Argentina: Back to Buenos Aires

After a kickass time in Puerto Igazu we hopped a plane back to Buenos Aires for one more day of the big city before we head south to Patagonia. We knew we didn’t have much time in BA but looking back on it we definitely think another day or two there is in order. For no other reason other than the fact we feel like we missed something although we aren’t sure what exactly.

We used our last day in Buenos Aires to explore a few unseen areas, shop at some local markets and visit the famous Recoleta Cemetary. We got off the plane, jumped in a cab and asked to go to the cemetary, which must have been an odd request bc the old driver looked at us like we were crazy. The cemetary is unlike any other cemetery Ive ever seen. There are no rolling hills of green grass lined with small tombstones, but instead a few blocks of large sarcophagi (monuments) stuffed into every square inch of this place. And discounting the tourists in this place, it felt alive. Scott and I both felt a very odd vibe walking through this place and didn’t linger around very long.

We left and thought it would be easy to walk to the nearest subte (subway) station and catch it to our hostel which was yet another bad Buenos Aires decision as we ended up walking what must have been 55 blocks! At least we did our best to see the entire city.

Back at our hostel to do some planning for the next day’s trip and take a very Argentinian mid-day nap. During which Scott scouted out a classic tango show nearby that we figured we’d check out while in Argentina. So around 930pm we stumbled to the uncrowded show and paid yet another price that was at least twice as much as specified in our trusty lonely planet! We were told the show was delayed and we could head upstairs to the tango class to participate or watch. Since I couldn’t get Senor Scott to tango with me we just watched for a bit until we were told the show was canceled and given our money back. We left still ignorant of the tango and hit the streets in search of dessert and cerveza and when we found a place Scott got a bit over his head with his dulche de leche crepes and ice cream soda, but it was delicious!

Back at our hostel it didn’t take long for us to get ready for our early flight and pass out.

Buenos Aires highlights
– Markets
– recoletta cemetary
– 16 lane highway
– unreal cityscapes
– dinner with the girls
– Beef! (and other organs)
– buddy bears
-Bianca
– monster calzones
– converter searching
– painting with fire
– introduction to Quilmes
– sketchy taxis

Argentina: Puerto Igazu & Igazu Falls

This will be a short entry because nothing my feeble brain can write will do the Igazu Falls any kind of justice. I doubt even my pictures will but they will get their own post when I get home. The attached picture was taken from my lame iPhone camera with only a small portion of the falls visible.

 

Small portion of Igazu Falls taken with the iPhone

Simply put the Igazu Falls were the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen, I can not even imagine anything else taking my breath away like they did. Across every catwalk and around every bend my jaw would drop farther and farther. It’s a must see!

Puerto Igazu, the town that hosts the falls is a great little place a bit touristy but still full of charm. They have to be doing something right if it’s the top destination for Argentinians every year.

Puerto Igazu Highlights:
the Falls
– Scott’s clay face – some local made Scott´s face out of clay while we ate dinner, it was hilarious! 
– best steak ever @ Color… Too bad Scott ordered it and not me!
– Live music by Los de Igazu (bought the CDs)
– super chill hostel outside bar with new facebook friend Ignacio the bartender / DJ with great music.

More to come on the Igazu Falls as I have time.

Bienvenietos Argentina

Day 1 and 2 were officially the longest 48 hrs ever. Somehow on our overnight flight from Miami we got bumped from our exit row seats to middle isle seats on a 747, ugh! Thankfully there weren’t any large freakos next to us but it made sleeping nearly impossible. Thanks to Tylenol PM I got in a couple of hours using my bag as a pillow on the tray table and scotty got some thanks to his neck snuggie (patent pending!)

We stumbled through customs and bumbled our way to a bus to take us to our hostel….or so we thought. The bus lumbered through the slums of BA and eventually came to a stop at a mini estacition. “this can’t be it” Scott says to me, we are in the middle of the city with no landmarks in sight. We sit on the bus for a minute pondering where we are and what we are doing until we realized we were the only ones left on the bus, other than the Dutch woman who was as confused as we were. “this must be it” we said to each other, so we grabbed our bags and hopped off. We asked for directions to a landmark we knew of but had no clue what the guy was talking about. To make a long story short (and less boring) we wandered about 15 city blocks dodging traffic and pedestraians while the hot Sun beat down on us. Sweat covered and starving we finally found our hostel and made bee-line to the biggest steak we could find.

