Is there anything more perfectly Christmas

Than the opening tinkles to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”? It fills me with Christmas joy every single time. I CAN’T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Las Canteras

Last night a couple of girlfriends and I went out for dinner at Las Canteras, a Peruvian restaurant in Adams Morgan. It was SENSATIONAL. Years ago, I used to hang out with a Peruvian family (as longtime readers know!), and the mother cooked for us all the time. This food is probably even better than hers, absolutely as authentic as it comes. The flavors are completely spot on.

I don’t eat meat, except the occasional mussels pot (my foray back into mussels eating will be an upcoming post), so ceviche is usually out for me. However, Las Canteras makes a mushroom ceviche with exactly the same flavors as I remember! Oh, it’s delicious, with the big Peruvian corn kernels and the sweet potato on the side…just perfect. I think even if you don’t like the flavor of mushrooms, you’d like it, because the citrus flavors are so tart and strong that you don’t taste the actual mushroom at all.

They also have a potato appetizer called Papa a la Huancaina which is sliced, boiled potatoes covered in this delicious, cool, creamy sauce that again, tastes just like I remembered. I can’t get over how they get the unique spices just absolutely perfect. I don’t know why it blows my mind so much, there are plenty of Peruvians in DC so they’re obviously going to be able to get these spices. I guess it just must be that it had been so long since I’d tasted those exact flavors, my brain went a little haywire with excitement.

I also had the ‘quinotto,’ a risotto-like quinoa dish, that was also delicious, but didn’t taste quite as special as the other two dishes I tried. The rice pudding dessert and pisco sour drink were also top notch. I must admit that the chocolate quinoa cake was a tiny bit dry, but not awful. Probably about how you’d expect chocolate cake with grain in it would be. But even the spicy sauce they served with the bread basket was just to die for. They really got all the details just right.

I’d love to try the lomo saltado, a meat and french fries stew; causa, a chicken and potato dish not unlike shepherd’s pie in its presentation but with totally different flavors and served cold; and the papa rellena, which is mashed potatoes formed around a saute of hamburger, eggs, tomatoes, and olives. I LOVED those dishes back when I ate meat and I just know they’d do them well there. If you try them, let me know how they are!

Two thumbs up. Try this place, you will not be disappointed.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ireland: Day One

I flew directly to JFK in New York from Tampa, where I had a meeting for work. I got there in plenty of time, but wandered around a bit before I finally found the Aer Lingus desk. (It’s tucked in with JetBlue in Terminal 5, FYI.) My traveling companion, Angela, was already there waiting for me.

We checked our bags, went through security, and boarded the plane. I was instantly charmed by our adorable little leprechaun flight attendants. Those Irish lilts! Too cute to be withstood, really. The flight from New York to Dublin is only seven hours, but there is a five hour time change. So we arrived at about midnight to our bodies, but 5 AM to our location.

We picked up our rental car at the Dan Dooley counter at about 5:30. When we first reserved it, we got the lowest price option – a stick shift. Since I STILL can’t drive a stick, and was a little skeptical about making Angel do ALL the driving while shifting with the opposite hand, I sort of railroaded an upgrade to an automatic transmission. We were required by law to take out a TON of insurance on it – probably because Americans have a bad habit of crashing into things on the left side of the car. Pretty much every car in the lot had gashes up the left side, scuffed hubcabs on the left, and we were told that Americans were forever breaking of sideview mirrors on that side. OOPS!

Off we went, with no GPS. Which is probably why we ended up in a town called Swords instead of Dublin. After some directions asking, accidentally driving on the wrong side of the road (several times), and some light screaming on my part, we ended up on a residential street. Where we passed out for at least six hours. At one point, a woman knocked on our window and told us the car was running. I’m sure she thought we were drunk, but we were actually just running the heater. We turned the car off and continued sleeping. At about noon, I hear the same woman loudly talking to a man VERY near the car: “What are those girls doing in there? They’ve been in there for hours! Something is going on. I’m going to call someone.” The man, presumably after taking a peek in the window, says, “Oh, come on. They’ve obviously just come from the airport! Look, you can see their bags, and this is a rental car. Haven’t you ever had to spend the night out in Dublin?” She responded in a huff, “I guess not!” but must not have called anyone, because the police didn’t show up. Soon thereafter, we were on our way to begin our day.

On the agenda:

Stopping at a couple of pubs. Lunch, dinner, pints, all in the pub.

The Guinness Storehouse. This was pure chaos, but you have to do it if you’re there. They give you a free pint of Guinness, and yes, it does taste fresher and less bitter in Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We tried, but it was closed for graduations, so that will have to wait for another day.

Next stop: Cabra Castle in County Cavan, near Kingscourt.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. Because of the Gordon Lightfoot song, this has always been a haunting story to me. But I also have a lot of family in Duluth, I used to vacation on Lake Superior as a kid, and I have several friends that worked in the taconite mines in the Iron Range of Minnesota (which is the material that freighter carried). So the tragedy piques my interest on a lot of levels.

