Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Afternoon Update

La pega (work): Things are work are going well. There’s the ups and downs, frustrations and breakthroughs, but overall I’m enjoying learning more about IFRS and the business world in Chile. Mis compañeros del trabajo (co-workers) are all very friendly and willing to help out when I have no idea what is going on. I’m not working as many hours as I was before (said as she crosses her fingers) because I finished that huge translation project. It turned out really well and both the other girl and I finished it right on time. The manager who we were working with sent an email to our division’s partner highlighting how well we had done. I’ve been doing quite a bit of translation work or reviews in addition to the work on client projects and general IFRS material. I like being able to review or do translations because it is a chance to expand my vocabulary and learn how to use my Spanish in a more professional manner (ie. technical speak).

Nuestro hogar (our home): The newest on Padre Mariano (the name of our street) is that we have the new shower curtain (as you can see in the picture I posted earlier today). A few weekends ago we also bought a vacuum cleaner which was a necessary investment. Now I’m looking to get a new iron because the one we currently have is about to short out. I always get nervous when I want to put water in it. We are also trying to think of new ways to use the space we have because our closet just isn’t big enough for the both of us. In fact, we keep our jackets in the guestroom closet; Christian has clothes in the bathroom closet and on half of the shelves in our closet; I use the other half of the shelves and my dress clothes also occupy the majority of the hanging space. You might be thinking that we have too many clothes….but I think not!

False Advertising: Christian and I researched several gyms that are close to our house to figure out the best one to join. We were going to go with the Pacific Club on Manuel Montt because it is the newest gym, they are open 7 days a week (on the flyer it specified the hours on Monday-Friday and the hours on Sat., Sun. and holidays) and they had a 2x1 offer on year-long memberships that knocked down the monthly price to around $50 for the both of us. Tuesday evening after work we decided to walk over and sign up. When we got there the receptionist gave us each a contract to read before we moved forward in the process.

I started to read the contract and the first line in the contract specified again the days and hours that the gym was open. I continued reading, and it was just your standard contract, and then as I was approaching the end, the receptionist said “Oh, the only difference in the contract is that we aren’t open on Sundays or holidays”. Christian and I just looked at each other—you have got to be kidding me?! That was one of the strongest reasons that we decided to come to Pacific Club and obviously Sundays and holidays are days when we actually have time to use the gym (versus a work day). So we stopped right there, said we’d think about it, and left.

That is totally false advertising on the part of Pacific Club. All of the flyers that we had ever picked up, which are specific to each gym location might I add, said they are open 7 days a week. How many people do you think they have tricked into signing a contract and then not being able to go as frequently as they wanted. Not cool.

So we’re going to our second favorite gym—a Canadian/Chilean gym that is still only 10 minutes from our house and has all of the same perks and equipment except that it really IS open 7 days a week.

Miércoles Libre (Wednesday Off): This past Wednesday was a religious holiday which meant no work for us! Instead we slept in, went and took pictures at the Park of the Sculptures, and then relaxed in the afternoon. We were each doing our own thing on our laptops and then we watched the first episode of “Casado con Hijos”. I wish every Wednesday was a holiday…it would make working so much more relaxing. Two days of work, one day off, two days of work, two days off!

La Comida (Food): Of course a blog entry wouldn’t be complete without talking about food. Obviously I have some talent for talking about food since, as my friend Danielle put it, she couldn’t ever talk as much about an orange as I did. Tuesday night I made the Lemon Chicken Couscous recipe from the Southbeach diet book (with the help of Christian who cut up and cooked the chicken). It turned out delicious, but unfortunately Christian didn’t like it much because he claims that the couscous has a strange flavor. I guess that means more couscous for me! When we went to the grocery story on Wed., he bought some ribs and cooked up some BBQ ribs (using BBQ sauce imported from the US). They turned out to be so good that I even ate some, which is not very typical.

¡Regalo de Sorpresa!

I have the best suegrita (mother-in-law) ever! When we went to Viña last weekend, there waiting for me was a present that Bernarda hand made herself--a beautiful pink shower curtain!!!

I was blown away in March when I visited my inlaw's new apartment and saw a beautiful green shower curtain that Bernarda had made. Coming from the land of consumerism, I had never thought about actually sewing your own shower curtains as we always bought them. But, DUH, that is the best way to get a unique and beautiful decoration in the bathroom. (All I need to do now is learn how to sew!) Anyway, I was so impressed with the green shower curtain that Bernarda made me my very own. She's so sweet.

