a diverse collection of travel photos and firsthand experiences while venturing across the globe. each destination has welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles, making us feel right at home. from argentina to utah - and thousands of miles in between - these are our visual memories of 'home'...just as we never imagined.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dinner Time in Mendoza

Dinner time is a special time. Here in Argentina, we prefer the traditional barbeque asado over most meals. There's quite a difference between the national asado...and it's North American counterpart: the cookout.

José - what time are we starting the asado?

Get here like three hours in advance. That way, we can drink and talk soccer while the fire burns.

United States:
Joe - when does the cookout start?

Burgers will be ready at 6:00.

Wow, José. What kind of firewood is that - alamo or quebracho?

Alamo. The good stuff - really enhances the flavor of the beef.

United States:
Joe, how much was that 40-lb bag of Kingsford charcoal?

I got it on sale. You wanna pass me the lighter fluid?

Your choice - we've got ribs, t-bone, sausage, and some tenderloin.

United States:
You want cheese on yours?

Of course, I'm having fun, but I will miss the local food as we return home to the United States. This week was highlighted with a special dinner at Azafrán, located along Emilio Civit - Mendoza's main street - overflowing with tourists and locals in the evening. The dinner was a gift from a good friend, and while gift cards do not exist down here, I was given a business card signed by the restaurant's wine manager...with a peso amount written next to his name.

The atmosphere is wonderful - a pleasant, yet rustic, establishment with just a handful of tables inside. Shelves stacked with spice jars line one wall, while dried flowers and garlic braids hang from the ceiling. Among the copper pots and pans are vintage photos of past Vendimia queens - those women voted as the official reinas of wine.

So, let's take a look at the menu...and get to the pictures!

Empanada Trio - Chorizo and Onion, Morsilla and Parmesan, Veal and Mushroom...with a side of diced cherry tomatoes

Main Dishes:
Almond Crusted Chicken Breast with Buffalo Mozzarella - Garnished with Pumpkin Bites Wrapped in Sautéed Zucchini

14 oz Prime Rib Eye - Served with Roasted Onion stuffed with Truffle Mashed Potatoes

White and Dark Chocolate Parfait - Served over a Brownie with Red Fruit Sauce

Dulce de Leche Creme Brulée - Served with Rice Pudding and a Stroke of Dulce de Leche

It was a wonderful night out on the town. In fact, the last time we ever had dinner reservations was for our sixth wedding anniversary...8 months ago!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mercado Central: Open to the Public

Welcome to the Central Market of Mendoza. You will find such public markets in every major city across Argentina...and South America. Here, you will discover a brilliant variety of colors and smells...some more pleasant than others. Grocery stores provide the basic cooking ingredients, while these public markets offer aisle upon aisle of multiple spices and condiments: whole cloves, licorice root, and at least 60 variations of aji (chili powder). Fresh fish and clams arrive from Chile each morning, packed in ice-filled wooden crates that are later stacked behind the counter. Hundreds of dried fruits and nuts are available for clients, often perplexing the amateur shopper...and resident gringo. Stacks of fresh produce allure clients for their low prices, while piles of cow brain and chicken feet are displayed in the next booth. Head over to the meat stand and pick out a favorite cow tongue, or a scoop of moist kidneys. Looking for some sirloin or other special cut? Feel free to ask the neighborhood butcher, but be sure to speak up over the loud buzzing of the electric bone saw cutting through ribs. Your product will be delivered with a smile...but without gloves. Man, I love this place.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wade Did It Again!

Let me brag about my husband...

If you follow our blog, you will remember reason #17 of why I love Wade: he is a great writer.

On Friday, February 13th, Wade was finishing one heck of a week. Sitting at the computer as he tried to leave everything in order before the weekend, he was faced with multiple chat windows, email messages, a screaming child, and a wife trying to push him out the door. Wade and Lucho had planned an overnight bike ride to Rio Mendoza...and even Lucho was waiting in our living room for Wade to finish up. So, what was the real hold-up?

Just three days prior, Wade learned of the Transitions Abroad International Expat Writing Contest. The magazine - now converted into a full webzine - focuses on the international appeal for students, professionals, and tourists to travel the world. The contest had been going on for more than 11 months...so Wade decided to submit an article before the deadline: Saturday, February 14. Can we say procrastination?

Being Wade, he sat down to share his insights and experiences in a 1500-word essay before the start of the weekend. Why now? As he said, "Just to challenge myself...and prove I can do it!"

Well...he did it. He finished the article, hit submit, grabbed his bag, jumped on his bike, and left for the weekend. I must be honest - I thought he was just adding one more thing to do on his list...one more unnecessary stress in his life.

Well, more than 2 weeks later, while we were visiting Bariloche, he received an email...and returned to our hotel room with a huge smile on his face - one I don't see too often (let's be honest - Argentina is having a crisis since we moved here...and some days could really use some good news). His article "I Always Knew I Would Return" was selected as a 3rd place winner! This is the second article he has published with Transitions Abroad (the first in 2006), but this one is much sweeter!

I'm proud of our little Wade. Not only do I recognize his talents...but others do, as well! So...here you go: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/living/articles/living-and-working-in-argentina.shtml

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Neighborhood Diversity?

Current Events & The Passing of Alfonsín: Argentina's Father of Democracy

Quite the memorable week in Argentina. As shared in a previous post last week titled "Report: National In-Security", Argentina has been struggling with a soaring crime rate drawing attention across the globe. It is important to emphasize recent developments in Argentina this week:

-March 24: Día de la Memoria - a national holiday to recognize the importance of both human rights and democratic government in Argentina. Just 33 years ago - March 24th, 1976 - the democratic government of Argentina was overthrown as the Dirty War began under the control of a military regime. Thousands lost their lives and/or "disappeared" from Argentina.

-March 28: Plan de Seguridad - the government of Cristina Kirchner announces this afternoon a plan to increase domestic security against the rising crime rates (2009). AR$400 million pesos will be invested into the plan: AR$350 million in Buenos Aires...and AR$50 million in Mendoza. The plan includes the hiring of 5500 police and military officers (some retired), GPS systems, 5000 outdoor video cameras, and 21,500 cell phones to be used in a neighborhood watch network.

-March 31: La Muerte de Alfonsín - as of last night, Raúl Alfonsín has died (2009). Following the violence of the Dirty War, years under a military dictatorship, a disastrous battle with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands, and the collapse of free trade policies, Argentina was ready to return to democracy in 1983...and Alfonsín took office as the first democratic president of Argentina on December 10th, 1983. Under Alfonsín, the National Commission of Human Rights was formed and the full report of all findings were published under the title "Nunca Más". Trials against the former oppressors began in 1985 for human rights abuses.

*16,000 local residents of Buenos Aires have already visited the open casket of Alfonsín located inside El Congreso (as of one hour ago). The avenues are packed with thousands more still waiting outside...all hoping to pay their respects to the modern father of democracy.

-April 2: Día de las Malvinas - a national holiday to recognize the fallen heroes of Argentina during the tragic War of Falkland Islands. Just 27 years ago - April 2nd, 1982 - Argentina's first military troops occupied the islands to reclaim the territory from Great Britain. The war was an attempt by the military government to increase its patriotic appeal to the public...but it quickly ended in defeat on June 14th, 1982 with the death of 649 Argentine men. The defeat led to the eventual return of democratic rule...and the nation's first democratic president following the Dirty War: Raúl Alfonsín.

Quite the memorable week in Argentina. And the marches, strikes, and protests continue...all hoping to obtain peace, security, and protection as a desired result.