Knobbly Darkling Beetle (Physadesmia globosa)
Knobbly Darkling Beetle (Physadesmia globosa)

Our award ticket from Brunei to Sri Lanka allowed us to make a free stopover in Singapore along the way. We have both visited Singapore in the past so we didn’t have any particular sightseeing in mind, however, we were eager to dig into Singapore’s diverse food scene. Much like Malaysia, Singapore’s food world is a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cooking styles and for being a relatively expensive travel destination, the food is comparatively cheap.

It had been a couple of years since I last visited and I remembered hearing all sorts of hype about the new Marina Bay Sands development on reclaimed ground near downtown. The development is supposed to be Singapore’s up-and-coming 24/7 entertainment district with shopping, theaters, a casino, museums, and a luxury hotel. The hotel is housed in three 55-story buildings that are bridged at the top by a “SkyPark.”

Although most of the complex is finished, public transportation infrastructure is still a work in progress as we discovered. Getting there was a sweaty schlep through a construction site in Singapore’s hot afternoon sun. For an orderly country like Singapore, this is way off the norm! Wandering around Marina Bay Sands was interesting enough but neither of us were willing to cough up the exorbitant SG$20 (US$17) admission cost to visit the SkyPark.

The following day we paid the Asian Civilizations Museum a visit. There was an absolutely massive line stretching out the door that we later found out was due to a visiting exhibit of terracotta warriors from China and because admission was free for the day. The wait was something like 90 minutes for the special exhibit but we found out way into their permanent collection and soaked up the aircon for a few hours. It is a fascinating museum and I particularly liked the video consoles that showed how some of the arts and crafts were made.

Black carrot cake (don't ask me about the name), a Singaporean favorite
Black carrot cake (don’t ask me about the name), a Singaporean favorite

As always, Singapore treated our bellies quite well. We made plenty of stops for snacks and meals at the food courts and hawker centers that fill just about every nook and cranny of the city center. On our last day we made the pilgrimage to the Maxwell Road Food Centre and I got a plate of chicken and rice from one of the famous stalls. I also ordered up some black carrot cake which is a strange wok-cooked savory dish that is a local favorite.

Departure board at Changi International Airport
Departure board at Changi International Airport

By mid afternoon on the third day we were growing tired of the hot weather and decided to head to the airport early. For those of you who haven’t visiting Singapore’s Changi airport, it is a sight to be seen. The airport has won piles of awards for being one of the world’s best. The usual passenger facilities like check-in areas, security and immigration are all well-designed and adequately staffed but what really sets it apart is what lies behind immigration. Loads of shopping outlets, free movie theaters, hundreds of free internet terminals, koi ponds, butterfly gardens, etc. Literally enough to keep one entertained for days on end.

We crashed out in some free massage chairs for a while next to a koi pond before making our way to Singapore Airline’s Silver Kris Lounge. We started at the lounge in Terminal 2 but it was very crowded due to some renovations that are taking place. Terminal 3 was much quieter and we made good use of the shower facilities and their speedy internet connection. I also made good use of their sushi and open bar!

The flight to Colombo was a short 3-hour hop on one of Singapore Airline’s new A330-300 aircraft. Amy had special ordered a vegetarian meal and I availed myself to Singapore Air’s “Book The Cook” service. Good thing I did “Book the Cook” because the menu was strikingly similar to what we had on the flight from Brunei. We didn’t know it at the time but the flight was to be our last taste of luxury (or even somewhat comfortable) transportation for the next few weeks!

Lobster thermidor
Lobster thermidor
Singapore to Sri Lanka
ArtScience Museum (left) at Marina Bay Sands
ArtScience Museum (left) at Marina Bay Sands
Cooling off with an ABC at Marina Bay Sands
Cooling off with an ABC at Marina Bay Sands
Singapore's much-visited Merlion
Singapore’s much-visited Merlion
Hindu temple in Chinatown
Hindu temple in Chinatown
A few of the many interesting treasures at the Asian Civilizations Museum
A few of the many interesting treasures at the Asian Civilizations Museum
Chicken and rice and sweet barley drink at the Maxell Road Hawker Centre
Chicken and rice and sweet barley drink at the Maxell Road Hawker Centre
Black carrot cake (don't ask me about the name), a Singaporean favorite
Black carrot cake (don’t ask me about the name), a Singaporean favorite
Departure board at Changi International Airport
Departure board at Changi International Airport
Regional business class seats on SQ's new A330-300 aircraft
Regional business class seats on SQ’s new A330-300 aircraft
Prawn salad
Prawn salad
Lobster thermidor
Lobster thermidor
Kenyan AA coffee and creme brulee
Kenyan AA coffee and creme brulee
The rather obvious routing from Singapore to Sri Lanka :)
The rather obvious routing from Singapore to Sri Lanka :)

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, which is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.  Amy and I have both been to peninsular Malaysia on prior trips and we were eager to dive back in to some of the local cuisine.  The food in Malaysia in an interesting mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay creations.  KK has a lively night market along the waterfront where a few dozen vendors setup restaurants under tents.  Most of these are serving up freshly caught seafood.  We indulged in the night market at least three times during our stay.

The waterfront at Kota Kinabalu
The waterfront at Kota Kinabalu

One of the oddities of Malaysian cuisine is the ABC or Ais Kacang that you can get from just about any drink vendor.  It’s somewhere between a drink and snack and consists of shaved ice, corn kernels, sweet beans and grass jelly all dowsed with a sugary pink syrup and condensed milk.  It sounds strange and they certainly look weird but they make for a refreshing snack in the hot weather.  Amy discovered a local variant that includes avocado that she quickly took a liking to.

Avocado Ais Kachang (more popularly known as Avacado ABC)
Avocado Ais Kachang (more popularly known as Avacado ABC)

Just off the coast from KK is Tunku Abdul Rahman park which is comprised of a handful of jungle-covered islands.  The regular ferry service to these islands makes them a popular day-trip for locals and tourists alike.  We went to Pulau Sapi (Pulau means “island” in Malay and many of the other languages in this area) for an afternoon of snorkeling.

The island’s popularity was evident when we arrived.  In contrast to the Cooks where we commonly had a couple hundred yards of beach to ourselves, here on Sapi we had about a hundred yards of beach to share with maybe 500 other people!  As afternoon wore on it quieted down as people returned to town.

Amy went snorkeling and was reminded of how warm water is in this part of the world – “like bath water” as she puts it.  There was a nice variety of fish but seeing them was hard because of the poor visibility.  I entertained myself with some reading and a short hike across the island.  I was hoping to see some birds but in the end all I spotted was a monitor lizard looking for food scraps behind the island restaurants.

Monitor lizards roam Sapi Island...I promise better photos in a future post!
Monitor lizards roam Sapi Island…I promise better photos in a future post!
Kota Kinabalu
The waterfront at Kota Kinabalu
The waterfront at Kota Kinabalu
The main drag in KK
The main drag in KK
In Sabah they like to fill their traffic circles with animal statues.
In Sabah they like to fill their traffic circles with animal statues.
Monitor lizards roam Sapi Island...I promise better photos in a future post!
Monitor lizards roam Sapi Island…I promise better photos in a future post!
Blended dragon-fruit
Blended dragon-fruit
Avocado Ais Kachang (more popularly known as Avacado ABC)
Avocado Ais Kachang (more popularly known as Avacado ABC)
Lunch at an Indian place served on a banana leaf.
Lunch at an Indian place served on a banana leaf.
Picking out some meat-on-a-stick at the night market
Picking out some meat-on-a-stick at the night market
Vegetarian soto mee hoon soup (noodles, fake chicken, cucumber and various spices)
Vegetarian soto mee hoon soup (noodles, fake chicken, cucumber and various spices)

Copacabana, Bolivia
Copacabana, Bolivia

During our last week in Bolivia we made a trip out to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake at 3800m.  The lake is shared between Peru and Bolivia but thanks to the ongoing border dispute we were only able to visit the Bolivian side.  The good news was that most of the tourist sites were mostly empty!

After returning from Rurrenabaque we overnighted in La Paz and then caught one of the tourist buses to Copacabana.  The tourist buses are slightly more expensive but you get to travel in a proper bus as opposed to a small van overloaded with about 20 people – a worthwhile investment for the three hour trip.  The only downside to the tourist bus is that it provides hotel pickup.  Sounds good, right?  The pickup is nice but sitting on the bus for an extra hour as it fights it way through the clogged streets of La Paz is not so nice.

Our bus making its way across the Strait of Tiquina
Our bus making its way across the Strait of Tiquina

The only notable item about the bus ride wa stopping at the Strait of Tiquina so that they could load our bus on a rickety barge powered by a 20hp outboard.  Us passengers were sent over to a small ticket desk to purchase our ~$0.50 tickets for the small passenger ferries.  It is probably less than a kilometer across the strait but the stop provided a nice break for stretching the legs.

Plenty of opportunities for renting a paddle boat in Copacabana.
Plenty of opportunities for renting a paddle boat in Copacabana.

We found Copacabana to be a pleasant little town.  It has a sweeping beach and waterfront park where hired paddle-boats and kayaks are a dime a dozen.  Above the town to one side is a hill with an ancient Incan observatory and on the other side is town with some crosses and a great overview of the lake.

The famous church in Copacabana where locals bring their cars to be blessed.
The famous church in Copacabana where locals bring their cars to be blessed.

Copacabana’s enormous Moorish-style cathredral is another fun attraction.  The cathedral is famous for its Benediciones de Movilidades (blessing of the automobiles) where people come from all over to dress up their cars and pour beer on the tires.  Given the state of many of Bolivia’s roads I suppose this practice can’t hurt!

Trout: a local favorite
Trout: a local favorite

The food in the lake region, in particular the trout, made for some excellent and cheap meals while we were there.  Where else are you going to snag soup, salad, fresh grilled trout, a side and dessert for under $4?

All in all, Copa made for a nice two-day stop and we found that to be enough to wander the city and nearby sights.

Lake Titicaca – Copacabana
Our bus making its way across the Strait of Tiquina
Our bus making its way across the Strait of Tiquina
Like an ocean at 13,000ft!
Like an ocean at 13,000ft!
Copacabana, Bolivia
Copacabana, Bolivia
The famous church in Copacabana where locals bring their cars to be blessed.
The famous church in Copacabana where locals bring their cars to be blessed.
Automobiles being blessed.
Automobiles being blessed.
An older lady pours beer on each tire of this bus.
An older lady pours beer on each tire of this bus.
Trout: a local favorite
Trout: a local favorite
Complete and undivided attention.
Complete and undivided attention.
Sunset over Titicaca
Sunset over Titicaca
Apparently this is some sort of Incan astronomical instrument.
Apparently this is some sort of Incan astronomical instrument.
Puffed corn products are big in Bolivia, as are bowler hats!
Puffed corn products are big in Bolivia, as are bowler hats!
Plenty of opportunities for renting a paddle boat in Copacabana.
Plenty of opportunities for renting a paddle boat in Copacabana.

Victory!
Victory!

Getting across the border into Bolivia was easy enough.  We walked to the border just after sunrise and waited around for about half an hour while the authorities on the Argentine side dealt with some families that were crossing with children.  Once we were stamped out off Argentina we walked 50 yards across the bridge and presented ourselves at Bolivian immigration.  There was no queue when we arrived and they gladly accepted our $135 visa fee and, in return, put some shiny stickers in our passports.  Nationals of most countries (including places like Yemen) don’t need to pay for visas to Bolivia, however, US policies towards tourists have led Bolivian towards a policy of reciprocity.

Our first Bolivian bus.  Villazón to Tupiza.
Our first Bolivian bus. Villazón to Tupiza.

The Bolivian border town of Villazón was not nearly as seedy as we were led to believe.  The town was actually quite clean, had a nice square and lively commercial activity.  Our first goal was to withdraw some Bolivianos from the town’s one and only ATM.  I requested 2,500 Bs from the machine (about $300) and after the usual whirling noises it dispensed my card and a receipt but no cash.  Doh!

