Monday, January 28, 2008

National Surfing Tour - San Bartolo - Finals

The finals for the Peruvian Surfing National in San Bartolo completed this Sunday. I made it down to check things out and get a few pictures (better action shots in the link above). It was a beautiful sunny day and the waves were perfect most all day.

Looking down on the competition.

Public beach to the south totally packed.

The main platform with Caballitos de Totora.

Part of the Longboard semi-finals.

Boys Sub-12 year old finals.

Boys Sub-16 Final.

Gabriel Villaran in Men's Open semi-final.

Wayo Whilar talking to Gabrien Villaran after semi-final heat.

Sebastián Alarcón Mens Open Winner
(2007 National Champion).

Magoo de la Rosa taking photos.
Sofia Mulanovich
(far left) resting on the sand with friends.

Gabriel Villaran (left) and Sofia Mulanovich (top right) watching the finals.

2008 National Surfing Events Poster and competition dates.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2nd National Surfing Tour Event - San Bartolo

The first day of the Nationals in San Bartolo was Friday. I made it down there to check things out around 8:30am. The event started a bit late (8:45am or so) and things seemed to be getting setup still during the first hour of the event. It looked like the municipal workers slept in a bit as the trash cans showed up and public bathroom was unlocked around 9:30am. It was a beautiful sunny day and the waves were perfect (5-6 ft w/ light offshore wind).

I only saw the sub-16 boys though as I had to head back to work. Hopefully I can catch some of the longboard and master's events on Sunday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

La Bodega de la Trattoria

We've been to the La Trattoria di Mambrino many times in the past and have enjoyed every visit. This review covers our first visit to the Bodega which is located near Huaca Pucllana. It was a weekday night around 6pm.

There is an outdoor patio which has a nice view of the huaca and a grassy park area. It's a quiet area and feels a bit like a European cafe. They have magazines to look at while you wait and there is a cafe display for desserts and pastries. There was a dimly lit back dinning room that was very elegant looking, but we decided to enjoy the nice day on the patio.

We started out with a piadina completo which comes topped with 2 sections; sun dried tomato and Ugo's pesto. Each piece had a nice piece of tasty piquillo pepper. It was an amazing appetizer and we would have gladly ordered seconds.

For the main course, I had a tiradito of lenguado and my wife had a tartar of salmon and tuna. The tiradito was pretty much perfection in the mix of the spices and flavors. I personally like it a little spicier though. The meat was thinly sliced, carpaccio style, perfectly Italian but not very filling. The tartar had a touch of spice to it. Both the salmon and the tuna were fantastic and had strong flavors. My wife was very happy with it (the only better tartar that we've had was of scallops at the Observatory in the Miraflores Park Hotel).

For dessert, we had a vanilla cheesecake with a raspberry sauce. I'm a very big critic of cheesecake as I've tried them all over Peru and have almost always been disappointed. Many of them don't even use cream cheese. The bodega was an exception. The cheesecake was perfect and extremely satisfying. There was a good flavor of cream cheese that I really enjoyed.

The bathrooms were well stocked and clean, but a little cramped. The prices were reasonable and certainly were exceeded by the extremely high quality of the food. The service was good overall, but the waiters were a bit busy (most of the tables were filled).

Quality: 10
Flavor: 10
Presentation: 10
Selection: 9
Value: 9
Environment: 10
Bathrooms: 8
Overall: 10

Vivaldi, San Isidro

We've been to Vivaldi on Camino Real a few times now. This is the review of our latest visit. It was a weekday night around 8pm.

The menu selection is huge with a mixture of Peruvian and international dishes. It's hard to decide what you want to try. The environment is comfortable, but feels a bit dated (as if the restaurant was a big hit and brand new looking about 10 years ago). The service was pretty bad as the waiter forgot to bring my water for about 20 minutes and I was unable to flag him down to remind him. Also it took about 10 minutes to get his attention for the check, which he forgot, and then took another 30 minutes to finally get it. Much of our total time in the restaurant was spent trying to get the waiter's attention. The restaurant had some sort of small party going on in the central room, but the restaurant was not full and there seemed to be plenty of wait staff working.

