And now I can’t even complain about all the things I wanted to complain about

Home made olive oil; Ham and rabbit;
Ravioli stuffed with spinach, ricotta and meat;
Appetizer plate;
Home made wine; Me on the walk down.

by Azure

It happens every time. I get sucked in with the exact same sentence. I mean, I am not a hiker. I think I am, but I’m not. It is just not very fun when it comes down to it, but somehow it always happens where I get roped into it, thinking this time it will be easier or something. I mean, yeah, it’s pretty and all, but can’t I just drive or in our case scoot? Anyway, the woman at the information office told us about this awesome restaurant up on the hill that you can walk to. Sure, you can drive there, but the hike is pretty easy, I mean small children do it. It’s for families. There. That’s it, I should know better. The thing is that in other cultures, “small children” really translates to triathletes or something. I don’t know.

Today, after a great ride into the hills and back, Mike and I set off on the leisurely hike designed for young families. We went up, past the church on the hill, up past the roads and olive trees and more roads and more stones, past the point where I stopped out of breath, and past the point where I sat down to wonder if it was worth it and past the point where I started whining, and past the point where I thought it would be very appropriate to start crying. Past the barking dog and the hissing geese and finally to the destination, the restaurant “on the hill past the castle” (the castle is in the town that we are staying in by the way, which makes this description very deceiving). When we got there, they asked if we had reservations, which of course we didn’t, which was ok except that we had to sit on the veranda. Now for two extremely hot and tired people, this sounded like a dream, until the heat wore off and we were sitting on the veranda with no heat for 2 hours.

The thing is, even with all of these factors, the meal we had today was probably in my top five meals of all time. The whole thing, food, experience, atmosphere, price, all of it, top five! In fact, all the hard parts made the final outcome even better. As I had resigned myself to the fact that I was miserable and that we were in all likelihood hiking to a cafeteria at a lookout by the side of the road, I opened myself up to be surprised. And, by the time we got to the top, we had loosened up to the idea that it wasn’t going to be as economical as the woman had said, but since we had just hiked 45 minutes on loose rocks and makeshift stairs, we weren’t going to argue over the price at all. When we sat down, they didn’t even bring us a menu, just asked if we wanted white or red wine and what kind of water we wanted. Mike tried to be practical and asked for a carafe of water, but when a bottle came, we just sat back and let it come. We never once ordered any of it, they just kept bringing more and more things out. Mike told me after the second dish that he thought we were done after the appetizers (an array of pizza, stuffed cabbage rolls, fish pecoras, pancakes, peppers-well, just look at the photos). Nope! Two different pastas, meat, desert, coffee and limoncelo later we were done. Full and happy and finally with a heater. It was natural, local, inspiring and delicious. A perfect meal and even when we realized that we weren’t going to be able to hitch hike back down to town, the walk didn’t even seem that bad. I think we were a little drunk and full of good food and it had rained hard while we were eating, so the valley had been cleared of the haze that had been around since we got there and it was easier on the way down. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and yes, I would recommend it to young families. You gotta get those kids appreciating hard hikes for good food. It will come in handy later in life.


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Some food in Bogota

Cheese bun

They’re very good at pasteries here! This was a sweet bun with cheese, perfectly toasted.

Fruit salad

This was ridiculous. A fruit salad for lunch that had many different fruits, yogurt, cheese and vanilla and orange sorbet.

Azure digging in.

An arepa – corn cakes with cheese and sugar inside.

Plastic bags for eating

We ate a half-chicken one day ($5 including drinks and 2 potatoes). The restaurant gives you plastic bags so you can use your hands without getting them dirty.

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When in Little Haiti…Eat Goat!

by Azure

The best meal we had in Miami was in a part of town called Little Haiti. As you can probably guess, this neighborhood is predominantly Haitian. Irene took us to the best place in the neighborhood. I have nothing to compare it to, but I can´t imagine better.

Haitian Food

She ordered for us. A whole fried fish, goat stew and ¨legumes¨which turned out to be less legume and more mystery meat. Sides of fried plantanes and the best rice and beans I´ve ever had came with the main dishes. The fish was light and fluffy inside with a crisp salty outer. We would take bits of it and dip it in the goat sauce.

Fish with a goat backdrop
yes, it's goat!

The goat sauce was red, but not like a curry. It was flavorful, but unlike other flavors I have had. Salty, but not too salty and the flavors coated your whole tongue. The legume meat tasted a lot like brisket and was great in the rice and beans. The fried plantanes were also dipped in the goat sauce (can you see a trend forming?).