There were some bank employees standing around waiting for the bank to open and they advised Amy that she should be able to withdraw 1,000 Bs from the machine without a problem.  There was some talk of the machine only being able to dispense ten bills at a time.  She gave it a try and the same thing played out – no cash.  By this point the bank was open so we went in and Amy spoke to the supposed manager of the bank.  In a very couldn’t-care-less manner he told her that they knew the ATM was broken yet there was no sign on the machine.  Perfect.

Tupiza's central plaza
Tupiza’s central plaza

Time for the backup plan.  Good old US dollars.  We hit up a couple of cambios (currency exchange shops) before we found one that would accept the two wrinkled $20 bills that I had handy.  They gave me a half-decent rate and we had enough money to get out of Villazón on the bus.

Awesomely bad decorations at a just plain bad tourist restaurant in Tupiza.  Yup, that is a flamingo made of cactus wood.
Awesomely bad decorations at a just plain bad tourist restaurant in Tupiza. Yup, that is a flamingo made of cactus wood.

The drive to Tupiza is only about 60 miles but it takes about three hours thanks to the crappy roads.  Frustratingly we drove alongside of a beautiful paved highway most of the way but none of the bridges were complete.  We are definitely in Bolivia now!  The scenery was interesting through and we made it to Tupiza on time.

The main drag of Tupiza
The main drag of Tupiza

After getting to Tupiza we spent the better part of a day working on the money situation.  The first step was to get in touch with our banks about the ATM withdrawals in Villazón.  Sure enough, both has been debted from our account so we were (and still are) around $440 in the hole.  Both of our banks have opened investigations into the matter so hopefully we will see the money back one day.

Tupiza doesn’t have a single ATM machine that accepts foreign cards.  Tourists have three options: 1) exchange dollars, 2) have a local bank pull a cash advance against your VISA or MC or 3) cash travelers checks.  We explored all three options and eventually decided on the cash advance.  Cashing the travelers checks turned out to be an incredible ripoff at 18% away from official rate.  We had plenty of US dollars but we wanted to hold those for emergencies.

Processing the cash advance also turned out to be a pain.  Despite placing travel notices on our accounts the cash advance transactions were denied at the bank.  After a handful of expensive phone calls back to the states (there are no pay phones through which you can call collect!) we had the issues sorted out with the bank.  When it was all said and done, we got some cash from bank within about 5% of the official rate including all the fees.  It took a day and a lot of running back and forth between phone centers, our hotel, and the bank but we got it all sorted out.  Not a smooth start to our time in Bolivia, fortunately things got much better.

WARNING TO OTHER TRAVELERS:  When the guidebook says to bring cash, it means it!  Brings lots of crisp and new US notes to avoid hassles at dinky border towns.

Boliviano Blues
Our first Bolivian bus.  Villazón to Tupiza.
Our first Bolivian bus. Villazón to Tupiza.
I sure hope this thing fits!
I sure hope this thing fits!
Tupiza's central plaza
Tupiza’s central plaza
Awesomely bad decorations at a just plain bad tourist restaurant in Tupiza.  Yup, that is a flamingo made of cactus wood.
Awesomely bad decorations at a just plain bad tourist restaurant in Tupiza. Yup, that is a flamingo made of cactus wood.
Breakfast at Hotel Mitru
Breakfast at Hotel Mitru
The main drag of Tupiza
The main drag of Tupiza
Not a bad place to relax before the four-day trip into the wild.
Not a bad place to relax before the four-day trip into the wild.
Victory!
Victory!
My first fried chicken in Bolivia.  They love it!
My first fried chicken in Bolivia. They love it!

Santiago, Chile

Chile Comments Off
May 062011
Santiago and its smog
Santiago and its smog

To be honest, Santiago was a bit of a let-down for me.  It is mostly my fault as I had a preconcieved notion that it would be a mountainous version of Buenos Aires!  Though it is a lively and clean city, it just doesn’t have the same flair as BsAs.  Nevertheless, we still had some great food and fun adventures there.

