Category: Food & Drink

Argentina Day 7: Rainbows, Rain & Chocolate

Yesterday I went to sleep feeling as if I were sleeping under the stars, and this morning I awoke to a welcoming rainbow just outside our window overlooking the lake.

Good morning my sweet rainbow

If you read our travel blogs regularly, you might recall that a year and a half ago we were in Rome, Italy. We had just lost our second baby at just shy of 13 weeks. It was especially cruel as we’d gone through IVF to conceive #1Toddler, and this was what the infertility world calls a “spontaneous pregnancy.”

Unfortunately she wasn’t healthy, and wasn’t meant to come home with us. Losing her was gut-wrenching and felt cruel. Why be given such a gift only to have it taken from you? While in Rome, we honored her by releasing pink roses into the River Tiber with The Vatican in the distance.

But this morning I awoke here in Bariloche, Argentina, 20 weeks pregnant and feeling the kicks of our little boy, also the product of science and persistence. A baby born after a loss is known as a rainbow baby. A loss can never be replaced, but it feels so good to be adding to our family. Thank you Argentina for the nod to our rainbow.

Today delivered rain and temperatures in the high 50s just as forecast. We stayed in bed and in pajamas drinking coffee and indulging in a little screen time for all.

We rallied around 1:30pm and headed to Bariloche Center to pick up our professional photo from the ski lift yesterday and start our chocolate hopping.

Sometimes that touristy photo is worth it

Stop #1 on the chocolate tour – Rapanui Chocolate. Founded in 1948 by an Italian fleeing the ravages of war, Rapanui is one of the oldest chocolate factories and stores in Bariloche.

Vanilla waffle with strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream and chocolate

Not only can you purchase chocolate pieces like bonbons, Rapanui also offers sit down service featuring waffles, crepes, gelato and coffee.

TeamLouka enjoys Rapanui waffles

We snagged a seat with a view of the indoor ice skating rink located within the store.

People kept crashing into our window which #1Toddler found hysterical

After Rapanui we headed to Mamuschka to buy some presents for some unnamed people back home. Most of the chocolate shops offer free samples while you wait in line, so be vigilant.

Bombones at Mamuschka

After completing our purchases at Mamuschka, we crossed the street and entered La Reina Chocolate to get some take home treats for dessert tonight.

Marbled chocolate at Reina Chocolate
“Chocolate heart pwease”
Bon bons and jellies at Reina Chocolate

After our chocolate tour, we stopped by KPlay arcade to unwind and hopefully snag a stuffed animal for #1Toddler.

KPlay at Bariloche Center

KPlay features a giant sized claw machine, Peppa Pig riding game, numerous racing games and skeeball.

Selection of games at KPlay

After our afternoon of chocolate and games, we stopped by the grocery store for a few essentials and headed back to the house to make pizza and light the fireplace. Sometimes it’s good to slow down a bit.

-Steph

Argentina Day 6: Cerro Campanario Ski Lift, Sendero de los Arrayanes and Patagonia Cervecería

Last night I fell asleep under the stars with the help of our panoramic bedroom windows. The weather forecast promised to be gorgeous today and did not disappoint.

The ascent at Cerro Campanario

Small children can safely sit on an adult lap

First stop, riding the chair lift at Cerro Campanario, the mountain directly across from our AirBnB.

The chair lift takes you up to a mountain top cafe and overlook. The lift is a typical ski lift – slow and accommodating for nearly everyone. Small children, elderly folks with canes, we saw a mix. Tickets are just 500 peso ($9) per person, and children under 5 are free.

The café at the top has indoor and outdoor seating

Ice cream any time, any place

The cafe at the peak offers both food and drinks. We opted for beef, chicken and cheese empanadas with café con leche and fresh fruit juice. There’s also pizza and a generous selection of pastries and desserts.

Panoramic view from atop Cerro Campanario

Mama and baby girl

Your ticket thankfully includes the ride back down as well. We were sad for the journey to end, but the trip down was even more impressive than the way up.

Descent view at Cerro Campanario

After Cerro Campanario, we knew #1Toddler would be looking to nap. She almost fell asleep on the chair lift down. We set out for Sendero de los Arrayanes, a park with flat trails that’s low aerobic demand and stroller friendly. Most everything is within a 5-10 mile radius in Bariloche, so it didn’t take long to find.

