Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Pinamar '09

Christmas at the beach is still kind of hard to get over, but get over it we did! For 21 years of my life I spent Christmas day with my family in New Jersey. We usually happily help some Christian friends celebrate by eating their food and drinking their wine on Christmas Eve, but Christmas Day us usually a family affair we are left out of. We take advantage of this day to go see a movie and hang around the house experiencing various types of family fun. Mostly this involves cocktails and cooking, which is the most fun a girl can have in Montgomery New Jersey. Last year, Josh and I spent Christmas Eve with out Colombian friends, but Christmas day was spent as usual just the two of us.

This year however, we had the honor of helping a very important friend celebrate his first Christmas away from home and I couldn’t wait. We asked Nick about his traditions before hand so we could prepare to make the day as traditional as possible, and it turned out this involved eating lamb and Heuvos Rancheros with English Muffins. Not one to be put off by a daunting challenge I looked up English Muffins on the most fabulous interweb and found out they are a breeze to make! All you need are the necessary ingredients and a frying pan. Take that Thomas.

For Christmas Eve we bought a leg of Lamb and potatoes and hung around the parillas with Josh drinking champagne as he lit a fire. Soon other Argentines approached the parillas with the same intention and we were once again shown the true meaning of Latin Hospitality. One man from Mendoza insisted we eat his picada and drink his wine, and the whole thing had a very communal feel. He even shared his abundance of coals with an Argentine that didn’t measure up and couldn’t get his fire going. We were the only crazies that are outside, but the lamb was awesome and as usual our dinner conversation was limited to the sounds of chewing until we began to fill up and resumed normal conversation. Oh! And the Mint Sauce! How could I forget the Mint Sauce! Nick finished off his recreation of a Vermont Christmas with homemade mint sauce that went perfectly with the lamb and left my very impressed.

After dinner we headed to the beach with a bottle of champagne to watch the fireworks. On Christmas Eve and on New Years Eve Argentines set off tons of fireworks at midnight and the beach gave us a view of all of them. We took shelter from the cold wind in a guard tower until the bottle was empty and there were no more stories to tell. We then huddled together as we headed back to our warm room and the promise of not so comfortable but welcomed beds.

Josh is a man...he makes fire

Nick's a man too, but he just pops champagne

champagne at the beach on Chrismtas Eve

lamb and potatoes on the grill

the set up in the best parilla I've ever used, or watched Josh use...

Nick and Josh huddling in the guard tower on the beach watching fireworks

Christmas day was sunny and perfect and breakfast was a big success. My English Muffins were better than store bought as the recipe had promised, and the Huevos Ranchos filled me to capacity. I then rolled myself over to the beach and spent the day playing Frisbee, reading, and swimming. It was Puuuuurffect.

Ok, so at this point all of you want to kill me because I keep going on about the beach as you sit in your cold houses, I’m sorry! But I’m just trying to get it all down!

So enough with the beach. It was a great Christmas and I think Josh and I succeeded in helping Nick to have a great Christmas even without presents or a tree, or snowy Vermont. For now we are going to rest up and I know I’m going to start making room in my belly for the next big one…the count down to New Years begins!

My first Christmas morning

English muffin puffing up!

English muffin flipped!

adding the huevos to the Huevos Rancheros

the feast before we dug in

one of those artsy composed shots of food I always see on food blogs

the perfect bite for the perfect Christmas morning

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We at DA beach

Sorry for my brief absence, I’ve been in Pinamar, which is a beach five or so hours south of Capital Federal in the Province of Buenos Aires. We are now headed back to Capital Federal and I thought I would take the opportunity to use Josh’s computer to put down some of the memories from our first Christmas at the beach. We arrived Monday, and stayed in the same place we stayed at less than two weeks ago when we came here for the beach tournament and we are taking full advantage of the kitchenette and cooking all of our meals except for the first when we spluuurrgged all over Antares. It was amazing. Since then, we've sunned ourselves cooled ourselves with running leaps or dainty strolls in the cold ocean, we rode bikes to Carilo, and hid in the life guard tower drinking maté or champagne trying to avoid crazy winds by day and by night.

spreading on the sun screen

poor choclo (corn) guy lugging his choclo cart

Pinamar is considered a very fancy place, and the town center includes lots of fancy stores, a place to rent bikes, a cinema, tons of stores where one can purchase beach toys for the children and some car rental places. Its a pretty typical beach town full of rusty old trucks, visitors, and the people who live here and work the tourist spots. The beach is long and you can't really see where it begins or ends, and you are never crowded by other people as we were in Mar del Plata almost a year ago when we went with Mia and Kenny. Here you can have as much space as you can enjoy. We took advantage of this with the Frisbee Nick brought and used the long peopleless stretches to throw as far as we could.

Carilo is a different story. To stay in Carilo you need to be rich enough to have a car, and then of course you need to be rich enough to stay in one of the swankiest beach towns in Argentina. The town center looks a little like a neighborhood in Disneyland with little duendes, or gnomes, popping out from all over the place. What really separates it from other beach towns is that it is surrounded by forest and there is not a single paved road. The bike ride to Carilo from Pinamar is short but once you hit the sand roads the going gets tough, so the tough got going. I arrived sweating and ready for our packed lunch. The beach was windy that day and only Josh took a dip, but we all needed a rest before doing battle with the roads of sand that cause bikes to fishtail and get stuck at every turn, so we took one of many opportunities to relax and read. Unfortunately it was too windy to sit out on the beach and the sand whipping at your body or face was painful. Also unfortunate was how hot it was behind our protective dune, so we headed back a little earlier than anticipated.

funny store names

the windy wind at Carilo

Josh and Nick knocking on the door of the house we rented...
just kidding. Its just a cool house on the bike ride back from Carilo

Josh and the biggest dog in the world

grilled burgers!!! with gaucamole!!!

in front of a cool statue carved out of a tree stump

doing the J-Crew pose

running away from the sea

not fast enough

reading with one of the many beach pups

I’ll leave Christmas for a separate post, but today I woke up early and headed out to the beach one last time to take a walk and take in the view and clean air before we headed back to Capital. I had a dream that my parents wouldn’t leave me alone about what I am going to do with my life and I woke up feeling harassed and in need of some quite beach time. The day was cloudy and grey, but the ocean felt great on my feet and I regretted leaving my suit behind as I watched some surfers paddling around the waves. I walked along kicking at the strange plastic like hollow balls filled with water that line the tide line wandering what was going on there, and I found a used cup and filled it with water to bring back for Ulises. He claims to want it so he can sunbathe next to it, but I can’t tell if he’s being serious or not.

It was only my second real beach vacation as an adult that lasted longer than a weekend and it was awesome. I’m really could get used to this beach thing. The company was excellent and we watched a different movie every day. We also cooked some of the dankest (Nick’s vocab is rubbing off on me) – I mean delicious- food I’ve eaten in a while including the most banging burgers we’ve made yet. We return to Capital well fed and well rested and ready for the arrival of more guests! Tomorrow brings us Mellissa and her boyfriend Rob. Melissa and I lived together in Perugia, we travelled to Egypt together for spring break Junior year, and we won money together at the Kentucky Derby when she bet on the Filly that had to be put down. Oh Eight Bells, we’ll drink some Fernet and Coke for you!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hanukah Miracles

December arrived with its fake snow displays, tacky fake Christmas trees, and the funny feeling that I still feel when seeing Christmas stuff on a hot summer day. But it also meant the lesser publicized arrival of Hanukah, the Jewish festival of lights. Our house was ready for Christmas on the 8th, but Josh and I were at the beach for the first night of Hanukah, and then I got sick upon return and could not get my act together enough to buy candles.
I was upset that we would light no candles this year and Josh said he would take care of it on a day off. Well, low and behold, we had our own little Hanukah miracle right here, in Casa Cochabamba!! (Ok, so I'm writing this post from the beach, you got me, but it happened there). Josh remembered some candles being left over from last year, and what do you know? There were exactly the right number for the last two nights of Hanukah.

Here we are on the seventh night lighting candles with everyone we live with. It was the first Hanukah for many and I was excited to share this tradition (in Spanish) with Christmas lights in the background of course. A meshing of all kinds of culture...

putting the Menorah in the window for all to see

making sure we don't light the house on fire

The eight night of Hanukah brought another miracle. After years of not seeing each other, Max Horn and I were reunited in my very own Casa Cochobamba!! Him and his girlfriend Rachel are taking a six month trip around South America and I invited them over for a latke party! What does one wear having not seen a person for probably about three years? It didn't really matter becasue I have about five outfits now that I've sent most of my clothes home with Patrick, but I was kind of nervous to say the least. Turns out, there was no need to be nervous. I was so happy to know that there really are some people in this world that you can literally go years without seeing and then pick up where you left off. There was plenty to talk about, and I got to know his Rachel, who I had met once before when they first started dating five years ago. She's pretty awesome.

Max lighting a candle

Rachel lighting a candle

Oh no! There weren't enough candles for Manzi to light one!

We had two more guests last night (pictured above). Two friends of Patrick were in town after a stint in Chile. Kate (on the left) and Lauren (on the right) were only in town for two more days by the time I had time to see them, so we got lunch and then they came over for their first Hanukah and latke party. They were pretty much in love with the latkes, and I really like them too! They are an awesome couple and just maybe we will all be in NYC next year and I can hang out with them all the time.

latkes and empanadas, a match made in heaven (just like Nick and Josh)

they might be in NYC next year too!!

Last night Max and Rachel came over for an impromptu asado. Rachel wasn't feeling that great, but Max got to eat his fill of perfectly cooked Argentine asado and his first choripan!! I was so happy to be able make this moment happen for him. Its a life changer. Hopefully we'll see them when we get back from the beach. For now, we are haaaaaappppppppppyyyyyyyyyy (so happy) in pinamar.

I leave you with a photo of Max and his first Choripan

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dan's Last Days

Dan has been gone for about a month now, and we miss him a lot. So here are some photos he just sent me through the magic of the internet. We miss you Dan!!

Josh still looking good at eight in the morning at Pacha

Me...not so much

Uli and Josh

Josh, Uli, Phil, Me, and Dan on the patio at Pacha...VIP!

A part of the inner circle: Dan, Josh, Brina, Uli, Phil

Dan and me

Riding Dirty
real dirty

Despedida sort of dinner for Dan at his favorite Parilla

god I miss that stache

Me, Jeremy, and Uli

Dan, Coy, Uli

Dan, Coy, Me, Brian, Josh and Nick
in Casa Cochobamba

The Grill Master himself

Yacaré!!!! A small alligator type thing that grilled quite nicely and tasted kinda like chicken fish