Santiago has plenty of shoe shiners
Santiago has plenty of shoe shiners

On our first full day in Santiago we got up at a decent hour and headed over to Plaza de Armas, the main square in Santiago.  We wanted to take one of the “free english tours” that we saw advertised at the hostel.  There are actually a couple organizations running these tours and they are indeed free though you are expected to tip the guide.

A few minutes in to our “free english tour,” a group of Spanish speaking ladies walked up and pretty much demanded that our guide give the tour both in Spanish and in English.  Surprisingly, he complied.  Now I don’t mind listening to both languages (it is good practice, after all) but the way in which this ladies approached the situation was amazingly tactless.  There were a few occasions when we were making small talk with the guide and the ladies marched up and demanded a translation.  Awesome.  I sure hope they tipped well at the end of the day.

The tour lasted about 4-5 hours and took us past the main sights in the centro, Santa Lucia and Bella Vista.  There was a short 20-minute stop for lunch at some cafe (in cahoots with the tour guide, no doubt) but we escaped that trap and got some cheat eats at a kiosko nearby.  The tour provided a nice overview of the city but if I had to do it again I would seek out the organization that runs the shorter 1-hour version.

Mote vendor
Mote vendor

Amy and I went to see a Chilean movie called “La Vida de Los Peces” that won the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar last year.  Thanks to the Chilean Spanish I barely understood what was going on and even Amy said she only understood about half of what was said.  Chilean Spanish is a good bit faster than Argentine Spanish as they are very fond of slang and shortening words.

Mote con huesillo: the street drink of choice in Santiago.  Peach juice, some peach pieces and wheatberries
Mote con huesillo: the street drink of choice in Santiago. Peach juice, some peach pieces and wheatberries

Food-wise, Santiago treated us well.  My favorite (and cheapest) meal was at a stall at the Mercado de Flores where many of the pushcart vendors seemed to be eating.  I had cazuela de vacuna, a soup with beef and a mix of veggies.  Amy managed to find herself some vegan empanadas at one on of the city’s vegan/vegetarian cafes.  Another culinary highlight of Santiago is a drink (or snack?) called mote con huesillo.  It is served on the street and is something in between a drink and a food.  When ordering mote you get a cup filled with cooked wheatberries, a few pieces of peach and then topped with lots of peach juice.  It is a sweet and filling cheap snack that you can find just about everywhere in Santiago.  Perfect for hot afternoons!

Cazuela de vacuna: a soup with chunks of beef and all the fixins
Cazuela de vacuna: a soup with chunks of beef and all the fixins

The blog is starting to run quite a way behind our travel progress.  We reached Bolivia yesterday and will be leaving on a 4-day circuit tour to the Salar de Uyuni starting on Saturday.  We will be way out in the boonies for this tour but I am going to do my best to get some posts scheduled today.  That is, if this Bolivian internet connection cooperates!

Santiago, Chile
Climbing Cerro Santa Lucia
Climbing Cerro Santa Lucia
Santiago and its smog
Santiago and its smog
La Moneda - the government palace
La Moneda – the government palace
Amy and the rest of our tour group
Amy and the rest of our tour group
Santiago has plenty of shoe shiners
Santiago has plenty of shoe shiners
Mote con huesillo: the street drink of choice in Santiago.  Peach juice, some peach pieces and wheatberries
Mote con huesillo: the street drink of choice in Santiago. Peach juice, some peach pieces and wheatberries
Mote vendor
Mote vendor
Cazuela de vacuna: a soup with chunks of beef and all the fixins
Cazuela de vacuna: a soup with chunks of beef and all the fixins
Parque Forestal
Parque Forestal

Apr 132011

On our second day on Chiloé we woke up to a thick fog and piled on a heavy breakfast at the hostel.  The rain had stopped and it looked like the sun was trying burn through the fog.  We jumped in our trusty Chevy and headed east to find the coastal road that stretches from the port of Chacao (where our ferry from Puerto Montt landed) to Castro which is about half way down the island.

The dirt road took us through a hilly green countryside that was covered in small farms.  We passed through numerous seaside villages and stopped to see some of the wooden churches and seaweed-covered beaches.  It appeared that many of the homes were involved in the seaweed industry as they had piles of the stuff drying nearby.