Here is a pic of it hung up in our bathroom:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

I love orange juice—real orange juice, like the kind you can buy in the US by the gallon. A glass of that orangy goodness, perhaps fused with other fruits like strawberry or pineapple, along with an American-style breakfast is unbeatable. Sometimes I would drink several glasses a day because my body was craving the sweet, power-packed vitamin C kick. And thanks to the facility of natural orange juice, I never really had the desire to eat oranges as a fruit. There are several reasons that have attributed to this feeling towards oranges:

1. I never learned how to peel one and I think it’s often too much work for what it’s worth, I don’t even know how old I was when I first had to figure out how to even get to the part of the orange that is edible.

2. I absolutely hate the white part of the orange. Call me racist if you want, but I can’t stand the rind for the life of me. A fruit that has a bitter layer surrounding it which is also almost impossible to remove is just not appealing.

3. It is a pain to try and separate the orange slices without a ton of juice squirting out everywhere,

4. It’s basically just a different form of drinking the orange juice I used to buy at the grocery store, only in the actul fruit, there is less juice per serving, and it is all contained in the little fleshy parts of the orange. Drinking a glass of Tropicana was just so much more fulfilling (and easy).

That said, I now eat an orange on average 3 times per week. Why might you ask?—Especially after actually taking the time to list out my prejudice against the baseball-size fruit. Well, it is now the most convenient way to get my orange juice kick. Natural juice in Chile (contrary to what restaurant menus might say) is practically nonexistent. What they call jugo (juice) here is really nectar—yes like what you give to hummingbirds—with less than 20% juice, and the rest of the liter full of water and sugar. It is more like a thickened version of Kool-aid than anything resembling Tropicana. And since it is not very practical to squeeze my own orange juice every day, I have simply had to learn how to peel an orange efficiently...and surprisingly it has worked out well. I’ve even developed my own method to peeling an orange. Enjoy the following...(and don’t worry, I won’t mind if you laugh at my silly technique, the most important thing is that it works):

--> Necessary materials include an orange, a plate or cutting board, and a knife.

--> First I cut off each end of the orange (where the little knob is, you know what I’m talking about). I make sure that at least on one of the ends, I can see a flower figure of the orange slices.

--> Then I score the outer part of the orange where it appears that each orange slice ends and another begins. I make the score from top to bottom, deep enough to almost puncture the inner flesh. I do this for each orange slice, or the majority of them anyway.

--> I begin peeling away the outer part with my fingers, using the scores that I made as a guide to take off the whole piece of the rind. Sometimes that outer layer isn’t as easy to take off, which means that a lot of white rind is left over (boo).

--> Once I get all the pieces off, I begin to search for those patches of white rind that drive me crazy. I scrape them off with my nails until thoroughly satisfied with the result.

--> I then slowly try to extract the first orange slice—which is always the most difficult. If I need help, I gently make a cut on either side of the slice to help it release easier. And if I puncture the flesh (which is more likely than not) oh well, it’s just one down for the team. Following the removal of the first slice, I gently peel apart the other slices and vualah: I have just peeled an orange...all by myself!

Mmmmmm just writing about that orangy goodness makes me want to eat one. Oh, but that is where more problems come into play because I can never take a bite of an orange slice—I have to eat the whole thing at once, no matter how big, because I can’t stand it when juice goes squirting all over my hands and face. Most of the time when I do this, juice goes squirting into my throat causing me to almost choke on it as I try to eat it as nonchalantly as possible while at work. What colorful drama I have!

Restaurant Review: Wasabi

Location: Manuel Montt 195, Providencia, Santiago,

Category of Food: Sushi, Japanese

Quality of Food: Wasabi is one of the best restaurants that I have eaten at here in Chile—obviously there is a reason it is one of my favorites. The food is always fresh (something that is supremely important when you’re dealing with raw fish) and the flavors awaken the mouth. Normally, we choose rolls with salmon and shrimp, but we’ve even had eel and tuna, which were both delicious too. One of the best aspects about Wasabi is that there are various rolls where you can pick if you want them covered in sesame, palta (avocado), or masago (which I love!). The appetizers are tasty as well—if we decide to splurge for the entradas, we normally get chicken gyozas or the sesame chicken. And for the record, any restaurant in Chile, that has sesame chicken that is similar to what I used to eat in CO, is typically a good restaurant in my book. Although that mostly relates to Chinese food (and that topic I will save for later), Wasabi has a variety of dishes apart from sushi. I haven’t actually tried any of them, but I’m sure they are just as good. Overall, my sushi cravings have increased in frequency and urgency thanks to the fact that we live a mere 10 minute walk from this scrumptious lugar (place).

