Colombia Cabalgata 3

WARNING! This post is long! It was also my favorite day of the whole trip so I recommend continuing to read, especially if you like foodie pics!! 

The next morning I woke up early (Like 4 am early!) and watched the sun rise over the mountain. The quiet, green landscape filled with light and for about 3 minutes, you felt completely alone in the world.

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Slowly we all started to file out of our rooms and into the shower rooms. By the time the sun was high in the sky, I had discovered the posada’s small ceramic shop. This region of Colombia is famous for its traditional pottery and ceramics, and much of it is made at the inn.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThere were little spoons, cream pots, and piggy banks, wind chimes and salt shakers, salsa dishes, shot glasses, and mugs! Everything you could think of for incredibly cheap so I picked up a few trinkets for loved ones and friends.

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After that I sat down for a feast of a breakfast (again): soup, potatoes, hot chocolate, arepa con queso (think of a corn patty filled with cheese), eggs, and fruit. It may have been too much to eat, but it was beautiful! The colors were bright, the food was rich, and there’s something to be said about how simple it was.

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Once again it was time to hit the trail. My grandpa’s friend was quite the cowboy, looking like he was a part of John Wayne’s group.

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Off we road winding up and around the mountain. This was planned to be our longest day of riding (40 kilometers) but the terrain was fairly easy.

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The day was beautiful and sunny, so we pulled over for a drink and to let the horses drink some water.

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After this, I switched horses with my aunt and moved to a gorgeous Andalusian horse named Consentida (an endearing word for Spoiled) who was quite possibly the most comfortable ride in all the land! Her saddle is a special Portuguese saddle and her trot is extremely smooth and easy paced. I loved it after 2 days of bouncing around with Arquetta.

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Shortly after that, we pulled over again for another break. Having ridden all morning long, it was time to break out the wine! Our luggage and food wasn’t too far behind, so we pulled out some Argentine empanadas and crystal glasses for everyone to sip their vino from.

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Talk about style!! My grandpa never fails to make everything an elegant and chic experience!

When we finally moved on, some clouds began to cover over head and my sunburn was relieved once again. We rode for a few more hours until we reached a quiet creek with an open space. Here we parked and began unloading the trucks for lunch.

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Tina prepared the most beautiful and gourmet picnic any of us had every seen! There were baskets of fruit and trays of nuts. Cheeses brought from Spain and France, fresh baked bread (made by my aunt), jamon iberico, pernil (roasted pork), marinated garlic eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, wine and beer, homemade cookies and crackers. The spread was endless and we all feasted until our bellies were full and we were warm from so much wine.

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It was truly beautiful and leave it to Tina to plan the most romantic, well-styled lunch of the entire event!

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The cookies I loved the most because they were made with so much love. My aunt’s farm is as organic-farm to table as possible! The butter used in the shortbread was made from her own cows and the strawberry jam filling was made by her from the berries in her yard. Isn’t my cousin the sweetest thing, helping her fill them?

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As we wrapped up our lunch, we saw the clouds darken and heard thunder roll overhead. We immediately saddled up and headed 2km down the road to our final destination, but not before we were stopped by the most torrential downpour anyone had ever seen.

There was no escaping this rain. It literally filled my boots ankle deep with water and our clothes were entirely soaked through. Somehow, we made it to the last stop, dismounted and piled into a van waiting to take us to the hotel for the last night of our trip.

After showering and warming up, we spent the night drinking wine, chatting, and enjoying a classic Colombian dinner. The town we stayed in was called Lenguazaque, a very small city a few hours from Bogota. The town is rather rural, so dinner consisted of: sobrebarriga (Colombian-style flank steak), gallina (“hen”…not sure what us gringos are eating hear in the states… I always thought “chicken” = “hen” but apparently there is a difference).

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S omething also very common in this region is called “huevera”…  to put it bluntly, it is the uterus of the hen with half produced eggs cooked inside. It sounds horrific, but I like to consider myself a foodie. A culinary adventurer, willing to try anything once. So I that’s what I did.

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I think Tony Bourdain would be proud. It wasn’t that bad. They tasted like hard boiled egg yolks with some weird crispy membrane around them.