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Kauai Produce

Okra (ladyfingers) and greenbeans, Kauai
Lychees, KauaiPineapples, Kauai
Okra, green beans, lychees and pineapples.

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Murder sandwiches!

My fam went crabbing in the San Juans this summer and I documented the process from bait to table.

Sister Kate holding a female dungeness. One of these ladies would be thrown into the sea. You’re only allowed to keep male crabs, so that the females can do the egg thing. You can tell the gender by the little patch that Kate’s touching with her left middle finger – it’s shaped like a wide U. On males it’s much more narrow, like a V. Similar to our species, actually.

Baiting the trap. For the first time my dad used frozen chicken as bait because the salmon at the store was too expensive. It worked really well – the pots were full each time. The cage has four trap doors – one on each side – and the pot is lowered into about 30-50 feet of water. The rope is attached to a buoy that my dad marks on his GPS unit so we can find it when we go back out to collect the souls.

Hours later, a full pot. We pull the boat up to the buoy and Kate snags it, then hauls up the pot. This one was mostly full, probably 15 crabs total. The limit was 5 per license per day, and the season is only a few specific days each week, a few weeks a year. They seem to change it every year. The pot isn’t too heavy, but if everyone rushes over to look at the surfacing pot then the boat tilts alarmingly and the puller-upper screams at everyone. In this picture, Kate’s got the pot to the surface and is about to haul it into the boat.

Chaos ensues! Not really. The cage goes onto the floor of the boat and my dad opens one of the sides. Crabs are sometimes stubborn and will clamp down on the cage. Sometimes one will try to make a run for it and chaos ensues! Throughout the process my dad directs traffic. Everyone crowds around to see how many keepers we got. That’s Autsy on the left in blue, then my mom, Craig (Kate’s boyf), my dad and Kate. Az and I stayed out of the way as to, you know, avoid helping.

Make it legal
Dad measures the crab. As you can see on the crab measuring thing (which we’ve had for years and years), different states have different size restrictions. The first thing we look for is whether a crab is a male or a female. If it’s female, it’s goes back in the water. Then we measure to see if it’s legal. Finally, if the shell is still soft, then it goes back also. A soft shell might mean that the crab is immature, I don’t remember, but it definitely means that the meat isn’t very good.

A crab
A crab. With barnacles. You can tell dungenesses by that dope-ass design on their backs. Might be a good tattoo idea. They’re a good eating crab, though I think this particular one was that female Kate was holding, so she went into the sea (from whence she came).

Dungeness Dungeon. All keepers are tossed into the baitwell until we get back. After the cage is empty, Dad puts more frozen chicken in the trap and we toss it back in the water. We usually move about 500 yards away so we’re hopefully not catching the same non-keepers over and over. I imagine the bottom of the sea here to be a blanket of these nasty little creatures.

The crew.

Back to the harbor
Back to the harbor to process the catch. This part of Decatur Island is a planned living community along the lines of the Dharma Initiative in Lost. There aren’t any cars and all the homeowners contribute to the upkeep of all the blah blah blah. It’s amazing that Decatur is such a little-known island in the SJs because it’s actually pretty huge, as far as my concept of islands goes. It’s kinda really idyllic.


So you get the crab out of the baitwell exactly as you imagine – just kinda reach in and hope you don’t get pinched.

Dad calms the crab.
Grab a crab… Here’s my dad’s method for cleaning a crab: 1) Calm the crab.

Steady… 2) Grab the crab’s left legs and claws. With your right hand you grab the left side of the shell.

Yikes! 3) In one swift motion, you tear the crab’s shell right off, I swear to god. I’ve never really gotten used to watching this.

It gets worse. 4) You then pick the crab up by its legs and claws (it can still get you, even when it’s dead) and put your thumbs under its midsection…

Oh snap! 5) You snap the crab in half, then shake out the guts into the water/side of the boat. Little dock fish gather below to eat it up.

Two crabs
These guys are next.

Halved. This is the pile of crab halves after they’d all been cleaned by the crew. Kate did a lot of the work here, I don’t really remember because I was off somewhere avoiding the work. Slash, filling the pot with water.

Raw halved crab
Ready to boil. One of the things that redeems this whole mass murder is that we cook the crabs right there on the dock. It turns the event into a Thai fisherman kind of situation, except without the “need it to survive” justification.