The rest of the day was filled with taking 334 wrong turns as we made our way through the city looking at the sites until we made it back to the hostel and collapsed for a bit.  Breanne had given us an email address of an old roommate who now lives in Argentina and to our surprise she was in Buenos Aires!  I had emailed her early in the day and she promptly replied and offered to drag us two gringos around with her and her friends to dinner and some drinks.  We were dead tired but hell we are only in BA once (ok twice but whatever) so we obliged and she gave us directions to meet her at her flat.  Scotty and I hopped the subway to meet up with Rachel and after a few drinks went out to a typical Argentine dinner at 10:30pm.  We ate at one of their typical favorite spots and it was delicious.  Scotty had an Salmon dish and I had a pasta dish while we shared some misc. dips and spreads that were delicious even though no one knew what they were.   I also found a red wine that I liked, which is  big for me since I am not a big red wine fan but the 2007 Trumpeter Malbec was delicious and right up my alley.  Rumors are abundant that we can ship cases of wine back to the US, which Ill be sure to do if the chance presents itself. 

I have no idea what time we got home but thanks to Rachel, Kelly and Molly for a good time and if by some chance they read this, dont worry we didnt get kidnapped and we dodged all the zombie dust attempts.

Next stop, Puerto Igazu for the Igazu Falls!

ps’ sorry for the lack of punctuation, these keyboards are ridiculous!

South America Bound

Well, I leave in less that 3 hours on another adventure to a place unknown and even though I never finished posting about last year in Thailand (and I will) I plan on journaling the 2009 adventure in South America in the same manner.

The major difference, other than destination, is this year I am taking one of my closest friends with me.  Scotty has never been anywhere and is the first one in his family to have a passport so I am stoked to bust his international cherry and explore new worlds.  I imagine his eyes will be wide and his senses over-whelmed which makes it all the more exciting for me.  After traveling through Thailand and Cambodia by myself, I realized that I’ll be happy to have someone there to share the expericences with.  I do think that everyone should do a solo trip somewhere, it is true that happiness is best when shared.

Scott and I have a rough itinerary which is a little more regimented than my SE Asia trip but mainly because we are covering such a huge amount of land in such a small time frame.

Roughly we will be going in this order
Buenos Aires, Argentina tonight ->
on to Igauzu Falls ->
Buenos Aires ->
Patagonia (El Calafate and the Glacier Parks) ->
Ushuaia (Southern Most City in the world!) ->
Santiago, Chile ->
Lima, Peru ->
Cusco, Peru -> where we are spending the next 4 days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu PIcchu

back to Lima and then home at the end of the month.

Personally, I’ve never been to South America or the Southern Hemisphere (new sets of stars!) and visiting Patagonia is something I’ve dreamed about.  Hiking the Inca Trail is one of last great adventures that is yet to be completely spoiled by tourism and I can wait.  I plan on eating lots of steak, hiking a lot, winning a speedo pullup contest, doing the stanky leg on a glacier, and starting an Argentine revolution if i have time!

Motto: If not now, When?
PS- Scott is attempting to Twitter our trip to hopefully help his mom’s anxiety but if you want to follow along look -> https://twitter.com/ScottK127

Dippin’ Dots Cake!

One of my bestest buddies had a birthday recently. About a year ago we were talking about cakes and he was pretty adamant that he wanted to have a dippin’ dots cake for his birthday, so being a good little boy, I made a note of it and have been waiting to surprise him with this thing. You have to special order them from the Dippin’ Dots stands but you can check their website for the nearest location.

It was pretty good but definitely one of the sweetest cakes I’ve ever had. The base layer is crushed up sugar cookie and the dippin’ dots are held together with some sort of caramel-sugary-sweet syrups all which combine to be your daily intake of sugar for a month. While I’m a cookie cake man, its a good alternative for those looking for a unique cake idea.  Oh, and while the cake is not big for $30 it easily served about 12 of us.

Happy Birthday Scotty!

PS – there is also a pure fudge dippin dots cake that looks fantastic.
Dippin Dots Cake

Dippin Dots Cake

Baked Ziti with Bechamel Sauce

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes and probably my favorite “leftovers” dish, so much so that I make a huge portion just so I can eat the leftovers for the next few meals (breakfast included!).  The original recipe is good but I’ve added some modifications.  Swapping out the regular pasta for whole wheat pasta, prosciutto for ham (leftover holiday ham works great), 2% milk for Whole milk and adding some mozzarella to the fontina.  Also with everything, I tend to avoid enriched white flour and use whole wheat flour, it dramatically changes the taste and texture of food but to me its worth it.
Baked Ziti with Bechemel Sauce
Also, I changed the order of the steps so I could dirty less dishes and just use one 4-qrt sauce pot.  Hey, I’m all about efficiency!

