched on the hillside.  Overlooking the valley we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Viña Beach

Viña Beach

Back in the car and we were on our way through the mountains and then dropping in the colorful beachside communites of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.  We enjoyed a walk along the beach boardwalk of Viña.  We sipped pineapple juice, ate churros and admired the local crafts.

Valparaíso Streets

Valparaíso Streets

Valparaíso overlook

Valparaíso overlook

A short subway ride away (yes, they have a subway) and we were in Valparaíso.  This small town has a colorful charm, steep hillsides with boxy buildings clinging to the slope.  The streets are cobblestone and every visible wall and surface is artfully painted with murals.  The art was political, scenic, cultural and sometimes just tagging.  But the graphic images gave the city an intriguing sense of place that was fun to explore.

Backyard Asado

Backyard Asado

A late night drive brought us back to Santiago.  We were able to experience an excellent day trip only possible with local friends.  The next day we tagged along to a backyard asado (BBQ) and birthday party that rocked our world with a wonderful home-cooked meal.  First there was pisco sour made awesomely pink and delicious with imported Arizona tuna (cactus apple).  The main course was a fall off the bone lamb cooked in an stone oven then finished over coals and a brine bath.  Sebastian and Laura were excellent hosts.  Great food and a chance to speak Spanish with some interesting Chileans made for a special afternoon.

Parque Forestal

Parque Forestal

Ice cream from Emporio La Rosa

Ice cream from Emporio La Rosa

There are more than enough activities to keep busy for a few days here.  We were staying in the Las Condes area that had a beautiful rose-lined park. Close to the center the slender Parque Forestal offered Parisian-like strolls and locally crafted ice cream.  We enjoyed frutas del bosque (forest fruits) and thai ginger. 

Santiago and its smog

Santiago and its smog

There are a few vistas in the city, but be warned that the air quality is pretty bad.  Santiago is surrounded by mountains that offer crisp snowcapped views in the winter, but in the summer the smog and dust becomes trapped, entombed by the mountains waiting for a storm to clear it out.  Unfortunately our timing in Santiago was one of those bad air times.  With our throats raspy and our skin scaly we climbed the Cerro de Cristóbal.  We were surprised to find that we could only see a third of the city.   In the center of the city we walked to Cerro Santa Lucía and we found an urban look at Santiago under the smog.

Kai hidden Thai restaurant

Kai hidden Thai restaurant

There were many great places that we found only because of our friends Bobby and Stephanie.  Kai is this vibrantly colorful and ornate Thai restaurant   There was no sign, no entrance, but we walked through an unmarked doorway and found some deliciously spicy food.  It’s funny how I miss certain flavors, and finally after weeks of travel Bobby and Stephanie showed me a place to excite my spicy taste buds.

First round of terremotos

First round of terremotos

From one hidden door restaurant to the Chilean drinking hall of La Piojera we were welcomed into a new community of expat and Chilean friends.  It was an initiation into the Chilean culture with cheek kisses and a round of terremotos (earthquakes).  La Piojera definitely makes the ground feel like it’s moving as they scoop an iceberg of pineapple sorbet into a goblet of white wine and top it with a downpour of syrupy mead-like liqueur.  The end result: an off-the-richter drink!

The name terremoto is very apt and almost taunting because, like California, Chile has its share of ground shaking.  To our benefit they have a good grasp on their earthquake engineering.  One shaker caught us on the 25th floor of Bobby and Stephanie’s apartment.  We stood there frozen and watching the building sway against the horizon.

The politically exciting Bar Clinic

The politically exciting Bar Clinic

But the earthquake didn’t stop us from enjoying a few more drinks.  Bar Clinic delivered an excitingly political atmosphere and a few local draft beers for us to enjoy the afternoon sun in downtown.  The walls were decorated with odd parodies and humor reminiscent of “The Onion.”  Close by there were a few nice museums and plazas that dotted the city.  Unfortunately the pre-Columbian museum that we were excited about was closed for renovations.  We settled on the eye opening Botero exhibit on Abu Ghraib which coincidently enough was on loan from the Berkeley Art Museum.

Sizzling shrimp and garlic

Sizzling shrimp and garlic

Santiago has a culinary dish that we frequently spied on other tables.  They grill up tiny shrimp in butter, garlic and optional chili peppers in a small cast-iron pan.  It is delivered sizzling on the table.  Each shrimp turns bright red, perfectly cooked and succulent.  We liked it so much that we ate it twice, once at the excellent restaurant Galindo and then again at the seafood market.

Fresh seafood market

Fresh seafood market

The fresh food market in downtown Santiago is enormous.  Carmen and I spent hours roaming the aisles of meats and produce and we did not nearly see all of it.  The first of the markets is the fresh seafood.  Fifty or so vendors and another fifty or so restaurants called out to us as we walked by.  They held up huge pieces of salmon and others showed off their practically alive mackerel.  We settled for the tiny, perfect little shrimp.

Vega herbs

Vega herbs

Vega vegetables

Vega vegetables

Across the street is where the craziness of fresh food begins.  The first building is relatively empty and almost fooled us, except that this is where we found all the locals eating their farm to table fill of local meats and vegetables.  Further on there are a series of buildings and warehouses each with dense stalls of vendors.  This area is called La Vega (the field).  We found a vendor selling thirty types of peppers, another tomatoes, and another showed a seemingly life-cycle display of the onion.  He had mounds of chives, perfect green onions and even bright purple and plump onions, to complete the family huge leeks overflowed their crate.  We were most excited for the paltas (avocados) which were tender and ready to eat for only $1/lb.  There were dried fruit vendors, grains in bulk and, of course, meat.  Huge sections were devoted to poultry or beef and occasionally we’d see a rack of lamb.  All cuts were displayed their glass cases and ready to take home to cook.

Back in the kitchen

Back in the kitchen

Chilean avocados

Chilean avocados

We wandered through the fresh food market gaining inspiration for a delicious meal.  We picked the spiciest peppers, colorful quinoa, and a mix of plump veggies.  Back at the apartment, we cooked a feast and shared some wine.  A home cooked meal that was perfectly fitting end to our days in Santiago.  Thank you to our wonderful hosts, Bobby and Stephanie!

Shrimp over quinoa and fruit salad

Shrimp over quinoa and fruit salad

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