A watched pot finally boils. We take that little holy bucked (I’m sure someone knows the name of this thing) from above and put it into the boiling seawater (how fresh is that?). Apparently there’s some disagreement about how long it takes to cook crab – one of my dad’s friends says “20 minutes, anything less is suicide,” and another says, “anything more than 3 minutes is a waste of propane and overcooks the meat.” So Dad opts for 10 minutes, worst of both worlds, and we hang out on the dock.

10 minutes later… Craig pretends to not severely burn his hands while removing the holy bucket from the pot.

Houston, we have a crab bucket. And we’re ready to go! The crab is dumped into a bucket and we walk up the hill to the house.

Just explained this in the last paragraph.

The ladies getting started
Shelling. Back at the house, Azure has covered the table with newspaper. We didn’t have any crab crackers, so we just grabbed rocks from outside and smashed the shells open. Most of the meat is in the crab “breast,” and there’s a lot in the claws. While we shell, we occasionally dip the meat in something savory as a snack.

How we shell
My favorite picture. The legs have joints like human fingers and Azure and I were talking about whether you should take the time to get the little meat at the end of the last joint. I thought you should, “What, do you have somewhere to go?” Decatur is really slow-paced. A few minutes later my dad came over and saw us fishing for that little meat and he said, “Life’s too short for that.” So it goes. In this picture you can see the rocks. You can also see the headlines, including a feature story called: “Email? E-FAIL!”

Autsy, ecstatic
Autsy ecstatic. Here’s the end product of all that killing. Two bowls of crab meat! I don’t know exactly how much this would be worth, but a good amount. It was a half-day of semi-active work for 7 people, though it could have been done by 2 (or even one).

All the shelled crab meat
Plenty. Whenever my parents go to Decatur they always come back and give us way too much crab meat. We try to use it wherever we can, but we’re not always successful. This is one of the better photos from the trip.

Crab Sandwich Things!
Yes! Later that evening we made these little half-sandwich things, after which this post is named. It’s just an English muffin, tomato, crab and Tillamook cheddar, plus salt and pepper. We probably could have done it lobster-roll-style, but this was pretty really good.

Chowin Down
The payoff. Dad does most of the work (notice who took all the photos… can’t have crabby hands when holding a camera) but we all enjoy the result. Just like that one cartoon about the chicken and the Great Depression… what was that?


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Lamb would be so nice

I love how the cheap options here are some of the exotic things at home. As we would eat chicken and beef, rabbit and lamb is just as easily as accessible and the same price as the other options. Last night, mom and I split a black truffle fetuccini alfredo and rack of lamb with roasted potatos. The lamb was so undercooked, that it seemed raw, just as I love it. If I had the opportunity to eat all meats raw without the fear of food-born illnesses, I would probably do it.

Two nights ago we found a cute place away from the Duomo, meaning smaller and more local, we got a three course meal with wine for 12E each. I had the legume soup with rabbit and a salad, mom had ravioli with beef and spinach and Jamie had spicey maccaroni, which is one of the highlight pastas from our trip, with chicken and spinach. The food has not dissappointed, but has expanded our waistline just a little bit. I assume we’ll just take care of that issue later.


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Our quest for fish

When arriving in any new touristy beach town, the most pressing question one usually wonders is where´s the fried seafood? We asked the girl at the hostel the first night if we could find fried fish and fries anywhere, of course making up our favorite, fish and chips. She pointed us in the direction of the most touristy sit down place in the whole city, the one with the wood carved fisherman outside and all the photos on the wall of the celebs that had been there, you know the one. The place gave us neither fried fish nor fried squid, so we tried again the next day at another place, having seen it at another place, we went there only to be told that they were out of both fried squid and fries. Their partner place hooked us up with some delish calamari rings, but where was the fish?

While walking back to our hostel after the descent calamari rings from La Barra, we saw a wagon that seemed to be handing out mass quantities of fried foods. The conversation then went like this…

Lady in wagon: What would you like?
me: Is there fried fish here?
LIW: Yes, would you like some?
me: Is there fried squid here?
LIW: Si, todo es frita, meaning everything is fried!


I walk away and tell Mike and Autsy that everything is fried.

We order one of each.

However, since we had just consumed a good portion of fried squid at the restarant, we had to give some to the dogs. **MOMENT OF SADNESS**

The moral of the story is, when you are in Puerto Madryn, you get your fried seafood from the fried food wagon, don´t waste your time with the other places, you go straight there! But, make sure you bring your own sauces because they don´t have any.


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