Sunday/ Coquimbe, Chile 🇨🇱

We arrived at the port city of Coquimbo this morning.
Our excursion today was a bus ride along the shoreline into the neighboring town of La Serena, followed by a drive inland to the commune of Vicuña (pop. 25,000).

The Monumental Lighthouse of La Serena (Faro Monumental de La Serena) is located on the beach at the Avenida del Mar of La Serena. It was built between 1950 and 1951 at the request of President Gabriel González Videla.
The beautiful, parched landscape and cactuses, as seen from our bus on Route 41 on the way to Vicuña.
Lush green vineyards in the Elqui Valley.
We stopped by a pisco distillery on the way to Vicuña . Here is my sample of pisco sour, made from distilled muscatel grapes and lemon juice. Pisco is the national drink of Peru, but a version of it is made in Chile as well.
Here is the municipal theater house in Vicuña.
We were one of four buses full of cruise ship tourists had lunch at this restaurant. We had an empanada appetizer, followed by a large steak with rice and tomato salad, and papaya for dessert. Oh, and they served pisco and original Coca-Cola for drinks.
Back in Coquimbo, for our final stop at a little tourist market next to this church.

Sunday/ a jaunt to U-district 🚇

Sunday is a good day to make a run up to U-district to check out the used book-stores and music stores (yes, they still sell CDs there).

I never did make it to the city of Xi’an (capital of Shaanxi Province in central China) when I was working there, to see the terracotta warriors.
Here is the cool window display, though, of Taste of Xi’an on University Way. One of their signature dishes is called paomo: a broth that we used is slow cooked with lamb, beef bones and whole chicken more than 10 hours every day.
Supreme, purveyor of New York-style pizza, also on University Way.
(New York–style pizza is pizza made with a characteristically large hand-tossed thin crust, often sold in wide slices to go).
A cosmetics store with Japanese brands, and a burger joint across the street.
University Way is in decent shape without too much damage, but man! some of the street blocks have back alleys that look downright awful (trash and graffiti).
The Varsity Theatre is in the same block that sits on the light rail U-district station.
Right behind it, the construction of a new 13-story office block with retail space is underway.
Not a pretty sight. This trashed entrance and empty space in a prime location, on the corner of 45th Street and University Way. It used to have a Bartell drug store inside. Evidently the Bartell store could not make enough profit even after being taken over by Rite Aid Corporation .. but I wonder how much effort Rite Aid really put in to keep the store afloat.
Here’s the northbound train at U-district station. Just a minute later the southbound train on the opposite track arrived and took me back to Capitol Hill.

Thursday/ beskuit 🍪

I don’t always drink beer but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis
– From the Dow Equis beer commercial (and meme for it)

I don’t always bake, but when I do, I bake beskuit*
*’Rusks’ in English— made from dough, broken or cut into chunks or slices after baking, and then slowly dried in an oven.

I was tired of buying expensive biscotti at the store (for my coffee in the morning), and so I baked a batch of South African beskuit.

My ingredients for the dough: self-raising flour, buttermilk, a little whole milk, sugar (not too much), canola oil (instead of butter), eggs, a little baking powder and salt, and bran flakes (for a little fiber).
The dough is baked at 350 °F for one hour, taken out, cut up in chunks and put back in for 5-6 hours at 250 °F (with the oven door left open by a crack) to dry the pieces out.

Monday/ at the roastery ☕️

Here’s the scene at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Pike street.
We didn’t get to see the roasted coffee beans spill from the roasting barrel into the giant cooling pan, but the place was packed with tourists and locals (a guy wearing a shirt with an Amazon Web Services logo on, for example).

Coffees from Sumatra, Malawi and Viet Nam were being brewed, and we picked Malawi. (My friends that are visiting Seattle, are from South Africa).

Tuesday/ ramen 🍜

Here is a ramen dinner that we had.  The broth & noodles are garnished with shredded salad and spices.  The other toppings are pork, nori (seaweed) and menma (fermented bamboo shoot).

*A Japanese noodle dish made by serving Chinese-style wheat noodles in a broth with several toppings. I believe it is fair to say it is Japanese comfort food.

Saturday/ eat mostly plants 🥦

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
– Advice that journalist and activist Michael Pollin offers in his 2008 book ‘In Defense Of Food’.

I tried the black bean vegetarian burger at Capitol Hill Elysian Brewing tonight.
It was tasty and light—and I will definitely order it again.
The beer is a Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale, 5.6% ABV.
The green salad I had with it had slices of watermelon radish in: great to look at, and great to eat.

Friday/ have a beer 🍺

Happy Friday.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer here in the US.
It’s also the end of Seattle Beer Week, and The Seattle Times reports that Seattle is a city full of beer snobs.

Some 56% of Seattle beer drinkers do not drink any of the major top ten brands (top ten among Seattle beer drinkers) regularly. So they steer clear of Coors Light, Bud Light, Corona Extra and all that jazz.
Bring on the likes of Georgetown’s Bodhizafa American IPA and Space Dust IPA by Elysian Brewing Company. Life is too short for big-box diluted beer.

Saturday/ at the Kaufhaus 🧸

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there’s diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes, there are ..
– From ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’ by Peter Sarstedt (1969)

It was crowded on the streets and in the stores today.
As Easter weekend goes, Friday was a Sunday (and German stores close on Sundays), today is Saturday, with tomorrow Sunday— and Monday another Sunday.
The highlight of my day was to rub shoulders with Berlin’s upper crust at KaDeWe.
KaDeWe is Kaufhaus Des Westens, ‘Department Store of the West’, second in size only to Harrods in London.

The eateries on the top floor include an oyster bar— and I’m sure I would have found caviar if I looked for it.

Businessman Adolf Jandorf opened this store in 1907. The KaDeWe abbreviation was used from the start. With over 60,000 square meters (650,000 sq ft) of retail space and more than 380,000 articles available, KaDeWe is the second-largest department store in Europe, after Harrods in London. It attracts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors every day. [Information from Wikipedia]
The escalators in the middle of the store.
Balmain is French fashion designer Pierre Balmain: founder of leading post-war fashion house Balmain. (He died in Paris in 1982). Marie-Claire in Peter Sarstedt’s famous 1969 song wore clothes that were ‘all made by Balmain’.
These shirts and jackets go for oh, $900 or $1,000 apiece. Kind of safe to say that I will never wear these, but who’s to say? Maybe I will— after I had won the Powerball or Mega Millions lottery.
These beautiful long-eared rabbits are very plush and very, very soft to the touch. Maybe I should have gotten one.

Sunday/ ‘no need to despair’ 🍺

My favorite African beer Windhoek Light⁠— a 2% alcohol beer from Namibia Breweries⁠— is not available in stores. Its production has been temporarily discontinued.

Says the Namibia Breweries website: ‘Consumers looking for a substitute need not despair, as NBL will continue to offer its other low- and non-alcoholic beverage products‘.

Windhoek Draft beer (4% alc. by volume) from Namibia Breweries is the closest substitute to Windhoek Light.
The brewery was founded in 1920 when Carl List and Hermann Ohlthaver acquired four small breweries with financial difficulties. The breweries were merged under the name South West Breweries Limited (SWB).

Thursday/ ready to braai 🔥🥩

Summer is winding down⁠— officially over, of course⁠— here in South Africa, but the grocery stores still have their ‘Ready to Braai’ displays up. Any time of year is good for a braai*.

transitive verb
South African for grilling— especially meat, boerewors (sausage), and also  veggies and tomato-and-cheese sandwiches.
The South African equivalent of an American barbecue.

Sunday/ I want my eggs 🥚

Eggs are eggs. And people want eggs.
– Amy Smith, agriculture business expert

I had to go back to the Safeway (grocery store) around the corner for eggs today. They were completely out of their good eggs three days ago. Avian flu is partly to blame for the limited egg supply, but it also seems everyone now wants eggs from free-range chickens.
Observers say prices will still have to go up substantially before they will make a dent in the demand for eggs.

Americans consumed an average 286 eggs per capita in 2020, which means many people eat an egg every day.

Yay .. the eggs have landed, in my kitchen. Eggs are now $4.25 a dozen on average in the USA, double what they were a year ago. These bad boys cost me $6.59, but they are organic and from pasture-raised hens.

Saturday/ not marmelade!

Here’s what happens when you leave your reading glasses in the car, and you grab a pair of ‘marmelade’ jam tins (at the British Pantry store on Thursday).
It turns out it was apricot jam.
No matter: it’s good stuff— one of the most popular jams in South Africa.

Thursday/ the red dragon 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

I picked up my notebook computer today in Redmond— and stopped by the British Pantry store to replenish the South African marmalade and chutney in my own pantry.

The Welsh flag outside the British Pantry store, with the Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch), passant (standing with one foot raised). The current flag was officially adopted in 1959, and is based on an old royal badge used by British kings and queens since Tudor times. The Red Dragon itself has been associated with Wales for centuries, though, steeped in folklore and myth.

Sunday/ Dick’s Drive-in is back 🍔

Dick’s Drive-in burger joint on Broadway is open after its remodel .. has been open for a few weeks already, actually.

We had a very mild 20 °C (68 °F) here in the city today.
Whoah at the first-ever red-alert temps of 40 °C (104 °F) forecast for London for Monday.


Tuesday/ more of the stalk

My new trick in the kitchen helps me keep a little more of the asparagus stalks that I like to steam in the pressure cooker.

I use a knife to cut off just an inch or so of the dry bottom of the stalk. (It’s a little hit-and-miss to break off the bottom by hand.)
Then I peel off one or two inches at the bottom with a vegetable peeler.

Now I can eat the whole stalk, without chewing on any tough fibrous skin.

Thursday/ Thai food and beers 🍻

Here come the beers!
As for the food, we barely glance at the menu anymore.
Someone just order our usual four dishes for the table with some rice, and we’re good to go.

Inside the Thai restaurant Jamjuree, on 15th Avenue.

Tuesday/ first attempt: acorn squash

The acorn squash that I had pressure-cooked tonight, came out O.K.⁠— but not great.
Even though I cooked it for a minute longer than my recipe called for (6 instead of 5 mins), it still came out a little tough.
Some recipes say to add butter and cinnamon (or nutmeg) onto the squash as it goes into the cooker, but I elected not to do that.