Thursday, May 29, 2008

fun in Mendoza with wine.

Emily and Arjie came to town for a quick visit and we had lots of fun together. After their 18-hour flight, we relaxed at home for a while and then we had a massage! what a great idea for tired travelers arriving after a long flight. This wonderful masseuse named Linnea came to our house, carrying her massage table, and gave each of us a 30-minute massage with beautiful lavender or eucalyptus-smelling massage cream. I wish she could come give me a massage every day.
After our massages I dragged the tired visitors out to Maria Emilia's birthday party, which was fun and led us from her house in Palermo to Sugar bar nearby on Costa Rica, and then to Club Podesta for dancing afterwards!
The highlight of the visit was a short trip to Mendoza via overnight bus (13 hours in comfy reclining sleeper-seats). We spent the first day recovering from the bus-ride and wandering around Mendoza, enjoying a sunny crisp fall day and strolling in the park. We had a great posh dinner at a place called Praga (Aguirre 413), yum. The second day we took an awesome wine tour with Ampora wine tours. They picked us up at our hostel at 8:45 am and brought us to four different vineyards to tour the facilities and sample wines. The tourguide was incredibly cute and nice and gave us lots of interesting info about the region and its history and the winemaking traditions in Mendoza. The focus of our tour was boutique wineries, so they were all smaller operations, each with a distinctly different type of facilities. My favorite was probably the first one, Bodega Benegas, which was very old-fashioned and had a chatty and informative tourguide. The most interesting thing we learned was that most of the wine producers in Mendoza used to ferment their wines in enormous underground concrete vats, which is why Argentine wine used to have the reputation of being cheap and mediocre, and also explains why older Argentines have the habit of drinking their wine mixed with soda water and ice cubes (to dilute the yucky concrete taste). Now these fancy places ferment their wine in imported cured french oak barrels which cost like $600 each! and each barrel can only be used one or two times before it loses its flavor and is sent to a lower-quality place. Anyway, there were lots of tasty malbecs and we had a delicious lunch at one of the vineyards, with a different wine paired to each dish. It was cool to learn more about how wine is made and how to enjoy it, although I still did not learn how to describe wine with words like "rustic" or "chewy" or "apricots" or whatever.

The only sad thing about the tour was the drizzly chilly wather and clouds which almost totally hid our view of the Andes. One of the most beautiful things about Mendoza is the rows of vines growing in the valley with the snow-capped Andes looming above, but we could only see the foothills on our visit. Nonetheless, our spirits were lifted high by many glasses of fancy wines, good company and tasty food.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

i'm obsessed with this website. i discovered it a few months ago when a photo of my cards was posted on and suddenly i got a bunch of orders that said "i saw your cards on!" so I went to check it out. it's totally simple and great.

anyway. i really like it and i can't stop looking at it and i wish i could have an invite so i could login and post stuff too. but it's invitation only and i don't have an invite. so I just look at the pictures... i especially like that this site reminds me how much i dig typography... on the other hand, there are an awful lot of naked ladies on here, and I can't honestly complain that i don't like looking at naked ladies, they're nice, but there's no naked men or anything, just naked women. it kind of makes me feel like i'm in a college freshman boys' dorm room, which is not a feeling that i'm into. but i still love looking at all the pictures.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 16, 2008

wall animation

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Andrew just sent me this link, an awesome video made in Buenos Aires. Wall paintings and graffiti and stencils and street art is one of my favorite favorite things about Buenos Aires. It is everywhere and it's out of control and it's interesting and beautiful.
Also, incidentally, I am feeling in a great mood. Not sure why, it's a cold gray rainy day out there but I'm feeling proud for having survived the past thirty years and excited about the day ahead of me.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg died on Monday. I remember going to see the Rauschenberg retrospective at the Guggenheim museum in New York during my first year studying textiles at Parsons. Our drawing teacher Karen(?) brought our class to see the show and she talked about how Rauschenberg's paintings are related to textiles; they're about treating the surface, rather than creating an illusion of depth. He was one of my first favorite modern artists. I love that he uses old things, scavenged and salvaged. Here's a quote:

“I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly,” he once said, “because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

cupcakes en español

this is my latest favorite baking recipe (for English readers, please read down to find the English version!), they are sooo easy and good i've been making cupcakes more often than chocolate chip cookies! i love that the cupcakes aren't too too sweet, but the frosting is totally sugary. argentines don't generally bake much, and never ever bake cupcakes (or choc. chip cookies) so people always get REALLY REALLY ridiculously excited when I turn up with homemade sweets. my spanish teacher asked me for the cupcake recipe, so I have translated it with loving care. perhaps you remember my previous effort to translate the toll house chocolate chip recipe into spanish? well, my spanish has improved a lot since then and I think I've done a much better job here!

Cupcakes de Chocolate con Frosting de Limón y Crema

30 gramos cacao (en polvo, sin azucar)
120 cc agua hervido
125 gramos harina
½ cucharilla bicarbonato de sodio
85 gramos manteca, templada
100 gramos azúcar
1 huevo grande
1 yema grande

2 cucharas Crema de leche
10 gramos manteca templada
100 gramos azúcar impalpable
Jugo de ½ limón

Caliente el horno. En un bol chico, mezcle el cacao con el agua hervida, hasta que el polvo se disuelva, y deje enfriarse. En otro bol, mezcle la harina, el bicarbonato de sodio, y dos pizcas de sal. En otro bol grande, bata la manteca y la azúcar, agregue el huevo y la yema, y bata hasta que esté bien mezclada. Agregue un tercero de la mezcla de cacao, mezcle bien, y agregue un tercero de la mezcla de harina y mezcle bien. Siga hasta que todos estén combinados. Con un poco de manteca, engrase un molde para muffins. Ponga la masa en el molde con una cuchara. Hornee 8 – 10 minutos, y de una vuelta, y hornee 5-10 minutos mas, o hasta que estén bien cocidos. Prueba con un palillo: meta el palillo en el centro de un cupcake. Si el palillo sale limpio, están listo!

