From the time we arrived at the airport in Iquitos and were taken to our coach for the ride to Nauta, we were in the capable and highly organized hands of the naturalist team who were leading our Amazon explorations. In my professional career I have encountered many people who were experts in their field, but Juan-Carlos Palomino and Robinson Rodriguez have made an indelible impression on me that I will never forget. How they could spot a tiny black dot high in a tree as we were speeding down river in our motorized skiff, and instantly identify the type of bird, simply blew my mind. Specially when our skiff driver, Darwin, would stop the boat so we could see the bird. Even through my very powerful binoculars I could often barely make out the shape of the black dot- which now just looked like a big bird-like blob to me. But they could point in the bird guide to the exact type of bird. And then when I zeroed in on the image captured (usually by Robinson, for me) on my camera, and zoomed in on the image - there it was. No longer a black blob.
Before supper each night, we were entertained on the upper deck by the ship’s band of whom the mainstays were brothers, Oscar and Edgar Rachi, and Blumer Arica, all of whom sang as well as playing multiple musical instruments. We danced lots of salsa and merengue with the occasional rumba for variation. It was quite a surreal experience to be dancing on a river boat in the Amazon jungle!
In the afternoon of the third day of our Amazon adventure, we made our first actual foray on foot into the jungle. Rather than viewing the vegetation and the birds and critters from the boats, we were actually going to hike to the Kapok Camp where we going to spend the night.
This is the INDEX of posts for the travelblogue of my trip to Peru for a week-long cruise on the Amazon River. I signed up for the Amazon River Expedition travel program sponsored by the University of British Columbia Alumni Association.
From Lima we flew to Iquitos in Northern Peru, took a coach to Nauta and boarded our riverboat, La Turmalina. During this trip we traveled beyond the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers, visiting the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (the largest wetland reserve in the world), Pacama village and spending a night in the Kapok Camp.
A small skiff took us on several excursions. They are numbered 1 to 14 on the map which is the key to upcoming posts. Along the way we saw birds, monkeys, river dolphins and a fascinating variety of medicinal plants and trees
The Verandah Restaurant on deck 2 at the Grand Lobby of the Queen Elizabeth features French cuisine from Cunard's Culinary Ambassador, Jean-Marie Zimmerman. Dining is a la carte but the prices are reasonable for the quality of food and service provided. The ambience is sophisticated and elegant with quietly efficient service.
Once seated and your meal order taken, you are presented with an amuse bouche. When two people are dining, each receives a different amuse bouche.
We finished our Hop On Hop Off Red bus tour of Athens around 5:30 and although it was really early, we were both famished and ready for some good Greek food. The restaurant Kuzina had been recommended to us, and although we passed restaurant after restaurant as we walked along Adrianou Street, we persisted until we found it.
It was still quite warm although late in the afternoon so we chose to sit outside and enjoy watching the passing throngs. Being Friday and the end of the week, people were out in droves, walking and shopping and people watching was fun.
The service was prompt. We decided to start with the obligatory Greek salad. Interestingly this version had arugula and caper leaves with luscious red tomatoes, capers, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. The croutons were of crispy Greek bagel. And the dressing was olive oil.
1055 West Hastings Street,
Ph: (604) -568-3900 or Reserve Online
After enjoying an excellent lunch at Minami, the sister restaurant to Miku that recently opened in Yaletown, I arranged to meet a friend at Miku for a sort of follow up lunch. The aburi style of saba and salmon that I enjoyed so much at Minami was introduced first at Miku. My friend was late so I enjoyed a glass of Three Blancs wine while I waited. Although the menu only listed it as from Okanagan Falls, I believe it is the blend of Pinot Blanc, Gewürtztraminer and Muscat from the Tangled Vines Estate Winery, one I have yet to visit. Anyway the wine was a perfect summer sipper, light and fruity, just to my taste.
We were strolling down Mainland Street on our way back from the Vancouver Public Library and on impulse, decided to drop in to Minami Restaurant for lunch. It opened in June in the space that was previously occupied by Goldfish Restaurant, where I had enjoyed some great meals in recent years; (Goldfish Pacific Restaurant and Goldfish Restaurant Reprise). Minami is the new sister restaurant to Miku on West Hastings. I was so impressed with this lunch at Minami, that I plan to visit Miku for lunch next week.
Glancing over the menu we noted the aburi sushi. Aburi refers to the lightly seared / partly raw fish topping on the sushi rice. This is a specialty of the restaurant. We decided to try the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi and Aburi Saba Oshi Sushi.
The first is pressed local salmon with jalapeno pepper and miku sauce. The second is house cured mackerel served with miku miso sauce. The picture top-right on this page is a close up on the two types. Both were tender and bursting with flavour. We both loved each type but my favorite was the Saba. Exactly what miku sauce is I don't know. Perhaps I will find out when I go there for lunch.
As far as salad greens go, I confess to a minor addiction to arugula - or rocket lettuce- as it is sometimes known. Recently at the urging of several friends, I decided to add baby kale to my diet and so I was excited to find Lavinia, from Fern Alley Market Garden in the Squamish Valley, selling fresh microgreens and kale-based salads at Granville Island Market.
Among the microgreens they harvest are sunflower, bull's blood red beet leaf, Red Russian kale, white stem Pak choi, black Tuscan lacinato kale, red mustard and arugula, soil grown in the open air. Their signature salads are kale-based with Red Russian kale and include mixes such as The Trio; Sweet Greens; Spicy Blend and Flash Salad.
They are at Granville Island Public Market on Thursdays and Saturdays; Whistler Farmers Market on Sundays; Ambleside Farmers Market on Sundays and Squamish Farmers Market on Saturdays so look our for them.
It had been months that I and a friend had been trying to get to an underground dining dinner at NFA with Steve (of email@example.com) but my travel schedule and Steve's seating availability didn't mesh. So when he let me know he had one last space open for a Friday night I decided to accept and despite some minor trepidation, just go on my own.
As it turned out I was glad that I took this opportunity. The other guests that were there that evening were congenial and fun and I had a great time. Two of the groups had come because one or two of their members had previously enjoyed a meal with NFA. One couple and myself were newbies. Everybody there was a "foodie" to some degree, and there were lots of recommendations for good dining flying around the table.
Roast chicken is one of my favorite home cooked comfort foods. It evokes memories of my mom-in-law's famous Sunday lunches where my husband and his brothers would vie to top each other's stories, and we would sit around the table and laugh till our sides ached. A great way to roast chicken at home is to use a rotisserie. You can flavour it with your favorite herbs and spices and control the fat and salt content.