I washed it down with a couple more glasses of vino and then hit the sack, exhausted but no longer sore and ready for our final day of the ride.

Stay tuned for the last installment of our cabalgata soon!

Colombia Cabalgata 3

Colombia Cabalgata 2

When I left you, we had just finished an enormous breakfast and the horses were being saddled to start our trip…

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I’m not sure why I was assigned the mule for the trip, but I was SURE I was not going to ride one! I came for a horseback ride after all. Finally convincing my uncle that the mule was not for me, I jumped onto this beauty:

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Her name is Arquetta.

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Off we all went, a line of horses into the hot, dry day.

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Over rocky mountains and trails, not a single shadow of shade to protect us and a very little sunblock.

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We rode for hours. Hours and hours. The terrain was moderate, difficult in some areas and flat in others. I didn’t mind the heat because I had anticipated a colder ride, the sun was welcomed. And look at those views!!

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However, by midafternoon we were over it. And dehydrated. And some of us had very mild heat exhaustion. I for one, was thoroughly exhausted. The only liquids we had were a few water bottles and a lot of sherry.

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We may have gotten a littler turned around at this awesome/random Colombian sun clock. But it was a cool things to stumble upon, nonetheless.

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By the time we arrived at my grandpa’s new farm for lunch (about 2 hours off schedule) my arms and neck were a dark red. I knew a drastic sunburn was in my future.

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My grandpa’s new house is hilariously NOT his style, but the property and climate are beautiful (similar to LA’s weather) so the structure will be demolished this year and rebuilt into something cool and “estilo gramps” (Grandpa and Tina’s style) complete with a huge lawn for all the horses!

After take a short ride around the property, we dismounted and were welcomed by a local orchestra playing traditional Colombian music. They were fantastic! After a quick cool down with some beer and aguardiente (Colombian booze… maybe it’s a rum?), we sat under the gazebo for lunch.

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Lunch was a very typical and traditional Colombian meal: Sancocho! Sancocho is a soup (again!) with potatoes, yuca, rice, corn, meat (oxtail/beef and chicken!), avocado, aji (chimichurri) and plantains. Again, it was A LOT of food, but definitely necessary after a long morning and afternoon riding in the sun.

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Being so flavorful and hearty, the flavors showcase everything great about Colombia. It’s like a cultural lesson in a bowl. If you ever find yourself in South America, do me (and yourself!) a favor and seek this out! Each country has their own version, slightly altered to represent their country. And you most definitely will not be hungry after.

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Afterwards, everyone went to the porch to take a short nap and rest up for the end of the day’s ride.

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After saying by to the band and the cooks, we packed up and rode off to the next inn where we would sleep that night. It was short ride, only about an hour or 2 away (funny how before a two hour ride seemed long. After the first morning, it felt like a breeze). The ride was cool and breezy with lots of shade and cloud cover over head as we watched a beautiful sunset behind the mountains.

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I think this view is my favorite in the world right now. Vast and green, it reminded me of Jurassic Park. It was also utterly peaceful. The three of us (Alejandro, Daniel, and I) sat in silence, watching the view and changing light.

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I arrived first with my uncle, greeted by our caravan of friends and family who weren’t riding. When everyone arrived, we unpacked some goodies and enjoyed a small dinner that only my grandpa could prepare and bring on a cabalgata: gravlax and cheese! Gavlax is a common nordic dish, prepared by dehydrating vodka-infused salmon in salt for three days. It’s absolutely amazing and a very traditonal “Grandpa dish”.

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Grandpa also loves cheese, so for his birthday, I brought him a wheel of fantastic Italian cheese, with white truffle oil (!!!) and black truffle bits (!!!!x2). It was so perfect and delicious I could have eaten it forever. My aunt also made about 24 giant loaves of bread for us from scratch! They’re beautiful!

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We spend the evening eating gravlax with cheese and drinking lots of wine, talking about our latest adventure and picking out our favorite videos from the GoPro!

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We finally headed off to sleep ready to wake up early for the next morning of adventures! Stay tuned!

