Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food & Wine Festival: Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo

This weekend we took the quick 45-minute flight to Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo for the first ever Food & Wine (magazine) festival in Mexico. The cities and beaches were beautiful, and the events were amazing. Celebrity chef, Rick Bayless, winner of Top Chef Masters on Bravo, owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOCO in Chicago, and star of Mexico: One Plate at a Time on PBS was the headliner and one of our main reasons for going...although do you really need a good reason to go to a tropical beach resort to be stuffed with delicious wine and Mexican food?

We had dinner on a stone terrace built into the hillside overlook the Pacific Ocean when we arrived at the hotel (Las Brisas, which we highly recommend for any would be visitors), and it was spectacular.

The next morning with headed off to our cooking class, Market to Table, with Rick (yes, we're on a first name basis!)  haha, if only... Anyway, the class was very fun and informative. We learned all about making red chile sauce and a bunch of recipes to develop from the same base sauce for shrimp and lobster, and a few other tips and tricks. The food looked amazing, and we had a little bite afterward.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the beach, drinking out of coconuts and swimming before we headed to La Perla for dinner.

The dinner was called 32 Tastes of Mexico (note:  there are 32 states in Mexico, hence the punny name)! It featured chefs from local restaurants that each prepared one or two tasting plates, so we grabbed little bites and glasses of wine and munched our way through the evening. They had tables set up on the beach and there was another cooking demonstration with Rick. The mayor of Ixtapa, and some other government / tourist officials were there too! After dinner we got a cookbook signed and chatted it up with some non-work related Americans (for once!). Overall, it was a really fun evening, and I am looking forward to our next FWF ...that's Food & Wine Festival....I just can't help giving a three letter acronym to's one of my many new government skills.

The view from our room at dawn...we were too excited to sleep!
 Sleepy hammock time!
 Cooking class with Rick...yes he's holding a lobster!
 Spiny lobster with tomatoes and "mojo de ajo" sauce aka the "bath of garlic"
 Buenos dias!
 A little bite of a sweet corn tamale and a bean and cream tostada...YUM!
 View from the class
 Las Brisas hotel! Wonderful!
 Autumn finally got her "Coco Loco"
 Camarones en mojo de ajo! Shrimp in a garlic bath!
 It's hard to tell, but that's about an eight foot high wave!
 Oops! Too close!
 32 Tastes of Mexico on the beach at La Perla
 This was the best thing we ate all night...
it was a spicy-sweet octopus wonton with an egg-y cake thing.
 I was just a bit taller than the rest of the people in line for the book signing!
 Autumn and her "playin' it cool" hands with Rick!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bienvenidos a El Salvador!

Early in the week of March 12th, I was asked to go work for 12 days in San Salvador, El Salvador.  This was very short notice, but, always up for an adventure, I said yes!  I met some really great people, and had a wonderful experience there.  We worked hard, so I didn't get a chance for a lot of sight-seeing, but here a few pics I did manage to get.

This is the San Salvador Volcano as seen from my hotel room...

More of San Salvador.  My room had a beautiful view!  

This is traditional Salvadoran food.  Pupusas, fried yucca and a Pilsener, my favorite Salvadoran beer.  The pupusas were was great to have the pupusa experience in their native land, rather than out of a truck in Virginia!

Finally, after all the work was done, my section took me to dinner at a beautiful restaurant on a volcano.  These gorgeous exotic flowers were in the courtyard.

This is a view of San Salvador from the volcano.  Note:  The haze is not/not pollution!  I asked one of my new Salvadoran friends who passionately explained to me that it was mist and clouds, definitely not pollution!

San Salvador by night.  Que bonita!

Overall, I had a great experience!  Look for another entry soon, as Eric and I are planning a lovely beach weekend!! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Icy Washington

This week I flew back to Kettle Falls for a week of rest / security guard duties while my mom recovered from an operation. My job inspiration: Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest! Haha, just kidding! I was nice, but I did have to force my mom to stay home, take her pills and rest.

The trip up was uneventful, but when I looked out my airplane window when the captain announced that we had crossed over into the US, there was nothing but an endless plain of snow. I felt like the ridiculous claims of our local news in Mexico City that the US is a vast frozen wasteland were a little bit more justified. This claim was reconfirmed again, when I landed in Snowkane with 3 feet of snow and below 0 temperatures.

Over the week, I caught up on some technical manuals from work...yawn! and watched approximately 3,000 hours of Law & Order with a few hundred episodes of House Hunters on HGTV. Oh well, at least it was all in English, and it was great to see my mom and Rich.

I headed back to Mexico City on Saturday, just in time for Autumn to abandon me to head out to El Salvador for two weeks! Oh whoa to me!

View from my mom's cell...I mean recovery room!
The Kettle Falls River...of ice and doom!!
More proof that the US is covered in ice for half the year. I'm sending this one in to Primero Noticias!