Food

Ah, food… One of the greatest things about travel is the opportunity to experience food around the world, whether it’s a great meal or a terrific fast snack. Yes, even roadside stands can be a treat. This isn’t for the “foodies” out there. It’s just about real food, local items, affordable eating. (The section was originally called Food but I’m trying to make the menus shorter.)


Zakopane Poland summer holiday

I arrived in Zakopane, a popular mountain resort in Poland. My Polish friend was on the way by bus. I walked around, found a place for a sit-down lunch, then I listened to room-hawkers who approached me as I awaited my friend’s bus. It was a change for me to stay in a chalet rather that a hostel.


Warsaw day 1

As I traveled to Warsaw for the first time, I felt like a VIP knowing my host, Michal, would be waiting for me at the airport — holding a white sign with my name on it. As he drove me home, he told me of his girlfriend Joanna (Yanna) and that she was making me a traditional Polish meal of Pierogi (but with berries)l for my arrival. Wow.

My first outing in a new country is always exciting. Even if it’s just walking to a food market. But in this case, being taken around by a life-long resident of Warsaw was particularly nice.


Open wine without tools

Sometimes tech-less is the answer. This solution to opening wine without a cork screw or other wine opening tool surprised me. It’s a good thing for every wine-appreciating travel-loving person to know. Mirabeau Wine’s YouTube video teaches us… How to open a bottle of wine – without a corkscrew So long-term travel people, now you can consider giving up your cork screw if you’re seriously looking to cut down on travel weight.


Scallions & Celery by Food Artist Victor.

Produce Artistry by Victor at RALPHS Supermarket in LA

Let’s see if, wherever you go in the world, you ever come across vegetable displays as great as these.

This is the work of a man named Victor. Victor’s proud fellow RALPHS workers call him The Produce Artist.


My travel SteriPen will now help a child have safe water

The morning before I left the good people of the tiny village of Pueblo Nuevo, I used my SteriPEN UV light water purifier one last time as I purified one more bottle of water for my trip back to Panama City.

I got good use out of this SteriPEN but as I go back to Los Angeles, where I am lucky enough to have healthy, safe water, emergencies aside, I know my trusty SteriPEN can be put to much better use here. It will now be used to purify water for the newest baby in the village.


Dining with Elmon's family in Soloy, Panama

Soloy – a true indigenous Panamanian village

I was very lucky the day I met Susan, a Peace Corps volunteer who is working in a tiny indigenous Panamanian village. I wasn’t able to visit Susan’s village as she was away for a break, but I was able to visit the fabulous Juan Carlos and his friend Elmon in their own village, Soloy. I plan to write more about this visit and the opportunities for others to visit and learn about indigenous Panamanian, but here are a few photos for now. Getting to Soloy, Panama


Impressive food service at Hotel Boca Brava

I am very impressed. I am at Hotel Boca Brava, having arrived last night just as darkness fell. This morning, ordering breakfast, I said (as always) that I am allergic to Cilantro and Culantro. The man who took my order, Jaime, brought me my delicious Breakfast and then asked me since I don’t eat those, what about Perejill (Pe rey hejl). I told him I don’t know that word, so he said wait and brought some to me. It was Parsley and I told him I love it. Then he came back with one more thing, a piece of a lettuce, to see if it was OK. When I arrived and some guests told me of their meals here and then when I saw the menu and not-exorbitant prices, I knew I was in a good place. This morning’s Cilantro response confirmed that! Oh, here is my breakfast: Omlette with […]


Amador, Panama – meal on a budget

When you’re traveling in Panama City, the walk from the start of the cosway to the end of the three now-connected islands the comprise Amador provides great views of the city. However, the restaurants there are higher than the meal budget of the typical budget traveler or backpacker. Of course you can bring sandwiches for the day. Sandwich meats and cheese are quite affordable in Panama City. However, as of approximately December 2012, there is an affordable alternative. at the very end of your walk, off to the side of the last parking lot, you will notice a Sort of a New York City style trailer that is a diner. The owner set this up to sell hot food to the people who work on Amador — but it is open to all of us. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t top quality, but it will get you buy. A […]


