We don’t do anything special for Christmas (except attend our neighbors’ lovely afternoon food fest). I mentioned to my wife that she normally hangs red ornaments on our ficus tree, at least. She reminded me we have a fast-growing puppy who probably find them great fun to attack. Good point.
We’re also not Jewish.
But in the country we came from, bagels are ubiquitous, and in Uruguay they’re nonexistent. Well, except for one place in Montevideo owned by an American. There’s a place called Donut Shop that advertises bagels but makes — well, you decide.
So she asked the food processor and bread-object specialist (that would be me), to make bagels.
Obviously I’m low on the learning curve, but they were delicious with cream cheese, smoked salmon,1 organic tomatoes and red onions.
Plus, always a treat in Uruguay, the taste made us feel we were somewhere else, somewhere one has a choice of tastes. Restaurants are gradually getting better here, offering variety. One nearby puts the old Uruguayan standbys like chivitos and milanesas under the heading, “Lo de Siempre,” the ‘always available’ stuff. I take that as a good sign. But I can still have fun tormenting recent North American arrivals by asking them what’s their favorite Thai restaurant in Uruguay.2
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!