Eating Our Way Through the Week

Mucho Restaurant Cuenca February 2016 040With Carnaval, there has not been much to do other, but we have filled our time with social events. On Monday, we had lunch with Bill and Barbara Wolfe. They were our home exchange partners from last year. We spent two weeks in their home.

The plan initially was to meet at De Santy’s Restaurant, but once we arrived, we found they closed for Carnaval. Fortunately, the restaurant on the corner was open, so we went to Mucha’s instead. This newly remodeled restaurant was a visual treat. They used kitchen utensils to create their light fixtures much like Raymipampa’s.

My brunch choice was plentiful, but not nearly as tasty as I imagined from the photo on the menu. However, the company was splendid. Sharing travel stories is always fun, but Bx2 are planning to move to Porto, Portugal, which is exciting.

Tuesday, we had an invitation to lunch with Kirsten, a woman interested in home exchanging with us next year. Kirsten sent us directions to give to a taxi driver, but in English. I had to edit them before translating it into Spanish.

We stopped at the flower market to get two bouquets and found a taxi easily. When I asked why the meter was not running, he said during Carnaval, it was not mandated. Kirsten had advised us to call her when we arrived; she had to open the gate for us. Just prior to our leaving, she called to say a drunk driver knocked down the sign for the school across the street, which was to be a major landmark for finding her.  As a result, we drove for quite some time, actually overreaching our destination due to no definitive address and no school sign.

Stopping at a home based store, the driver asked where the school was. It sits right next to their house. I called Kirsten only to get a recording. Not understanding the message, I played it again for the women shopkeepers. They tried explaining she did not have her phone turned on. Frustrated, we started walking down the road when we heard someone calling. Kirsten spotted us from her balcony, waving and opening the gate.

We talked for over an hour while munching on snacks. For lunch, Kirsten had a lovely avocado salad served in the avocado shells. Sautéed shrimp with garlic and fresh spices followed served with linguine. Superb! Here house is lovely and her artwork represents all the countries she has lived in throughout her life. It is a perfect home if it were not for the location. Generally, she offers her car with home exchanges, but it does not work for us. Neither of us have driver’s licenses any longer.

Conversation never had a lull, so before we realized it, five hours had passed. Being early evening on a holiday, the chance of getting a bus or taxi was close to nil, so Kirsten drove us home. Another delightful day filled our time.

Ecuador - Cuenca February 2016 041Wednesday was another treat, very unexpected. We had an invitation to lunch at Bill and Rodolfo’s, who are friends of Howard and Mike. Other friends, Tom and Mark were also included. Due to our hosts living way up in the hills, Bill offered to pick us up after we took the bus to the local mall. Normally, it would have taken two trips, but Mark and Tom offered to get in the back of the car. Good things come in small packages.

Lunch started with homemade lemoncello shots accompanied by fresh guacamole. As the saying goes, if I had died then, I would have died happy. After a house tour, which was phenomenal, we sat down to Mexican Pozole soup. Bowls of Ecuador - Cuenca February 2016 042shredded lettuce, corn chips, sour cream, and other toppings passed to us to add what we wished as a soup topping. How you can make a fantastic soup even better is beyond me, but each bite was better than the previous one. It was so delicious, it made me want to return to Ecuador - Cuenca February 2016 044Mexico after we leave here. If this were not enough, the next serving was a tortilla casserole. Again, it was full of all the flavors that I adore in Mexican cooking. This is one of my favorite cuisines.

The afternoon was filled with lots of laughs, sincere sharing of stories and just a marvelous time getting to know others. Bill took pity on us; rather than taking us to the bus stop, he drove all of us home. That was very appreciated.

Ecuador - Cuenca February 2016 049Today, we have a lunch date with Howard and Mike at Popacuchu and then we get to meet Chico afterwards.

Meeting up with the guys is always a delight. Good conversation and laughs are always on the menu with them. Popacuchu on the other hand is not a place I would not necessarily go out of my way to visit a second time.

My order started by asking the waitress if the café au lait was the same as a café latte or if it was simply coffee with milk. She was not certain, so I said if it is coffee with milk, I order me a cappuccino. After asking her father, the owner, she returned to say it was indeed a café latte.  Along with the coffee, I ordered the Ensalada Popacuchu, (chicken, smoked bacon, roasted sweet bell peppers, cheese, red onion, avocado with basil pesto dressing).

When the owner brought the drinks, he set the coffee down with the comment “water with some coffee and milk”, though I did not question it when he said it. What I received was far from a café latte, but indeed, it was barely coffee flavored water with milk. After two sips, it sat gathering a milk film across the top.

When my salad arrived, it was pleasant tasting, the dressing added some zing to an otherwise bland combination of items. It was difficult finding the chicken chunks, but the bacon was even less visible. Nevertheless, it was filling, but nothing I would put on my suggestion list.

Indulging in a caramel cloud for dessert was beyond decadent. Flavors of caramel, chocolate and high striker2graham cracker intermingled and joined forces to turn my tongue into a pleasure palace until the cake was nothing but a memory. Feeling my blood sugar rising like a high striker game at a carnival with each bite, the taste sensation overruled reason and common sense. Each bite was nirvana even if I had to pay for it later when the sugar rush evaporated.

Our friend Mike mentioned to the owner that I found the coffee to be less than satisfactory. He said if he had known I wanted it stronger, he would have made it that way. He claimed other customers have complained it was too strong. Never have I had to tell a barista that I wanted my espresso drink strong. It was rather quizzical that a bakery/restaurant would not have asked what my preference was considering they had issues with previous customers. It was not my place to ask since an espresso is an espresso. Lesson learned!

After lunch, we went to see Mike and Howard’s house. What a treasure they found. It is an enviable find with great lighting via skylights. They cleaned out their little backyard area and replanted with vegetables and plants. The entire house is welcoming.

Speaking of welcoming, we finally met Chico, the mini-pinscher. He is a bundle of energy, but quickly adapted to Ron and me. He is adorable; we had a blast playing with him. He jumps around like a little antelope. As he raced between the two of us, he seemed to be having as much fun as we did.

One good thing about these lunches is that it has filled us for most of the day. At dinnertime, we snack on cheese and crackers. Thankfully so, if we had another meal, we would both be extra baggage on our next flight.

Tomorrow, we will get to visit some museums before going to Barbara and Bills where Mike and Howard will join us for pizza and movies.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.