Great meal off the beaten track in Boquette

Boquette is a small mountain-surrounded town a 30 minute drive from David. The volcanic soil there and its climate make it the vegetable garden of Panamá. The climate is beautiful as ate the vistas. Most short-term visitors dine on the park at Central Park or two blocks up the road at a choose-your-food buffet that my meal companions and I enjoyed. However, my friends Mike and Mike live and work in Boquette and took me to a favorite place of theirs — Nelvis — that Mike says is always great. I did not take photos of my meal but have photos of Nelvis’ facade to share with you. (And yep, that is Mike and Mike in the photo.) About the food: There were several good looking meat dishes in offer as well as fried (not greasy) chicken — and side dishes. As I do not eat Cilantro, the meats’ sauces […]


Fab fish dinner, $3 in David, Panama

Having traveled all the way down from Mexico to Panama,* I can now say that I believe Panama has the best food for the least cost. At least I can say that for the local small eatery food in David and Boquette. This was my dinner today, and two other evenings. It is served at a small restaurant on a residential street, not a commercial strip, across from Bambu Hostel in David. It is: • A fish filet, fried but not at all greasy. Just a perfect, crispy light breading. • Thinly sliced pickle with a mustard dressing. • Patacones – Green Plantains that are fried, then smashed, then fried the rest of the way. (My iPhone photo didn’t do it justice or you would be drooling right now.) Water is free. The water here is clean volcano water. No need for plastic water. A Balboa cerveza is $1.00. Wondering […]


Thanksgiving

Being out of the United States, I barely realized Thanksgiving was coming, But the message did come through and I must admit it was a lonely feeling to realize I would be alone and not have a Thanksgiving Dinner. And then a huge surprise – an invitation from a CouchSurfing hostess who lives near my hostel. She invited me on Wednesday night. Of course, the dinner was delicious. Turkey, stuffing, and more. Something new for me: Costa Rican sweet potato mixed with orange juice baked and served in orange halves. Topped with marshmallow, of course. I really enjoyed the company too. I even learned a new game sort of like charades. Are you wondering how I realized Thanksgiving was coming? For one, via TV. (Gotta keep up on the Middle East and I have been catching a couple of my old Soap Operas while working online during some days. Also, […]


Granola in Costa Rica

When able to shop and have a clean bowl and spoon, I have been buying Granola for breakfast. At times that granola has been lunch or dinner instead or as well. This is today’s breakfast granola. I selected this brand — alin: Alimentos Naturales — because it is made in Costa Rica. The 250 gram (8.8 ounce) bag sells for 710 colones ($1.42). One of the fruits and something else (a nut?) in it are hard and a bit of a shock to the teeth, but it is a good mix anyway. I bought this same one once last week and it was a great late night smack eaten out of the bag slowly. This is the first time in all of my Central America travels that I have purchased milk in a “regular,” not the new box style container. This Costa Rican-made Coronado brand 1 liter milk was 505 […]


Halloween candy sales in Central America?

I wonder if all the Halloween candy that doesn’t get sold goes on sale or half price like it does in the US. In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that would bring the prices down to what we normally pay in the states. In fact, a huge disappoint for me has been the lack of local brands. It is amazing to me that the cacao grows in these places but there is pretty much no candy bar manufacturing. Instead, the stores sell Hershey’s and Cadbury. In Guatemala there is a local brand, a candy bar the size and shape of the Hershey Bar, but it was more expensive than the Hershey Bar. Go figure. Well, I don’t know if they sell Halloween candy in Honduras and Guatemala, and I won’t be there to see what happens to the candy on the large Halloween displays that were up in San Salvador […]


