A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

happy chocotorta

many of you may know that i am not a fan of cooking.  i am however a fan of baking.  so when i first learned of the chocotorta i was compelled to find out how to make one.  i actually found a very helpful youtube video that gives helpful instructions.  and it turns out baking is not even required!  what could be better?

the other day i was discussing my love of chocotorta (the desert, the ice cream flavor at freddo, the sundae at freddo, etc) with one of my bosses, and she said that she has a friend who puts banana in her chocotorta. brilliant.  although typically served at birthdays, i decided that i would make one for my friend's christmas bagel brunch.

here's how it works ...

ingredients:
chocolate cookies
dulce de leche
crema
chocolate flavored liquor (or coffee flavored liquor, or cold coffee mixed with the booze of your choice)
bananas (optional)



step one:
empty the dulce de leche and the crema into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  it should be a 1:1 ratio crema to dulce de leche.

step two:
take each chocolate cookie and dunk it in the liquor, then place at the bottom of a large baking dish

step three:
spread the crema/dulce de leche mixture in a thin layer over the cookies

step four (optional):
create a layer of sliced bananas (i did this in the middle, which then made the above layers a bit wonky.  it may be better to put the banana layer on top.  however, bananas are not traditionally in a chocotorta at all)

step five:
repeat layers of cookie and crema/dulce de leche until you run out of cookies.  end with a layer of the crema/dulce de leche mixture.

step six:
take any leftover cookies and crumble them on top of the dulce de leche in a decorative fashion.  (or do other creative decorating with any extra cookies)

step seven:
refrigerate for at least 2 hours

happy holidays!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

uruguay: quite possibly the most boring place on earth

november 2010 - visa renewal trip

the bolshevik and i seem to have a little problem picking the most boring parts of uruguay to visit when we have to do our visa renewal.  since we've already been to montevideo and colonia, the two "big" tourist attractions, we stubbornly choose to explore new parts of uruguay, believing that there might be some hidden gem to discover.  why do we do this?  i don't know.

so last time we needed to renew our visas i stood firm on the fact that we needed to go to punta del este or punte del diablo, both of which are supposed to be fun beach towns that are non-boring.    we even found a cheap flight to montevideo, then an equally cheap bus connection to punta del diablo.  we're set, right?  no. sadly we waited too long to buy the ticket and then they jacked up the price and we could no longer afford it.  damned it!

and that is how we wound up spending the weekend in colon (argentina) and paysandu (uruguay) ...

now before i begin my kvetching, let me tell you that colon wasn't so bad.  it was about a 4-5 hour bus ride from buenos aires (they have luxury buses here, which i will describe later), and the town was okay.  it had a couple of main streets with lots of little shops and restaurants and bars.  they also have quite an active art scene apparently, which includes intriguing street art such as this (more street artists need to pay tribute to slash!) ...

a parilla on the beaches of colon
anyway, once you leave the main strip, it's all little houses on dirt roads.  but the town is right on the water so it's got some charm.  there are some beaches to hang out at, and overall it has the feel of a sleepy little beachy town.  it's probably good for families who want to go away but can't afford to do anything too extravagant.

you may be asking yourself, "self, how the hell did miss dewey d and her bolshevik choose this town to visit?"  two words: hot springs ...  and border crossing.  okay, that's four words.

our not-so-trusty guidebook told us that there were hot springs in colon.  let me tell you, the bolshevik and i love us some hot springs.  when we were in costa rica (our first trip together!) we went to this gorgeous hot springs that had several lovely pools filled with spring water heated by a nearby volcano.  we were surrounded by beautiful lush plants, a delicious and healthy spa lunch was included with our admission, and there was a bar where we could order cocktails and then drink them while relaxing in the hot hot water.  awesome.

the hot springs in colon were similar to going to your local public pool.  you pay a very small amount to get in, there's a bunch of cement pools painted bright blue, filled with what we were told is extremely healthy mineral-rich water that was the same temperature as a warm bath tub (hot springs should be hot, damnit!)  and there was a snack bar with fries and soda and simpson's themed ice cream pops.

ok, so maybe these were not the dreamy costa rica hot springs we were expecting, but the bolshevik and i can roll with the punches.  we had a fine time at the hot spring, even though we were among the minority of hot-spring goers who were under the age of 75.

the next day we took a bus to paysandu, which is a short 12km ride across a bridge into uruguay.  paysandu also has hot springs, so we figured we would try out their hot springs and if the town seemed at all interesting we would stay overnight.

