Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stuffed Pork Tenderloins
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2C thinly sliced onion
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into dice
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. sage leaves, chopped
1C kale, arugula or collard greens, finely chopped
1C parmesan or manchego cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed, butterflied and pound out
6 bacon slices (optional)

apple, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
3/4C apple cider
1/2C dry white wine
1/4C chicken stock
1 tsp. sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
½ stick unsalted butter, soft

Heat the oil in a sauté pan; add the onion and sauté until soft.  Add the apple, thyme and sage and cook until the apple begins to soften.  Add the greens and cook until wilted.  Transfer to a food processor and let cool.  Add the cheese and pulse two or three times.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the stuffing among the two tenderloins, wrap in bacon and tie.  Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and sear the tenderloins on all sides. 

stuffed pork tenderloins
page two

Preheat a cookie sheet in a 400F oven for 10 minutes.  Transfer the tenderloins to the cookie sheet in the oven and continue cooking until an internal thermometer reads 140F – about 20 minutes.    Remove from the oven and set let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the pan the pork was sautéed in add the apple and sauté slightly.  Add the cider and wine and reduce to 1/3 cup.  Add the chicken stock, sage and thyme and reduce slightly.  Add any juices from the pork and heat.  Turn off the heat and add the soft butter.  Whisk in and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the strings from the pork, slice and divide among the plates.  Spoon the sauce around and serve.
MAKES:  8 servings

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Mexico – October, 2015
Flew to Albuquerque from orange county which is always convenient!  Rented a car and drove to Santa Fe where I checked into my airb&b which was a delightful room about 10 minutes walk from the plaza.  Walked around a bit until it got dark and then had dinner at Eloisa, jean sedlar’s new restaurant named after his grandmother.  A smart, modern restaurant in the Drury Plaza Hotel, Eloisa’s menu is filled with interesting choices.  I ordered the white and green corn flan with quinoa, crab cakes with potato straws and acorn squash tamal with goat cheese and pulled pork.  Dessert was a creamy chocolate avocado mousse with a hard chocolate center.  All delicious!!!

Took a walk along Canyon Street in the morning where all the art galleries are and had a pastry at Chez Maman nearby which was not very good…drove up to museum hill to the folk Art Museum and enjoyed the collection of fantastic pieces from all over the world.  Spent a couple hours at the nearby Indian Arts Center with its displays of basketry, pottery, clothing, etc. and watched an extremely interesting video of Maria Martinez, a famous potter, making her famous black pottery.  Lunch at La Boca was yummy, i.e. shrimp tacos with mango/cucumber slaw and chocolate espresso pot of cream.

Later I visited St. Francis Cathedral with its beautifully carved doors and then the Loretto chapel to see the acclaimed spiral staircase built in 1878 by a mysterious carpenter.  Wandered along the river to the Guadaloupe historical area to see the train and the little shops.  Visited the Santuario de Guadalupe built in the late 1700s and said to be the oldest American shrine to the virgin of Guadaloupe.  Stopped by a gallery exhibiting one of Siri Hollander’s enormous horses made out of scrap metal which was incredible and then wandered canyon again to see if some of the galleries were open.  Drove to Radishes & Rye for dinner.  Cute little restaurant in a house with great farm to table food.  I had salmon tartar with quail egg, grilled cauliflower with fried capers and sage leaves and a pecan tart with rye crème anglaise - a wonderful dinner!!!

Took a nice walk and then had breakfast at the French Bakery near the Cathedral.  Had a delicious almond croissant, flaky and warm and rich coffee.  Headed to Chimayo and the high road to Taos.  Stopped at El Santuario de nuestro senor de esquipulas constructed in 1816.  The earth beside the altar is said to have healing powers and attracts 300,000 pilgrims per year.  There is also a sanctuario des ninos with photos of healed children covering the walls.

Stopped at the trajillo weaving shop, ortega’s weaving shop, etc. and made my way up to Penasco where I had lunch at Sugar Nymphs Bistro, i.e. open faced goat cheese/artichoke/roasted pepper/olive sandwich on focaccia bread and part of a 3 layer chocolate cake – both delicious.  Stopped by the Picuris Pueblo where there was nothing much to see except the church newly built in 1776 and a few old kivas.  On to Las Trampas to see the San Jose de Gracia church but it was closed…  Visited some art galleries in LasTruchas and a nice weaving shop where authentic Navajo rugs were made before heading back to Chimayo. I stayed the night at El Meson, a spacious suite with adobe walls where it was nice and quiet.  Drove up to Rancho de Chimayo later for dinner and ordered some typical southwestern fare, i.e. a combination plate with cheese enchilada/pork tamale/chile rellano filled with cheese/Spanish rice and beans/fry bread and honey….

Left Chimayo early as I was told there would be a service at Santa Cruz church in espanola which I really wanted to see but it was closed so I headed on to Taos on the 68.  Stopped for delicious coffee and zucchini/chocolate bread at Oh My Garden Cafe & Market in Ranchos de Taos which was lucky for me as it was near the San Francisco de Asis Church famous for its modern adobe sculpture with no doors or windows visible.  A beautiful building inside and out.  Drove a few miles away to the Hacienda Martinez built in 1804 by merchant, trader and mayor Don Antonio Severino Martinez who lived there until his death in 1827.  Its 21 rooms were built around two placitas and each gives a glimpse of the austerity of frontier living – well worth a visit.

I headed on up to the Millicent Rogers Museum founded in 1953 by her family members after her death.  She moved to Taos in 1947 and began a magnificent collection of native American arts and crafts.  She also designed pieces of jewelry that she had crafted and wore herself.  A magnificent collection!  Lunch at Gutiz, a little French restaurant in town.  I had a nicoise salad with fresh tuna and a slice of flourless chocolate cake, served warm with whipped cream.

Drove down to the Taos Art Museum housed in the former home of Nicolai Fechin who emigrated from Russia.  He was not only a painter and sculptor but an incredible woodworker and the house is filled with cabinets, beds, shutters, etc. designed and carved by him.  The house is the most interesting part of the museum.

On to the home of mountain man and Indian agent Christopher “kit” Carson.  Watched a video of his life with his three wives and nine children and some of his adventures.  A modest home consisting of four rooms filled with little treasures of his life.  Wandered around the plaza and then checked into my airb&b nearby.  Room was nice and quiet and I had the whole floor to myself as no other guest was there.  It was an easy walk to the plaza.  Drove up to Love Apple for a delicious dinner of bacon wrapped dates on greens with blue cheese, salmon trout with quinoa fritters and blackberry plum crisp with vanilla ice cream.  The restaurant is in a cute little house and everyone is sooo friendly!!!  I plan to return tomorrow night!

