Grocery shopping: Egg Edition – The Burning Question

I just came across this 4 month old article on a sidebar from something I was reading.

Why American Eggs Would Be Illegal In A British Uruguayan Supermarket, And Vice Versa – Forbes. (my title modification)

It answers, in probably more detail than you wanted (chicken feces! liquid membranes!) one of my burning questions when I first started living here – Why the heck are the eggs just sitting out warm in the middle of the store?

And it’s variant at the weekly outdoor feria, “People actually buy eggs that are sitting out in a vendor’s booth loose all day in the hot sun, and take them home wrapped in newspaper?”

Yes. They do. I am now one of those people. Every week or so, I go see the Egg Man, and come home with 12 or 15 wrapped up in an old El Pais or La República. When I get them home, yes I put them in the refrigerator, but that is mostly just old americano habit. They go in as-is, the occasional chicken feces and all.

The idea is, you wash the egg off just before cracking it if you’re cooking an omelet, fried eggs, egg drop soup, or as an ingredient. And definitely wash them before boiling them, because there is always one wiseguy who cracks under pressure and I don’t want that self-selected breakfast egg getting a bath of that, even at 100C.

Yummy eggs. Think I’ll go boil me a batch to have some for breakfast or an egg salad sandwich. Got a newspaper wrap of a bunch of them right here.

Sunset Watching in Parque del Plata

Had a lovely evening yesterday at a small, modest, fun hotel and fast-food beachside place two towns up the coast east from us. The Hotel Via Park, in Parque del Plata.

Customers getting served fast food at the Via Park
Via Park Hotel – Beachside Fast Food cooked to order

About 3 or 4 kilometers from where we live in Atlántida. Quick 10 minute 19 peso (U$S 1 dollar) ride on any Copsa 710 or 761, Raincoop 222, or Cutcsa C4 or C3 bus passing through Atlántida. (It’s a short ride, you can put up with the disgustingly dirty and ill-maintained-interiors Copsa buses for 10 minutes. Longer, wait for Cutcsa or Raincoop!)

Classic beachside fast-food & motel joint, to the extend that it was bringing back memories of Humarock Beach on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Except without the rocks of Humarock, and without the freezy cold water too! And the beach with its high dunes is right there on the other side of the road, not even set back a ways like in Atlántida.

The event? An expat friend of ours who is a longtime Uruguay resident, is buying the hotel. Plans to keep it pretty much the same, menu will still be a fast beach food offering, not gourmet cuisine nor Uruguayan parrilla. Panchos (hot dogs), hamburgesas (común, con queso o completo con huevo – cheese, eggs, probably ham), chicken nuggets, french fries, and really good calamari rabas. He may tweak it a bit, but it’s beach food and affordable beachside rooms.

Parque del Plata feels even more “beach resort” to us than Atlántida, which has more of a year-round-with-a-beach feel. Though Parque del Plata is a true year-round community and an actual city, the beachside area has a deeper concentration of fishing and sport shops, food stands, beachside hotels, and beach-centric feel than here along either our Playa Brava or Playa Mansa.

The weekly feria shows up there on Saturdays, and was just closing down as we arrived. We saw several of the same sellers as at our Thursday feria in Atlántida, but many different ones as well. When Lisa said “look it’s the same sunglass guy!”, I replied “Look, it’s the same sunglass guy. Now buy some sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV like I’ve been nagging for weeks!”. She finally did, and saw the rest through rose-colored glasses.

Photo of the crescent moon in the early night sky above the umbrellas on the terrace lounge
We stayed well past sunset. A little blurry, but so were we by then.

Our host opened up the rooftop terrace outside the 1st floor rooms (2nd floor to you estadosunidenses – “Americans”), as the “VIP Lounge” for drinks, food, darts, and sunset watching. Likely to open it to the public as a bar/lounge/restaurant area rather than just for guests, as part of the update. There’s a stairway up to the higher rooftop over the lodging area, and he has some plans for there too.

Imiage of large room with large bed and single bed, colorful red tones, ceiling fan and air conditioning
Family room at the Via Park hotel in Parque del Plata

The property right now under current ownership is lovely, affordable, brightly painted for a modest, appealing beachside experience. Check them out! Good place to play, eat, and stay right now, and even better things to come.

Edit 10 May 2013: Changed the link in the first paragraph to the hotel’s new English-language website. With this disclosure: We, Mark and Lisa Mercer, the owners of Uruguay Expat Life & Uruguay for me, just built and earlier today published that website for them, under their contract with our new venture, Southern Cross Web and Social Marketing. However at the time we wrote this blog post in Dec 2012, our new venture didn’t even exist, and our client hadn’t yet even completed the purchase of the hotel. Other than the link change and this disclosure, our post is unchanged from our unsolicited, uncompensated words six months ago.

Coconut and Electricity

Since moving to Uruguay, I developed an unexplained passion for cooking with coconut. It’s not that coconut is necessarily a national Uruguayan dish. It’s just that coconut milk and chopped coconut is easily available, wherever you go. Behold! My pollo milanese topped with strawberries, shrimp coconut and balsamic vinegar:

Milanese with Strawberries, Shrimp, Coconut, and Balsamic Vinegar
Milanese With Strawberries, Shrimp, Coconut and Balsamic Vinegar

As this is a coastal town, seafood is easily available, at highly affordable prices. On Friday evening, our little town was experiencing one of those Dixie-like storms, the kind that reminded me of our year in Raleigh, North Carolina. Powerful and dramatic, the thunders out loud and clear, like a Sunday morning hymn in a gospel church.

I love this type of storm, even though the sound of thunder scares the living daylights out of me, unlike the non-stop whimpering of the rain in the Pacific Northwest, which goes on and on and on, like the girl who never stops moaning over her unrequited love. But I digress.

Deciding that this was a perfect night for seafood and coconut soup, I opened one bottle on coconut milk, and poured its contents into the pot. Halfway through opening the second bottle, the sound of a rather expressive thunder-boomer sent reverberations through my body, causing a fountain of coconut to spray into my face with the force of the water that sprays out of the Uruguayan bidets.

So here I am with coconut milk all over my face (I know what you’re thinking, but don’t go there!) Continue reading Coconut and Electricity