Things I Have Not Seen Before

You would think by this stage in our lives that we would have seen just about everything, well we haven’t…..So this store was a shock to both Joe and I. Sure in college we saw stores that had a few items for sale but to see a store just for marijuana paraphernalia – never before. It is legal to buy marijuana in Uruguay, if you are a citizen. It is controlled by the government and there is a procedure you must follow to buy it. I do not know what the process is and because it is not “our thing” we will probably never know it. But when you are walking down a very busy street in Montevideo you must stop and take a look at what items are sold here. JUST because it is so unbelievable. Sorry the pictures are not that clear, I would not go inside the store, if felt a bit uncomfortable to me. We had no idea what we were looking at but it was a happening place for sure.  Here you will find locals smoking in public, at the beach, sitting around with friends and it is a normal occurrence.  We are still amazed when you can smell it right out in the open.  Okay, we’re kinda sheltered I know – commuted to college, missed out on a lot.  We like beer, though – does that count? You can also legally grow a few plants and there are many grow stores, they call them – set up for that.  Again, for us, beer and an occasional shot of rum will do it.  Brain function is down enough as it is!

Food Treasures from Montevideo

While in Montevideo we spend many hours searching for spices and food items we are not able to find here in Atlantida. Things like fish sauce, miso paste, whole coriander seeds. So our searching was fruitful as you can see from all the goodies in the above picture.

On our one outing we visited Bosque Bambu. It is a store in front with a buffet style restaurant in the back.  It was wonderful, we shopped and filled a bag and then settled down for a wonderful vegetarian meal. One of the selections was a stir fry with what looked to be shredded pork, it was really shredded wood ear mushroom. I had to have a bag of that.  When we got home this was one of the first things I tried. I made steamed dumplings with some of these mushroom and they did not last long.

Also, I met the loveliest woman on Facebook Uruguay Expats Gastronomia. Ce Zuanich answered a post I had made, right before our trip, asking if anyone had kefir grains.  Well Ce had milk kefir, water kefir as well as scoby for kombucha.  What a find, she offered these to me as well as filling a goodie bag with spices like Mrs. Dash and a bottle of Coconut Aminos…what a wonderful surprise when I opened this package.  Thanks Ce for your generosity.  My cooking can only get better with the addition of new spices. Thinking of all the great meals I can cook with this stuff.

In looking for some of the stores and restaurants we wanted to visit, we found other places to try. One morning we walked to breakfast to a recommendation of the people who owned the studio apartment we were renting only to find it closed. wound up across the street having cappuccino and some of the best cheese scones ever – think Red Lobster cheese biscuits folks.Another day the taxi could not find a store we wanted so we got out to look about.  Found a better one, and then found the original store.  Good day for spice hunting!  Montevideo is really a great town with a lot of as yet hidden surprises for us.  Can’t wait to return.  Guess we will just have to learn the bus system!



Japanese Gardens at Museo Juan Manuel Blanes, Montevideo UY

Behind the main house of the Museo Juan Manuel Blanes is a beautiful Japanese Garden.  This garden was donated and constructed by Japan to show their appreciation to Uruguay for 40 years of friendship.

It is a beautiful setting, with mature trees and lush vegetation, where pathways, bridges and ponds create a special paradise for the senses. This was part of the koi pond and was alive with a beautiful assortment of these fish. The Zen Rock Garden was especially calming.

The Tea House was so authentic and the gardens so filled with plants, fountains, water features as well as a Zen Rock Garden, we were amazed to see such an authentic Japanese Garden here in Montevideo.We had a wonderful afternoon visiting the museum and the gardens.  And it was the perfect day, cool with a great deal of sun and no wind.  Excellent for Montevideo this time of year, with winter knocking on the door.