You can take your pick of walking sticks at the start of the trail. The entire trail is roughly 1.5 miles. It’s fairly flat with a good mix of inclines and declines in each direction.

About half way down the trail there’s an offshoot that allows you to explore el Bosque de los Arrayanes (Forrest of the Chilean Myrtles). These trees require a specific habitat and soil and are extremely fragile. They’re known for their unique twisted branches, narrow trunks with irregular white spots, and cinnamon-colored bark that peels off as the tree grows. Many are over 300 years old.

El Bosque de los Arrayanes

El Bosque de los Arrayanes

At the end of the trail there’s a rocky beach with flat water and lapping waves. #1Toddler must have thrown 100+ rocks into the lake.

“Splash!”

“Look mama a green one!”

Finding the perfect rock

After Sendero de los Arrayanes we were of course hungry again. Prior to the trip, Amir scopes out the local breweries (there are a ton) and decided Patagonia Cervecería was a must.

Patagonia Belgian Red

You can’t get more “locally grown” than these hops

The menu was exactly what we wanted – charcuterie, burgers, a few salads. #1Toddler and I split the “Las Brisas” board, while Amir enjoyed a burger.

Las Brisas board

Patagonia Cervecería is doing right what Richmond just can’t seem to figure out. The atmosphere is incredible. Bariloche had amazing views of the water, and everywhere you turn you get to experience them. Back home, we have the beautiful James River, but nay a single brewery (maybe Legend) capitalizing on that perfect view.

Casual seating and a walk-up bar

Restaurant seating with full service

Casual outdoor seating at Patagonia Cervecería

Today was amazing. And I’m stuffed. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for 60 degrees and rain, so looks like we’ll be doing some indoor chocolate factory hopping. Oh darn.

-Steph

Argentina Day 4: Learning to bake alfajores and exploring Recoleta Cemetery

Amir asked me this morning why I love Eva Perón so much… I had to stop and think… and correct him. Love isn’t the right word – it’s more that she fascinates me.

Eva Perón grew up a poor, illegitimate child and moved to Buenos Aires at age 15 to pursue a career in acting and television. She struggled for years until she met then Secretary of Labour, Juan Perón. They married a year later. He became president of Argentina in 1946.

“Evita” as the country would come to call her, was dichotomous in every sense. Elegant and underprivileged. Benevolent and self-promoting. Divisive and unifying. As a woman, she pushed her way (and coaxed people into inviting her) into social spheres and roles no other First Lady had. She even ran for Vice President. She was adored and despised. She was far from perfect but never claimed to be. Maybe I identify with her.

Today we visited her family grave at Cementario Recoleta. But first, let’s talk about our milanesas lunch and the delicious cookies we made.

Milanesa Patagónica

Milanesa Napolitana

Milanesa is a traditional Argentinian dish which borrows from Italian roots. They take a variety of meats – veal, pork, chicken – pound it thin and bread it. This particular restaurant, La Casa de la Milanesa, treated the milanesa like a pizza crust, offering a selection of toppings with a side of fries. Delicious.

Andra Bakery, Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Our next stop was at Andra Bakery to take a “clase de pastelería,” or a pastry class. We’ve come to enjoy the “experiences” you can find on AirBnB, so when we saw the chance to bake our own traditional alfajores, we jumped.

Aspirational models

For $40 per person, you get very personal instruction from the owner. She limits each class to three people, so your lesson is essentially private.

Over two hours, you make three different cookies, each with a slight variation on the traditional alfajores.

You weigh your bowl as you add ingredients, taking care to tare the scale along the way. You mix the dough with your bare hands, then chill it in the refrigerator while mixing the next batch. The cook time is short, and the ROI high. We walked out with two whole boxes of cookies, new knowledge and the joy of a unique experience.

After cookies at Andra Bakery, we walked two blocks to enter El Cementario de la Recoleta. I never knew there was a list of Top 10 Cemeteries in the world, but Recoleta is on it.

Many famous Argentinians are buried here including Eva Perón, the founder of the Argentinian Navy and numerous past presidents.