This year, instead of just revisiting and poring over the wikipedia entry, I found out the National Weather Service’s Marquette outpost was tweeting updates from the day of the wreck, in ‘real time.’ Starting several days ago, on November 8, they have been giving background information on the Fitzgerald, and are currently posting weather and radio communication updates at nearly the exact times they were given in 1975.

It is chilling to watch these updates come in. (The name of the ship has been hashtagged for Twitter.)

“NE of Caribou Island, Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson and indicated the #EdmundFitz1975 had developed a list and lost a couple vents.” 3:30 PM – 10 Nov 2014

“Captain McSorley reported to the Anderson that both of its radars were out and it would need them to help them navigate. #EdmundFitz1975″ 4:10 PM – 10 Nov 2014

“#EdmundFitz1975 communicated with the northbound Swedish freighter Avafors and indicated that it was taking heavy seas across the deck.” 5:15 PM – 10 Nov 2014

And on it goes, no changing course, again and again the same ending. The last communication with the SS Arthur M. Anderson was at 7:10 PM: “We are holding our own.” All 29 on board died when the ship sunk a few minutes later.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Birdman: A Review

I went to Birdman at the E Street Cinema yesterday afternoon with really high hopes. I hadn’t read much about it, but I saw that it was 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so I thought for sure we had a good one on our hands.

I was wrong. I have never seen such a self-congratulatory piece of over-thought, dumbed-down, condescending drivel in my life. Unless you like to be made fun of by the stooges in show business, don’t watch this. It was worse than any of the asinine awards shows that are on TV all winter. I go to the movies to avoid this kind of crap. If you have to tell your viewer at least a hundred times that what they are watching is, in fact, art – it ISN’T.

To everyone involved in this movie: get over yourselves.

A million thumbs DOWN.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nebraska: A Review

In my aforementioned reading break, I finally watched the movie Nebraska, seven months after Netflix delivered it.

It’s shot in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska – in black and white. I adored seeing my native landscape and landmarks in a movie. They captured the feel of the plains, and the dying little towns* in them, perfectly. I could also totally relate to the stoic men and the way the families interacted with each other. I laughed throughout the movie, but have been informed by an east coaster that it was not, in fact, as funny as I thought it was. I think he just didn’t understand our humor!

I recommend it. Definitely worth a watch.

*Not all the towns there are dying, but this accurately depicted the ones that are.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Worst drought of my life

This Artist’s Way program asked us to take a week off from reading – like, anything – in order to focus our energy on our own creative pursuits.

Well, it was torture. TORTURE. I read constantly. Everything I do revolves around reading something. I bring two books every time I leave the house. I have a million magazine subscriptions. It is, by far, my most favorite thing in the entire world. Everything about it. I also always fancied myself some kind of quasi-intellectual, a notch above the huddled masses, because I read instead of watch TV.

This book assured me that they were both a method of tuning out, and I was no better than anyone else when it came to using diversions to not face reality. To pay homage to someone else’s art without creating any of my own. This was quite a blow.

I did some writing instead, and watched a couple of pretty good movies, but I did NOT like my forced reading exile. I’m not sure it did any good anyway. And, frankly, I still feel superior to television watchers.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Worst Sin

Must surely to be boring. I WILL walk away from you, I have no manners anyway.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have become painfully contrary

A friend of mine recently said, in the course of conversation, “to me, it seems like you don’t like or care about anything. You think everything is stupid and everyone’s a lemming.”

Is that true? Have I really become so cynical and jaded that that’s how I come off?

But seriously, what DO I care about? Nothing riles me up anymore because ALL news being fed to you is someone else’s agenda. And just because someone says I should get bent about some issue doesn’t mean it’s valid. I’m not going to let some hysterical social media trend, or supposed new medical discovery, or talking head tell me what’s important and what I should get up in arms about. Most of it is completely irrational. So yeah, I guess I don’t care about anything. Except not caring.

I really need a cabin alone in Montana. I really, really do.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Could be fun for Christmas?

My cousin’s husband’s brother’s wife just posted a recipe for Christmas ornament dough on her Facebook page. It looks really cute and easy, so I thought I’d repost it, and maybe do it myself for a holiday craft this year.

From The Imagination Tree website:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup corn starch

3/4 cup of warm water

silver glitter

Mix the dry ingredients (except glitter) in the pan then stir through the warm water. Mix over a medium heat, stirring as it starts to bubble and come away from the sides of the pan. When it has started to dry and resemble a soft play dough consistency, take it off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Turn it out onto the counter and knead it for a couple of minutes to make it super soft and pliable.

Then roll them and cut them out with cookie cutters. Use a drinking straw to poke a hole for the ribbon. You can sprinkle the glitter on them, or stick little gems and stuff in them while they’re still wet, and then bake them for an hour in a 200 degree oven.

I will try them out soon and post pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment