We just bought some fresh mushrooms at Tienda Inglesa. The good news is that, since we moved here, they are usually available. Bad news is that they’re kind of ridiculously expensive — USD $7.50/pound. But they sell side by side with another imported brand that sell for almost 70% more. Have to wonder why anyone would pay that, but hey.
So here’s what we bought:
200 grams! 50 grams free! So we paid for only 150 grams?
Well, no — from the Tienda Inglesa web site:
And what did we pay?
94 pesos for 200 grams, as advertised. Yet we somehow got 50 grams free, paying 94 pesos for 200 grams?
Bill Hicks had a routine* in which he said, “If anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself … seriously, though, if you are, do.” I found that a little strong when I first encountered it.
But when I consider that these people are trying to convince me they’re giving me something for free when I pay the same for the same amount that I paid last week — well, thank you, Bill Hicks, and you marketers, kill yourself. Seriously. You’ll be doing your soul, and the rest of us, a favor.
*no link, because being Bill Hicks, it contains considerable profanity, but easy to find.
As I thought everyone knew, grass-fed beef is superior to feedlot beef in every way. And the wonderful thing in Uruguay is that most cattle are grass-fed. There are some feedlot operations, but from what I gather, they tend to be smaller than their North American counterparts, and duration of cattle poisoning shorter .
Poisoning? Yes. On a feedlot, cows stop eating grass, which their bodies are designed for, and are fed massive quantities of (genetically modified, herbicide resistant) corn, barley, soybeans, and other grains that seriously mess up their digestive systems. They also get loads of antibiotics and growth hormones. They spend the last six months of their lives wandering around in their own excrement, with not a blade of grass in sight. But getting fat, fast, which boosts corporate profits.
In North America,
“Many are choosing to follow organic practices in their herd management, which are clearly healthier and more humane for the animals. The good news is that meat from those animals is free of antibiotics, steroids, hormones, pesticides, herbicides and other potentially toxic substances. The bad news is that it can take nearly two years to bring those animals to market on grass.
“Studies have shown that an animal’s diet can have an impact on the nutritional content of the meat on the consumer’s table. Grass-fed meat has been shown to contain less fat, more beneficial fatty acids, and more vitamins and to be a good source of a variety of nutrients. According to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2009, eating grass-fed beef provides many benefits to consumers:
Lower in total fat
Higher in beta-carotene
Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
Higher in total omega-3s
A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease”
So what’s this got to do with Uruguay? Profoundly marching in the wrong direction, and proudly advertising the fact. Here’s the current flier from Tienda Inglesa:
Unbelievable? I expect consumers here will swallow this whole, and embrace this “modern” idea as a good thing, just as dousing the entire countryside in glyphosate seems like a perfectly good thing to do.
Well, of course I had to try it. And—? Since I’m not a wine reviewer, I’ll defer to the experts:
Wicked and extra-ripe. Whispers of fruit punch, acidic monster melon and aggressive lemon rind. Drink now through April.
Actually pleasant enough to drink, despite visual whispers of
this or this.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that Blue contains artificial coloring. But I was surprised to learn it comprises only 10%.
Aunque el 90% del color se obtiene de forma natural, se añadió un 10% de colorante, para conseguir un tono más turquesa, deseado por los responsables de la bodega. (source) — Although 90% of the color is obtained naturally, 10% of dye was added, to achieve a more turquoise tone, desired by those in charge of the cellar.
From the same article:
Young people and people who like to try new things are the target audience for the product, said the director of fine wines at H. Stagnari, Virginia Moreira. She added that the product was born for a personal reason: “In part, having four teenage children wanted to seek a change of habit to choose a natural wine instead of other stronger drinks.”
I hope they like it. I don’t expect I’ll be tempted to buy it again.
If you drive east on the interbalnearia (coastal highway) from Montevideo, then switch to Ruta 9 at Pan de Azucar, you will reach the start of Ruta 12, that runs north towards the tiny village (less than 100 persons) of Pueblo Edén, Uruguay. The vibrantly green hills and valleys along this route are, in my opinion, the most scenic of Uruguay. On one of these hills, just north of the village, you will find Lote 8, a unique experience in olive oil production.
The operation, owned by an Argentinian family, offers tours, tastings, and, of course, the opportunity to purchase products. As recommended, we pre-booked a tour for our group of four, to ensure we would have the services of Martin, an English-speaking guide. We wished, as their brochure offers, “to enjoy a unique place where nature and passion transform its fruit into true art.” We were not disappointed.
The property is lovely; the vistas superb. Martin began his tour among the olive trees, where the fruit was still green and not yet ready to harvest. He explained two different methods of harvest, one with a finger-like device to strip olives from the branches, and one a shaking device to shake down olives. Matting below the trees catches the harvest.
Next, we followed the route of the fruit. First to a large grilled square in the floor where the harvest is dumped, and the conveyor that lifts it up to where the leaves and twigs are separated. Then the product moves through other machines that mix it with water, pulverize it into a slurry, and eventually separate out the valued oil. Finally, it is packaged, most in utilitarian bottles for Uruguayan supermarkets and such, and some in specially designed Mexican hand-blown glass bottles, suitable for gift purchases. Other products, such as soaps, candles, and chocolates, made with olive oil, are also available in the gift shop.
The buildings, the machinery, the layout, the total operation is just first-class. Great care is taken to produce this oil. Work also continues to add more features, more site beauty, to what is already remarkable. Step out of the processing room door and you look across a lily-pad covered pond, flanked by a bed of lavender, down and cross the grand greenness all around. This is a delight for visitors and workers alike.
The main product, La Repisada extra virgin olive oil, has already won numerous international awards, some of which are on display in the gift shop. Each of us purchased items for personal use and future gifts.
We were totally delighted with our experience and would definitely recommend a visit. More information and contact email can be found on their website.
A special thank you to Karen Higgs, who suggested such a visit in her blog, Guru’guay. Also, if you tell them you read Karen’s article, you are given a discount on your purchases!
Stocking up at the butcher shop for the holidays, we decided to try a pollo relleno (stuffed chicken). We had a choice: salado or dulce (salty or sweet). We chose the former, hearing that the latter had things like pineapples inside it. The guy helping us could have, but didn’t, explain what the salado stuffed shicken contained. Perhaps I should have known (ya think?).
Susan’s comment after cooking and cutting it open: How did a hard-boiled egg get in there?
Seems like I should have a clever which came first? comment, but I don’t.
We really appreciate the opportunity, every other week, to buy fresh-as-you-can-get-it organic produce at bargain prices. Here Ricardo has just harvested a variety of acelga (Swiss chard) for us. Acelga is arguably the vegetable in Uruguay — if you order ravioli or canelones con verduras in a restaurant the verduras will be acelga. You can get it year-round. It took us a year or two to realize this was our desirable spinach substitute, since spinach is only occasionally available. And needs much more washing.
So then off to our chacra nearby where the in-places knee-high grass needed cutting. A couple of wild ducks flew into our tajamar, but decided the noise of the lawn mower was offensive, and left. I had seen one on my previous trip. Other posts about the pond we created. It’s an interesting experiment in “letting nature do its thing.”
Then there was the twice-monthly (because “bimonthly” can mean either twice a month or every two month; thanks English language) Atlántida-area English-speakers’ get together. 23 people showed up. Many lively (and funny!) discussions. Nationalities included Uruguay, US, Canada, England, Holland, and Germany. On other occasions we’ve had South Africans, Argentines, and no doubt others I can’t think of right now.
There is: Corvina (drum) Lenguado (flounder) Merluza (hake) Cazon (school shark) Angelito (angel shark) Tambera (type of corvina, I think) Camaron (shrimp — way too much work and tiny OBTW) Mariscos (shellfish, seafood: not sure what they mean by this) Lisa (mullet)
We buy only the first two. The others tend to range from weird to nasty.
A summer day in winter
It appears we’re in the veranilla — couple days of “little summer” before it gets cold again. Walked the dog in a t-shirt. Had I gone to the beach, I might have worn shorts and walked barefoot. Recall that this is the equivalent of the end of February in the northern hemisphere. Should be this way tomorrow as well.
Then the forecast for the weekend is the Tormenta de Santa Rosa, which means wind — lots of wind. And rain. And Dutch pirates not attacking Lima. But that’s another story.
No, I do not intend to go all Instagramy, but for the benefit of my seafood-deprived friends in Uruguay. On the left, shrimp, octopus, potato thingies, squid, tuna, razor clams, and scallops. Chimichurri and a delightful picante sauce. On the right, Cesar salad with corn-battered prawns. All exquisitely prepared. A bit under USD 30.
We attended and 18th birthday party last night. We were told there would be pizza, but I couldn’t have guessed how — cooked not in an oven, but on the parrilla / traditional grill. I explained parrilla — well, sort of — long ago. The fire is one one side, and the coals are raked under the grill, which typically can be raised or lowered. Doing an asado with meat this way takes hours, but with pizza it’s hella more efficient than trying to to do them in the kitchen oven.
Pizza after pizza was delivered to family and friends at the big outside table: Hawaiian, mushroom and cheese, gorgonzola, mussels. All delicious. The combination of the nearby fire, hot pizza, and wine did a nice job of making the chill go away.
Our host, Marcelo, told me that he had tried doing pizza on the grill and it turned out a mess. So here’s the secret: put the plain crust over the embers until one side is done, then remove, turn over and add toppings, and cook over embers again.
As they prepared to leave, the cooks gave out the quintessential Uruguayan marketing tool: refrigerator magnets. Yes, this is what they do for a living!
PS — can you guess the only business that doesn’t give out magnets? See here.
My wife recently asked, where’s your camera? which means come take a picture of this. (In case the concept of camera confuses you, yes, I do have a phone, but a a clamshell unit that can only sync the results of its .3 MB camera through Windows OS, which we do not use.)
And though I probably would have opted for white or yellow onions in a baked dish, I must say the red onions make it more photo-worthy. The light yellow is winter squash from our garden. Onions, carrots, green peppers, and tomatoes, were I to source them, most likely came from within 30 miles of here.
If you are familiar with the 3,000-mile-salad of northern North America, and the fragile nature of the truck-based food transportation system in the USA (Syd can fill us in, perhaps, about Canada), the thought that fresh produce grows nearby feels kind of warm and fuzzy. No, it’s not all organic, but organic is available: we paid 90 pesos/kilo* last Saturday for organic green peppers at the local féria organica at Pilar’s chacra. We then stopped at Tienda Inglesa, where they sold for 158 pesos/kilo* — and not organic.
Not perfect, but not bad. And we get lettuce and cucumbers as well year-round, also local.