Quemchi, Chile
Quemchi, Chile

We made it to Quemchi, about halfway to Castro, by the early afternoon and realized that our progress down the coast was much slower than expected.  We made a quick visit to the mirador in Quemchi to get a bird’s eye view of the village and the fish (shellfish?) farming rigs out in the bay and then hopped on Ruta 5 for Castro.

Castro, the pricipal city on Chiloé (population 40,000), was quite lively when we arrived.  We pulled into a parking spot right along the main square and only had to walk a few steps to the tourist office.  We have been very impressed with the tourist offices both here in Chiloé and in the Lakes District of Argentina; they know how important tourism is and the materials they provide are very good.

The first item on the to-do list in Castro was lunch.  We had heard that there were some nice waterfront restaurants down by the market so we headed in that direction.  Within minutes we were sitting at a nice table right by the water-facing window of a stilthouse.  After spying on the food on the surrounding tables I decided to give curanto a go.

Curanto: a big bowl of mussels, clams, chorizo, chicken, pork and some sort of bread patty.  Served with broth.
Curanto: a big bowl of mussels, clams, chorizo, chicken, pork and some sort of bread patty. Served with broth.

Curanto is a hodgepodge of shellfish, meat and potatoes.  Traditionally, it is cooked in a hole in the ground but I suspect that what I had for lunch was prepared in a stew pot.  The enormous bowl included a very generous serving of mussels, clams, chorizo, pork, chicken and milcaos.  The mussels were absolutely massive, definitely the biggest I’ve seen and were exceptionally tender.  Certainly not the chewy sand-filled things I often get around Boston.  In the end, I wasn’t able to finish the entire bowl but I guess that isn’t too surprising seeing that the three ladies sitting next to us split one bowl between the three of them.  The meal was an exceptional value at 8 USD.

After lunch we visited the massive chuch of San Francisco which is the largest of the wooden churches on Chiloé.  Next, we headed to another section of waterfront to check out the colorful palofitos which are traditional stilt-house.  

Before we knew it our time with our rental car was up and we had to return it to Ancud.  I was happy that I didn’t have to wash it!

Before...
Before…
...and after!
…and after!

Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile
The Andes as seen from Chiloé
The Andes as seen from Chiloé
Boat in the mist
Boat in the mist
The church in the village of Lliuco
The church in the village of Lliuco
Seaweed drying in the sun
Seaweed drying in the sun
Drying seaweed
Drying seaweed
Quemchi, Chile
Quemchi, Chile
Curanto: a big bowl of mussels, clams, chorizo, chicken, pork and some sort of bread patty.  Served with broth.
Curanto: a big bowl of mussels, clams, chorizo, chicken, pork and some sort of bread patty. Served with broth.
The palafitos (“stilt houses”) in Castro
The palafitos (“stilt houses”) in Castro
Before...
Before…
...and after!
…and after!

Apr 092011

We woke up way too early to catch an 8 o’clock bus to El Bolsón.  The small hippy town is a couple hours south of Bariloche and is known for its thrice-weekly market.  We had to take a taxi to the bus station because we couldn’t find a collectivo going the right direction.  There were plenty going in the opposite direction, much to my annoyance.

We had seats right up front which allowed us to enjoy the 20 or so feet of visibility thanks to a thick morning fog.  The driver seemed to have things well under control though and we arrived safely right on schedule at 10AM.  The market was supposed to start at 10AM but since this is a hippy town and an Argentine town, the schedule was a bit more flexible.

Amy had a vegetarian (calabaza) milanesa sandwich from the vegetarian sandwich stand.
Amy had a vegetarian (calabaza) milanesa sandwich from the vegetarian sandwich stand.

After a bit of coffee and tea (and wifi stealing) at a nearby bakery we ventured out to check out the offerings.  In particular,  Amy was on the hunt for vegetarian goodies.  She was a bit disappointed to find only one stand selling vegetarian food.  Nevertheless, she turned up a nice calabaza (butternut squash) milanesa sandwich on whole wheat bread.  I went with the more typical and popular fair food: papas fritas and empanadas.

