Pets and Classic Italian

Last weekend Ryan and I took Ginger, our dog, to the beach to see how she would like the sand and ocean.  We saw some people with their dogs the week before and assumed it would be OK if we did too.  Since the summer is very busy at the beach, I think they do not really allow dogs there too much, but in the winter we've seen other dogs there and thought we should take her too.  She was more concerned with walking along the way than actually seeing the ocean.  But we had a nice walk along the beach as a family.

Here are some random pics from throughout the week or so, that I have been collecting since Marie went home. 

I usually make cheese quesadillas on the griddle, but Ryan was making some warmed up soft chicken tacos, so I got creative too and made the same thing, but in place of chicken, I added imitation crab with some old bay seasoning.  These were delicious and I will be making these again.
This was my good use of the left overs from last weeks from scratch black bean burgers.  I had them for lunch, served open faced.
I went to the Modelo in Angra this week, which is 3-4 times the size of the one here in Praia.  I decided to give in and try some of the yogurts I have been continuously eyeing every time we stop there.  This is a fat free, no added sugar apple and kiwi yogurt.  It is so good.  I definitely need to get more.
My biggest treat this week as my brand new MacBook coming in the mail.  It was so hard to order one to be shipped to an APO address, but we managed to get it delivered here.  I am actually using my new computer right now.  I love how it checks the spelling anytime I am typing, including school posts and blog posts.  I love this computer, but yes, there is some getting used to.
I would like to thank my sister for this yummy treat I enjoyed after a workout this past week. 
Yesterday I wrote about being a tourist in my town and sometimes the locals look at me a little crazy cause I take pictures of everything.  Well, here is one you don't see everyday.  This was the "car" in front of me as I was driving to work.  That is a horse drawn cart, complete with a man in the back.
Friday night Ryan and I went to an awards banquet and got to get dressed up and stuff.  I tried to get my iPhone to get a decent picture, but not so much as you can see here.  The man behind me decided to walk, which turned into a blurry mess.  I also misjudged (gotta love humidity) how long my hair would take to dry.  It was only fully dry by the time we were coming home, at which point, it looked really good.  Oh well, what can you do.  
Ryan and I both had the vegetarian option.  No, he is not a veggie like me, but sometimes you never know how the meat will turn out when cooked for a large amount of people, so to be safe, he ordered the vegetarian meal too.  I will say that the last veggie meal they made me for a function was really good and I am sure they helped in Ryan's decision to order the veggie meal.

Everyone started off with a nice salad and rolls.
This was like a lasagna roll up with ricotta, broccoli and spinach.  It was very good, but I couldn't eat it all.  It was served with green beans and brussels sprouts.  This was my first time eating brussels sprouts because I was always scared to try them.  OMG, these were really good.  I was surprised that I actually liked them so much.  Oh, and it was also served with some rice.
Dessert was cake, and I had to go with the chocolate option.  I also could not resist grabbing a whole skewer of fruit from the big fruit platter.  They had kiwis too, so I snagged some of those because kiwis are my favorite fruit.
It was a nice dinner and it was fun to get dressed up since we don't have to many chances for that here.

Last night we went and paid our rent.  I love that when we pay our rent, we often get a goody in return with our receipt.  Our landlords own a local market/grocery store, so we often get bread or something like that.  This time it was these coconut and cherry cakes.  Ryan tried it last night and said it was really good, but I was too full to try one last night, so I will probably dig in tonight.
Last night's dinner was at Buzio's and boy were they jam packed in that place.  Mostly American's of course.  I love this place and was pleased that my favorite special of theirs was on the menu.