Colombia Cabalgata 2

Colombia Cabalgata

A week before Christmas (so about 2 weeks ago now) I ventured to Colombia! It was my Grandpa’s 70th birthday and he planned on celebrating in serious style. As you remember from my last post from Colombia, he and his wife love to horseback ride, and they spend much of their time on the ranch riding and doing other horse things. To celebrate his birthday, they planned for a 3 day cabalgata (horseback ride) through the mountains outside of Bogota, starting in a small town called Sutamarchan. From there, we would ride 80 kilometers, stopping in various small towns along the way and finally ending in Suesca at my aunt’s farm.

I arrived early Wednesday morning and was able to catch a couple Zzz’s before waking the next morning to begin our prep. But before that, we had to eat! Lunch is typically a main event in Colombia. It’s not uncommon that you stop your day, go back home or to a relatives and enjoy a big, leisurely meal. Sometimes a bottle of wine is opened afterwards and that is enjoyed with great conversation. Dinner is almost non-existent, unless there is something to be celebrated, so lunch is where the socializing is at!

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Soups and rice are a very common lunch, often accompanied by cheese or meats. I enjoyed mine with a beautiful sherry.

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Below are sweets brought back from the coast made of panella (raw sugar) and tamarind.

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After lunch I packed and visited with my cutie cousins while we waited for everyone to arrive.

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Uncle Tato pouring some sherry into a canteen.

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Twenty people were scheduled to join us on this adventure, and when they finally arrived, we piled into the shuttle that would take us to our starting point in Sutamarchan, about 3 hours from the city.

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We drove for hours through beautiful green valleys into the Boyacá region, and my grandpa provided delicious hors d’oeuvres of jamon iberico, manchego, and fresh bread.

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We arrived at our destination at night, in time for a fabulous barbecue and a live music. My camera died as soon as we arrived so I have very little evidence that this night even happened ;)

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My great-grandma Blanca joined us on the trip!

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We stayed the night in a local posada (inn) and woke up to a beautiful bright blue day. I wish we could have stayed at the posada a little bit longer. It was so beautiful and peaceful, full of color and light!

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DSCN2106 But breakfast was served at the ranch and we had to begin our day!

Being in rural Colombia, it is very common to have a “peasant breakfast”, which is generally very hearty including soup, potatoes, meat, eggs, arepas, cheese, fruit, coffee, chocolate and fresh juice. Seriously, breakfast includes ALL that! The theory is that the peasants are typically working manual labor all day in the sun and need fuel to get them through the day. I only get through the soup, arepas, and cheese and coffee before I tap out.

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Here is my Aunt Manuela with my Great Grandmother and my Uncle Tato.

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After a seriously filling breakfast (which I really only ate half of) we roamed around the property waiting for the horses to be ready. It was a stunning ranch house that was part traditional Colombian, part southwest inspired. The courtyard in the middle had grassy areas with cactus and fruit trees and dogs resting in the grass.

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An hour later the horses were ready and we mingled around finding our horses and getting ready to set off on the long adventure! Stay tuned tomorrow for more!

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Colombia Cabalgata

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I’m about to unplug but I thought I’d leave you with a little outfit post. We’re on our w ay to Boyaca (a department outside of Bogota) to my grandpa’s new farm, where we will begin our calbagata (horseback riding trip). We will end in 3 days in Suesca at my aunt’s farm, stopping in small towns along the way.

On day one, I am inspired by a classic equestrian look: oatmeal colored turtle neck, plaid scarf, leather riding boots and riding pants. My hat is by Goorin Bros.

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A little trip: travel essentials

I’m currently sitting at LAX, sipping a $14 smoothie (the absurdity), waiting for my flight to board. This week, I’m headed to Colombia for a little pre-holiday adventure with my family.

It’s set to be my most challenging vacation yet (no beach to be sat on, no TV, Internet, or phone), but rather a lot of time to sit and think and see and feel and enjoy the company you’re with and the wine you’re drinking. Sometimes, you need to take a moment and reset your self.

I’m a huge fan of NOT having to travel with extra baggage, so I tried to pack as light as possible.

