La Pippona

Empanadas anyone? What we are used to is a fried empanada with more crust than filling. These empanadas from La Pippona are light and flaky baked crusts with filling galore. We have tried several of them and so far our favorites are the Mexicana which is super spicy for Uruguay and the Ham and Cheese which is filled with chunks of great ham and a rich creamy melty cheese.  I failed to tell you we did order a little pizza as well, this went into the fridge for another meal.Each empanada is marked with dots to represent what the filling inside is and is delivered to your door hot and ready to just dig in.

But we have also fallen in love with the Lebanese open-faced Lehmeyun. These thin crusted pizza like flat treats are covered with a meat and spice mixture – this is so different yet so wonderful it sparks your taste buds.  Sprinkle a little fresh lemon juice (slices provided with your meal) on top and you are transported to an even better taste experience.

And to top off an already great meal they have dessert empanadas. Yes, you heard me correct.  We have tried two of the four desserts offered and really loved them.  One is an empanada apple pie, hot from the oven excellent. Just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon, thin sliced apples, divine is the only word that can describe this dessert. Actually tastes like the pies Mom used to make. As well as the National Postre (dessert) for all of Uruguay Dulce de Leche we ordered the one with chocolate chips. Honestly not so overly sweet just right for Joe and I to share.

In our research on Uruguay we saw so many comments about the lack of food choices here.  We have not found that to be true at all. The food varieties are wonderful, you have your pastas even with a special day the 29th of each month where noquis are on the menu at almost every restaurant. You have your choice of flame cooked meats from pork, beef, lamb, chicken as well as sausages galore and if your taste runs to innards they do that as well. Our favorite restaurant so far in Atlantida is Don Vito, the food, the service, the atmosphere are just perfect for our Sunday lunch. They have seafood choices, chivitos, pasta, salads, pizzas and meats as well as a beautiful display case filled with desserts to die for.  While in Montevideo we found Tres Fuegos had similar service and food. We have found hamburger restaurants serving just hamburgers, beef or veggie like our favorite Rudy Burgers on 26 de Marzo in Montevideo’s Nuevo  Pocitos section.  You want Japanese we have found several, even in Atlantida we have Sushi Brothers (will be doing a post on them real soon). Are you into seafood? The supermarkets have several varieties of local fresh fish and in Atlantida we even have a fish monger if you really want it fresh. Montevideo has Indian restaurants even take out Indian is available.

I just don’t see an issue with the choices. What we have learned since moving from the US in 2006 is you may have to do a little work to have what you want to eat. I have learned how to make so many things from scratch and that only makes me a better cook and we have more wholesome food and eat so much better as I can control what goes into my food when I use fresh ingredients. So you like Thai make it at home you can find most ingredients at your local supermarket.  Want Thai Spring rolls, make them. Here the supermarket has spring roll wraps, sushi nori, rice noodles, tahini, soy and oyster sauce, wasabi powder…you want to make Pho they have the spices and other ingredients needed to make your own home-made version.

It’s all part of the great adventure. You need to go with it.

 

Fugazetta at Tres Fuegos

While living in Montivideo we often decided at the last-minute to eat out. Many times we picked Tres Fuegos.  The restaurant located directly across the street from the apartment we were living in. And everything we had ordered has been exceptional. From steaks to pizza we have had no complaints.  And this was no exception.

This Fugazetta was fabulous – brick oven crispy crust, light tomato sauce, tons of onions and ham with just the right amount of mozzarella cheese.  Great celebration of flavors in every bite!

Rudy The Burger House, Montevideo Uruguay

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You must taste the burgers at Rudy’s. Located on Av 26 de Marzo here in Montevideo.  Oh MY Oh MY.  First the restaurant located almost next door to the apartment we rented for the past 3 months. The burgers we had were nothing short of fabulous. The meat was excellent, juicy is not the word for this burger, maybe super juicy would be better.  We ordered the burgers jugoso which mean juicy but it actually is rare but not bloody red, just very juicy and dripping flavor. By the way, the server told us they make their own hamburg rolls as well.

It is a cute place with out front seating on a patio overlooking the sidewalk and road, inside seating in several different rooms as well as a patio out back that is walled and super private.  Our first visit we opted for the patio in the back and it was cozy, private and perfect for our lunch date.

The menu is burgers and fries. We wanted the cheeseburgers with all the trimmings and rustic fries.

Excellent.  We went back several more times before we moved and each time I brought the camera and the battery was dead. Guess I need a new camera.

If you are visiting Montevideo you MUST make a trip to Rudy. The best burger we have ever had. The beef here in Uruguay is outstanding and these folks know how to do it right. The only thing they do is burgers…..out of this world delicious.

Yerba Maté

Yerba Maté (pronounced mah-teh) is not just tea, it is a way of life and a cultural tradition that you can see everywhere in Uruguay. From an office worker on his/her way to work to a gaucho – folks carry their mate cups called gourds, straws called bombilla and hot water thermos everywhere they go. Some even have a fancy leather carrying case just for their maté. Morning or evening it is always maté time.

While Joe and I were flying from Santiago Chile to Montevideo our plane had the entire Montevideo futbol team Cerro on it.  Many of the players had their maté essentials with them for the flight. That was the first time we had seen the complete set including the leather carrying case.