Took a walk in the morning along paseo de pueblo norte and had a delicious almond croissant at a cute little café called bear claw.  Drove up 64 into the enchanted circle drive, first stopping at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch near San Cristobal.  Visited the 160-acre Kiowa Ranch that Mabel Dodge gave to Lawrence’s wife Frieda where he worked about 11 months of the 3 years he spent in New Mexico.  You can visit his little house and also his memorial.  On through Questa to Chiflo where I walked the half mile trail down to the Rio Grande river.  The path was rocky and small but easy to follow and the river was beautiful.  As I drove there was an abundance of fall foliage still remaining which I thoroughly enjoyed.  On to Red River, a center for skiing, fishing and river rafting at 8,750 feet.  Walked through the small town, charming and quaint and had a cranberry walnut scone for lunch at the Mountain Treasures Café. 

Stopped at the ghost town Elizabethtown, founded in 1865.  It was a gold mining town with 5 stores, seven saloons, etc. at one time but by the early 1900s much of the gold had run out and in 1903 a fire blazed through the town, leveling most of it.  A few dilapidated buildings remain.  On to Eagle nest and then to the Vietnam Veterans memorial state park.  It is a stunning structure with curved white walls soaring high against the mountains, built by Dr. Westpahll in memory of his son Davis, killed in Vietnam in 1968.  Passed through Angel Fire filled with condos, cabins, etc. used in the winter and back to Taos.  Returned to Love Apple for great chile chicken confit tacos with cabbage and flourless chocolate cake with cream – excellent.

Walked along kit Carson road and back to bear paw for another delicious almond croissant.  Visited the Taos Pueblo first with a guide and then wandered around by myself.  There are two main structures of the pueblo which are well over 1,000 years old.  The buildings are many individual homes built side by side and in layers.  There is no electricity and no running water.  The red willow creek is the source of their drinking water and there is an outdoor adobe oven where bread is baked.  Some of the homes are actually gift shops selling local crafts. 
Stopped by the Rio Grande bridge spanning the gorge with the river flowing down below – quite impressive.  Also stopped at the Earth Ship center which explained the concept of self sufficiency, i.e. water is collected from the rain, tires filled with dirt are used to build houses, solar energy is used to heat the earth ships, etc.  There are many of these self-sufficent earth ships out in the desert which I passed as I headed to Chama and in 25 countries around the world…

Stopped at Tierra Woods in los ojos to see the beautiful rugs, sweathers, wool, etc., arriving in Chama about 2:00 p.m.  Stopped at Box Car for pie and ice cream before walking down to the train depot to pick up my tickets.  Took a walking tour of the depot and wandered a little around the small town before checking into the Gandy Dancer where I would stay for two nights.  A charming little bed and breakfast walking distance to the train depot where I would catch the bus in the morning.

Dinner at High Country Restaurant about 10 minutes drive away from town.  A bustling restaurant and saloon with a lot of atmosphere.  A live band was playing oldies in the saloon which I enjoyed while dining on delicious fresh trout with pine nuts/rice/organic greens and a little sliver of chocolate mousse cake.  More than I expected from such a small town!!!

Breakfast at 7:45 a.m., i.e. French toast with fresh fruit.  Walked down to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad depot and caught the bus to Antonio where we boarded the train.  I had booked the parlour car as the seats faced the window and you were essentially sitting alone but the weather was so beautiful that I spent to whole day outside in the open car.  The train is America’s longest and highest narrow gauge railroad and it passed through beautiful scenery as well as hangman’s trescle, whiplash curve, Toltec gorge, etc.  We stopped at Osier for lunch which was served cafeteria style and then headed back to Chama.  A couple German guys boarded our train for the short ride back to Chama.   They were hiking the continental divide trail and had started their trip three months ago in Canada!  It was really interesting hearing about their adventures.

Once back in town I took a long walk to stretch my legs and then drove back up to High Country Restaurant for blackened salmon/rice/organic greens and a little piece of pecan pie.  As it was Sunday night there was no music but I enjoyed it just the same.

Took a walk around town in the morning and then had breakfast burritos and fruit at 7:45 a.m.  Headed toward Bandlier national monument stopping first at Echo Canyon Amphitheater.  The “theater” is hollowed out of sandstone by thousands of years of erosion and is a natural work of art.  The walls send erie echoes.  On to Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’keefe spent about 40 years painting canyons, etc., eventually buying a portion of the ranch where she lived in a humble adobe house.  Stopped in Abiquiu where O’keefe’s house and studio was but it was closed so instead I had a delicious lunch at the Abiquiu Inn nearby to get out of the rain, i.e. ahi tuna tacos with cabbage and salsa and chocolate pine nut tart with a crumb crust.

Luckily the rain let up as I pulled into the visitor center of Bandelier national Monument and was lucky that it was almost 3 p.m.  You can drive your own car in after 3 p.m. and stay until 6:30 p.m. which I did.  Picked up walking tour map and visited the large kiva and homes of the village of Tyuonyi, cave dwellings you climb up to with a ladder, etc.  Saw some petroglyphs and walked to the alcove house 140 feet above the canyon which you can enter by climbing up 4 ladders affording beautiful view of the area.

It started to rain just as I left but I didn’t have far to go, arriving in Jemez Springs about 7:30 p.m.  Checked into my “cabin” at the Laughing Lizard Inn and then headed out for berry pie and ice cream at the stage stop.  Nice and cozy in my little room after a hot shower….

Took a walk through the little town and had a fresh from the oven cinnamon roll and a bowl of strawberries at the little café nearby.  Picked up a pecan tart and hard cooked egg for later as supposedly there is nothing available in chaco canyon.  Drove and drove and finally found the entrance to chaco but the dirt road on 1750 turned into a muddy road which I couldn’t cross in my little car…I stopped a red truck and asked the two Navajo ladies if they could take me into the visitor’s center if I paid them and they said yes.  I parked my car near their house and they drove me about 10 minutes to the visitor’s center and agreed to pick me up at 3 p.m.  Found a nice ranger who drove me into the park where I took a walking tour of the pueblo bonito, the largest prehistoric southwest native American dwelling ever evacuated.  It was planned and constructed in stages between AD 850 and AD 1150 by ancestral puebloan peoples and contains enormous kivas and 800 “rooms” covering more than 3 acres - very interesting.  Got a lift back to the visitor’s center where my “ride” picked me up at 3 p.m.  Would love to go back someday to see more…

Drove through the pouring rain to Laguna and finally found the Apache Canyon Inn where Ada was waiting for me.  A delightful Inn, friendly hostess and a delicious salmon dinner w/mashed potatoes and collard greens which she had prepared for me and her other guest, a biker from the Ukraine.  Took a nice hot shower and was happy to be out of the rain!!!

