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Everything posted by bigbear

  1. If you go to this IKEA link, scroll down a bit and there is another link called "kitchen planning tool." This will take you to a pop-up that will let you download a program for laying out kitchens using IKEA products.
  2. A leading consumer magazine gave the Farberware Pro Forged set a Best Buy rating.
  3. Sorry..... Haven't been to Guayaquil in many years. I have heard that they have made great strides there in improving the quality of life for everyone. I would want to see Malecon 2000, their waterfront revitalization project for pedestrians.
  4. fresco asked me to gather some info for him about Ecuador. He was mainly concerned about the not-to-be-missed places and about the rumored over-charging of foreign tourists. I inquired about over-charging by hotels and restaurants and received different responses ranging from “Yes, it's true” to “No way, Jefe.” The best reasoning came from an architect friend, Tito (an ex-pro-futbol player and an ex-government-official), “They charge everyone equally..... as much as possible.” Someone suggested that two tiered pricing might be hidden in package-tour pricing. I don't know. As I mentioned before, Ecuadorian visitors to the Galapagos Islands are given a price break over foreign visitors, but this is a governmental thing. At no time did I notice or even suspect the use of different price lists, anywhere. I wish I could be more definitive, fresco. A few years ago, Quito used to rank number one as the least expensive city in the world as far as cost of living is concerned. I doubt that still holds true today, but it is still close to one of the least expensive. Gasoline is about $2 a gallon. The days of 5 pineapples for a dollar are gone. It's now 2 for a dollar. Labor is still cheap and you can buy 25 roses for $1.00. Ecuador has suffered economic hell for years and there are a lot of "have-nots." You still see beggars on the streets and the private, armed-guard industry still flourishes. As a friend put it, “We now have third-world salaries with first-world prices.” Old/Colonial Quito has been cleaned up beautifully. We walked in and around La Plaza de la Independencia at night, under the new lighting, watching the horse-drawn carriages and enjoying it all. The Mayor, Paco Moncayo, has been working hard for a few years now on improving Quito's image and has worked wonders as far as I am concerned. The recent hosting of the Miss Universe pageant undoubtedly helped. The city was clean, clean, clean. Others tell me that he has also been trying to improve Quito's utilities. I hope so. During my 5 weeks in Quito, a lot of my time was sucked up by a “might as well “ project. My wife, ”The Queen,” stumbled upon a great wall-to-wall carpet deal and, after a couple of beers, I decided that before we re-carpet, we “might as well” paint the place. This translated to re-finishing the baseboards, installing some track lighting and prepping and painting the ceilings and walls..... by myself. As my grand-nephew, Juanito, observed, when he walked in after nearly 3 weeks of my labor, “We coulda had this place painted in two days, for about a hundred bucks. ” Juanito is out of the will. We still managed to go out a few of times and here's what I found. Rusty Miller, the owner of Hamburguesas de Rusty, treated Bill, a recently retired USN flag-grade officer, and me to a "double with the works" at his hamburger restaurant. He gave us a tour of the whole operation and from what we saw, this California ex-pat is justifiably proud. His wife, Maria del Carmen, explained how they butcher and age the hormone-free beef themselves. They are currently looking to open another location. So, if you're in Quito and looking for a burger-fix, visit Hamburguesas de Rusty (Av. De Los Shyris, a couple blocks north of Naciones Unidas and the Crowne Plaza Hotel). Look for Rusty's logo on the storefront which incorporates his signature handlebar mustache and eyeglasses. Great product. Nice people. And, if you're lucky, Rusty's and Maria's youngest of three daughters, Katty, will be at the register. When the teenager isn't in school, she helps out. She has a wickedly sharp sense of humor. I really like that young lady. Connie, “The Queen,” and I didn't go to Quito to paint the apartment. There were 2 graduations, a baptism, a couple of birthdays, some tea parties, some lunches, some dinners and a school reunion for Connie. I am not allowed to say how many years it has been. While Connie, Maria del Carmen and Bill's wife, Suzie, went to the reunion, Rusty introduced Bill and me to Cafe Mosaico (Manuel Samaniego near Antepara). This place has the best, not-to-be-missed view. It is perched high above old Quito and if one is seated at a table by the edge, you can see all of Quito. It is owned and run by a couple of New York ex-pats, Alex and Lydia Karras. Lydia made a special point of telling me that Alex is from Manhattan, but she is from The Bronx. We only had beers and hot chocolates because we were already stuffed with Rusty's hamburgers. Call ahead (254-2871) and beg Alex to reserve you a table at the completely open-to-the-air railing's edge in this extremely popular, casual, funky place, for about 6 PM. Don't get there any later. You can cocktail it and watch day turn into night over all of Quito. It is quite a sight. Rusty Miller and Alex Karras in Cafe Mosaico. Part of the view from Cafe Mosaico at dusk. That's El Panecillo, with the winged Virgin of Quito monument atop and old Quito below. For lunch one day, we met Tito and his wife, Alicia, at il Risotto (Av. Eloy Alfaro near Portugal), a power-lunch place and one of the best Italian restaurants in Quito. The hosts and service couldn't have been nicer. We enjoyed ourselves and the food was very good, but the stand out appeared to be their appetizer buffet, the “Gran Buffet Italiano” ($8.00, small plate; $14.00, large plate). The soups and appetizers ranged from $6.00 to $16.00. The entrees (over 50 of them; most about $11.00) started at $9.00 and went to $21.00. All desserts were $4.50. A small bottle (about 12 oz.) of local beer cost $2.00. The bottles of wine are priced at about 3 times local retail ($21.00, Concha y Toro, Casillero del Diablo, Merlot). Connie's small plate from il Risotto's appetizer buffet. Alicia's plate from the appetizer buffet. My carpaccio ($9.00). Connie's veal alla Bolognese ($12.00). Tito had the ossobuco special. Alicia and I each had the special of black ravioli (squid ink?) stuffed with crab and asparagus in a creamy tomato sauce. El Tambo is a restaurant in a valley outside of Quito in Tumbaco. It is popular, especially on the weekends. They have a large piece of property and, in addition to their inside facilities, they serve food in their backyard under tents and gazebos. I enjoy eating outside. Part of their backyard popularity is attributable to the stuff that they provide for kids, you know... slides... rocking horses... cable rides... playground stuff. The typical food is very good and the experience thoroughly enjoyable. When I want to have an enjoyable afternoon with family and friends, I think of El Tambo. My favorite fare is empanadas de morocho, ceviche de camaron and beer. A large bottle (about 24 oz.) of local beer cost $2.50. The backdoor of El Tambo. Part of the backyard. Empanadas de morocho ($.90 each). Lomo a caballo ($5.50). Asado de chancho ($5.00). Ceviche de camaron ($4.90). One Sunday night, we drove up to the top of the hill, El Panecillo, high above old Quito, where there is an aluminum monument, representing the winged Virgin of Quito. Afterwards, we drove down to old Quito looking for something to eat. La Cueva del Oso, The Bear Cave, is where I wanted to go, of course, of course. Mea Culpa, also at La Plaza de la Independencia, is a new restaurant that I had heard good things about. Big bucks, though. We wound up in El Rincon de Cantuna, the restaurant in the Hotel Patio Andaluz. What a delightful, boutique hotel of 30 suites. A beautiful, recent restoration of a really old, colonial building. I can see myself going back there to try their tapas bar, Marques de Jerez. We were so late that we virtually had the place to ourselves. Service was special and, even though we kept them open past midnight, they never tried to rush us. A couple of lovely, young, smiling, English-speaking, indigenous ladies waited on us. The food, IMHO, was unremarkable until dessert. I'd go back for the Leche Frita. My grand-nephews, Juanito, Pedrito and Pachi (Santiago is too young), kept inviting me to go with them to a gringo hangout, The Turtle's Head (La Nina near Juan Leon Mera) to swill... er... ah... try some of their micro-brews. I think the owner is an ex-pat Scotsman. I didn't make it. Next time. All the colonial churches of Quito are quite remarkable. If I had to pick one to see, it would be La Compania de Jesus. Entering La Compania will blow your socks off. I didn't know there was that much gold leaf in the world. El Ejido park is worth a look-see on the weekends. It's chock full of artists and crafts-people selling their wares. The world's great bull fighters all come to Quito to exhibit their skills during the week preceding December 6th. Quito was founded on that date in 1534 and everyone gets caught up in the celebrating. The only bull fight I have ever attended was at a small ring outside of Quito where the bulls lived through the ordeal. That was fun, especially when the amateur matadors were allowed in the ring. There are day trips from Quito that might be of interest. This is not a complete list. I'm sure you can Google-up plenty about Ecuador. Mindo was already mentioned in this thread. On Saturdays, the indigenous market in Otavalo is something to see. It's about 2 hours from Quito and starts very early in the morning. The Otavalenos are a proud tribe of shrewd business-people. They are the ones that can be seen worldwide, always in their traditional garb, wheeling and dealing. In the past, we have stopped at Lago San Pablo to eat at the edge of the lake. I think the restaurant/inn/chalets is named Puerto Lago. Food's good. Also near Otavalo, Cotacachi is known for selling everything leather. San Antonio de Ibarra is all about wood carving. Whenever you shop in Ecuador, haggle, haggle, haggle. It's a way of life. I have even been successful at bargaining in a modern department store. Papallacta, about 65 km east of Quito, is where to go for thermal baths. A visit to one of Quito's supermarkets should be fun for an eGulleteer. I usually go to the MegaMaxi near me. I usually start in the wine/liquor/beer section. Last time, I found Ron Abuelo (about $6.00). Flor