¡Puerto Vallarta otra vez!

We returned to Puerto Vallarta again in January 2018 for a break from winter.1 It was glorious, like usual.

Corraled in Houston

Except for the getting there, which (predictably) was nicht so toll.  But we didn’t let that wreck the mood. Our buddy from Boston and several-time visitor to Ye Olde Parental Condo flew in shortly after we did and the Good Times™ began to roll.

Cookin’ Vallarta course — Tamales y Mole

Sarah found us a cooking course offered through Cookin’ Vallarta and the three of us, along with about a dozen other people, learned from Chef Enrique and his team about the produce available at the fish, meat, and vegetable markets in Puerto Vallarta, before taking us back to his house/classroom2 kitchen to make

  • tortillas
  • salsas
  • guacamole3

… and the two stars of the show,

  • mole poblano
  • tamales

I was impressed with the sheer number of ingredients in the mole, but wowed by the flavor that came out of it. I liked that everyone got a task to do (I made the tamal dough, Sarah was tasked with husking the cocoa beans for the mole, others were paired off to make the salsas or guacamole). And everyone got to form the tamal dough around the filling and cook his own tortillas on the hot griddle. All in all, it was an excellent way to spend 6 hours on a Tuesday. And we got lunch out of it!

We spent most of the rest of the time in Puerto Vallarta hanging out with my parents (who arrived a few days after our Boston Buddy departed). We went off the beaten path a bit to the Red Cabbage restaurant as a bit of a splash out with my parents towards the end of the trip. It was kind of a haul to get there, with

  • taking a bus downtown
  • knowing when to hop off the bus (gracias a los padres…)
  • knowing how to do the last bit on foot in the dark (gracias a mi esposa muy inteligente)

…but it was totally worth it. Unsure what to order once you’ve arrived? Try la Cena Frida. I loved it. It’s not on the menu on their website. It’s a sampler of lots of neat stuff with several courses and some drinks included. El flan finalmente era una cosa mágica. Note bien: ¡no se aceptan tarjetas de crédito! It will be late and dark when you’re done, and in all likelihood much wine will have been drunk. Spring for a taxi back. Note well: as opposed to the vast majority of restaurants we’ve visited in Puerto Vallarta, ¡no se aceptan tarjetas de crédito!

Here are my favorite pictures from the trip. ¡Hasta la próxima vez, Vallarta!

  1. Actually winter hadn’t been all that wintry by that point, but those last couple weeks of February — hoo boy; that was winter like we don’t often see ’round these parts. []
  2. For those who’ve been: you know that little sign on the golf course where the cart path crosses the road warning about cocodrilos? That’s where Enrique lives! []
  3. honestly? I like ours better, but that’s a Geschmackssache — a matter of personal taste []

A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

We needed to get the heck outta Dodge. Well, I did. With no travel from Mallorca until last weekend, it felt like we hadn’t been anywhere in ages. Don’t get us wrong, we’re enjoying the new place. But a whole lot of work intensity and no change of scenery to break it up made for a very real need to escape for a bit.

So here’s what we did: Continue reading A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work. Continue reading A week in Eastern Italy

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

It’s been a little hectic around here since we got back.

Our story thus far:

  • Sarah flew down to Venice to meet up with our pal Rachel
  • Cliff drove down to Piombino Dese to pick them up at the train station and eat and sleep at Ca’ de Memi
  • The three of us drove to Siena and explored for a few days
  • Then we made our way to Rome, where we walked A LOT and ate a lot
  • After five days in Rome, planned a route through Gaeta, tried some tielle there, and braced ourselves for Neapolitan traffic

It. Was. Bad. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

We walked our feet off in Rome. And why not? We had great weather the whole time we were there, and armed with some offline Google Maps marked with stuff we wanted to see or eat, we navigated on foot a lot after taking the Metro in from Cornelia to someplace more central, like Barberini or Spagna.

One glaring and super-convenient exception to that: our hotel offered a shuttle service from their reception to the entrance lines of the Vatican Museums. It was dirt cheap but classy door-to-door service — one of our favorite things about the hotel.1 Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

  1. Alas, they were pretty disappointing in some other ways. See the previous post. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Arrival and Hotel

We drove in from Lago di Bolsena sometime around 7:00 p.m., expecting to have missed rush hour traffic. Whoops: we landed smack in the middle of it. A friendly taxi driver told us Italians start and finish their workday later, and consequently rush hour traffic runs later. We followed instructions from our GPS and rolled up to our hotel, the Church Palace, oohing and aahing at the gated entrance to the generous and secluded parking around, set several hundred yards back from the Via Aurelia. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome