Monterrey, México, August 13, 2009

B.O., her sister E., E.’s daughter A., and I started the day with a light breakfast at Starbucks (I ordered a cinnamon dulce latte). Then the four of us went to the Bioparque Estrella, boarded an open truck, and went on a simulated safari. E. bought about five large paper cups of food to give to the animals, and we each had a cup. There were only four of us, so somebody, probably E., was holding two cups.

View down the length of the truck.

View down the length of the truck.

The camels were surprisingly, shall we say, forward.

In Your Face

In Your Face, and Up Close & Personal

Not expecting the animals to stick their necks within the truck, B.O. had been keeping the food between her legs. One of the camels (we think it was “Brutus”, a two-humped Bactrian camel) reached in and grabbed the food right out from between B.O.’s legs, giving her a HUGE fright! Afterwards, B.O. was muttering “Brutus, stupidus, idiutus…”

Camel Grabbing For Food

Camel Grabbing For Food

A man sitting just to our right had a similar fright. He was feeding a camel, and suddenly a second camel shoved its head in the way, trying to get some food, too. Everybody became wary of the camels, who were tall enough to reach into the truck and grab food!

From left to right: me, camel (Oliva?), A., and E.  Note our body language. :-)

From left to right: me, camel (Oliva?), A., and E. Note our body language. 🙂

The giraffe was friendly, too.

The giraffe was friendly, too.

E., B.O., and A. in front of whale skeleton

E., B.O., and A. in front of whale skeleton


E., me, and A. in front of whale skeleton

E., me, and A. in front of whale skeleton




Then the four of us went to a “magic town” close to Monterrey, the Villa de Santiago (here’s a description in English).

Street Scene in Villa de Santiago

Street Scene in Villa de Santiago

There, we went to a restaurant named Los Escamoles. Here is a picture of the wash basin in the men’s room. I was informed that the ceramic used for this sink probably comes from Puebla.

Wash basin in <em>Los Escamoles</em>

Wash basin in Los Escamoles

At this restaurant, I tried a distinctly Mexican/Aztec food called escamoles.

Escamoles

Escamoles

This has been described variously as either the eggs or the larvae of ants. Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? But surely you’ve eaten caviar, perhaps on sushi? Think of this as an insect caviar. I was expecting escamoles to be salty, like caviar. But it wasn’t that salty at all. In texture, it was kind of like a pasta al dente; and in flavor it had a mild, nutty taste. (This reminds me: I read somewhere that wichetty grubs are eaten as an ethnic food in Australia, and that they have a nutty taste.)

Another dish that I tried was a pepper drenched in a nut sauce, studded with pomegranate arils. This was chiles en nogada, one of the most famous dishes in México, and the recipe is from the same place that produces the nice ceramics, Puebla. The colors (red, white, and green) celebrate the colors of the Mexican flag; and the dish is available only seasonally, in August and in September.

Pepper Drenched in Nut Sauce

Chiles en Nogada


E.'s daughter, A.

E.'s daughter, A.




Later in the evening, I attended a wine-tasting event at Buké Restaurant. The theme for the evening was wines from Piedmont, Italy. Three red wines were paired with food. Here’s the announcement for the wine-tasting:

Jueves de Cata en Buké
(8:00PM a 9:30PM)
Estimados amigos, los invitamos al jueves de cata en Buké. Este jueves, 13 de Agosto, el tema será “Piemonte, Italia” con el cual el Chef Roberto Navarro nos ha preparado un maridaje especial:

Gavi di Gavi DOCG San Silvestro 2007
-Salame di Tonno

Barolo “Patrem” DOCG San Silvestro 2004
-Bagna Cauda

Barbaresco “Magno” DOCG San Silvestro 2005
-Osso Bucco

Here’s a photo of me with the two owners of Buké, Gonzalo and Néstor, as well as with Luigi Travi, the wine expert who led the wine-tasting event.

Gonzalo Palazuelos, Luigi Travi, me, and Néstor A. Leal

Gonzalo Palazuelos, Luigi Travi, me, and Néstor A. Leal

Luigi works for a wine importer named Enotria; I gather that they actually specialize in Italian wine.

B.O. at Buké

B.O. at Buké


Afterwards, B.O. took me to an area high in the mountains named Chipinque, which is close to a famous mountain formation known as the “M”. There, we took some night-time photos of Monterrey.

Monterrey By Night

Monterrey By Night


Finally, B.O. and I went to the Monterrey Koldbar (Ice Bar).

Scene in the Monterrey KoldBar

Scene in the Monterrey KoldBar

Here’s a photo of an ice sculpture of a bear that B.O. took back in June.

Ice Sculpture of a Bear

Ice Sculpture of a Bear

B.O. and me in the Ice Bar

B.O. and me in the Ice Bar


Trip Summary

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