While for most of its existence it’s been restricted to the notable and wealthy in society, for a few short years Recoleta was open to public burials. As a result you’ll find some very common people resting next to Argentinian greats.

Eva Perón is buried here, despite a huge push for her to be returned to the small humble village where she was raised.

Tomb for the Duarte Family and Eva Perón

Sadly Eva Perón died at the age of 33 from what most believe was cervical cancer. Her untimely death makes her rise to fame so much more interesting to me as I’m left wondering what she could have accomplished with more years.

Inside one of the neglected tombs

After Recoleta and a brief siesta back at the apartment, we took an Uber to La Estancia, a meat lovers paradise. It’s akin to the Brazilian steakhouse, but is much more personalized and less mass market.

We started with a caprese salad, beef empañadas and some fresh bread.

For our main course, we ordered a mixed barbecue of lamb, pork ribs, sausage, suckling pig and beef.

It arrived steaming, snapping and crackling on a bed of hot coals. Our experienced waiter had covered my bag in the chair beside me with a yellow linen. When our dish arrived, it was then that I understood why.

We’re packing up tonight for our flight to Bariloche tomorrow. Bariloche is in the Patagonia region and from photos most resembles Switzerland meets Breckinridge. We’ll see if the photos hold true.

-Steph

Denmark Day 8: Sampling Smørrebrød & Go Boating the Copenhagen Harbour

Today we met up with all the Americans at Jeff & Nadja’s apartment to eat smørrebrød, rent Go Boats and grab dinner in the Meat Packing District.

Smørrebrød, traditional Danish open-face sandwiches

On the top floor of the building, their apartment is light and airy, with a loft, skylights and cross beams that give a nod to the industrial feel of Copenhagen.

#1Toddler and Nadja play “princess cups”

After enjoying smørrebrød and beers, we took the bus to the Harbour to board our Go Boats, small electric-powered boats with picnic tables designed for drinking, sightseeing and maybe eating.

Our fearless Capthalmologist (Captain + Ophthalmologist)

we rented the boats for two hours which was the perfect length of time. The boat operators will provide maps with suggested routes if you just tell them how much time you want to take.

The boat was very relaxing for some

As you float the canals, there are many pedestrian and bicycle bridges you float beneath. There’s not much clearance left, right or up.

We passed by Christiania which we’d explored by family bicycle on Friday.

Christiania house boats with the ski slope power plant in the distance

Each boat fits about eight people, so with a group our size we rented two. Jeff narrated on one boat while Nadja provided a guided tour on the other. They switched half way through our trip to spend time with everyone.

On our way back in, we passed under yet another pedestrian bridge, this one designed to mimic the sails of a ship. Design is everywhere in Denmark.

After the Go Boats, we stopped for ice cream. I’m quite convinced the United States would be a more civil place if everyone ate as much ice cream and gelato as the Europeans.

After ice cream, we walked along the Harbour to another pedestrian bridge where we crossed over and headed to the Meatpacking District.

A public swimming area in the Harbour

Amir and I enjoyed food from the Indian stall while many others in our group tackled “meat stacks” which were essentially oversized burgers with gravy poured over top.

Evening strawberries enjoyed on our balcony

Strawberry torte for breakfast

Tomorrow is our last day here, and we’re going to Tivoli Gardens, the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world.


Day 8 Odds & Ends

Denmark Days 6&7: The Wedding & the World Cup Final

The wedding day finally arrived. We took a taxi from our hotel to the church for the ceremony. Most things are walkable in Copenhagen, but this church was 30 minutes by foot even in comfortable shoes, plus it was sprinkling.

Filips Kirke Church, Copenhagen

Just as in the US, it’s customary to arrive 15-30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

Playing with the plastic animals

Jeff & Amir

The ceremony was conducted entirely in Danish. I had to escape out the back door about three minutes in after #1Toddler started fussing and shouting “No! No! No!” I heard a few guests quip that she was objecting to the marriage, so I figured that was our cue.

There was a break between the ceremony and a canal boat ride that lead up to the cocktail hour. Given the weather and the fact that someone needed a nap to achieve the important act of staying awake until the dance floor, we opted to skip the canal boat and take a family ciesta to recharge.

