Shopping Cart or Like I Call It The Old Lady Cart

montevideo-2-12-34Some days our shopping consists of just a few bags, but those bags can be heavy. Getting a taxi is easy but the supermarket is only 2 blocks from the apartment. So if we can walk it we do. In our walking around town we noticed so many people young and old alike pulling one of these carts behind them while they were walking home.  For $15 we bought this beauty and have used it several times both from the Supermarket and the Sunday Market.

It holds a good amount of packages, is pretty easy to either push or pull and stores well right next to the front door so we will remember to take it when we shop.

Yes, I hear ya, we are officially old.  Bring it on!!!

Fainá – Chickpea Flatbread

montevideo-2-7-28Another wonderful FOOD FIND…Fainá. It is chickpea flatbread prepared here in Uruguay.  We walked across the street to the Tres Fuegos Restaurant for a quiet lunch early one afternoon and ordered Muzzarella and Fainá.  The Fainá is thin, light and delicious. Some restaurants even top their pizza with it.  Not sure if we will try that. But alone it is wonderful. The muzzarella was a type of pizza made with a sweet tomato sauce topped with a ton of mozzarella cheese. FYI pizza does not come automatically with cheese here.

I may have to try the fainá at home….really good.

Alfajores – A National Obsession?

We read so much about the infamous alfajor that the first day we were in town we were in a small market store (called an almacen here) and asked the young woman behind the counter, which is your favorite?…she was kind of shy and I guess I was kind of forward but she went over and pointed to two. Standing at the counter checking out was a beautiful young woman and Joe saw that she was dying to add her choices, so we asked her and she gave us two more to try.  Honestly every one we have tried, and I will tell you we have tried many, were wonderful. The supermarket has an entire section filled from top to bottom with all different types. You can buy them in a box, not sure how many to a box but I had to have great willpower to keep from buying an entire box. Walk away Nancy, walk away.

They are sort of similar to a Moon Pie when you look at them, but that is where the similarity ends.  Inside you are hit in the face with the most delicate caramel (dulce de leche) – it is not what I have had in the past, Uruguayan dulce de leche is lighter, less sweet and soft. The base is either two crunchy cookies or a soft and chewy cake to hold it all together…Most are covered in some type of good quality chocolate could be milk could be dark, some have a topping of coconut, some have a mousse filling along with the dulce de leche. And I know we will be adding new ones to our “we need more” list.  Below are just a few of the empty wrappers.  YES, YES, YES, they were all wonderful…My favorite of these was the Coco Late and the Mousse…but that could change with the next selection, hee hee

montevideo-2-9-17The confiteria (pastry shops) are up another level when it comes to alfajores.  I am sad to say that they do not last very long once we bring them into the apartment and as of now I do not have pictures to show you.  But when I say they up their game to another level entirely, I am not pulling your leg. Some are wrapped with a coating of coconut around the edges, while others have chopped almonds.  Some have a heart-shaped cut out in the center filled with a cherry or strawberry gel. Others have a macaroon topping that is slightly charred. They make them in bite sized little treats up to a full-sized and bigger beauty that Joe and I must share.  Actually every one of these pastries we cut in half and share with our mid-day meal. And not every day or I would be the size of a house in a few months.

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The above are just from one store in the Punta Carretas Shopping mall.

They can be addictive.

Milanesa, Another Great Culinary Treat In Uruguay

montevideo-2-19This milanesa is a pounded chicken breast. We have found that every food store, day market called a feria and even small tiendas called almacens have these tasty meats available.  In Tienda Inglesia you can find them breaded ready to cook or already cooked and ready to eat.  We found these above at our Sunday market all ready to be cooked.  The first time we went to this market day so many of the older women were buying up packets of these – must have been for Sunday lunch with family. They looked like pretty experienced cooks so we decided to follow suit and buy a few for our Sunday lunch.  Well they were wonderful, flavored bread crumbs or cracker crumbs on a thin piece of chicken breast, heat a bit of oil in a pan and sauté and you are ready to eat.