Here are my travel essentials: Goorin Bros hat for going incognito when I need to, some reading material I’ve been dying to catch up on: Alpine Magazine, my iPad, a few books. My new favorite scarf to cozy up with and my camera to capture every moment

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A little trip: travel essentials

LA Holidaze

I’m in LA this month, and I’m not sure if it’s the 80 degrees, or the busyness of catching up with friends and family after months of not seeing each other, but I’m NOT in the holiday mood. Or rather, I’m not feeling like it’s the holiday season.

I’m currently forcing myself to listen to Christmas music while I bake cookies in hopes that it will spark something. Does everyone else feel that way? It’s not that I’m rejecting it, it just feels like it’s happening so fast!

Anyway, here are a couple snaps I’ve taken during the last two weeks. Starting with some California sunsets (11.27.14)

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Griffith Park hike (11.29.14)

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Lunch with Mateo (11.30.14)

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Dad’s Office (12.03.14)

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On Wilshire (11.24.14)

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The LACMA, Pierre Huyghe (11.24.14)

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The Rose Bowl (11.27.14)

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Beverly Hills (12.05.14)

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Mostly just a bunch of palm trees and beautiful views. I’ll pop more on here tomorrow! I’m leaving next week for some more adventures! Can’t wait to share them with you!

 

LA Holidaze

Better Than Your Nonna’s Meatballs.

Sometimes, I get into Italian Momma-mode and want to make the biggest, carb-iest, most comforting dish! It’s usually meatballs, which is perfectly fine because meatballs rock and you can never have too many. My mom is Italian and Mexican, and we grew up with a lot of recipes passed down from the Mexican side, and very few from the Italian side so I’ve begun to create my own dishes.

These, I call my “Better Than Your Nonna’s Meatballs”. (And don’t worry, you don’t have to tell Nonna that mine are better. It’ll be our little secret). They’re your traditional meatball recipe crafted to foodie and Dre-Dre perfection! I think you’ll love them.

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When creating a recipe on my own, I usually take a base recipe (one from my favorite cookbook, Pinterest or a family recipe) and then completely deconstruct it and flourish it until it’s my own. For this recipe, I used The Barefoot Contessa’s meatball recipe from her book, “How Easy Is That?”. My recipe is entirely different than hers (mostly just used for measurements) but I think it’s fair to give her credit.

My version is: gluten free, dairy free, and paleo-ish (they have bread crumbs).

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To put Nonna to shame you’ll need:

1/2 lb italian sausage

1/2 lb 80% ground beef

1 shallot sauteed in butter

chopped parsley (about 1/4th cup)

handful chopped basil 

one egg

3/4 cup of wine red wine

1 pinch celery salt

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 c gluten free italian bread crumbs (you can use regular though)

1 pinch of rosemary

1 (BIG) pinch of salt and pepper

3 tbsp grassfed butter

1 zucchini *(if making zoodles or regular pasta/spaghetti if you want that)

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Off camera, I chopped my shallot and sauteed it in some (1 tbsp) butter in a skillet. Next, I placed all my ingredients in a bowl plus a nice splash of my vino (wine) and mixed them all up. You’ll probably need to get a little dirty in order to mix everything up, so don’t be afraid to use your (clean!) hands.

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Once everything is mixed, start forming your mixture into 1 1/2″ balls and set them aside.

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Heat your cast iron skillet on medium with the rest of your butter. Once the pan is hot, place your balls into the skillet. Brown each side for about 4 minutes on each side until lightly brown all around.

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Add the rest of your wine (1/4 cup) to your skillet and place the whole thing in the oven. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes. When they’re done, pop ‘em out and put them back on the stove.

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Now, for this part I kind of cheated: I used jarred pasta sauce (“If you can’t make your own homemade sauce, store bought is fine!”lol, points if you get my reference)… but don’t worry Barefoot Contessa! I used GOOD pasta sauce. I put the pan on very low heat and poured my sauce over the meatballs to heat it up.

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This night, I decided to be low-carb/GF so I used a peeler to make shred my zucchini into zoodles. I heated them up in a shallow pan with a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. Tyty made regular spaghetti which is good too.

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Top your pasta with the meatballs and sauce and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!

Better Than Your Nonna’s Meatballs.