Bechamel sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk, at room temperature (we use 2%)
  • Pinch fresh nutmeg
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup grated fontina
    1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned (we have also used big chunks of ham)
    1 pound dry rigatoni
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain in a colander and set aside.

Bechamel sauce:

In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup fontina, prosciutto(ham) and season with salt and white pepper.

Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce. Mix cream sauce and pasta thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup fontina/mozzarella. Dot the top with diced butter and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Here’s the original Giada recipe

Delicious Garlic & Five Spice Chicken

I can take absolutely no credit for this chicken it came from a friend of a friend but it is delicious and a must try.  It’s wicked easy and takes just a few minutes of prep time. Use a whole chicken, about 4lbs, and marinate it a day or 2 in advance for prime deliciousness. Garlic and Five Spice Chicken

Marinade for one 4lb. bird:
¼ Cup of soy sauce
2 tsp. Sugar
2 crushed cloves of Garlic
1 ½ tsp. Five Spice mixture
2tb. Peanut Oil

1. Mix ingredients in a gallon zip lock bag.
2. Put chicken the zip lock (try to squeeze out as much air as you can).
3. Shake it like a Polaroid picture: Shake bird in bag
4. Now leave it alone for a day or 2! But turn occasionally.
5. Place bird, ideally on a roasting pan but any baking dish will work as well.
5. Since the bird will get very crispy… move the oven rack so the bird sits in the top 1/3 of the oven.
6. Turn oven 425 degrees – takes 1.5 hrs depending on how big of a bird you have.
7. Roast bird 2/3 of the time breast down and 1/3 of the time breast up.
8. Remove from the oven and let the bird sit for 20min before carving it up.

Simple Baked Cod with Garlic and Herb Breadcrumbs

I tend to have a lot of friends that are picky eaters which makes them hard to cook for. That in itself is fairly ironic since I used to be the pickiest of eaters and now it has come around to bite me in the ass.

I have just started enjoying eating fish in the last three years, thanks to being able to get some of the best seafood anywhere during my frequent trips to the Outer Banks of NC, but I have not yet found an easy way to cook it. Until now.

I was watching Dave Lieberman on Food Network, whom I really enjoy for his simple recipes, when I saw him cook a wicked easy fish that looked really delicious. It was a Baked Seabass with Garlic and Herb Bread crumbs. Since at the time Sea Bass was pretty expensive I opted to go for Cod which was a bit cheaper but any white fish will do.

1. Preheat oven to 350o F
2. Coat at baking dish with butter or non-stick spray
3. Place the fish in the dish and season with salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and thyme
4. Melt a 1/2 stick of butter in a large skillet with 3 smashed garlic cloves. As soon as the butter starts to bubble, turn off the heat and let the garlic infuse the warm butter for a few minutes.
5. Remove the garlic from the butter. Add the bread crumbs and lightly toss until all the butter has been absorbed. Turn the heat off, stir in 1 cup parsley and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
6. Spread the bread crumbs over top of the fish and bake for 12-15 minutes.

This dish is simple and comes out amazingly flavorful and even a novice fish cooker like myself can make like a pro in very little time.

Heres the original recipe on FoodNetwork

A Healthier Stuffed French Toast

I try to cook meals that are a bit healthier for me and usually they turn out comparable to the full fat / not-as-healthy versions but this recipe plain stunk! There is nothing more disappointing then having a grand idea for breakfast the night before, get all excited to make it when you wake up, and then immediately want to throw it away. Dejected. Totally let down. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to you as often as it does to me because I hate being left hungry in the mornings!

I’ve been following a self-modified version of the Abs Diet from MensHealth and its been going great (down 4 pants sizes!) and when I saw their Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast I thought it would be perfect for my pre-football game Saturday morning breakfast. Boy was I wrong! I really think the problem was the stuffing, the texture of the ricotta just didn’t work for french toast and it definitely wasn’t sweet enough. I think next time, I’ll try a low fat cream cheese based filling .

Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast

  • 2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp 1% milk
  • Handful of fresh berries

*the original recipe called for sliced almonds which I didn’t have, but i didn’t think it would have made that much of a difference in the end.

1. Spread the ricotta on your bread, drizzle with honey and a pinch of cinnamon.

2. Add your top slice of bread and proceed with your typical french toast making procedure.

It was terrible, but I ate it anyway, probably b/c almost anything is good with fresh blueberries! Is it just a bad recipe? or did I do something wrong?

At least the picture came out well!

recipe on MensHealth.com