Olives to start, and I love them here because they are covered in garlic.
More garlic...with the garlic bread.  Good thing Ryan was eating these too!
This is a caipirnha, which is the national drink of Brazil made with a liquor made from sugar cane.  This is a very popular drink here too.  Holy cow, this was strong.  It tasted like tequila to me, but the server said it is a special liquor from the sugar can plant. 
Here is some additional information I found on this drink online:
Pronounced 'KIE-PUR-REEN-YAH', this fresh, exotic cocktail is becoming as hot among international crowds as it is on Copacabana Beach. Traditional caipirinha is made with cachaça, sugar, and crushed limes, served over ice. It is always muddled (crushed with a masher or the blunt end of a wooden spoon). Make sure to muddle in a shaker or a sturdy, non-breakable glass. You can also try replacing lime with about 1/2 cup of fresh tangerine, star fruit, passion fruit, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, orange, mango, grape, guava, figs, etc.

What is Cachaça?
Pronounced "KA SHA SA", cachaça is a national product of Brazil. It is also the base ingredient of Brazilian national cocktail, caipirinha. The major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product from refineries that boil the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystals as possible. And cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that's fermented and distilled.

History of cachaça goes back to 400 year ago when plantation owners began serving the liquid to their slaves after noticing that the drive would increase vigor. It is commonly known that the spirit was first invented by Portuguese settlers in Brazil. Over the years better distilled cachaças were developed and soon people started to drink it on dinner tables in colonial Brazil. Shortly after slavery was banned in 1888, the monarchy was ousted and progressive leaders decleared Brazil a modern Republic, national proide began to sugar throughout the country.

After we had some time to enjoy our drink, and well, get a little tipsy, the food was ready for us to enjoy.  We started with a nice Greek salad to share.
Then we both ordered the baked eggplant parm, which is fantastic here.
I love how it is layered almost like a lasagna.  Oh, and ooey gooey cheesy.
Coffee for the end of the meal.  By now the place was so packed with people, we were ready to head home.
Since I started this post with some pictures of my pets, here are 2 I just took of them.  They have NEVER laid down together, nicey nicey, not ever.  The cat is not feeling so well, so I think she caved and looked to the dog for some warmth and comfort.  I just had to snap some photos of them.

QUESTIONS:  Do you own a Mac or are you considering a Mac?  Do you have 2 pets that don't really get along, but rather just tolerate each other?  Or do they get along?  Have you ever heard of a Caipirinha before?

Farewell Breakfast for Marie

I suppose at times we are a little spoiled here with the weather.  It rains most of the winter time, but we do get some nice days and the temps are still around the low 60's during the day, most days.  On Marie's last day here, the weather was perfect for eating breakfast outside at a cafe.  We went into Praia, but it was slim pickings on places to eat since most things were closed due to a national holiday (basicaly it equates to Fat Tuesday).  We went to a place that is popular among Americans and is located right in the main square.  We just call it Pizza OK because of this sign, but I really think it is the Santa Cruz Cafe.
Who can resist fresh, warm pastries.  This was mine, and it was filled with apple.
Marie had a chocolate croissant.
Then we also had some "real" breakfast.  Marie had eggs with ham and cheese and toast.
I went with just the eggs and toast.
We got to enjoy our breakfast sitting outside in the main square of Praia and then I took Marie over to the beach so she could walk on it one last time before heading home.

Well, that was it for Marie's stay.  She made it back to the States safely with only some minor delays for the weather there.

The weekend after Marie left, which was last weekend, Ryan and I were again walking around Praia, and so we stopped at Pizza OK, same place where I had the breakfast above.  We were down in Praia after most things were closed for the day, and we know this place is always open, so it is easy.  This time, since it was lunch, we got some pizza.  This is with pineapple and red peppers.  I am almost certain we have gotten this before.  It was tasty.  Not the best pizza ever, but it is good for Portuguese pizza. 
When we came home we spotted this scene across from our house.
That is one majorly big bull (cow) right there.  Yes, I stood on my driveway and actually took pictures of this huge fella.  Let's just say that this farmer had a difficult time getting him to move up the hill and into the field.
See, sorta difficult here.  The bull is putting up a good fight.
Finally heading up the hill.
So, that is how we wound up with the big guy in front of our house.  I sometimes feel like a tourist in my own neighborhood because I will stop and try to snap pictures of everything that is not American.  Like the donkey or mule carrying supplies down the road, or the cows being herded through the village streets.  I see some interesting things here, mostly how I would imagine things were done in the US back in the day.  Horses and donkeys are actual modes of transportation here for working farmers and those carrying supplies to and from the fields.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever felt like a tourist in your neighborhood or hometown?  Have you ever taken pictures of something because it seemed so out of place?

