Monday, December 10, 2007


A new restaurant opened up in the Casona de Santa Catalina recently. Recently we had time to go check it out. They've sent out some fliers lately calling the place a 'restaurante & cafe' and saying "A good wine is for sharing. A good restaurant too."

The wine list was decent for Arequipa, but nothing too special (not close to anything found in Lima). There was one good Spanish wine, some good Argentine and Chilean wines, and some decent Peruvian wines. We were disappointed that they do not stock Tabernero (our favorite Peruvian vineyard).

We ordered an Ocucaje white wine, knowing not to expect anything amazing. It was served at room temperature and only chilled after the first glasses of wine had been poured. So, unfortunately, our first glass was warm and a little disappointing. The 2nd glass after being chilled was better. For a restaurant who supposedly specializes in wine, it's hard to understand how they don't keep their white wines chilled.

The environment was enjoyable. We sat in a comfortable booth that had a sort of 'sofa' feel. The pillows were a comfortable addition. Each table has a candle and there is a good deal of art. I'd say that you could call the place 'romantic' or a good location for a date. On a Saturday night, things were pretty quiet. There were a few couples spread out through the restaurant. The music was decent, but could have used a better selection (something more Peruvian). The volume was good. Service was attentive and the food was prepared quickly.

We had Soltero de queso for an appetizer. It was good. There were no habas (Lima beans), but we were still quite happy with it.

For the main course, I had Tiradito de Corvina (Seabass) and my wife had Asado de res con creama de quinua (Roast beef over cream of quinoa). The cuts of meat in the tiradito were good, but the seasoning was a bit overpowering in the salt and spice department. It was lacking in the spicy (picante) department. They also appeared to be trying 'their own' style of tiradito (or their blender was broken). In the end, the fairly to properly mix the flavors nearly ruined an otherwise great piece of seabass.

The first piece of asado was quite tasty and not dry or tough at all. Great! The 2nd and 3rd pieces of asado were a bit too dry, but not tough. While I'm not a big fan of asado, my wife thought it was decent. The creama de quinua, on the other hand, she did not enjoy as it was sweet almost like a dessert. I thought it tasted pretty good for a dessert, but also expected something more on the traditional (salty) side to accompany the roast beef.

Quality: 5
Flavor: 3
Presentation: 4
Selection: 8
Value: 4
Environment: 7
Overall: 5

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Barrow Alaska gets Turf Football Field

Here's a really inspirational video from back home in Alaska. I visited Barrow during high school for a basketball trip. The whole city showed up for the game and it felt like the state playoffs of football. I can't imagine how crazy the town gets for football games now! There's not much of anything to do there after work/school is over so sports provide a positive option for both students and fans.

More Power problems for Luz del Sur

There was another unannounced outage this morning. Apparently they were doing some work last night and ran into problems which they could not repair until almost 10am this morning. Luckily this time they had everything repaired before the start of the football games (1pm) and the start of 'The Day of Cinema'.

They are showing movies at the local theater for reduced prices and extended hours today in an attempt to promote people going to the cinema and fight against piracy. Obviously is the power outage had continued, this would be quite a problem for a movie theater. But the power came back up by 10am, the start of the first round of movies for today.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This is back to being a public blog

I've changed this Blog back to public. Our private Blog can be found at Mike and Pily's Blog. This blog will contain publicly viewable comments, reviews, rants, complaints, etc and the private Blog will contain pictures and more family related content.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life in Arequipa, Peru

Good afternoon.

So here comes the first of many sad tales of life in the Andes. This one involves great timing and a national run monopoly.

We invited a couple friends over the house to watch some good old Sunday Ticket, specifically the Patriots vs Browns game. They were a little late, but it was no problem with the DirectTV DVR+ (starting late lets me skip commercials later anyhow). So I set everything up and then helped in the kitchen for a bit. 5 minutes before our friends showed up and about 30 minutes into the game... POOF! Power outage!

After calling the nationally run electric company (the only one in town), they alerted us that something had broken in Los Portales, Cayma and there was no ETA on a fix, but they had already sent emergency crews to look into it. So when our friends arrive, we welcome them into our dark power-less house. On the positive side, we were using Gas for the cooking so we were able to finish most of that without any problems. On the negative side, the ice we were making didn't get done when we needed it and the Sprite and Coke Zero weren't quite cold either.

Just before the power went out, a friend called me from the Pats game. He said to look for them in the Pats end zone (first quarter). We never did find them and weren't able to answer their later calls to celebrate Pats TDs. The first 30 minutes of the game that I was recording was all lost when the power finally did come back up.

We tossed the football around some in the park near our house and still the power remained out... We hung out for about 2-2.5 hours waiting for the power to come back on. Finally it did return and we were able to watch about 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter and the rest of the game, but at that point it was already 20-3 and things never did really get exciting. Overall I'd say this week (5) was the most predictable (boring) week of NFL football this year.