Ciesta time before the reception and dancing

The cocktail hours started at 5pm, and we arrived at 5:30. The venue is located at Langelinie Pavillion near Kastellet, with 180 degree views of the water.

The bride and groom took photos by the sea port

Nadja gave me a heads up on a few of the unique Danish wedding traditions. For starters, the dinner is five hours NOT including dancing. The Danish are famous for giving speeches. All guests are invited to toast the bride and/or groom. Sentimental or a roast, anything goes. But the speeches are formal and preplanned. Those wishing to speak must sign up with “the Toastmaster” ahead of time to be added to the schedule of speakers.

One of the quizzes asked attendees to raise a flag, US or Danish, to vote for whoever a given clue was true for. Someone enjoyed waving the flags indiscriminately.

After the promised five hours of toasts (which sped by) and a delicious steak dinner with pickled celery root and herb potatoes, the dancing began.

The main course

Making news friends

Oddities of the gift table

The silver accent stones are actually chocolate

The cocktail hour space which later became the dance floor

We had a goal of making it to the dancing which we were told would start around midnight. To our amazement, no one on our team needed a nap, and everyone powered through and made it to the dance floor to let loose.

At 1am we called it a night. We left impressed by the attention to personal detail displayed in every aspect of the wedding – the sentimental speeches that helped us get to know both Jeff and Nadja better, the thoughtful icebreakers and translations back and forth between English and Danish, and the exquisite food. Amir and I both decided we will RSVP yes to any Danish wedding invites from here on out.


Day 7

To say we were moving slowly this morning is an understatement. Coming up on noon, #1Toddler began to get antsy and request to go to “da park, da park!” So she and I headed out on a solo walk in search of the famous trampoline sidewalks.

She of course fell asleep in the stroller just five minutes into the walk, so I took the opportunity to stop for an Aperol Spritz and cheese plate while she slept.

Enjoying my orange

She awoke just as I was paying the bill and packing up to move us to our next destination. She didn’t miss the ice cream sign on the way out.

Decisions, decisions

Copenhagen Harbour

We walked just three blocks past Copenhagen Bicycles where we rented our family bicycle on Day 5 of our trip and found the Trampoline Sidewalk. Friends on one of my online mom boards recommended this one for kids.

Still working on jumping with two feet at the same time

After the trampoline sidewalk, we headed back to the hotel to reconnect with Amir who was resting and tackling a migraine.

Danish architecture focuses heavily on clean lines

The National Workshop for Arts is seen across the harbour

Amaliehaven Fountain

Gefion Fountain featuring the Norse Goddess of the same name

St. Alban’s Church, 1887

The only other must-do item on the list for today was watching the Women’s World Cup Final between the USA and the Netherlands. We figured being in Europe where futbol is king, we’d have no trouble finding a spot to watch the game. To our surprise, we walked two miles and stopped by 8 pubs before finding our viewing home at the Happy Pig. In fairness, The Dubliner Irish Pub did have the game on, but it was standing room only and not toddler friendly.

USA! USA!

On a random side note, Amir and I couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of discarded nitrous oxide cartridges that litter the streets in some hot spots of the city. In doing a little Googling, it seems whippets are the favorite drug of the young crowds here in Copenhagen.

In some areas discarded silver N2O cartridges are more numerous than cigarette butts

After the glorious futbol victory, we made our way to Sticks & Sushi, a favorite restaurant of Jeff & Nadja, and also the place where we cancelled our reservation after an exhausting day on the bike and too much soft serve. I’m so glad we circled back and made it there. Commence the food porn.

Spicy miso soup with salmon, seaweed and tofu

Kids “sticks box” with chicken meatballs, white rice, edamame, carrots and peanut sauce

Shrimp tempura

Sister sushi box

Lemon sorbet, white chocolate creme with raspberry glaze, coconut rice pudding with passion fruit compote and a pistachio chocolate torte

Everything we ordered was unforgettable. We both agreed we’ve paid twice as much for meals we’ve liked half as much, and for sushi, the pricing was very fair given the quality.

The last two nights have brought the best meals yet. I can’t wait to see what we can eat tomorrow.

Amir, Jeff & Nadja

$3 IKEA cups FTW again, this time during the speeches

We may have snuck in a raspberry popsicle

Downtime in the hotel room