Saturday, April 28, 2007

Looking for Organic?

Here is some long awaited information that many people have requested from me. I must give the credit to my lovely Canadian friend, who tipped me to the location.

Ecotienda is located in El Centro and also has a weekly stand at the Sunday feria in Parque Rodó. At the store you will find fresh produce, cheeses, the most delicious yogurt, ice cream, fresh ricota, and dulce de leche - all organic. Ecotienda sells honey, honey studded with almonds and dried fruit, olive oil, jams, preserved vegetables, and some other jarred items. They also have a few baked goods - including scones, tartas, breads, and crackers. Seaweed, eggs, rabbit and "setan" milanesas are some of the more unique items. Best to go on Weds, when a new batch of delivered products arrives at the store.

For those looking for non-toxic cleaning products they also sell alternatives to bleach and other strong cleaning agents.

The staff is friendly and very helpful. If you join as a socio for a mere 100 pesos/month you receive a discount on every purchase.

And here is some great news. In contrary to the United States, the organic products at Ecotienda are either the same price as the grocery store and ferias or less expensive.

How can you go wrong?

Mon, Weds, and Fridays they will deliver to your home. Just call before 1:00pm to make your order. (In my experience don't order eggs....they have come to broken twice!)

Have fun!


Teléfono: (02) 900 65 60
Santiago de Chile 1183 - Montevideo

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And they deliver?

I can't say enough good things about Las Delicias ice cream. All the flavors I have tried (and, yes...I have tried many) are exceptional in quality, taste, texture. I have had the good fortune to taste ice cream in many parts of the world, and I have to say that Las Delicias may even surpass the best gelato I ate in Italy. In fact, the ice cream reminds me more of gelato, with its creamy texture and unmistakable flavors, than ice cream. Our recent house guest couldn't get over the exceptional taste of the banana split flavor. Is this not the BEST ice cream you have ever eaten???, she asked us.
Banana ice cream, chocolate chips, and swirls of dulce de leche. Yes, in fact it might be the best ice cream ever.

Other extraordinary flavors include:
Las Delicias (tastes just like a ferrer rocher candy crushed in chocolate ice cream)
Bariloche (pure chocolate)
Bariloche Amargo
Café Oriental
Coco biscuit

Oh ya...and just like the well known ice cream palors in Buenos Aires, whose motorbikes are pictured below, Las Delicias will deliver right to your door.* Now if you ask me , that brings ordering in to a whole new level!

Las Delicias
21 de septiembre, esq. José Ellauri
(other locations in Carrasco and the Geant store)

Prices vary
single scoops start at $38 pesos
about $27/pesos per 100 grams

*call to inquire if delivery includes your neighborhood

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fall Pears

I wasn't impressed with this summer's peach crop (just as a reminder for our north american friends we already had our first summer). On the other hand, the fall pears have been amazing. I love sweet cold pears with lemon squeezed on them. Oh, come on...just try it.

However, we tasted true pear delight our last night in Salto when we ordered peras al vino blanco. They were drizzled with a fresh blueberry sauce (the farm is just a few kilometers away), topped with pralines, and served with ice cream.


This delicacy actually seems simple enough to make. For those of you handy in the kitchen, here is a recipe by one of my favourite food performers:

Vanilla Poached Pears
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005
1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier
1 cup water
5 ounces vanilla sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled leaving the stem intact
Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Core the pears from the bottom. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer. Remove the pears to a serving dish, standing them upright, and place in the refrigerator.

Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.

Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears and serve.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fresh Farm Eggs

Most of the outside influence of cuisine in Uruguay has its roots in Italy. However, tortilla española, a quintessential Spanish dish of potatoes, eggs, and sausage, is often on the list of minutas at your local restaurant. Minutas are entrees that can be prepared in minutes and also include milanesas, chivitos, hamburgers and panchos.

I would love to find a good tortilla española in Montevideo. The one pictured above was part of a delicious meal I enjoyed in Salto, located in the the northwest of Uruguay. We stayed at a Posada, a inn complete with private hot springs, spa services, and a great restaurant -OKKO. Each night the three of us dined at the restaurant, ordering 2-3 entrees, a salad, wine or beer, and 1 or 2 desserts. We shared everything so as to enjoy the different flavors and textures of the meal. After every meal we left happy and satisfied, but not too full, and amazed at how affordable our dinner was.