Cooking fish in Costa Rica

Last night I walked (about a mile) to the supermarket. First stop, the fish counter. Fish has been all too rare in my diet on this trip. They had some very nice looking fillets. One was Tapia, which is too bland for my taste. There was another white fillet that was less money. As I am not traveling with my spice cabinet, I preferred to gamble on the flavor of the other. So here is my mystery fish of choice. These two pieces were 967 colones. At an exchange rate of roughly 500 per dollar, this was a $2 gamble and each piece was $1. I do carry an excellent Spanish/English dictionary (by Ascendo) with me so I could have looked up the name of this fish. I considered doing so, but I wanted to keep the adventure aspect of this shopping trip alive. Plus… I trusted my judgement that […]


Tasty Sour Cream in Costa Rica

If you like American Sour Cream, you might love this sour cream in Cost Rica as well. To me, it was like having either Sour Cream or Cream Cheese, only not as sweet. It was also somewhat reminiscent of the fresh cream I loved so much while living on a working farm in Tasmania, Australia years ago. (I ate that cream out of the tub! The Australians found that rather entertaining.) I actually found this next to a liquid Cheddar Cheese, not beside the plastic tubs. I have seen and enjoyed a plastic container of “American Style Sour Cream” when a friend bought it. That was a creamy sour cream just like we eat in the States, but without sugar. It was also more fresh tasting. This bag is the same – but less costly as it comes in a bag. I have been using it as a pasta sauce, […]


More Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

Funny how things happen. At 10am I took a walk down the road from the hostel where I spent last night. On that walk, I discovered Bagelmen’s and wrote about it here. At 11am, I checked out of the hostel because I felt the manager’s behavior toward me became uncomfortable for me after I told him I was robbed at one of its owner’s other hostels and I didn’t feel at home there. I was told, I needed to leave exactly at checkout time. No problem. I had been welcomed at Bagelmen’s so I went there and relaxed while I looked online for a new hostel. I found a hostel that had excellent reviews and sounded perfect for me, called, and found my way there (in Spanish via two buses). Feeling at home, relaxed, happy and excited about my new albeit short-term home, I asked my friend of what is […]


Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

I am at an eatery called Bagelmen’s in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am sitting amidst fantastic smelling bagels that although not as large as NY style, are very tempting looking. There are 6 locations. This owner owns three. curious, I asked and learned the owner isn’t Jewish. I am pretty sure none of the upscale clientele here is either. I knew bagels had come a long way in NY, LA and other US cities, but until today hasn’t realized they’d become so well known or desirable elsewhere.


Cooking Plantains in Costa Rica

In San Salvador my friend Frida served sweetened yellow Plantains with each meal she served to me. All through El Salvador, sweetened yellow Plantains were a part of my meals. Later, Oct 19, in Costa Rica… I asked the fabulous Alonzo (he runs a hostel I stayed at) to show me how to cook them. He used a touch of salt instead and I liked them better than chips. So throughout Costa Rica and into Panama, I started cooking slightly salted yellow Plantains as a filling staple part of my meals — and as a favorite snack. They are also easy on a traveler’s budget in Central America. These are some of my first. I didn’t have the slicing down well yet.    


Typical breakfast in San Salvador

My last days in San Salvador I was thrilled to be a guest of friends. Having breakfast alone as they were out on errands or work, I read their newspaper. (I got much but not all and used my dictionary.) This was my breakfast – a typical breakfast in the homes of my Salvadorian friends. The toast is white bread. The whole wheat breads that have become common in the US are not commonly found there. The beans are what we in the US call refried beans. The egg… I don’t know if most Salvadorian families have eggs. This was how their housekeeper automatically made my egg for me and it happens to be how I like eggs. The cup always contained Chocolate. Hot Chocolate, that is. In El Salvador it is made with water. My plate doesn’t have Salvadorian cheese on it, which is common. It looks like Feta cheese. I […]


