Archive for the ‘Eat’ Category

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Darren and I recently had the opportunity to spend a relaxing four days in Aruba. We didn’t explore much while we were there, but have a few notes on our stay that may be of use for those of you contemplating a trip there.

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Howdy friends! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been in Los Angeles for the past week or so eating up a storm (what else would I be doing?). The actual reason I’m over here is because my brother, who is back from his semester in Shanghai, got an internship over here. LA is pretty non-public transportation friendly, so my dad and I flew out here to go car shopping. Fun stuff, I tell ya. At any rate, we were able to squeeze in some gastronomical adventures and shenanigans of the random variety. So without further ado:

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My brother introduced me to a chain called the Veggie Grill. If anything could convince me to turn vegetarian/vegan, it would be this chain. // Half & Half, what is it about your boba and pudding that makes me weak in the knees?
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I’ve heard from multiple people that the Korean food in K-Town is better than Korea due to the availability of fresh ingredients. After spending a few days in Seoul this past winter, I’m inclined to agree. The panchan at Beverly Soon Tofu was delish. // Spotted a bunch of cute terrariums at the Grove that make my terrarium look deplorable. It doesn’t help that Nugget has eaten 2 of the 3 plants in mine =\
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Bought some Venezuelan chocolate at the Grove’s farmers market to bring back to Darren. And a bar of fudge for me. // Took our dad hiking at Runyon Canyon. We took the easy path and had our dad huffing and puffing in no time.
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Spent a quiet day at Hermosa Beach // Viet food at Saigon Dish – my dad’s find. Tasted allllmost like mommy’s.
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Dim sum at King Hua in Monterey Park. I have never seen har gow and shiu mai this large.
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More food from King Hua. As delicious as this was, I am pretty certain they put MSG in their dishes. About 30 minutes after we left, I was dragged into an MSG-induced coma. Doh.
darwindiscovered_losangeles13 darwindiscovered_losangeles15Explored Arlington Garden near old-town Pasadena. This quite sanctuary would be a perfect place for a picnic. I was enamored with all the succulents that sprouted around the grounds. // Not just Hi-Chew. Individually wrapped Hi-Chew. Once again, Daiso wins my heart.
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The bistro that we stayed at (Courtyard El Segundo by LAX) served up the cutest oatmeal . I took notes for any future guest stays at the Darwin residents. // Ramen. There is so much ramen in LA. This bowl is from Hakata in Little Osaka. I loved that the restaurant allows you to specify the hardness of your noodles (I prefer mine on the al dente side).

In case you didn’t see our previous post, our e-sesh is on the Washingtonian. Check them bad boys out. 

How-To: The Stodtini

FYI- This post was written back in December, but for various reasons never made it onto the blog until now. W is back from her Asia travels, and I’ve been putzing around home, work, and taking care of our little Nugget. Since this was supposed to go up a few months ago and it is almost spring (but still cold as heck from this never ending winter), the drink of Winter 2013 is now the drink of Spring 2014!

darwindiscovered_stodtini-1Happy Spring! As you dream about the warm weather, how about a nice refreshing drink recipe to help you through this miserably long polar vortex winter? This past winter was a special time for me, finally finishing grad school after a long 2.5 years of work, school, and nothing else. So, in honor of the impending spring season, and my classmate Kate – who also graduated – I present to you DarwinDiscovered’s Drink of the Season, Spring 2014: The Stod-tini! It’s simple, it’s classy, and it’s delicious – so you can spend more quality time with those you care about, and less time worrying about what to drink.