We started off by splitting a chef's salad that was supposed to be topped with quail eggs. But when it was brought out, there was only a small piece of sliced chicken egg. The quail eggs give a distinct flavor (in addition to being more healthy) and were one of the main ingredients listed in the menu. I was a bit upset that they didn't even mention the problem before brining out the salad (as if I wouldn't notice). After I brought it up to the waiter, he explained that they were out of quail eggs and he brought me a whole hard boiled chicken egg.

I had a ceviche of white scallops (conchas) and my guest had a tiradito of lenguado. The tiradito didn't quite melt in your mouth and the flavor was a bit off. The conchas were huge, but tasted like they were too old or bad in some way, they didn't have the normal sweet flavor.

The poor quality of the food and the service had us leaving very unsatisfied and unhappy. It's possible to find much better seafood in a normal (cheaper) cevicheria. While Vivaldi may serve a large menu of different foods, seafood certainly doesn't appear to be their specialty.

The bathrooms are nice, clean, comfortable and well stocked.

Quality: 7
Flavor: 6
Presentation: 6
Selection: 10
Value: 7
Environment: 7
Bathrooms: 8
Overall: 6

Magma, Costa Verde

We've been to the Magma just off Larco Ave in Miraflores a couple times. This was our first visit to the Magma that's connected to Costa Verde restaurant.

We started off with soups, Shitake and Miso. Both soups were good and served promptly. The table was a bit annoying though as it would almost tip over with the slightest lean on one side.

We had come really wanting to have some tuna. My wife ordered the Mango Maguro (only warm tuna dish), but after a few minutes was told that the tuna in stock was a bit small so it might be better to get some Salmon or Lenguado (sole/flounder). We really wanted the tuna and in the end they were able to make it happen. The dish turned out to be pretty good, but more of a Japanese style (small thin cuts) than we were hoping for (something more like a braised tuna steak).

We also had some lenguado in a Japanese wine sauce (mirim) and BBQ'd octopus in a sweet and sour sauce. The lenguado was good sized and the flavor was quite good, but there were some bones. The octopus was incredibly tender and tasty! The only complaint was that it was only 1 tentacle of a medium octopus, so slightly less meat that I would have liked. This was remedied though by the rice. The dishes came with Thai rice (peppers, green bean pods, etc) and Magma rice (salty w/ pecans). The Thai rice was really tasty. The Magma rice was good, but much too salty. They were both extremely heavy (thick and sticky to be eaten with chopsticks) and filling.

Unfortunately, they had run out of green tea (which seems really bad for a sushi / Japanese place). It was pretty disappointing. We ended up having some maracuya (passion friut) juice and lemonade, both were good. My wife had a Chardonnay, Navarro Correas (Argentina), while it was served cold, the wine itself wasn't anything special.

The bathrooms had a fancy fountain type sink that was pretty nice to use, but they had completely run out of paper towels (in both men's and women's) and there was no other way to dry your hands (wife had to use toilet paper). This was during prime dinner time (9-10pm) on a Thursday night.

Back on the positive side, they have a really nice saltwater fish tank that separates the bar and the dinning area. They have 4 colorful and interesting fish (3 of them the same). It's a nice touch but certainly not anything exciting to real saltwater tank enthusiasts.

The music was electronic and really had a good fun vibe going the whole time we were there. We didn't use the lounges (some nice red and black leather couches) but they looked quite nice for getting together with friends for drinks. Good environment for the late 20s - 40's crowd, but not a family oriented place. Many of the tables offer a nice view of the Costa Verde (towards Miraflores/San Isidro). Service was not outstanding, but it was certainly was good.

Quality: 9
Flavor: 7
Presentation: 9
Selection: 6
Value: 8
Environment: 9
Bathrooms: 6
Overall: 8

Cafe Del Mar (CDM), Asia

We've been to the CDM in Lima a couple times, but every time we've tried to goto CDM Asia over the last couple years it has been closed. We finally found it open this last Friday night. Apparently their hours are 9pm-closing only for Friday and Saturday. We showed up at 8:45pm or so and they were kind enough to seat us a few minutes early, but only after we asked if they were open. The door was open but as we approached people to be seated they seemed to just walk away and ignore us. We got to see some of their setup work, preparing for Blueberry and Claro events.

