Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ica, Nasca, Cusco, Salkantay, the jungle, and MORE CUSCO




HOLA MIS AMIGOS! These past couple weeks have been spent jumping from place to place. Traveling is always so exhausting... but well worthwhile. I have to admit that I am missing my roommates back home and am really stressed out about work business while here, but I know I will miss Peru terribly come September 12. My next travel destination is already planned out for next year: India to visit Sanmathi and Vietnam to visit my beautiful family. Any takers? ;)

Our first destination since Lima was Ica where we went SANDBOARDING, ATVing, and wine tasting! It was such an incredible experience. We slide down 100 foot drops on our boards, and of course, I went screaming down like a 10 y/o girl. At one point, I hit a bump and my crotch got majorly bruised from the board. :( That´s when I thanked the higher being I am not a guy. Then we rode through the sand dunes in a 9-seat ATV and felt like we were on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. What I would do to relive that day. The city Ica itself was very overwhelming with mototaxis, taxis, and pedestrians EVERYWHERE. In 2007 though, Ica was hit by an 8.0 earthquake. All their historical buildings and catherals went down in ruins. There are still so many areas of Ica that still need renovating and it has been two years since the earthquake. It´s pretty depressing to see. As for wine tasting, I was not really impressed with any of their wine, but I do believe Peruvian wines do have potential. I plan to keep an eye out on these wines in the years to come. What was most interesting about our wine tasting experience was not the wine tasting, but the drive to the wineries. There was one particular winery that was surrounded by major poverty. As I was snapping away on Sanmathi's awesome Nikon D50, the driver told me that I should really close my window before someone runs by to snatch the camera right out of my hands... or even worse. It really put a damper on wine tasting to sit inside the gates of a beautiful estate sipping on wine, while surrounded by Peruanos who worry day to day about how they are gonna put food on the table and have to resort to crime... In much of my time here in Peru, there is something constantly pounding at my heart to leave the States for awhile and do some volunteer work for a few years. I can´t shake the feeling.

Next, Nasca... in a nutshell, we saw the Nasca Lines, puked out guts out, spent the rest of the day in misery, explored the laid back city, ate food at a very sketchy place that ended up actually being pretty damn good, waited for the bus for days, then embarked on a long ass uncomfortable bus ride through the Andes to Cusco. Nasca was a very quaint city but def a one day trip (or maybe just in my motion sick experience).

And as for CUSCO... swoon. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cusco. Despite being bombarded by sales pitches - "masajes?", "pedicure?", "manicure?", "Machu Picchu?", "informaciones", "paintings?", "taxi?", "rafting?", and little kids selling finger puppets for "un sol?" - every five seconds... literally, I am still in love. I learned not to be fazed by the sales people because it is their way of life after all, and it's because of us tourists that they do this kind of work. We all noticed the immense amount of Ex-Pats living in Cusco, which once again reenforces the charm of this city. The city reminds me of Granada and Sevilla in Spain in some ways, obviously because of the layout and Spanish colonization. Yet, there are so many remnants of Incan times that the Spanish tried to cover up/destroy that could not be avoided. In the 1950s, a huge earthquake was both a tragedy and blessing in disguise. The shake up knocked down Spanish facades only to reveal walls from Incan times. Very dope to think that just six decades ago, Cusco was a whole different world. Anyway, I need to get back to my travels. I was just in Arequipa, Colca Conyon, and am now in Mancora. Sorry ya'll. I need to soak up the sun and enjoy my beach time in Peru (aka my only real relaxing days since being here). Will try to write more mas tarde. I still haven´t talked about my Machu Picchu trip, Salkantay, and the jungle... to be continued...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lima days/learning how to control my eating






Day three and still in Lima! We will be heading over to Ica and Nasca for the next couple days, then Cusco to trek our way to Machu Picchu. Although Lima is a very cool city, I have to say that 3-4 productive days is sufficient. We´ve done it all here, from eating and drinking (A LOT) at hole-in-the-wall local joints to the fancy restaurant La Mar, to chillin on the beach and watchin the surfers, to strolling aimlessly for hours around the city, to exploring El Centro and Miraflores, and going into churches, to going to bars and a club. The few things left to do on our Lima list: visit Iglesia de San Francisco and a couple other historical sites, go to Parque de Amor, and explore El Centro just a bit more.

I´m in love with Lima, and especially El Centro. It´s the known as Old Lima where there is history written all over the parques, buildings, and streets. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and evening, and it was so lively and exciting just to be in the crowds of Peruvians. Peru has been devasted by big earthquakes over the centuries (there was one in recent times) and it shows the city has not quite recovered from all the tragedy.