What you’ll need:

  • St. Germain Elderflower Liquor
  • a Pear-flavored vodka of your choice (or infuse your own, like we did)
  • club soda

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Homemade infused pear and apple vodka

In our never-ending quest to stock our newly assembled bar (and cart), W and I found ourselves at our local county liquor store one evening perusing the selection of fancily-flavored liquors. We thought, “Pay $25 for a bottle of Absolut Pear Vodka? We have to be able to do it ourselves for cheaper!” And thus, our vodka infusing was borne. (editor’s note: unfortunately, it cost us just about the same amount to infuse the vodka when you consider all the materials, but I (would like to) think our choice of fresh ingredients and vodka make it a better choice)

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The ingredients:

Two 1-L bottles of Tito’s – Texas-based sextuple-distilled premium vodka, for our infusing target. Might as well have something smooth, silky, and easy to drink if you are going to make it for yourself. We also like the classic look of the Tito’s bottles, and they were perfect for pouring in our infused vodka back for storage.
10-12 Seckel Pears – These are the best for infusing, given their relatively firm flesh, and their small-ish size. I thought that the firmness might enable them to stay a bit more consistent while infusing, rather than turning into a mush. Something like a Bartlett pear may be softer and riper to use, and might turn out sweeter – but we discovered the Seckel was plenty sweet enough.
6-8 Gala or Fuji Apples – again, I don’t think it makes too big a deal what variety of apple you use, but I’d stay away from some of the darker flesh types, as the infusing process will add a bit of golden brown color to your vodka already.
Two 1L Infusing Canisters – these can really be any air-tight container that has a large enough opening to fit your fruit in. We found the glass barrel-looking ones for about ~$7 each at HomeGoods. Air-tight is the only requirement.
Cheese cloth – for straining the fruit out after your infusing period

Homemade infused pear and apple vodka

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darwindiscovered_holidayguide_lushChristmas is quick upon us, and if you’re like me, your gift shopping progress is…zilch. Since I’ve been brainstorming what to gift to others, I figured I’d share my findings with you. If you’ve read our Build a Home Mini Bar guide, you’ll know that we like our imbibements at Casa de Darwin. Should you find yourself wondering what to gift your friend who enjoys partaking in beverage sipping of the alcoholic variety, look no further: 13 days till Christmas, 13 gift ideas that will make you want to drink.

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Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru    Cuy (Guinea Pig) at Kusikuy in Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru

As with many travelers that swarm the notorious Gringo Trail annually, Cusco was the launching point for our two-week Peruvian adventure. Located at a not-so-comfortable 3,400 m (11,800 ft) above sea level, the historical Inca capital boasts numerous attractions that left us, quite literally, breathless.

Getting There and Around

From DC, it was quite the trek to Cusco. There are no direct flights to neither Lima nor Cusco from the three WAS airports, and all flights to Lima from DC take place late afternoon/evening…making an overnight at the airport to make your AM Cusco connection all too likely. Our journey went like this: IAD >> PTY >> LIM >> CUZ. A heart-stopping 42 minute connection in Panama City was followed by a 5 hour overnight layover in Lima, bringing our total travel time to just over 14 hours. Buenas suerte friends, buenas suerte.

From the airport to the Plaza de Armas (city center), a taxi will cost you 10 soles. You MUST negotiate fare before getting into the cab. If you don’t like the price the drivers give you, walk away and find another car. Meters are non-existent in the cabbies, so buyer beware. No need to tip unless the driver handles your baggage, in which case 1-2 extra soles would be appropriate. Once you’re in the city center, everything is reasonably walkable. If you get tired, a cab to various parts of town shouldn’t cost more than 5 soles max.Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru

Stay

We stayed at Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta on Jiron Pumacahua for $10 a night per person (4 bed, ensuite bathroom). The hostel is zero frills but has the necessities: free blowdryer, linens, towels, breakfast, and luggage storage (what, did you think I wheeled my Samsonite along the Inca Trail?). There’s hot water and heat, but both were of dubious quantity, a pattern that repeated itself at our various hostels across the country. The staff was friendly and spoke English if you need it. My only complaint would be that the hostel was located about 15 minutes walking from the Plaza de Armas, which wouldn’t be a problem except that we had to walk through the narrowest of alleyways, with traffic, to get there.

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