Had hoped to visit the Acoma Sky City, built atop a 367 foot sandstone bluff and considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America but it was pouring rain so I drove on into Albuquerque.  Checked into the Brittania W. Mauger B & B which was a lovely place to stay and very centrally located.  Walked up to the Indian Pueblo Culture Center which housed displays of distinctive handicrafts of each community.  Lunch at Vinaigrette, a cute little café nearby, was delicious, i.e. cherry tart salad with chile pecans, Swiss chard and feta cheese and half tuna melt followed by flourless chocolate cake.  I do love my chocolate!!!

Spent a couple hours in the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History which was fabulous.  There was a special folk art exhibit from a collection previously owned by a New York couple, Elie and Viola Nadelman and it was fascinating.  Also enjoyed the paintings by local artists and a room filled with old artifacts, i.e. adding machine, old irons, toasters, etc.  Wandered around Old Town until everything closed and then regrouped in my nice little b&b.

Drove up to Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Rancho de Albuquerque for dinner.  It is a rustic restaurant in an Inn and Spa where they grow much of their own produce.  I ordered an eggplant dish with feta cheese and tiny crisp onions rings, potato gnocchi with mushrooms and red onion and “death by chocolate”, i.e. chocolate ice cream bar with fudge cake pieces and toffee – all wonderful.

Took a walk to town to see where Mas was located (where I would have lunch) and then had a nice breakfast at the b&b.  Drove up to the balloon museum north of town and it was excellent.  Exhibited were not only balloons from the annual balloon festival but balloons which has crossed the Atlantic and Pacific, been used during the war, flown around the world, etc.  Walked around the sculpture gardens of the art museum and old town and then drove to Mas for lunch.  Had baby artichokes with goat cheese, Nicoise salad with crisp potato wedges and steamed chocolate cake for dessert.  Returned the car and caught the flight home.  I really enjoyed my trip, i.e. the sights, the food, the interesting museums and especially the Cumbres & Toltec train ride.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Artichoke and sun-dried tomato tart with herb salad
2C flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
6 oz. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/3C cold water (approximately)

5 eggs
3/4C ricotta cheese
14 oz. jar grilled artichoke hearts, drained
1C grated Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp. plumped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4C fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4C Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3C herb salad
1C baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1/4C vinaigrette of choice

For the pastry:  Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor.  Pulse in butter until crumbly.  Pulse in water until a dough consistency is formed – do not over-process.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.  Roll out into a 12-inch circle and line a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Chill 30 minutes.  Line tart with parchment and pie weights and bake in a 400F oven until edges are slightly golden.  Remove parchment and pie weights, prick bottom with a fork and bake 5 more minutes.  Let cool.  Reduce oven to 350F.

For the filling:  Whisk eggs until smooth, then whisk in the ricotta cheese until well blended.  Add artichoke hearts, Swiss cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Pour filling into crust and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake until filling is set and
puffed – about 25 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes in tart pan. 

For the salad: Toss herb salad and tomatoes with vinaigrette.  Slice tart and divide among plates.  Garnish with salad.
MAKES:  8 servings

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs
1/4C mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
smoked paprika (for dusting)

Place the egg in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan, remove from the het and let stand 10 minutes.  Drain off the water and fill with cold water.  Crack and peel the eggs carefully.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove the yolks.  Either mash the yolks with a fork or grate them on a box grater.  Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to taste and any other ingredient you like (see below for ideas).

Mound the filling into the white halves and sprinkle with smoked paprika.
MAKES:  12 eggs

Additional Ingredients
smoked salmon, finely chopped
chipotle chili, finely chopped
cornichons, finely chopped
crab, finely flaked

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup
2-1/2 lb. butternut squash
1 - 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
medium onion, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 tsp. Jerk spice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
½ tsp. cinnamon
1-lb. head of cauliflower, cut into florets
5 – 6C chicken stock
1/3C heavy cream
1/4C Italian parsley, coarsely chopped or wild arugula, left whole

Preheat oven to 375F.  Cut the butternut squash into 4 pieces, place in a large shallow dish and add 2 cups water.  Roast, cut side down, for 30 minutes.  Remove seeds and scoop out the pulp.  Discard seeds and peel.

Melt one tablespoon butter in a pan, add the onions, Jerk spice, salt and pepper and cinnamon and cook until onions are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the honey, stir in the squash and cauliflower and toss to coat with onions and spices, adding more butter if necessary.  Add 5 cups of the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook until vegetables are very tender.

Puree the soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender and return to the pot.  Bring to a simmer, add remaining stock if necessary and the cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
MAKES:  6 servings

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chocolate Dried Cranberry Cake
one stick unsalted butter
1C dried cranberries or cherries
1/4C bourbon or water
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4C pecans, toasted
2 Tbsp. flour
3 large eggs, separated
1/2C packed light brown sugar (for yolks)
2 Tbsp. sugar (for whites)
sifted powdered sugar
1/2C cream beaten with sugar and vanilla to taste

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350F.  Line a 10-inch round pan with a removable bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.  Pulse pecans and flour together in a food processor until finely ground.

Simmer cranberries in the bourbon in a small pan over low heat until cranberries are tender and bourbon is absorbed – about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl set over simmering water until smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Beat yolks and brown sugar until thick.  Add the chocolate mixture and fold in.  Beat whites until soft peaks, add sugar and beat until fairly stiff.  Fold one third of whites into chocolate mixture along with the dried cranberries and pecan mixture just to lighten; fold in remainder gently.  Turn batter into prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes or until firm.  Let cool slightly.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan.  Remove the ring and transfer cake (off the parchment paper) to a platter.  Dust with sifted powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.
MAKES:  8 – 10 servings

Sunday, October 11, 2015

South America – La Paz to Lima – August 2014
In the morning after my wonderful dinner at Gustu I had breakfast with the new couple from Australia who are a bit closer to me in age and seemed quite nice.  Drove to Tiwanaku, one of Bolivia’s most important archeological sites.  Our guide told us that partial excavations have revealed the remains of five different cities, one built on top of the other.  She also pointed out the most impressive monument, i.e. the 10 ton Gate of the Sun, an imposing stone believed to be a solar calendar built by a civilization that surfaced around 600 B.C. and mysteriously disappeared about 1200 A.D.  The museum nearby was also very interesting, especially the 24 foot monolithic statue sculpted out of red sandstone discovered by Wendell Bennett in 1934.  Enjoyed a nice lunch of local trout, quinoa and vegetables.

Back into town I wandered down Saganaga Street filled with shops and then back to the vegetable market I had passed yesterday but with more time enjoyed watching the local women in native dress.  Later I went to a nice little café and had apple pie for dinner…

Early breakfast and it began to snow (which supposedly it had not done in YEARS!) as we caught a bus to the ferry across Lake Titicaca.  The people go first and then, supposedly, the buses.  However, the water was very choppy so we had to wait at least an hour before the buses could safely come across so we missed the early bus from Copacobana to Puno.  Had lunch at a local café and then our guide took us for a walk around town, i.e. up the hill to the main square and the large church with a museum containing each country’s version of the Virgin Mary. 

Stopped at the Bolivian border, changed money and then drove on to Puno.  Arrived about 9 p.m. so skipped dinner and just went to bed as it had been a lonnnnng day….

After a nice hearty breakfast we took little tuk tuks down to the lake where we caught the ferry on Lake Titicaca considered to be the highest navigable lake in the world, to the reed islands (uros), man-made islands woven together with mud and totora reeds where several families live.  A few of us took a ride on a reed boat to see how the reeds are cut and formed to make the foundations the houses are built on.  Took another ferry ride to the island of Taquille, which used to be a prison.  Climbed to the top and had a delicious lunch of grilled trout before walking into the little town where we had a home stay.

First they dressed us all in traditional clothes and then we all danced to traditional music as the sun set.  We climbed up to our home stay in the dark still wearing all the heavy clothes and 3 or 4 people slept in one large room at different home stays.  The only light was from flashlights but we did have a bathroom but no running water!!!  Our family had three children and grandpa also lived with them.  Dad was working in Puno during the week.  Sat at a little table and had quinoa potato soup followed by rice with potatoes and carrots for dinner.  We had brought some food gifts of rice, lentils and fruit which we gave tothem before returning to our room for the night.

Although we had several blankets it was very cold and I wore everything I had to keep warm!

In the morning we helped make some bread which was fried and eaten along with a hard cooked egg and tea for breakfast.  We helped with some of the chores and then took a walk up to get a nice view of the lake.  Potato and carrot soup and fried cheese with rice and potatoes for lunch before taking the ferry back to Puno.  Had time for a nice walk around the main square and visit some of the shops before meeting for dinner at Mojsa.  I had trout kebabs with onion, peppers and sweet potatoes – excellent!!!

Long bus ride to Cuzco, even watched “Bucket List”, one of my favorite movies!  Arrived about 4 p.m. and took a little walking tour of the city, starting at the Plaza des Armas and wandering into some of the side streets.  Stopped for an early dinner at a funny little restaurant and I had some crispy wontons filled with different things, i.e. caramelized onion, tomatoes and vegetables and cheese, served with some dipping sauces.  Most people had enormous hamburgers.  Walked to G Adventure office for a meeting regarding the Inca Trail.  We were shown the trail we would take, told what we needed to bring and how to prepare.  Back at the hotel Dennis, our guide, gave us each a duffle bag which we could fill with 6 kilos which would include our rented sleeping bag. 

Delicious breakfast in Cuzco and a free day.  Made a reservation at Chi Cha restaurant and began my sightseeing.  Visited the Convento y Museo de Santa Catalina built between 1601 and 1610 on top of the Acllawasi where the Inca emperor sequested his chosen virgins of the sun.  There is a beautiful chapel inside as well as an example of how the nuns lived.  Visited the cathedral which dominates the Plaza with its amazing cedar choir stalls and other beautiful altars, etc. 

Stopped for lunch at Greens restaurant nearby and had a delicious sweet potato salad with beets, fennel, roasted Brazil nuts, arugula and goat cheese.  Afterwards I walked up Halunrumiyoc street, a famous cobblestone street where the 12-angled stones are and then on to see the stones that form a puma and snake.  Up the hill to Barrio de San Blas, a very picturesque neighborhood lined with artists’ studios and then back down to the Museo de Arte Precolombino exhibiting beautifully crafted gold and silver jewelry and ceramics from different areas in Peru.  I especially like the ones from Nasca.

Later that night I walked to Chi Chi and had a fabulous tasting menu, i.e. Pisco sour, ceviche with trout and mushrooms, grilled octopus with black bean sauce, llama carpaccio, pureed corn filled ravioli, pork with pumpkin puree, veal with potato gnocchi, fried ice cream, warm yam filled ravioli with cinnamon and ice cream and two tiny dulce de leche filled cookies.  My tasting menu also included a glass of wine!!!  Walked back to the hotel about 11 p.m. but it was a safe city and there were still many people about.

Drove through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and stopped at the Paneterra-supported women’s weaving co-op where we learned about traditional weaving and dyeing.  Visited the impressive Inca Pisac ruins and had a delicious lunch at the planeterra-supported Parwa community restaurant in Huchuy Qosco, i.e. tamales with salsa, pumpkin soup with tempura cheese, quinoa with peppers and potatoes and black corn pudding. 

On to Ollantaytambo where we had a guided tour of the ruins and terraces, wandered through the market and into the main square.  After such a filling lunch I just had a piece of lemon meringue pie at a little café for dinner.  Very cold in my room and no hot water so took a cold shower.  Tomorrow we start on the Inca Trail….

Nice hearty breakfast, i.e. fresh pineapple, scrambled eggs, toasted bread.  Drove to kilometer 82, the beginning of the Inca Trail where we collected our poles, got our passport stamped and began our trek through beautiful great foliage walking on uneven stones, up and down steps passing the ruins of Patallaqta on our way.  Only 500 people (including porters) are allowed on the trail each day so there were times when I felt I was walking alone.  Porters carried all the tents, our duffle bags, stove, etc. and we each carried a day pack filled with water, snacks and a parka in case it got cold.  The first day we walked about 8 miles, stopped for lunch about 2 p.m.  Porters set up a tent with tables and chairs inside and served us a delicious lunch each day, i.e. soup, rice/vegetable/dessert.  We refilled our water bottles and arrived at Huayllabamba where we camped.  Porters had set up my single tent and inside was my duffle bag.  They brought us a bowl of hot water to wash with and about 5 p.m. we all met in the tent for “tea”, i.e. biscuits and jam/popcorn/hot tea.  Dinner was served about 6:30 p.m. and was always hot and delicious.  As we got up at 5:30 a.m. most of us hopped into our sleeping bags and went to sleep pretty early…