There is a process to making Yerba Maté the right way.  I am not in any way an expert but I have drunk it many times over the past several years but never in the gourd. I will tell you what I have read and heard about that process. First folks have their favorite brand of maté, they come in pretty large bags the size of a 5 lb sack of flour is the largest I have seen down to very small bags.

You put the dry Yerba Maté into your cup, add a small amount of hot water, not boiling, to wet the maté which activates it.  Allow about 30 seconds for the water to infuse the leaves. Fill the cup with more water and insert the straw called the bombilla. You do not move the bombilla once inserted, no stirring, no messing with the bombilla. If offered a cup of maté you would drink the entire cup, no stirring the straw and return to the owner. Sharing a cup of maté is a very common practice here.  Locals refill the cup until the thermos of hot water is empty. Using the maté grounds 4 or 5 times. And many restaurants will sell just hot water for your mate – there are even vending machines for just hot water.

Uruguayans as well as many Argentinians enjoy this tea all day long.  I have even heard stories that folks wake up early, have their maté and then go back to bed.

Below are just a few examples of the complete set being sold in the mall currently.

Now lets talk bombillas. Oh my, what a selection is available here. Most I have seen have been silver, with all different types of screens to stop the leaves from coming up the straw.

Just another cultural difference that we are learning about.

A Few Differences in Spanish from Ecuador to Uruguay

We have only been here a very short time but have found many differences in the Spanish used here in Uruguay compared to Ecuador and Panama. First the dialect spoken in Uruguay is called Rioplatense for the River Basin that runs into the ocean here in Uruguay bordering Argentina.

Here are just a few of the language and pronunciation differences:

  • English           Spanish Ecuador   Spanish Uruguay
  • suitcase                maleta                      valija
  • shoe                     zapato                      calzato
  • pineapple             pina                          anana
  • avocado               aguacate                  palta
  • market                 mercado                   feria
  • typical greeting   como esta                 que tal
  • you                       tu                             vos
  • y or ll                    ja or ya                    sh sound
  • butter                   mantequilla              mantica
  • cone (ice cream) cono                         bocha
  • chicken                pollo                         pollo  pronounced ll like sh – posho
  • beach                   playa                        playa  pronounced y like sh – plasha
  • boardwalk            malecon                   la rambla
  • red pepper           pimiento rojo            morron
  • sweet potato        camote                     boniato
  • ketchup                salsa de tomate       ketchup
  • hot sauce             aji                             Tabasco

There are so many differences in the language but it is exciting learning something new.

Fashion is different as well, of course coming from the coast of Ecuador we mostly wore shorts, tank tops and flip-flops. Here the women’s shoe styles are so different I had to write an entire article on the shoes alone, I posted that a few weeks back. But they also are wearing long skirts or long dresses as well as knee-length and longer sweaters or vests.  Many people walk around with their maté cup, straw (called a bombilla) and thermos everywhere they go, all day and all night long. Some even have a leather carrying case to hold everything. Also, there are many brands of maté and they come in huge bags.  Drinking yerba maté has been elevated to an art form here.  I will do an entire post on these in the near future.

So we keep learning and keep enjoying our new culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tannat – My New Wine

Uruguay is a little country but has some big wines being produced here.

I really like a hearty dry red wine and my first choice has always been Cabernet Sauvignon. But as I got older it started to cause stomach issues. So I gave it up and went to a nice Merlot – again, very nice but soon one glass effected my stomach.  Finally we found Shiraz and then Malbec…and as with the others one glass became an issue. So I stopped drinking red wine.  You know you just can’t give everything up just because you are getting older. For goodness sake one lousy glass of wine should not cause such a problem, but it did.

Even before we arrived in Montevideo Joe suggested I try Uruguayan Tannat. He had read many articles about this wine when he was doing his research on our making the move.  He wanted me to give it a try once we got here. Well so far so good.  It is the only red wine that I have had that does not require a long breathing process.  You open the bottle and it is ready to drink. No swirling, no waiting around for it to aerate and no special aeration spout – nothing, just open and enjoy. Don Pascual is a product of Uruguay and quite inexpensive at U$S 5.89 at the local supermarket. That is what I have tried and so far it has been a wonderful drink, very hearty but not harsh, has a wonderful fruity taste and packs a punch.  One glass is my limit.

Above is the supermarkets box Tannat. Nice especially for the low price of U$S 2.79 a liter.

We hope to take a tour through some of the vineyards in our area. There is a tour company located right in our soon to be new hometown of Atlantida. So I am excited about checking out what Uruguay has to offer.

 

Rosita’s Tasty Little Food Truck

On the block above the Montevideo Mall you will find this cute little food truck. Joe read a blog article by a visitor who stayed in our area of Montevideo and this guy praised the food so of course, we had to try it. Joe decided on the chorizo completo (sausage with all the goodies) and we were not disappointed. It was a juicy fresh sausage of good quality with mozzarella cheese, ham, bacon and sauces and toppings. Joe picked the local spicy mustard and marron which are cooked red peppers along with onions and mushrooms.

It was served in a bag to keep all the goodness from spilling on your clothes.  It was wonderful and we will need to have one again very soon.  I do have to tell you that the place was spotless the chrome sparkled it was so clean. The cost was $3.75 USD