well .... it took us 2.5 hours to get to paysandu.  say what?!  it took as about 10 minutes to reach the border crossing.  then the bus driver took all the passenger's passports to be stamped.  we wound up sitting on the bus for about TWO HOURS waiting for everyone's passport to be stamped.  urgh.

then finally when it's time to move, the bus leaves the border crossing about goes about 20 meters before stopping to let someone off randomly at the side of the road.  then the bus drives in a large circle and doubles back to the border crossing.  at this point i was really confused.  weren't we just here?  then three guys get off.  why didn't they get off the bus during the TWO HOURS we were waiting? i don't know.

so we finally get on our way and we are on a large entrance ramp to the highway and it's our bus and  motorcyclist on the road.  no one else.  just us.  and i swear to you, for no reason at all, our bus just swerves into the motorcyclist, knocking him off his motorcycle.  it was almost like the bus had hip-checked him.

exciting metropolis of paysandu
then of course the driver stops and gets out of the bus to yell at the motorcyclist as though it could possibly be his fault.  after about a half hour of confusion a local bus comes to pick us up.  now the problem here is that we have no idea where the local bus goes, but we get on it anyway because at this point we're kind of furious and annoyed ... and really hungry.

finally, we get to "downtown" paysandu where absolutely nothing is open.  saturday at 2 pm ... everything is closed.  maybe it was siesta or something, but we really didn't care.  we decided we had to get the hell out of uruguay.

after wandering around for 30 minutes wondering how to get to the bus station, we finally stumbled across an open "restaurant" that sold very basic fare: meat, fries, empanadas, and beer.  so we took a quick lunch break (mmmm, empanadas and beer) and then finally got some legitimate directions to the bus station.  but not before encountering the most fascinating sight of paysandu, uruguay ... nevada cigarettes.

yes, this american blend of cigarettes may double your risk of erectile disfunction, but don't worry, it's only if you're between 30 and 40 years old.  everyone else can smoke away!

we had to wait a couple of hours for the bus back, but we entertained ourselves with crossword puzzles and beer at the bus station.  then we went back through the border (which this time only took about 45 minutes), back to colon, and back to our hotel.  the following day we visited a different hot springs ... this one was fancier and had a little spa (which sadly was all booked up), and it had water slides!

although we did get a little heat for being the only child-less adults using the water slides, we slid down those things for quite some time anyway.  and honestly, this trip needed some water slides or else it may have been a dud.

conclusion 1: water slides make everything better.
conclusion 2: 90 days from now we will get our act together and go to punta del diablo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a lonely jew on christmas ...

on my way to punk some rope
in palermo park
as a cultural atheistic jew, i am very strict about not celebrating christmas.  for example, i've never had a christmas tree or eaten christmas turkey or hung stockings or anything like that.  however, one time i lived with someone who was a unitarian and we had a "holiday" tree with dreidels and buddhas and an oddly charming christmas pickle, but that hardly counts.

anyway, often i get pitying looks from christians as though mine is some sort of awful scrooge-like existence, and that i am in some way spiritually and culturally depraved.  (this is not an exaggeration dear blog readers, i could quote many stupid mindless things that people have said to me in respect to this over the years)  mind you, i do enjoy looking at christmas lights, eating cookies, and drinking festive cocktails as well as cleverly named seasonal drinks from starbucks.

so save me your pity, because i actually love christmas.  want to know why?  because it's usually two non-weekend days in a row in which i don't have to do anything!  i have no obligations!  not only that, while all you revelers are stuck traveling to go visit your families i am usually hanging out with a merry gang of jews and heretics doing super fun things like eating korean bbq, going to movies, drinking mimosas, going sledding, or even playing ping pong!  ahhhh, christmas is such a very special time of year!

however, here in BsAs i've noticed that things have a tendency to shut down completely on holidays.  and since christmas is a much more holy than say, national census day, i was a bit worried that things might be closed:

me: i want to have jewish christmas!  you know with a movie and asian food!
bolshevik: i doubt anything will be open.
me: but they have jews here!
bolshevik: (silencio)


well, apparently the bolshevik was right because as it turns out movie theaters are actually CLOSED on christmas.  and on christmas eve the last showing is at 1 pm or so.  what the hell?!  what are all the jews going to do?

anyhoo ... the bolshevik and i decided that we will travel to mendoza for the holidays to drink wine and hang out in the andes.  but not before stopping at a friends for a christmas bagel brunch (thank god for other jews!).  yes, that's right, they do have bagels here.  although not quite a new york bagel, quierobagel probably does the closest thing you can get to an authentic bagel.  ahhhh, a christmas miracle.