This tortilla was one of my favourite dishes we tried. The eggs were so fresh and delicious that I have no doubt they were gathered that morning from fresh, free range organic chickens.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Did you say Tarta or Torta???

As I mentioned in my last post, I am a huge fan of tarts and pastries. A few months after living here in Montevideo, I was enlightened on the difference between a torta and a tarta. I still consistently confuse the two, but on a good day I can remember that a torta is sweet and a tarta is savory. (Unless you are talking about a torta frita, which is neither savory or sweet)

I have to say that tartas have been one of my favourite food finds. There is something very satisfying a homemade tarta and a side salad for lunch. Like anything else, the quality, portion size, and ratio of pastry to filling will vary from location. But basically, it is a thin crust on top and bottom filled with either veggies, cheeses, meats or a selection thereof. I have the convenience and pleasure of a small cafetería within in the Pilates studio where I have been training. In the tiny kitchenette, the chef makes a half a dozen varieties from scratch (starting with her own pastry dough) every week. My favourite tarta is the zuchinni and mushroom. The crust is a mix of white and wheat flour and the filling holding the cooked veggies together is a light creamy sauce. Pictured above are two different varieties. On the left is caprese - mozzarella, tomato and basil. On the right another favorite - a layer of squash, a soft white cheese, and corn. She also makes primavera - tomato, hard boiled egg, jam, and cheese, pasquilini- spinach, egg, and red bell pepper, and the classic - jam and cheese. My time is limited here, so I intend to continue to enjoy my favourite lunch find. I've put in my request for a lesson in the making of a tarta before I leave!

Where to find them:
Most confiterías or panaderías, and the deli section of the grocery store
Quality and variety will vary at each location.
Portions tend to be big, ask for a media porción if you want a light lunch or if you want to try a couple varieties.
(Warning: sometimes the combinations get very creative. I would shy away from jam and cheese with frosting on top or tuna with pineapple!!)
Price $20-35 pesos/porción

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Who makes the best empanadas?

I am truly a sucker for anything in pastry shell. I love quiche, tartas (more on those soon), puff pastry savories and sweets, mom's "homemade" chicken tarts, and just about anything else that gets golden brown and flaky. So as you can imagine, I do enjoy empanadas.

In the states I have experienced mediocre quality pizza and chinese delivery. But here in Uruguay almost anything can be delivered. We thank our friends over at a Year in Uruguay for the great tip about La Chacha empanada delivery.

So to locals and friends back home ...where do you recommend eating empanadas??

At La Chacha, my favourite is the chicken curry empanada. We have tried about a dozen different fillings. You can order most either baked or fried. I have never tried the latter. They come pipping hot within minutes of placing your order.* I like serving them warm with a side salad of arugula, tomato, and corn. Pop open a bottle of Tannat and you've got a great meal.

Here are some we have tried and liked:
Pollo al curry
La Chacha (spinach, garlic, and ricota)
Oliva (olives and cheese)
Pampera (cheese, onion, and garlic)
Mediterranea (cheese, tomato, and basil)
Del Bosque (cheese, leeks, and mushrooms)
Clasica (ham and cheese)

Not as tasty as we thought...
Chopsuey (chicken, veggies, and soy sauce)
Mexicana (meat, onion, and tomato, and "salsa mexicana")

La Chacha
$19 pesos/per empanada
706 8505
*delivery is limited to Parque Batlle, Cordon, Buceo, Pocitos, Parque Rodo, Villa Biarritz, and Punta Carretas

But now I ask the locals...who makes the best empanadas???

Monday, April 9, 2007

Yum yum yum

If any of you are planning a trip across the river anytime soon, I imagine you will be exploring some of the many wonderful museums in Buenos Aires. Besides having a wonderful selection of Latin American artists, the MALBA also has a fantastic chic café. Grab a spot outside under the trees, get comfortable in their indoor lounge area, or set your self up at the bar. The meals, Italian coffees, and desserts are exquisite. After sharing a fresh spinach salad with crispy panceta, feta cheese, and mushrooms, I could not let this dessert go untouched. Creamy vanilla ice cream in bath of fresh raspberries and syrupy sauce.