de Cana 12 (about $19.95). Cachaca 51 (about $5.50). A bottle of local aguardiente can be had for about $1.00. Stolichnaya (about $7.50). Ron San Miguel 7 ($5.32, Ecuador). Casillero del Diablo Merlot ($7.02). Pilsener Beer ($2.80, 6 pack 12 oz., Ecuador). Then to the in-store bakery for bread and rolls ($2.00 kg). They also sell Entenmann's baked goods. The first time I saw that, it made me do a double-take. Need some local aged cheese ($5.36 kg). Young cheese ($3.98 kg). Diet Coke ($1.10 2 l). Pulpa de Tomate de Arbol (frozen tree-tomato pulp for making 2 l of juice, $1.25). Milk ($.48 1 l). Definitely, Ole Hot 'n Fruity Aji con Maracuya (hot sauce with passion fruit, $.86, 5 oz). Also need some chifles, chicharron, olives, canned tuna bellies, tuna in olive oil, canned sardines, aplanchados, coffee, butter, V-8, humitas, etc. Over to produce. Gotta go get a bag of limon sutil for caipirinhas (look like key limes, $1.00, about 25). Bananas ($.42 kg). Mangos ($1.46 kg). Avocado ($1.39 kg). Uvillas ($1.85 kg). Papaya ($1.16 kg). In an effort to get themselves out of their economic hell, Ecuador now has a national sales tax (IVA) of 12%. Almost everything is taxed, except certain foodstuffs and medications. So, when you see an IVA charge on the bottom of your restaurant check, it's not a gratuity. If a restaurant adds a service charge to your check, it's usually 10%. I believe they just raised the taxes on booze and cigarettes to fund increases for social security pensioners. Cigarettes used to cost about $10.00 a carton. Some of my notes are still out there trying to find my snail-mail slot. I hope I got most of it right.
  5. bigbear


    Peter..... I had always been partial the Mother Goose brand of liverwurst. I haven't eaten any in a long time, but used to find it in delis and supermarkets in NY and CT.
  6. I have been dragging my feet about posting about Quito because I left some notes down there and I am waiting for them to catch up with me. They should be here any day now. reesek..... About the cloud mountain, I think you're referring to babyluck's stay in Mindo at El Monte. I have only been there once, a couple years ago. They had no guests and we got permission from the eco-lodge's owners to go in and picnic at their facilities. Nice people. Mindo is about 2 1/2 hours NW of Quito. Besides the Mindo River rapids, the other thing that sticks out in my mind is the butterfly farm. They are breeding them and you can go inside netted areas to get up close. I am not crazy about bugs, but this was cool. Speaking of bugs, take notice of how few bugs you encounter in Quito. Another plus for that city. If you do go to Mindo, you'll have to pass Mitad del Mundo, the Middle of the World, about 15 km NW of Quito. They have a monument with a museum inside and a bunch of touristy shops. There is a yellow line across the property identifying the equator. Everyone has to have their picture taken stradling the line, with one foot in each hemisphere.
  7. The IGA supermarket in Copiague, Long Island, NY, carries some of their products.
  8. Bearism: Alcohol, pork and tobacco is worshiped. Great read. Thanks. Consider yourself bitten.
  9. I'll give you my easy, dumbed-down, gringo-ized version of ceviché. There is nothing hard and fast about ceviché recipes. Use limes. Use sesame oil. Use a different hot sauce. Whatever. 4 lbs. of raw scallops or cooked shrimp 32 oz. catsup Juice of 8 lemons Juice of 1 orange 1 large vidalia onion, sliced and chopped a bit 1/8 tsp. each, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder 1 Tbs. olive oil Tabasco to taste (lots is good) Mix everything in a non-reactive container and put in the fridge the night before. When serving, stir in a handful of chopped, fresh parsley (I hate cilantro). Serve popcorn on the side.
  10. Now that we have established that there are probably as many ceviche recipes as there are cooks, we can get back to posting some of those ceviche/coctel recipes. Which way to the "How to make a proper Martini" thread?
  11. I regularly visit the coast of Ecuador and agree that ketchup is not usually part of a coastal ceviche recipe. I live part of the year in Quito and, in my experience, ketchup usually is part of the ceviche recipes used in the sierras, not just lime and salt. This photo of shrimp ceviche was taken about a month ago in the backyard of the El Tambo restaurant in Tumbaco, a town in a valley just outside of Quito. The shrimp was precooked, the marinade contained ketchup and the restaurant is not a tourist trap.
  12. that would not make it Ceviche would it??? it is just cooked seafood with a dressing?? Yes big bear not all civiche is from mexico. steve I googled this up. Please read and learn.
  13. To think that all ceviche comes from Mexico is laughable. Ketchup is indeed used as an ingredient in other parts of Latin America and I have also seen shrimp precooked. Welcome, msphoebe.
  14. Finally..... An answer that makes me feel good. (Nice sig, too.)
  15. I search the eG forums for these two words everyday. What a treat to find them both in one thread.
  16. Costa Rican coffee tastes good to me.
  17. The next time that I go to Fairway, I'll make it a point to buy some PK dogs. Thanks for the tip. Now, if I can just cook them without making them burn in hell.
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