I would definitely buy these again. I covered mine in Bolognese sauce and some mozzarella cheese and Joe’s in Caruso sauce which is very popular here.  Caruso sauce was first created in the 1950s in Uruguay by Raymundo Monti of the restaurant ‘Mario and Alberto’, located at the intersection of Constituyente and Tacuarembó Streets in Montevideo. Monti wanted to create a new recipe following the current traditions of Italian Cuisine. The dish was named in honor of the famous Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso (1873–1921) who was a popular figure in South America during his tours of the 1910s. It is a rich cream sauce with mushrooms and ham, it became known as Caruso sauce and is sold fresh in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores here.

Salmon and Sole Croquettes

montevideo-2-7-21After cutting off the perfect fillets from our recent fish purchases, I had a few end pieces left over.  Too thin in my opinion to make a lunch meal with but just perfect for croquettes. So the freezer held a piece of sole as well as two pieces of salmon.

I did not want to use a bunch of bread crumbs so I decided to make a baked potato and use that as the filler.

Salmon or Fish Croquettes

  • 1/2 lb of fish

cook the fish in a frying pan on medium heat with a small amount of oil, until almost cooked through. Set aside and let cool. Once cool separate into chunky pieces.

  • 1 large unpeeled potato, washed, stabbed a few times and microwaved until cooked set aside and let cool. Once cool peel and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoon of chopped celery including leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herb, basil or thyme or cilantro would work well
  • 1 large egg, whisked to combine
  • a few slices of chopped red pepper or a dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper

I kept the sole separate from the salmon by using two bowls and putting half of the ingredients in each bowl, but I think it could work combined also.

Combine fish and potato and mix together.  Add the balance of the ingredients. Mix well. Form into patties.

In a large frying pan with a small amount of vegetable oil on medium heat, add your fish patties.  Cook until crispy and turn and do the same on the other side.

I love a horseradish ketchup sauce where as Joe prefers a tartar sauce.

Serve with a big salad. Enjoy – we sure did!

Plum and Fig Tart or is that Fig and Plum Tart?

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I found beautiful fresh figs and large purple Italian plums this past week. Figs are a favorite since living in Playas, Ecuador.  Our guardian would pick figs and bring a bag to our home when they were perfectly ripe, soft and sweet. I would cut them in half, wrap half a slice of bacon around it and bake it in the oven just until the bacon was crispy.  That was a real treat. I can tolerate a Fig Newton, if there is nothing else in the house but unless you have had fresh ripe figs you have not lived.

I loved them so much and our friend Yusuf said I needed to plant a tree in the yard in San Clemente, Ecuador. Where was I going to fit another tree in the San Clemente yard?  Well I found a tree and found a place for it and enjoyed a small harvest a few times from that tree.  That is only one of the things I miss about San Clemente, but don’t get me started on that.

I made a shortbread crust, with flour, butter, sugar, dash of salt and vanilla and an egg.  No rolling necessary as it was going to be a tart, free form and rustic.  I cut up 6-7 figs and plums and arranged them on the pastry which I had placed on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking liner, this will stick as the sweet juices ooze from the tart. Turned the edges up and baked it for about 15 minutes.  The crust was wonderful and the fruit just so sweet and soft.

We will do that again…

Fish Market at the Buseo Port

montevideo-2-12-28On Saturday we walked down to the Buceo Port as Joe was asking for fish. We got the salmon again, and just like the first time, it was fabulous.

montevideo-2-12-31 montevideo-2-12-30 montevideo-2-12-26All the fish looked good and even things like calamari, octopus and the mussels looked fresh and very appealing. Prices are in Uruguay Peso, convert to US Dollars by dividing the number on the card by .28.  All of these prices are for a kilo which is a little over 2 pounds.

montevideo-2-12-27You can buy a whole fish or you can buy steaks or fillets.

montevideo-2-12-33 montevideo-2-12-32There are two other stores including a store with local trinkets as well as a vegetable and fruit stand that carries spices, herbs, a few live herb plants and has a cooler with drinks.

montevideo-2-12-29A new addition from the other times we were there was a van backed up to the sidewalk and the back door opened. As you can see it had a variety of cheese, wine and salami.

We got our salmon and ran home to have lunch.