Cuando las cupcakes estén cocinando, prepare el frosting. Ponga el azúcar impalpable en un bol y agregue la manteca, la crema, y unas gotas de jugo de limón. Mezcle. Agregue un poco mas de azúcar (si es muy liquido) o mas gotas de limón (si es muy duro) para que sea la consistencia perfecta.

Deje los cupcakes enfriarse antes de untar el frosting en cada uno.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Frosting!

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp cream
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
Juice from ½ lemon

In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder and the water until the cocoa powder is dissolved and let the mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the sugar and beat in the whole egg and the egg yolk, beating until the mixture is combined well. Beat in the cocoa mixture alternately with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Grease a muffin tin and divide the batter among 12 1/2-cup muffin tins, and bake the cupcakes in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Turn the cupcakes out onto a rack and let them cool completely.

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. Mix the powdered sugar, butter, and cream in a bowl. Add a few drops of lemon juice. If the frosting is too liquid, add more sugar; if it is too stiff, add more lemon juice.

Let the cupcakes cool before spreading them with frosting.

Yum! Enjoy!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, May 09, 2008

we used to microwave, now we just eat nuts and berries

yesterday I was humming along to the Talking Heads and thinking about my (weird?) passion for post-apocalyptic stories. when I was a little kid I loved wandering around in the woods near our house and finding old old piles of garbage, decades-old beer cans and rusted things covered by leaves and sprouting saplings, and old bricks and foundations showing where houses or factories once stood. If I walked far enough through the woods I'd come out into the backside of the town dump. There was a great swath of dishwashers and washing machines people had thrown out over the past fifty years. Looking out across a field of discarded "white goods" makes you think a lot about the fragility of modern life as we know it. One day this fridge was sitting in that maytag dealership out by the traffic circle, smelling new, waiting for someone to take it home and fill it with food and then another day it was nestled sideways against a pile of washers, peaceful and sprouting vines. Like any kid, I loved sneaking into abandoned buildings, tiptoeing through the dust, touching things and imagining who used to use this place and why they left it. what if I woke up one morning and the whole world was like this? what if I was the only one left? i could just go into peoples' houses and eat the food in their cupboards or try on their clothes. what if there were only three people left in the world? who would they be? i'm not sure if this is a natural and universal obsession or if it seems morbid. i never imagine what could happen to everyone to make them disappear, i only savor the imaginary quiet, spooky, empty world, grass sprouting through sidewalks and vines twining around refrigerator doors.
so, over the years I've come across lots of stories that cover this kind of territory. Here's a list of some good post-apocalyptic stories. They're mostly scary, because really apocalypse is scary. But it's still perversely fascinating. One of my favorite elements of post-apocalyptic stories is the seeds of hope. Ultimately I think what's compelling about these stories is the idea of a clean slate and the possibility for something new to grow, something better, purer, smaller or less complicated than what came before. I think a lot of us secretly wish that the world would suddenly be different, that we would suddenly all have a reason to stop overconsuming and survive on what we have.

(Nothing But) Flowers, song, Talking Heads, 1988

Wump World, childrens' book, Bill Peet, 1970.

Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, novels, Octavia Butler,

28 Days Later, zombie movie, directed by Danny Boyle, 2006.

The Road, novel, Cormac McCarthy, 2006.

The World Without Us, nonfiction, Alan Weisman, 2007

The Rapture Index, crazy christian shit.

Oryx and Crake, novel, Margaret Atwood

Children of Men, movie, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, 2006

well, I think this is only a partial list, but it's a start. a few weeks ago, Mike and I were sitting in Lo De Roberto, an old tango bar, on a quiet night and the electricty went out and we were drinking our beers in silence, in the pitch dark. I was thinking about connections between the political atmosphere of our particular moment in history, and the current appeal of these post-apocalyptic stories. I feel like there's some kind of apocalyptic currents bubbling around us, ever nearer to the surface of popular culture. or is it just me? everyone's suddenly obsessed with global warming and what, exactly, will happen to us if we don't shape up. we're losing a never-ending war in Iraq. the news is all recession, downward economic spiral, home foreclosures, serious stuff. and meanwhile, are there more and more post-apocalypse books and movies popping up all the time? I remember reading that at the change of a century, there is always an increased popular obsession with doomsday for a few years before and afterwards. Maybe this is all a millennial thing.

Labels: , , ,

(nothing but) flowers

i was listening to the talking heads last night and realized that this song goes on my list of post-apocalyptic stories.

Here we stand
Like an Adam and an Eve
The Garden of Eden
Two fools in love
So beautiful and strong
The birds in the trees
Are smiling upon them
From the age of the dinosaurs
Cars have run on gasoline
Where, where have they gone?
Now, it's nothing but flowers

There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
you got it, you got it

We caught a rattlesnake
Now we got something for dinner
we got it, we got it

There was a shopping mall
Now it's all covered with flowers
you've got it, you've got it

If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower
you've got it, you've got it

Years ago
I was an angry young man
I'd pretend
That I was a billboard
Standing tall
By the side of the road
I fell in love
With a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it's only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it's nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we'd start over
But I guess I was wrong

Once there were parking lots
Now it's a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it

This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it

I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
you got it, you got it

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
you got it, you got it

I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
you got it, you got it

We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
you got it, you got it

This was a discount store,
Now it's turned into a cornfield
you got it, you got it

Don't leave me stranded here
I can't get used to this lifestyle

Labels: , ,