Today, we ate a looong lunch at La Mar and now we´re all still recooperating from a major food coma. I´ll upload a sneak preivew of our fancy meal (one of the only ones we´ll be havin here), and post the rest later. I can´t stop eating everything and anything in sight. I´ve probably eaten 3000-4000 calories/day at the least!! But it´s all been worthwhile so I ain´t trippin. I´ve tried all kinds of cebiche, fish, cabrito (guinea pig), calamares, seared tuna, shirmp, shellfish, lots of different sopas, churros with caramel in the middle, chocolates, and MANY postres. I´ve basically tried every dessert I´ve seen. There is one dessert that is a speciality of Lima that I am set out to try when I get back to the city in September.

Anyway, gotta peace out. Leaving for Ica tomorrow at 6AM!


La carta:
Pisco Sour
Norton Cosecha Especial S/A Extra Brut, Mendoza
Santa Rita 120 Cab Valle Central 2007
Atun - Steak de atun premium con salsa de sauco y pure de pallares
Macho - Pepian de choclo con pescados y mariscos, tacu tacu de lentejas
Paella LimeƱa - Meloso arroz arboreo con pescado, mariscos, pollo, y corizo
La Plancas Criolla - Pulpo a la brasa, pimientos, papitas doradas, y salsa de anticucho
(i will translate later when I get a chance!! In the meantime, apprende espanol ;)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Peru Adventures #1: ¿El es un gay?








HOLA mis homies ;) Our adventures actually started prior to arriving to our destination. Sanmathi and I chilled all night with my roomies and friends as we savored our last hours together (as you can tell, we love each other). Our flight was at 6AM, but S and I didn´t leave for SFO until 455... the reason why we left so late will remain top secret. We sped down the 101 at 90-100mph and made it to SFO in 15 flat, but arrived at the wrong terminal, thus finding ourselves sprinting through SFO to the domestic Delta counter with our huge ass REI backpacks. Seriously like somethin from a movie, right? Fortunately, airport officials directed us to the line for "the slow moving mornin people". So we made it to our gate with 15 minutes to spare/wipe off our sweat.

Our Peru crew consists of four people - Uncle P aka Apollo, Vy Le aka Vida, Sanmathi aka Solita, and myself aka Sol. The only common link between the four of us is me. All these friends come from different walks of my life, but nevertheless, I think we have some great crew chemistry. Everyone is incrediby laid back, and down for anything... and really freaken hilarious in our own ways. We all have strong personalities, but in the right conbination so that we´re not clashing... THANK GOODNESS.

15 hours later...
We arrived in LIMA after a four-hour layover in the ATL!! Our taxi driver took a minute to locate our hostel, but alas, we made it in by 1AM Peru time. We PASSEED THE HELL OUT, and woke up refreshed. Our hostel is located in Miraflores, which is the place to be in Lima. The bustlin streets are lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and PERUVIANS! Surprisingly, the number of tourists is pretty low. Natives seemed to be intrigued by our diverse group, with curious eyes wondering where we are from. The most captivating thing about this city is the juxtoposition between the new and the old. The blocks are lined with a buildings with a variety of different architectures - Spanish, Colonial, Baroque, and super modern. Peruvians seem to be obsessed with glass facades. It´s the new black apparently...

Anyway, I don´t have much time to write about our amazing experiences we´ve had in just a day, but to make a long story short, we´ve already experienced delicious Peruvian cuisine, from all kinds of empanadas, adobo de pollo, and MUCHO postres. ALSO, we purchased a Peruvian wine for 50 soles ($17, which is pricey here) called Picasso from the Ica region of Peru. It was a Malbec reserva aged in oak for 12 months. The wine was fairly light to medium bodied with tannins on the softer side, and lucious with red cranberries, cherries, and blackberries. This wine was quite an elegant for a Malbec, while a fair amount of complexity. There is a substantial amount of minerality with a baking spice sweetness on the finish due to the barrel aging of the wine. The finish lingers a bit, but I would say this is a nice everyday wine... nothing really special about it. I would rate it an 86.

So we also discovered that there are many gay people in Lima, and that most people are okay with the "gays" (in Lima). Though it okay to show public display of affection if you are straight, it is a big no no for the gays. This is according to a street vendor named Patrice who I befriended on our journeys. Who knows... I´m going to have to keep inquiring the locals about this topic.

To be continued... MUST GO TO DINNER TO TRY SOME CEBICHE! BUT THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF SOME GOOD, CRAZY TIMES TO COME.

The menu (la carta):
Spicy chicken empanada (aji de gallinas)
Mushshroom and cheese emopanada (championes y queso)
Adobo de pollo con arroz
Flan and other selected desserts
Pilsen beer, Pisco Sour, and corn nuts
Shrimp risotto
Some type of fish fillet con arroz

... and each and every one of them were BOMB

Friday, July 31, 2009

Food and kinda wine blog #2

What's up big bosses? I have three special guests on this episode, with Kaleena being the master chef who will be teaching you how to make a quick, easy, but REALLY delicious version of Sheppard's Pie. We were supposed to do a food and wine pairing after the cooking demo, but instead, everyone was too hungry and impatient to record the last part of my blog. In lieu of a wine tasting, I tacked on our happy night adventures at the Chocolate Bar and Cafe in the Castro in SF.


video

In addition, I will be adding my tasting notes from the wines tried that night.