Favorite Salvadorian food near Hostal Cumbres del Volcan, San Salvador

One of the great things about Hostal Cumbres del Volcan, THE hostel and B&B I recommend for your stay in San Salvador, whether you are a single backpacker, a traveler seeking a nice private room but interaction with others, or a couple or family seeking a private room — is that it is in an upscale neighborhood but there is no shortage of excellent. true local Salvadorian food. (And I do mean at Salvadorian prices.) There is also high-end food on every level, but the true finds are the homes turned restaurant or tienda. As I dig up my photos and my friends’ photos of these places, I will be sharing them here. This street, behind the hostel is called 87 Avenida Norte. It is also the street that runs along the Plaza Futura and Torre Futura. While the Plaza offeres upscale dining, this street and the small side streets […]


Ice cream is a best value in El Salvador

LOVE ICE CREAM? I do, so I was happy to find this chain. They call it 2 x 1, which is two for one, but truth is, you can buy just one for half the price. A Banana Split was under $2.50 — but they didn’t give you enough whipped cream and sauces to make it really fun. So this double scoop (of large scoops) in a good waffle cone for just over $1 was my favorite.


Fabulous Fillet at Ruth’s Chris San Salvador

Tonight  my two friends and I weren’t terribly hungry but we wanted a good meal. My friend Frida hadn’t had the opportunity to try the newly-opened Ruth’s Chris San Salvador yet, so it was time. She welcomed me into her life so warmly and has done so much for me that I wanted to take her out before I have to move on (whenever that turns out to be). It’s late but the meal was so good that I have to write about it while the tastes are fresh on my tastebuds and in my memory. A perfect steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris San Salvador None of us were very hungry so it’s great that Ruth’s Chris gladly served French Style — cutting our thick, juicy, perfectly seasoned, sizzling steak by our table, serving a piece to each of us on our own very hot plate. There are several cuts of steak […]


Ruth’s Chris El Salvador 1

On my second day in San Salvador, my friend took me to the World Trade Center and Torre Futura to enjoy the breeze, the views, and the ambiance. I noticed the familiar wording, “Ruth’s Chris” on a new looking building and was impressed that the steakhouse I know to be excellent fine dining in Beverly Hills and the West San Fernando Valley, was here in San Salvador. For all of the weeks I have been staying here, I have watched it. Yesterday I noticed people enjoying the patio so I tried the front doors — and staff was there. Starting Monday, August 20, 2012, the folks of San Salvador have a new fine dining option for a perfect steak or, as I am told, great seafood. [Update: as of July 2016 or before now, this location has closed.] Personally, I go there for the USDA, grass fed Prime steak — perfectly flame […]


A restaurant to skip in Juayua, El Salvador

A friend of mine who spent a week in Juayua El Salvador, just told me about a very disappointing $10 meal she had at R & R restaurant. It was recommended by Lonely Planet, but Lonely Planet once again missed the mark. Pehaps they are no longer updating their books or didn’t have a direct experience, or perhaps the restaurant has changed a lot. My friend relates this: She was the only person in the restaurant. The $10 for the mushroom chicken was a pretty steep price, a western price. Admittedly, she doesn’t speak Spanish, so that she struggled to order is understandable. She was very disappointed in the meal, but that was because she didn’t expect the very strong taste of an unexpected local herb. But the next day, buying shrimp at the town’s market, it turned out she was buying from R & R’s owner. The woman asked […]


Chinese food in San Salvador

My friends here like two Chinese restaurants in San Salvador, so I have been to both. This is a meal at 168 – Uno Seis Ocho, located right across from the World Trade Center, WTC and its plaza’s iconic Tower Futura. Each dish was $8.50. They will give you glasses of filtered bottled water upon request, or if you are into unnecessary plastic poisoning you can buy bottled water. I don’t believe bottled water is necessary in this fine restaurant. Oh! Pollo Frito Con Fresas – Strawberry Chicken! I love Orange Chicken and Lemon Chicken in the states, but this was my first time ever hearing of strawberry chicken. It is good! A new favorite. All of the food has been great here. I have been there twice and will return. The budget traveler or backpacker who seeks a treat might like to know they have $5.25 lunch plates too, […]