Thursday, November 27, 2014

Alternative Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving, and we will be at a friend's house eating wonderfully standard T-day fare.  Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes.  We will eat it all and love it.
But I am also loving a new tradition started with our TFS group - the "alternative" Thanksgiving.  We start with all the standard ingredients, but prepare them in a vastly different manner.  This year we went with the theme of Indian food, and had some amazingly tasty dishes.  The host marinated turkey in a tandoori spice mix, then confited it in ghee.  It was unbelievably moist and tender.  Someone else made a curry-spiced pumpkin soup.  We had green beans with coconut, mustard seeds and curry leaves.  Savory cranberry chutney with fennel seeds and garam masala.  Chai-spiced pumpkin pie for dessert.  I am already looking forward to next year's menu!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fancy Coffee in Montevideo

Part of our South America trip was spent in Uruguay - Montevideo, to be exact.  This was another place we knew absolutely nothing about, so thought that since we were going to be "in the neighborhood" we would arrange to stay there a couple of nights.  If I had it all to do over, I would have spent more time here, and less in Buenos Aires.  More on that later.
Montevideo has very distinct districts - the Old Town, the Business District, and the more upscale "resort" area on the eastern shore.  We stayed in the Old Town, in a unique loft apartment across from the beautiful Teatro Solis.  We were warned to be careful in that neighborhood by the taxi dispatcher at the airport when we arrived, but had absolutely no issues while there.  The buildings were quite old and a little run down, but they had beautiful architectural details and were set around lovely little parks.  We walked everywhere and were not bothered by anyone. 
As it was early spring, it was a little chilly so I was looking for a cup of coffee to warm me up.  We stopped into a corner cafe and I ordered the equivalent of a latte'.  This is what came out to the table:

We thought maybe that was a specialty of that particular cafe, and were pleased with our selection.
That evening, we ate at what turned out to be a German-themed restaurant and I ordered a coffee after dinner.  And this is what was served:

Apparently this is just the way you get your coffee in Montevideo, with your choice of sweet cream, cocoa, raw sugar or refined sugar.  Or all of the above!  Take that, Seattle!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Santiago's smart dogs

After we dumped our luggage at our Airbnb apartment in Santiago we headed out onto the streets.  We were walking through a business district, and I couldn't help but notice that a lot of people were accompanied by a dog as they were out and about.  Coming from a place where dogs are pampered and are regarded as children, I naturally thought "Wow - they bring their dogs to work here too!"  Only after I noticed a particular dog trading "owners" did I realize that these were stray dogs.  They are not your average mangy, flighty stray dogs, however - oh no - they are sociable and quite smart.
They have figured out that to cross a street, they need to go to the corner and cross with a crowd of people when the light changes. They also will attach themselves to a person or group of people and become part of the"pack" for a few blocks.  We joined a walking tour halfway through one day, and the dog that was with them had joined them at the beginning of the walk 2 hours earlier, and had waited for them to come out of the points of interest they had gone into.  The dogs seem to be at least partially looked-after, as none looked like they were starving and some even had old shirts on to keep them warm.  Most of them would let you pet them, then they would just go on about their business.
This is my favorite picture of one of the dogs, taken in the Mercado Vega.