Our friend Jan, who currently lives in Holland, just went for a holiday to Russia. The pictures on this blog are courtesy of him. Jan, who's been all over the world, both because of pleasure trips and work commitments, commented that perhaps this trip to Russia was one of his most enjoyable holidays ever; the country was so much more than he expected. This was his European last hurrah as he is moving to Saudi Arabia on contract work for the foreseeable future. A good part of our wanderlust urge is experienced vicariously as Jan travels the world. We regularly Skype with him in China, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Holland and other far away places.
As usual, off we went to Parque Calderon on Sunday and met a gaggle of people. We all stood in a circle in the park and introduced the newcomers and talked about what we'd been up to and generally caught up. Afterwards we got Brian's roast pig ($2) & Shelley's bag of tomatoes ($1) plus a pound of chicken livers ($1) because Brian's going to try making country pate (which also takes veal & pork & spinach & walnuts, etc.) as he learned in one of his cooking classes. It's still cool out and Shelley was able to wear one of her home-made sweaters brought from Canada. It was pretty much perfect for the weather without a coat.
Shopping & cooking was on our agenda for Monday. We met new acquaintances in the store and stood in the way of other shoppers (don't you hate that!) and chatted for awhile trying to set up a date to get together. As they'll be taking Spanish lessons and don't know the timing of them yet, we had to defer our decision until later in the week. At home again, Shelley made carrot muffins for breakfasts while Brian was walking Fredi. When Brian came home he made his pate. There was much grinding & mixing & wondering about does x = y and towards the end moaning because his back gets sore from standing at the counter chopping. Two hours after starting, Brian finally got two loaf pans of pate in the oven and then it had to bake for 4 hours. (PS: Shelley ended up washing a fair bit of his dirty dishes.) After baking and cooling you weigh the mixture down for a day or so and then the whole thing is ready to eat. Brian assured Shelley it's worth the effort, because the end result is so delicious! She's waiting to see (don't forget that mound of dirty dishes).
Brian was scheduled to take another cooking class on Tuesday; this time regarding appetizers. We needed to fit in a walk for us & Fredi, plus Brian's nap before he was due to leave for the class shortly after 2 o'clock. We managed to do all that plus have an early slice off the pate. Brian said it wasn't as good as email@example.com (the cooking teacher) had made, but it still was mighty tasty! He had substituted bacon for pork fat and brandy for cognac in the recipe and thus it made the whole thing somewhat different. Later on in the afternoon, when lunchtime was upon us, the pate tasted even better. We expect this ripening will continue until the taste sensation is beyond description.
The weather has begun to be somewhat warmer. Still not tropical. We're in long sleeved shirts when we go outside, but Shelley doesn't have to wear a Canadian sweater watching TV in the evening along with thermal socks. It hasn't rained for a few days and we had to water the outside plants as a couple were drooping, but we're not confident this marks the end of "winter". It's probably just a lull. We've been told that the "cold snap" came several weeks earlier than normal and that we can expect the regular Ecuadorian cooler weather in July & August.
At Brian's cooking class the usual assortment of friends were there to learn how to make half a dozen different appetizers. It is the nature of appetizers that they are fairly picky to prepare so Brian is not sure if he'll ever actually make any of them, although he raved about the crackers and also a carrot puree; so perhaps he'll bite the bullet and make them anyway. There was lots of discussion and catching up and a couple of glasses of wine at the end. Brian says that much of the value of these classes has to do with the various tips that are passed along, not only about preparation, but also where to get some of the ingredients. Again, he showed up at home following the class just the tiniest bit tipsy. Shelley deigned not to notice. (Note: As usual: Fredi came out of her skin when Brian walked through the door.)
A last minute cancellation Wednesday morning left us with a gourmet breakfast of pate on buttered toast triangles enough for 4 people. The pate has now mellowed to the point where it's food for the Gods and we managed to consume all of the breakfast despite ourselves. Later on we walked downtown to La Precisa (on Tarqui, half way up the block between Calle Larga & Presidente Cordova) which is a place that'll hem up pants, do minor repair stitching, cobble your shoes and a myriad of other things. The slacks Shelley had purchased the other day were about 4 inches too long, so for $1.75 she's getting them hemmed. The weather has improved a bit; still not terribly hot but not as cool as it has been. The pleasant walk downtown and back again was just enough to make us feel like we wore off at least some of the breakfast.
Having heard a rumour you could get special cuts of beef done at certain stores, we walked up to the Bocatti on Gran Colombia and ordered a prime rib. Brian first printed off a drawing from the web as to how the different cuts are butchered. He showed this picture to the butcher in the store and explained that he wanted the meat cut from ribs 7 - 10. All rib roasts are cut from ribs 7 - 12. We're supposed to be able to go back next Thursday and pick it up. The date was dependent on when they get their next shipment of beef. We'll of course, report back when we cook it, as to how it was.