After walking the market a few times to admire the goods, we decided to hike up Cerro Amigo to enjoy the mirador.  It was an easy 45 minute hike and we passed some very nice mountain homes properly outfitted with horses grazing nearby.  The view from the top allowed us to see the entire city and the mountains across the valley.

El Bolsón, Argentina
What to do with a dead tree? In a hippie town, you carve it into a awesome sculpture!
What to do with a dead tree? In a hippie town, you carve it into a awesome sculpture!
Weird hippy contraption/art
Weird hippy contraption/art
Scenes of Patagonia captured on sugar packets.
Scenes of Patagonia captured on sugar packets.
Very large milanesa sandwiches seemed to be the most popular food item at the market.
Very large milanesa sandwiches seemed to be the most popular food item at the market.
Amy had a vegetarian (calabaza) milanesa sandwich from the vegetarian sandwich stand.
Amy had a vegetarian (calabaza) milanesa sandwich from the vegetarian sandwich stand.
We saw walnuts on trees all over town.
We saw walnuts on trees all over town.
Wood bowl carving
Wood bowl carving
It is fall in El Bolsón
It is fall in El Bolsón
Amy's dream house along the walk to a mirador.
Amy’s dream house along the walk to a mirador.
A jeep with Alberta plates!  Turns out that the guy has a website: www.theroadchoseme.com
A jeep with Alberta plates! Turns out that the guy has a website: www.theroadchoseme.com

Birthday Dinner

Argentina Comments Off
Apr 052011
My main: Trout Navarra
My main: Trout Navarra

Last week, Amy treated me to dinner at a little place we read about called El Mesón in San Martín de los Andes.  The restaurant is in a small house that is just off the main street.  We showed up at 9PM, about the time the dinner crowd starts in Argentina, and found the place completely empty.  We were eagerly greeted by the owner and shown to a table.

The Lakes District in Argentina is known for its trout so I wanted to have that as my main course.  For the starter, we picked out some sort of toasted bread covered in smoked eggplant, red peppers and anchovies.  The owner surprised us by comping a plate of salmon and trout ceviche along with some homemade mint liquor at the end of the meal.  I was one happy (and stuffed) camper on my birthday!  There are more pictures below (those of you reading via email subscriptions will have to visit the web site).

An entrada complements of the owner!  Trout and salmon ceviche and caprese salad skewers with toasted bread.
An entrada complements of the owner! Trout and salmon ceviche and caprese salad skewers with toasted bread.

I am sorry that there haven’t been more regular posts over the past few days but we have been very busy touring Chiloé Island here in Chile.  I hope to pick up the pace over the next few days!

Birthday Dinner at El Mesón
One of the best restaurants in town is actually in a small house on a side street.
One of the best restaurants in town is actually in a small house on a side street.
The dining room was ready for guests but we were the only ones that night.
The dining room was ready for guests but we were the only ones that night.
Birthday boy considers the options.
Birthday boy considers the options.
Amy shows her sparkles...
Amy shows her sparkles…
...and is always planning.  How to take over San Martín here.
…and is always planning. How to take over San Martín here.
An entrada complements of the owner!  Trout and salmon ceviche and caprese salad skewers with toasted bread.
An entrada complements of the owner! Trout and salmon ceviche and caprese salad skewers with toasted bread.
Our actual entrada: a big piece of toast with smoked/marinated eggplant and red pepper topped with anchovies.
Our actual entrada: a big piece of toast with smoked/marinated eggplant and red pepper topped with anchovies.
My main: Trout Navarra
My main: Trout Navarra
The trout was sauteed with garlic and topped with crispy ham.  On the side: veggies and a twice baked/fried potato.
The trout was sauteed with garlic and topped with crispy ham. On the side: veggies and a twice baked/fried potato.
Amy's main: grilled veggies
Amy’s main: grilled veggies
A cafe to finish and afterwards some delicious homemade mint liquor on the house.  Almost in a food coma by this point.
A cafe to finish and afterwards some delicious homemade mint liquor on the house. Almost in a food coma by this point.


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