Food, food and Carnaval Masks

Back to my time with Marie as my visitor.  Oh, and thank you everyone for your thoughts on burgers and toppings.  Lots of good ideas for things to make in the future.
The day of my big oopsie we obviously did not do much.  So much for doing something for Valentine's day and Marie's birthday.  Oh well!  At least we started the day out right with some honey and pumpkin bread from the organic market and some of the local cheese from the local cheese factory.
Look at all those nice pumpkin seeds.
After staying in all Sunday, Ryan took care of my car Monday and I took Marie (by cab, hehe) to Angra.  I should point out how silly cabs can be here.  I have my cab drivers cell phone number (ok, he is now my cab driver because he is seriously the cab driver for everyone on the base) stored in my phone.  When I called the first time when my car broke down, it was actually the guy's father (yes, it was Valentine's day so the actual cabbie took his wife out!) and he was there within 5 minutes.  When we went to Angra, he called a mechanic to ask for some advice on my car.  The cabs are all Mercedes with nice leather seats, it was like hiring a personal town car and driver, like we do sometimes in the States to go to the airport.  Oh, and when he dropped us in Angra, he told us he can come pick us up when we are done, just call him 15 minutes before we are ready.  That is some good taxi service if I've ever seen it.  The thing is that he is slightly more expensive than grabbing a guy from the taxi lane in the two main cities.  But I learned, you are paying for someone who speaks good English.  We did go with the taxi line in Angra, but it helped that Marie speaks Portuguese.  He was about 4 euro cheaper and I think I could have handled it myself with limited Portuguese.  At least my first taxi experience was a good one.

So there we were in Angra.  It was pouring rain and all my umbrellas and rain jackets were, yep you guessed it, in my car which was at the shop.  So we settled for getting wet and dealing with it.  We wanted to check out the bronze sculptures in the Angra Museum, but they were closed.  They did however have a display room open in the front that contained some neat Carnaval masks?
After that we did some shopping and wandering around before deciding to stop for lunch.  We stopped at Sandoxe because I like the veggie burger there.  They serve it with an egg.
Marie had a tosta mista, AKA hot ham and cheese.  This is super popular here as standard bar and cafe fare.
Then it was home and back out for more food.  This was Marie's last night so we wanted to do something special.  Boy were we in for a surprise!

We selected O Pescador because they have this fantastic chef...lots of changes...not really any good changes either.  So, no more bruschetta and no more nice cheese with the bread.  Instead just butter and spreadable cheese, which is good, but not as good as the fresh cheese.
Wine, of course.  This is from another Azorean island.
Marie actually had a good dish.  This was swordfish with a tropical fruit sauce, I think it was actually passion fruit sauce.
Ryan had a tuna steak, but it actually looked more like steak than tuna.  It was dark brown, almost black inside.  They tried to say it was supposed to look like that, but we didn't buy it.
Mine was good too, and I have had this before, so I knew what to expect.  This is parrotfish, AKA veja, over a saucy potato dish with shrimp.  This fish has a unique flavor and is usually very good, but here it seems to always taste salty.  I still enjoyed it.
We decided to do desserts even though we were skeptical and a little disappointed.  Marie had a cheesecake with passion fruit.
Ryan had a big bowl of various ice creams.
And I had the brownie sundae.  It had a coffee flavor to it and walnuts, and was sorta dry, but I managed to eat some of it.
Well, certainly not the best meal and I am sure it could have been worse.  We probably won't be going back there for a while.  Overall, we had great meals and a great time while Marie was here.  The only pics I have left from her stay are from the breakfast we enjoyed before she went to the airport.  I hope to get those up tomorrow.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever gone to a restaurant you really liked and ended up disappointed in your meal?