5:00 a.m. and a hot cup of coco tea and a bowl of warm water appeared in front of my tent.  After washing up, I packed up my duffle bag and headed to the big tent for breakfast, i.e. pancakes with honey.  Today we walked uphill all day long and it was a challenge as we ascended Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,780 feet.  Camped at Pacaymayu after a tricky descent.  Once we got in our tents it started to rain heavily along with thunder and lightning.  Nice hot dinner and a cup of tea and the rain stopped…

Toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast and then started off to trek our longest but most interesting day.  We saw the snow capped Cordillera Vilcabamba, the ruins of Runkuraqay where the Inca stored products transported between Machu Picchu and Cusco, and passed by Sayacmarca stopping for our last and most delicious lunch, i.e. eggplant fritters, potato fritters, fava bean/tomato/cucumber/cheese salad, little wedges of pizza, rice and a birthday cake to celebrate Debbie’s birthday.  Reached Winaywayna campsite about 5:00 p.m.  After dinner we said good-bye to the great porters and went to bed - tomorrow we will arise very early…

Up at 3 a.m.  Met at the tent for a cup of tea and then set out for the checkpoint where we lined up and waited until the gate opened – about 5:30 a.m.  Nice clear day so we hiked quickly to the sungate, watching the sunrise on the top of the mountain.  From the sungate we got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu and had about a half hour to eat our breakfast of cheese sandwiches and enjoy the beautiful view – we had made it!!!  Took about 45 minutes to arrive at the site where we relaxed a bit before our guided tour.  Machu Picchu was built around 1450 by the Incas but abandoned a century later.  It remained unknown to the outside world until it was brought to international attention in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.  The primary archaeological treasures are the temple of the sun and the room of the three windows.

To create the central buildings, the Incas used the ashlar technique in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar.  We had some free time on our own so leisurely wandered around passing by the Condor Temple where we saw the condor wing. Caught the bus to Aguas Calientes where we all met at Hot Springs 2.  I left my bag there and walked through the town on my own, stopping for a piece of warm apple pie and ice cream on my way. 

Took the train and then a bus back to Cusco, checked back into our hotel, took showers and met for dinner at 8:00 p.m.  Walked to a very strange but wonderful restaurant called Fallen Angel with its bathtubs filled with fish and topped with glass to make a table, cupids and angels everywhere, heart pillows and chairs, etc.  Everyone was pretty hungry so most of us ordered the duck with rice and corn which was delicious.  Also shared a couple warm chocolate nutella cakes with ice cream and caramel.  Fun!!!

Free day.  Visited the Temple of Santo Domingo and then Qurikancha, Temple of the Sun built by Inca Yupanqui.  The walls were once covered in sheets of solid gold.  When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of leader Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from here.  Walked up the hill to the Temple of San Blas, said to be the oldest parish church in Cusco.  It contains a marvelously carved cedar pulpit carved from a single tree trunk.

Had the delicious sweet potato, beet salad again at Greens and then spent a couple hours in the Inka Museo which contains artifacts designed to trace Peruvian history from pre-Inca civilizations.  There are ceramics, mummies, jewelry, Inca drinking vessels carved out of wood, some jade miniatures, etc.  An excellent museum.  Did a little shopping and found a small little hand-made “purse” before  wandering around the beautiful Plaza des Armas.  Had dinner at Cicciolina, i.e. quinoa coated prawns with dipping sauce, local river fish with coconut cream sauce and sweet potato “gnocchi” with wasabi cream.

Flew to Lima after breakfast.  Our hotel was in the Miraflores area so I walked up to the ocean along one of the main streets.  All met at 6:15 p.m. and walked to Parquetito, an outside restaurant nearby.  I had delicious ceviche with sweet potato and fresh and crunchy corn and chocolate cake for dessert.  We thanked our guide Dennis and said our good-byes and everyone will go their own way in the morning.

In the morning, I took a walk to the love park which reminded me of Park Guell in Barcelona, nice breakfast and a long bus ride to Nazca arriving at 10:00 p.m.  I took some food for lunch and had a nice window seat so got to see a bit more of Peru.  Guide picked me up and after checking into the hotel I had fish kebabs with peppers and onions at Encantada as I was pretty hungry!

Nice buffet breakfast on the patio with lots of fresh fruit, cheeses and nice bread.  Guide came by and we visited a cemetery where mummies, ceramics, etc. were uncovered.  Some were buried without their heads, perhaps as sacrifices..  Stopped by the ceramics studio to watch the painter show how the pottery was made and hand painted with natural dyes.  I bought a little llama to remind me of Peru.

Drove out to the airport where I watched a video about the Nazca lines as I waited for my flight.  Called ancient geoglyphas, they are believed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.  Hundred of designs, i.e. hummingbirds, spiders, trees, etc. are shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish ground beneath.  Our 6 passenger Cessna flew over the lines tipping the wings so we could see better…a pretty rough ride lasting about 30 minutes.  Stopped by Mom’s café near the hotel for apple pie and ice cream for lunch and then took a walk.  In the afternoon the guide took us to the Cahuachi pyramids west of the Nazca lines which was an ancient ceremonial and pilgrimage site.  It was believed to have existed two centuries before being abandoned about 200 A.D.  We also visited the aqueducts which are still in use.

Dinner upstairs on the patio at Mamshana where I enjoyed the music of the pan pipes and ordered arroz con maricos, i.e. rice topped with seafood and a piece of chocolate cake.

In the morning after breakfast the guide took me up on a tower where I could see the Nazca lines from the ground which was also very interesting.  We stopped at the Maria Reiche Newmann home and workshop.  Maria, a German lady from Dresden, spent 50 years studying and mapping the Nasca lines.  Her sister joined her during the last 15 years of her life and she died in 1998. 

Long bus ride to 242 Miraflores b & b where I spent 3 nights.  My room was delightful, complete with balcony and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay!  I was hungry when I arrived so walked to Parcelito where our group had met for dinner and again had the delicious ceviche with sweet potato and corn and chocolate cake.  It was a beautiful night and the Miraflores area of Peru is safe to walk around in so I walked back to the bed and breakfast where I slept very well!

Had a great breakfast in the morning, papaya, passion fruit, melon, bread, jam and then walked to Huaca Pucllana, a large adobe and clay pyramid.  It served as an important ceremonial center in the years 200 A.D. and 700 A.D.  There was a nice guided tour in English which explained a great deal about how life was during those times.
Had lunch at Central, the 4th best restaurant in the WORLD, which I had booked many months before.  It is a small, modern restaurant not far from the ocean and everyone dressed fairly casual.  I had preordered the 17 course tasting lunch and it was absolutely superb!!!  I spent about 3 hours enjoying “diversity of corn”, i.e. cold passion fruit/corn soup with dry corn cracker on top, “marine soil”, i.e. razor clams with pepino fruit slices, “los andes mountains”, i.e. short ribs with 4 types of quinoa and “green highlands”, i.e. lucuma and chocolate mousse.  All courses were served on lovely ceramic dishes, bowls and in cups made especially for the restaurant.

I spent the afternoon at the larco museum which is filled with
Pre-Colombian treasures.  It comprises a collection of crowns, earrings, masks, vases, etc.  Another gallery nearby holds the world’s largest collection of erotic ceramics.  There is a very well known restaurant in the museum but I didn’t dine there.  Back to the hotel for a rest and then walked to Tanta in the shopping mall for ceviche and opera cake later in the evening.

After breakfast, took the bus into the centro.  It was a rainy day so I had to walk carefully on the cobblestone streets.  Walked around the Plaza des Armas and then visited the Iglesia San Francisco and took a tour of the famous catacombs.  It was used as a cemetery before the church was built and approximately 75,000 people are buried there.    A few monks still live in the church.

Took a taxi to Astrid & Gaston where I had a wonderful 30 course lunch including cold little artichoke covered with crispy onions, guinea pig rillette, avocado roll, potato spaghetti, chocolate mint roll and cold coffee with warm cream.  All courses were served on unique plates, rocks, etc.  After eating for 3 hours I walked back to Miraflores.  As the plates were quite small I had a light dinner at Gaston’s Italian restaurant Los Bachiche later that evening, i.e. thin crusted eggplant pizza and oozing chocolate cake.

In the morning I visited the Barranco area and wandered around the square, walked across the wooden Puente de los Suspiros and then to the Museo Pedro de Osma, a century old mansion with inlaid floors, beautiful stained-glass windows and home of a wealthy collector of religious art.

Had my last meal in Peru at Amaz, an amazonian restaurant.  First course was pork belly and crisp bacon, second course grilled paiche fish (a very large Amazonian fish which arrives dehydrated and is reconstituted before cooking) with chorizo sauce and passion fruit puree and chocolate cake and ice cream rolled in pecans.  I will come back to Lima someday…to eat!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lemon Cake with fresh fruit compote
3C all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
3/4C buttermilk
3/4C fresh lemon juice (1/4C, 1/2C)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2-1/2C sugar (2C, 1/2C)
5 large eggs
3 Tbsp. (packed) finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. vanilla

sifted powdered sugar
mint leaves
1/2C cream beaten with sugar and vanilla to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a 10-inch spring form pan, line with parchment paper and butter again.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together to blend.  Combine buttermilk and ¼ cup lemon juice in a small bowl.  Beat butter until smooth, gradually add 2 cups of sugar and beat until well blended.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then lemon peel and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture.  Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until golden brown and slightly cracked on top – about one hour.

Meanwhile combine remaining ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a small pan and bring just to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Set aside.
Transfer cake to a rack and cool 15 minutes.  Prick the cake with a fork and spoon syrup over the cake, allowing syrup to be absorbed before adding more.  Let cake cool.  Remove sides of the pan.  Dust with powdered sugar, serve with fruit compote and whipped cream.
MAKES:  12 servings

Fresh fruit compote
1-1/2C fresh berries
1-1/2C fresh stone fruit, i.e. plums, nectarines, peaches, sliced
1/4C sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and toss to blend.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Place pan over medium heat and stir gently until sugar dissolves and a light syrup
forms – about 5 minutes.  Let cool.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

South America – July/August, 2015
Left orange county the morning of July 11 and arrived in Ipanema, Brazil the following morning about 9:30 a.m.  Took the blue express bus to Ipanema Osorio and easily found my airbnb, a delightful stay with Maria.  There was a great lively open air art market going on as it was Sunday so I wandered around looking at the jewelry, paintings, etc.  Stopped at Terezzo café for lunch and sat outside and enjoyed my delicious leek quiche before catching the metro into Rio.  Visited the museo de belas artes near the old teatro municipal, modeled after the Paris Opera House. 

Art museum was great.  A concert was going on in the lobby so you could hear wonderful music throughout the museum.  There were lots of nice 19th and 20th century pieces which gave me a feel for the art in South America.  Back to the airbnb for a shower and a rest and then took a taxi to Quiteria restaurant.  It was rather close by but I had heard so many things about the dangers of walking around at night that I decided to play it safe.  Had a very tasty half order of potato gnocchi with oxtail ragout and fried cheese before returning by taxi.

I tried to access by email account but got locked out and google “detected” something unusual.  I had forgotten my backup email so was locked out of tarlacuisine during my whole trip.  Luckily my dear daughter opened a new account for me so I could communicate with family and friends along the way.

In the morning I walked along the beach to Cafeina for breakfast and sat outside and enjoyed my “cereal” croissant and an orange.  Walked along the beach toward Leblon and took a bus to the botanical gardens but they didn’t open until 12:00 p.m.  However, I met a couple of delightful ladies from Argentina and we spent the afternoon together sightseeing!!!

We first took a bus up to Corcovado (Christ the redeemer), inaugurated on October 12, 1931 by the President Vargas.  He rises more than 100 feet from a 20 foot pedestal and weights 700 tons – very impressive!!

Afterwards we took a bus back to the botantical gardens, i.e. 340 acres containing more than 5,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants and treats.  First, we stopped at the little café and had croissant cheese sandwiches before taking the tram tour of the gardens which lasted about 45 minutes to give us an over view.  They left afterwards and I wandered around another hour or so on my own as it was really beautiful.  Took a bus back as it started to get dark and later took a taxi to Zuka in Leblon for dinner.  I ordered the tuna with ponzu and it was lovely and a Brazilian chocolate dessert which was decadent. 

In the morning I wandered around the fruit/vegetable market on the square and bought a half melon.  I had breakfast at Terezzo on the patio, i.e. toasted roll and honey, coffee and my melon.  Walked along the beach to copacabana and took the metro to the teatro municipal and was soo lucky!!!  There was a ballet going on and as it was almost over they let me in to watch the remainder.  Afterwards I had about 30 minutes to visit the teatro and enjoy the beautiful stained glass windows, marble columns, tiled floors, etc. and didn’t have to pay or wait in line!

I walked down to the famous cathedral shaped like a pyramid with beautiful stained glass windows inside.  Wandered around passing some old unique homes and took the metro back to Ipanema.   Walked to Tupac where I had a wonderful lunch, i.e. ceviche to start served with crisp and fresh corn kernels, red onions in a lime marinade which was really fresh, followed by grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce.

Tried to find the fundacao eva klabin which looked to be nearby on the map but just couldn’t find it.  Finally asked a policeman in the park and he was sooo nice.  He called them to find out where they were located and then walked me to the door!!!  The home was given to Rio by Eva Klabin in 1980 just before her death and it is filled with more than 2,000 pieces of art she collected from all over the world.  Took a guided tour which was wonderful as the art pieces were explained and I got to see many of the clothes and shoes she wore when she entertained many famous guests, i.e. even Henry Kissinger!  Took the metro back to the airbnb and checked out…

Took the metro to Copacabana and then walked to the hotel where the G adventure trip would begin.  Met Santiago, our lead/guide from Bolivia and then we all walked to a restaurant nearby.  A great group of people, mostly from Australia and mostly in their 20’s and 30’s. 

In the morning I walked along the beach and then had a great buffet breakfast.  Most of our breakfasts contained an abundance of fresh fruit, sometimes eggs, sometimes local cheeses and meat and always bread and jam.  Drove to Angra dos Reis, stopping for a quick sandwich along the way and then took a ferry to Illha Grande – a beautiful trip across the water.  Checked into the hotel and wandered around the town until we all walked to dinner on the beach.  Shared a fish stew with bananas with one of the gals which was delicious.  Found the food excellent during the whole trip!

In the morning we took a ferry near Lopez Mendes and then walked about an hour to the beach which was lovely.  Spent the day relaxing on the beach, swimming, etc., taking the ferry back just before sunset.  Had some delicious tortellini with pesto sauce for dinner and then stopped at an outdoor café to listen to some music.

After breakfast we took the ferry back to Angra dos reis and then a bus to Paraty, a beautiful old colonial town with walking streets made of old cobblestones.  At one time it was an important transit point for transporting gold until a new trail was cut in 1720 straight to Rio.  It was rediscovered and UNESCO has placed it on the list of world heritage sites.  Walked around town and along the canals and had a delicious ice cream in the square.  Later we all went out to dinner at a local restaurant and I shared a fish stew with hearts of palm, asparagus and potatoes with one of the travelers and it was quite good.

In the morning we took a boat around some of the islands for the day, stopping in lagoons to swim.  Nice relaxing day.  Thai Basil for dinner of pad thai which was nice.

After breakfast a few of us went to the cachaca distillery.  It is a local drink made from sugarcane.  We tasted a few variations, i.e. one mixed with tangerines, one with caramel and one with lemon – all quite tasty, especially the one with coffee.  Took a little walk to the river but needed to get back to catch the bus to Trinidad.  Walked down to the secluded beach and enjoyed the beach.  I took the bus back early and after a shower went to Quintal des letras, a wonderful French/Brazilian restaurant, for dinner. I had a little “glass” of pumpkin soup, ceviche with potatoes, fish with manioc crumbs, banana puree, basmati rice with palm hearts and a chocolate dessert plate composed of chocolate crème brulee, chocolate peanut tart and chocolate mousse – divine.

Left early in the morning and arrived at Sao Paulo airport about 1:30 p.m.  Had a delicious warm hearts of palm empanada and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream for lunch before flying to Iguazu.  Dinner at a brazilian meat restaurant Churras, i.e. all you can eat for $10!!  There was a nice buffet of salads, vegetables, yams, fruits, desserts, etc. and while you ate waiters would come by with large pieces of different cuts of pork, beef, lamb and chicken and slice off a piece or two for you.  Great flavors.  Chocolate and caramel flans for dessert.  Won’t need to eat again for a week!!!

In the morning we took a bus to Iguazu and then took a train up to the falls.  First visited Garganta del Diablo on the Argentinian side which was unbelievable… It is the highest and deepest of the falls.  We then walked to San Martin Island for some different viewpoints.  Some took the boat ride to view the falls from below while the rest of us walked the lower circuit and really enjoyed the views and leisurely walk.  In the evening we went to a Brazilian “barbecue” on the large patio of a private home and had a buffet of salads, potatoes, chicken wings and grilled steaks.  It was a bit cold outside so a few of us went back to the hotel early while others stayed to dance.

After the best breakfast ever, i.e. fruit, toasted rye bread, cornmeal cake, etc. etc. walked by Hotel Das Cataracts where I remember staying about 10 years ago and then along a beautiful walkway bordering the falls on the Brazil side.  Bus back into town and dinner at a cute little Arabian restaurant where I shared hummus, eggplant dip, pita bread and falafel with a couple people.  Overnight bus to Bonito…

Arrive about 9 a.m. and took a bus to a nearby river where we put on wet suits and fins and did some snorkeling down the river.  The water was shallow so we saw a lot of beautiful fish and we leisurely glided down the river.  Had a delicious buffet lunch and then took a walk around the area before leaving before sunset about 5 p.m.  Went to dinner but after such a big lunch I wasn’t really very hungry…

Had a free day in the beautiful colonial town of Bonito.  Visited a ceramic factory where they were making some lovely plates.  Took a walk around town, had an ice cream for lunch and then we all met for dinner at Cantinho across from the hotel where Jordan and I shared  delicious fish and mashed potatoes as we listened to some beautiful music being played on a traditional string instrument.

In the morning we headed out in a large air-conditioned bus to the wetlands of the Pantanal where we saw macaws and caiman (which we tasted as well).  Got into an open truck (like a safari) and drove into the swamps looking for wildlife.  Lots of mosquitos!!!  We are all staying in a large room with hammocks for everyone.  There are cold showers and the room is pretty cold as well.  Had a delicious buffet lunch with pumpkin, rice, tomatoes and cucumbers and then relaxed on the porch until later in the afternoon when we took a two hour walk through the swamps.  Dinner was the same as lunch and later some lit a fire and we all sat around talking – really nice.  Very hard to sleep in the hammocks as there were a lot of people snoring and it was pretty cold….

Got up early and went horsebacking riding after breakfast which was really fun as we rode through the jungle, across a river, etc.  They prepared a vegetable torte for lunch which was quite nice along with shredded carrots/beets arrange like a heart along with eggplant and rice.  Later in the afternoon we went out again in the trucks and saw some toucans and macaws.  Stopped at the bridge to do some fishing and some caught several little piranhas using long bamboo poles.  Later they were cooked for dinner and were quite delicious.  Enjoyed another evening by the fire…

Left the Pantanal after breakfast and headed for the Bolivian border.  I was the only one needing a visa and had got one before I left so the crossing was easy and uneventful.  Changed some money and spent the day in a hotel pool where we also had some vegetable soup for dinner before boarding the overnight bus to Santa Cruz.  Not much to do there so took a walk, had pickled eggplant, carrots, onions and raisins with warm pita bread for lunch which was nice.  There are some famous Jesuit churches a bus ride away but I didn’t want to go there on my own… Later we stopped at a little bakery and had lemon meringue pie for dinner, calling it an early night…

In the morning we flew to Sucre, the capital of Bolivia.  Santiago took us on a city walk and pointed out some museums, shops, restaurants, etc. and then we stopped by Joy Ride, a tour agency, to book the Inca walk to the crater in a couple days.  Had apple pie and ice cream in their café for lunch and then walked around the historical area and the lovely square.  Went to a Bolivian show and dinner later that night which was excellent.  The costumes, dances, music, etc. were all very traditional and the chicken dinner was also quite nice served with quinoa, sweet potatoes and mushroom sauce.

Took a bus to Parque Cretacico, housing the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks.  In 1994, a nearly vertical mudface was discovered in a cement quarry bearing about 5,000 tracks of at least eight different species of dinosaur.  There are also several life-size models of dinosaurs all around the park.  Pretty interesting…

After returning to town I visited the museo de etnografia y folklore which contained about 30 different masks from festivals, etc.  Upstairs there were interesting baskets and information about the people “of the water” and how they lived.  Stopped at Abis and had a cheese Panini and later that evening we all went to Cosmo Cafe to have some fresh trout.  Afterwards we stopped by Goblin Cerveza Artesanal and sampled a few of their in house made beer which was quite nice.

After breakfast we meet at Joy Ride and took the bus to begin our Inca trail.  The bus ride took about 1-1/2 hours and the walk took about 2 hours, all downhill and really nice.  Stopped at Maragua and had our lunch by the river and then climbed up to the crater where there was a nice view.  Walked to a nearby village where a woman was weaving some shawls, etc. and then returned to Sucre.  Had a delicious dinner at Taberna, i.e. pumpkin soup, trout with rose petals and chocolate almond cake.

I visited the Museo costumbrista in the morning and had a guided tour in Spanish which I understand pretty well.  There were clothes worn in the 16th century, hair accessories, jewelry, furniture, etc. and the guide explained how the people lived during that time.  Really great.  Visited the Church San Felipe de Neri which is a working convent with a beautiful courtyard and fountain.  On the second floor there are chapels, frescoes and great views from the roof. 

Had lunch at the vegetarian condor café which was a delicious vegetarian empanada and salad.  Spent the rest of the afternoon in the Textile museum which was very informative about the 3 kinds of textiles, i.e. upper earth, i.e. sky and stars, middle earth, where we are now and the underworld.  There was also an open-air market nearby where I wandered as well.  The zipper on my little red kipling pack cannot be fixed so I found a cute little textile bag that will work in the meantime.  Delicious chicken with mushroom sauce/spinach and potatoes at Taberna…

Drove through Potosi in the morning but couldn’t stop as there were demonstrations by the miners and it is too dangerous.  Arrive in uyuni about 1:30 p.m. and had lunch at a nearby café.  Wandered the Sunday market and then stopped in a few shops where almost everyone bought something.  It was very cold!!!  In the evening we walked to a pizza place specializing in quinoa pizza and I shared a goat cheese/spinach one with one of the travelers – delicious.  Floors are heated in the hotel which kept me warm.

Drove all day long towards the salt flats.  Stopped at the hot springs for lunch, i.e. rice, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers and some spent a few minutes in the hot springs but we were pretty short on time.  Stopped to visit the red lagoon, green lagoon, some geyers and mud ponds in the national park and saw some vacuna and llamas as well.   Arrived late to the hotel where four of us shared a room.  VERY COLD!!!  Asparagus soup, chicken, mashed potatoes and warm bread for dinner and then Santiago pointed out some constellations in the sky which was soo clear!!  Had rented a sleeping bag and hopped in it with all my clothes on to keep warm.

Delicious yogurt, warm bread and jam for breakfast.  Walked down to the lagoon to see the pink flamingos and storks in the water.  Stopped to see some amazing rock formations, a museum of Bolivian history and a necropolis with stone caves where people had been wrapped in cloth and buried.  Pasta with oniony tomato sauce for lunch before visiting the quinoa museo next door.

Headed out into the salt flats with miles and miles of very deep salt with a puzzle like surface.  Climbed up a hill to get a better view and then spent about an hour taking pictures before the sun set.  Arrived at the hotel which was a bit warmer and had a nice meal of roasted potatoes and an onion/tomato mixture.

Back to the salt flats where we spent a couple hours taking pictures.  There is an interesting perspective that makes things look out of proportion, i.e. we all “danced” into a pringles can lying on its side, it was turned right side up by one of our travelers and the lid put back on???!!!!  Stopped by the salt factory where fine and coarse salt is produced and then returned to uyuni for showers.  Shared another quinoa pizza with Nicole just before boarding the overnight train to La Paz….

Checked into our hotel and then had a walking tour of La paz to the church Francisco, the cathedral and the plaza murillo.  Lunch at Sol and Luna and a walk along the witches market where very strange things are sold...  Rode the funicular to the top of the mountain to get a view of the city and then down into the restaurant area.  Had a delicious salad at Fellini restaurant which was our last meal as a group.  Tomorrow we continue our trip with another guide.  Four people are leaving and two new Australians will be joining us.

A free day so went to the folklore museum housed in an ornate 18th century building.  Wandered down the calle jaen to the museum of instruments which was excellent as there were unusual instruments from all over the world.  Had a delicious vegetarian $5 lunch at
Namas te, i.e. salad with shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, mung beans, chickpea soup, rice with a spicy pumpkin corn stew and plantain cake. 

Took a taxi to the textile museum where there were models of native people in traditional dress – very unique.  Later I met with our new guide Dennis as I was dining at Gustu that night and would miss our orientation meeting. 

So enjoyed a wonderful five course dinner with two half glasses of wine.  Started with a tiny potato tart followed by trout gravlax with caviar, quinoa rolls, beef cheeks with potato puree, rabbit confit with corn and corn puree, chocolate cake w/chocolate ice cream and strawberry sauce with strawberries and strawberry gelato – excellent!!!  I look forward to meeting our new Australian couple tomorrow and continuing this fantastic trip which has begun so well!!!