The Perfect Meal: Chicken Gyozas, Ebi Cheese Roll, California Cheese Roll, Spicy Sake Roll and of course extra wasabi on the side!

Atmosphere: The ambience in Wasabi is just what it should be when one eats sushi—tranquil, clean, and inviting. When it is nice enough, they have tables set up outside and the nice thing about that is they have a giant oning that gives you shade while you eat. The inside of the restaurant is the perfect size. It has a several booths, regular tables for two, and a secret location with big comfortable chairs and a table. The waiters are attentive (OJO—for Chilean standards) and the bill comes in a cute little basket with a lid. The rectangular clear and green dishes with chopsticks that decorate the table demonstrate the cleanliness of the restaurant. And the best part of it all is there is NO smoking allowed inside.

Average price of a meal: CH$15.000 to CH$20.000 in total (that is roughly $30 to $40 US dollars); average price per roll CH$3.5000 ($7 USD)

Price of a Pisco Sour: CH$2.000 (or $4 USD)

Promotions: None that I am aware of, but they do have delivery.

Things that come to mind when I think of this restaurant: Mouthwatering, smooth, palta, cream cheese, satisfaction, heaven, and the closest thing to Hapa’s Multiple Orgasm Roll (yes, that REALLY is the name—ask anyone who has gone)!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

EaT, dRiNk, AnD bE mErRy

One of my favorite things to do with Christian is eat a good meal--whether we go out to a restaurant or whether we cook up some comida rica here in the house. Friday after a long day at work, we went out to eat sushi at our favorite spot, Wasabi, which is super close to our house on Manuel Montt. De hecho, it was the first place I ate sushi here in Chile when I was taking Spanish classes and living in Providencia before I started my study abroad program in Viña. I don't to reveal too many details about the place just yet, as I plan to write a review of the restaurant sometime soon...but trust me, it is yummy! It was so nice to go out, just the 2 of us, and have a nice conversation over dinner and drinks. After Wasabi, we went to Cabo Frío, which is a bar across the street. (And again, it is a place I found out about my first 2 weeks in Santiago back in 2006--therefore it deserves a shout out to all of my friends from ECELA: Lara, Anita, Wiebke and everyone else who used to go out with us.)

Saturday I cooked us up some spaghetti that was out of this world. The sauce had ground beef, real tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, lots of garlic, and zucchini and I combined it with rigatoni noodles. I made so much sauce that I had to cook it in our new wok that we bought last weekend....but oh was it delicious! We had enough for dinner tonight too. good it is to have a home-cooked meal.

A picture doesn't do justice to how good this meal tasted...but I wanted to share it anyway.

The other morning I was making desayuno (breakfast)--I now have my own little routine to get ready for work and be able to leave on time--and for some reason I came up with a several different topics that I'd like to write about and post in my blog. It was amazing how many topics came to mind and so instead of having writer's block, I have a time block (ie. a lack of time). I hope to dedicate more time to developing those themes as I found them to be quite entertaining and worthwhile.

I also wanted to include some pictures of our "new" home here in Santiago. I write new in quotations because in reality, Christian has had this apartment for a year now, but it is now our hogar (home). I love our location in Providencia because we are 2.5 blocks from a metro stop, and close to everything that one would need. Our apartment is nice and cozy, although the kitchen is a bit small, but we manage well. Enjoy the's bed time since tomorrow is the start of another long work week (hopefully better than the last).

The master bedroom, with the lovely pillow covers my mom made us (and snuck into my suitcase for me to find when I was unpacking!).

The master bathroom, which good size with plenty of counter space.

Our living room with the furniture that Christian's sister bought in 2007, we're housing it for now. :)

The guest bedroom and bathroom--if you come visit us, you will sleep here. Oh and that is the washing machine which is connected to the shower in the guest bath.

Out little cocina (kitchen), big enough for 2 people if you don't mind bumping into each other quite frequently.

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.