Cuesta del Viento Syrah Argentina 2007
Cuesta del Viento Tannat Argentina 2007
Neethlingshof Gewurtztraminer South Africa 2007

As you can see, this blog was actually recorded back in May, but I never edited and posted till now. I didn't make my deadline of three food and wine blogs by the end of this month!! I have been working 80 hour weeks lately, so I had to prioritize. =\ But I will be adding the last food and wine blog next week, as well as the three guitar blogs I promised before I leave for Peru. A deal is a deal! Peace out homies...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wine/Food Blog #1 - YOU THE BIGGEST BOSS THAT YOU SEEN THUS FAR

Hey ya'll. HERE IT IS. Ever wondered how to taste wine?? Why do you swirl the glass? What kinds of things am I looking for wine smelling and tasting wine? Well homies, this wine blog is about how to taste wine. Thought I'd start with the basics. Wine reviews will come in episodes to come. Although I couldn't get into too much detail about how and why to taste wine without talking for an hour, I will add some written notes at the bottom of the video blogs for you. I still get pretty nervous in front of the camera as you can probably tell by my nonsensical rambling in a few spots, but I'm confident I'll get into the swing of things soon. ;)

If you are reading this from FB, click on "View Original Link" at the bottom of this note to watch the blogs. The blog is split into two sections because blogspot only allows for 10 min videos. ENJOY.

Part 1:
video

Part 2:
video


There are two more videos blogs on the way within these next two weeks! Lastly, remember: BE THE BIGGEST BOSS THAT YOU SEEN THUS FAR.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Video Blog - Epi 3

Sup homies? I have a food AND a wine video blog on standby, but I need to edit them... so I'm gonna post this guitar blog first. Like I said in this video blog, I will be posting three food and wine blogs before the end of July... and if I don't meet my deadline (though, I will), I will post three guitar blogs and IN ADDITION to the three food and wine blogs before I leave for Peru on August 13. Speaking of Peru, I plan on blogging during my adventures so don't miss out!

Okay, so I have to personally apologize for my horrendous singing in the Madonna blog, and though this video blog isn't going to be a million times better, at least I think the cringe factor will be less... i hope ;) I have been fighting a cold, as you will see in this vblog though =\ Oh, Blogspot only allows for 10 min videos now, and the total time is 12 min... SO I had to split the two up. Enjoy my novice guitar/singing skills (if you're on FB, click on "View original post" to watch). Oh, and don't forget to turn off Michael Jackson in the previous blog on the left hand side of the media player:

Epi 3 - Part 1:
video

Epi 3 - Part 2 (yes, this is a new one... i'm still congested, but at least you can hear me better in this one. Turn up the volume on this one too though):
video


Here is some 411 from this blog:

1. Slow Club in Outer Mission on Mariposa and Potrero.
http://www.slowclub.com/

2. Chateau Puy Bardens 2002

3. Bordeaux - Region in Southwest France that produces some of the most expensive (and some would argue most elegant too) wines in France/the world. The region mostly produces red juice, but one of the most famous dessert wines made out of white juice (Chateau d'Yquem - pronounced dee-chem like chemistry) hails from this region too. Red Bordeaux blends are mainly composed from Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Merlot, and sometimes Cab Franc. Though, Malbec and Petite Verdot can also be used in a Bordeaux blend. Ahh, there is so much to write about Bordeaux, and I don't know where to end. Next time I will talk about the rivers in Bordeaux and what kinds of grapes grow on which side of the river (Left Bank v. Right Bank Bordeaux). Btw, Bordeauxs aren't JUST poo stinky. The barnyard element is just one of the many characteristics that add to the complexity of the wine. ;)

4. Hands to Heaven by Breathe originally, then covered by Christian Bautista, and Ja'a... oh, and now me haha. My fav is the Ja'a version :)

5. What I meant to say is since it's my birthday month, I want to spend it volunteering since I've been feeling like a deadbeat citizen lately. My volunteer calendar is below (yes, two blogs in ONE day!). JOIN ME IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD. PLEASEEEE?

Don't be a Deadbeat Citizen!

JULY is here!! Not only is it an awesome month, but it's also my birthday month. :) For my birthday, I've decided to stop being the deadbeat citizen I've become over the past couple years. I am dedicating this whole month to volunteering. Here is my volunteer calendar thus far:


I am looking to fill up this calendar to have three events/week! Suggestions? Also, I am posting this because I want YOU... yes, YOU to join me. There will be at least 15 events to choose from. Surely, you can make one of them ;) Don't worry; after July, I'm not going to stop volunteering though. My 26th birthday is the re-birth of a Nancy we lost for a minute. Come give back to society with me!!

p.s. I have been trying to post my video blog since the 30th, but blogspot is TRIPPPIN. Hopefully, the video blog will be up by Friday at the latest. Stay tuned ya'll.