Casa Quinta – Museo Juan Manuel Blanes, Montevideo UY

This was a great afternoon visit. The Museo Juan Manuel Blanes is a beautiful old home filled with a variety of artwork from paintings to sculptures.  It also has a beautiful Japanese Garden donated and built by Japan to thank Uruguay for 40 years of friendship.  I took many pictures so this will be a two-part post.Many of the painting filled an entire wall with the subjects being almost full-sized.  They were very impressive. The house itself has high ceilings with beautiful parkay flooring, tray ceilings, crown moldings and extensive use of intricate tile work on the porches and staircases.  Maintained in pristine condition and has an attentive staff to help with any questions you may have. This is not the only museum in Montevideo, the guide books say there are fifteen.  We will need to make several trips to take in more of the beauty of this city.

Myeong Ga Korean Restaurant in Montevideo

One of the great finds on our trip to Montevideo was the Myeong Ga Korean Restaurant near Plaza Independencia in old town. We have had few opportunities to try Korean cooking and this was a fabulous restaurant to cut our teeth on.

The menu was filled with dishes from soups to beautiful meat dishes that several could be made vegan if that is your thing.  We had a wonderful super spicy beef soup and a chicken, vegetable and noodle dish that we shared. You can order almost everything from not too hot, pretty hot to scorch your mouth hot. We also ordered the steamed dumplings and were so surprised to see 7 or 8 additional tapas style dishes served.  When you look at the pictures it looks like the food was ordered for 6 people and it was just Joe and I.  What a feast!

The side dishes included eggplant, kim chi, a lovely egg dish, cucumber salad as well as cooked peanuts and, a few more I can’t remember. All served with a hot barley tea, also something we have never had before.

We are looking forward to another trip to Montevideo just so we can have lunch or dinner at Myeong Ga.

Bar Facal and The Locks Fountain

Bar Facal was founded in 1882 in downtown Montevideo. We stopped there one morning for a quick breakfast on one of our outings.  This the Italian Cappuccino and was served with churros.On the sidewalk outside the bar near to the fountain, is a full sized bronze statue of Carlos Gardel, a French composer, singer/songwriter and actor and the most prominent figure in the history of tango.

The Locks Fountain is located at the corner and was an amazing site.  Couples take a padlock, marked with their initials and lock it to the fountain. They say if you do this you will stay together and come back to visit the fountain.

Starbucks First Store in Uruguay

Starbucks Coffee opened their first Uruguay store in Montevideo Shopping in April of this year.

We happened to walk by and saw this incredible line out the doors waiting for a cup of coffee.  Good luck, the last time I was caught waiting in line was at Disney World in the 90’s.  Never again.

Rudy Burger

I know I wrote about Rudy Burger back last year when we were living in Montevideo. And I told you it was the best burger we have ever had, well it still is the best burger we have ever had.  Once again we stopped and had to try it. And once again it was excellent.Very attentive staff with fast service. Food excellent, can’t think of one thing that was not perfect. Only wish they had a location here in Atlantida. Simple food done well.

Micro Brewed Beer at Agricola Mercado, Montevideo

We spent most of last week in Montevideo, a bit of time for business but mostly for personal. After spending three months there back in early 2017 it was wonderful to spend time in the same area, Buseo, because we knew everything already.  The apartment was a sweet, very comfortable efficiency and get this – it had under floor heating as well as a reverse a/c heat unit.  And the kicker was it was only one block from the Montevideo Shopping mall.  We just loved it.

While there we had plans to find spices and condiments I could not find here in Atlantida as well as sneakers for both Joe and I and some warm clothing.

Our first morning we spend at the Agricola Mall.  And after a complete circuit of the stores, we decided to stop for a cold draft beer at their artisan beer stand.  This is Mastra a local artisan beer company.

I ended up picking the Honey Amber Ale while Joe took the Strong Pale Ale.  Both were cold and very refreshing.  They even sold a few selections in small kegs.

You could also get a little treat but we were looking forward to lunch at Rudy Burger so we passed.

Did not take us long to get refreshed so we could make another attempt at those stores.

It was fun and we would go back and do it again,,,but right now we had more shopping to do.

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.