Anyhow, back to the lovely power company here in Arequipa. I think the name is Luz del Sur. This is just another in a long string is annoyances and failures from this company. From August 2006 - April 2007, it seemed like we had 4-6 hour power outages here in Cayma every 2 weeks. These always had to occur during primary business hours (7am - 1pm). During that time we also had about 4-5 emergency failures. One in particular occurred at around 5pm and without bucket trucks or decent lighting, they weren't able to fix the problem until the next morning. It ended up lasting around 11 hours. My wife was in the middle of exams and had to study all night by candle and flashlight.

Also the scheduled outages are not available on the companies web site. They don't send mail to their customers to inform them. The only way to find out about outages is to frequently buy the local paper or listen to some of the local news stations at the right time of day. In our busy lives, neither of these is something we have much time for.

I'd love to change to another electric company, but it is unfortunately impossible. Also complaints don't seem to have any effect on this company as it is not private and they have no need to provide quality service. They all have guaranteed government jobs and money, so providing decent modern electric service doesn't seem to be a priority.

I see them working outside of our house and their main tools are their hands, feet, and some old ladders. No bucket trucks, ladder trucks, no good spot lights at night (just small flashlights). The workers have to scale the poles like monkeys a lot of the time and I see them hanging by their legs and one hand while using the other hand to try and make repairs. Other times they move/fix things by hitting/pushing them with long sticks (because no one can reach them). It feels like going back in time 50 years and forgetting everything you ever learned about workers rights and labor laws.

Viva Peru!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Checked out a new restaurant tonight, SonJazz

Hello there,

I decided to start up a blog today. I mostly want to focus it on experiences and reviews of various venues and activities. Also it should make a perfect place for bitching and moaning.

Anyhow, we visited a new restaurant in Arequipa tonight. It's called SonJazz and is located in Cayma near the intersection of Ejercito and Cayma (on the Leon XIII side). It just opened up a month ago. The decor is top notch for Arequipa and the environment reminded us of some of the better restaurants/lounges in Lima.

The food itself was a bit lacking. The causa lacked spice, though the trout tiradito pieces on top of it were great. Too bad there is no trout tiradito in the menu. The empanaditas of cheese and mushroom actually had some cheese, but no mushroom. Instead they had lapas inside, which was a bit surprising. The overall flavor wasn't too bad, but the chirimoya cream sauce on them was much too sweet for me. Though I'm not a fan of many sweet empanadas.

It was supposed to come with pulpo al olivo, but when we got was something completely different. The closest thing I've had to it in the past was in France. The flavor was light and while slightly bland, it was enjoyable. Apparently this was based on a Greek dish.

The final part of our piqueo was pork ribs in a semi-sweet sauce. Their flavor was quite enjoyable, but there was a bit of lack of meat. The sauco sauce was very good.

The bar selection was quite good. There was a good variety of vodka, whiskey, bourbon, rum, and various specialty liquors. I had a Jack Daniels and the pour was quite pleasing. My wife had a Cosmopolitan which missed the mark a bit (and was a special order, not on the menu). It was too sweet and did not have and cranberry juice. Our second round was better. I had a Gran Cruz Mosto Verde. It was tasty and powerful. She had a nice Cabernet. All of the glassware was top notch for Arequipa.

The prices were extremely surprising for Arequipa. The best restaurant in town, the Trattoria del Monisterio, has prices significantly lower and food much more refined. Our 2 person piqueo was 70 soles. If the meal had been exquisite the price may have been worthwhile, but the meal was a far cry from perfection. For further comparison, 70 soles would get a 2 person parillada with beef, lamb, chorizo, chicken, pork, and more which would be sure to fill any 2 people. Our meal left us wanting for more, but a bit frightened by both the price and food quality. We decided to pass on another course and dessert.

Quality: 6
Flavor: 4
Presentation: 8
Selection: 6
Value: 0
Environment: 10
Overall: 4

Since the restaurant was new and local, we decided to talk to the Chef. She is a Greek woman, whose name I could not grasp after 2 attempts. She explained a good deal about the restaurant and that the assistant chefs were all new. It was their first night handling the kitchen without her. She told us that she encourages creativity and adventure in the kitchen. This explained a bit about our food. We didn't read the intro in the menu, but hopefully it was some sort of disclaimer. She explained to us that the local Chef schools did not provide enough raw materials for the students to really experiment and learn on. They generally graduate with little real experience. So she was working with them and allowing them some freedom to learn (though sometimes at the customer's expense, more so in the pocket book than the pallet). It sounds like this place could really develop into a quality restaurant with time, but it's a bit of a risk at the moment. I wish them luck in their endeavors.