EXPOSURF and a Fashion Show were both happening in Asia this weekend so we expected possible crowds. But it turns out that Friday night was fairly slow. After our dinner (almost 11pm) there still were not many people around or in CDM (3 other couples).

The menu had good variety and really interesting dishes, but the prices seemed at the top end of expectations. We started things out with a salad with bbq'd octopus. It was fantastic. I ordered the Tuna 'a la brasa' and it did not disappoint at all. The price was high but the product was of equal quality. It literally melted in our mouthes and the accompanying pesto sauce was a nice tough. The presentation was great.

My wife ordered an interesting personal thin crust pizza. It came with Japanese style smoked salmon, capers, sour cream, and raw sliced white onion over a white sauce. The price for the personal pizza was reasonable and the product itself was good, but not amazing. I didn't mind the raw onions, but my wife wasn't real happy about them being raw.

The service was very good. They had about 8-10 waiters for 2-3 couples though the night, so many of them were helping out with each table. The bar looked quite well stocked, but I wasn't pleased to find that they did not have Coke Zero. My wife's white wine was really good. While we weren't fully satisfied after the meal, we decided to find dessert somewhere else due to the high prices.

I've decided to add a new rating to my reviews, bathrooms. This isn't a big deal in the US, but in Peru it has proven to be something that is very often overlooked in public restaurants. In this specific case, the bathrooms looked a bit fancy like you might find in NY (co-ed with the glass that 'fogs up' when you close the door). But this was the budget version of that, the glass stayed 'fogged' at all times and there was only one hand soap dispenser for the entire co-ed sink. Also though I didn't need it, I was disappointed to see such a high end restaurant that did not have toilet seats. My wife's bathroom did have a seat, but mine did not.

Quality: 9
Flavor: 9
Presentation: 10
Selection: 10
Value: 6
Environment: 9
Bathrooms: 5
Overall: 8

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I just wanted to throw out a plug for Sonicare toothbrushes. Last year we had a number of problems with cavities when visiting the dentist. We have fairly regular brushing and flossing habits but apparently our normal tooth brushes (Oral-B, etc) weren't getting the job done. I spoke with a friend and he said that after he and his wife started using Sonicare brushes, they never had cavities again. I had been thinking about getting a pair of these brushes for some time and his comments really solidified that.

Now it's been about 9 months and we just had another visit to the dentist for a cleaning and x-rays. He reported no new cavities or problems for either of us. I have 2 old fillings that need replacement (over 10 years old) but other than that - really great results. Hopefully these good results continue for some years ahead! We've found the travel case that comes with these brushes to be really useful and we've had no problem traveling nationally and internationally with them. The only thing that we would change is to make the charger work from 110-230 V like many other bathroom appliances already do (electric razors, etc). Our exact model is the Sonicare Elite e9500 (

Monday, January 14, 2008

Finally done.

DirecTV finally showed up for the installation on Friday Jan 11th. They called the day before to schedule the installation (nice of them).

There was a bit of work to get the installation done (and a lot of chasing the landlord's dog who escaped from the roof), but it finally finished after about 2 hours. Afterwards we had to do a bit of cleaning (lots of dust) but things were working great and all of our pre-recorded shows were still on the DVR.

Unfortunately, NFL Sunday Ticket service doesn't include the playoffs and ESPN didn't cover the NFC playoffs this year. So I wasn't able to catch either of the NFC playoff games this weekend. But I did get to see 2 great AFC games. The Pats look to be lined up for another visit to the Super Bowl as the Chargers are quite banged up after a tough Colts game.

So we finally have DirecTV, Internet, and Phone service all hooked up (a few weeks late). But we continue to work on the beach house. It appeared to be clean when we moved in, but after weeks of cleaning we still haven't finished. We've had a number of water problems as well. Around the New Year we didn't have water after 4pm for about 3-4 days in a row. Then the other day the 'ballast' of the water pump broke, so the water was out again for half of a day. The water seems to be working like normal again now, but we still need to get a faucet fixed (only drips a tiny bit of water).

Hopefully next year we can find a place that's actually 'clean' and ready for someone to live there before we move in. Starting your summer with weeks of scrubbing and cleaning (or moving into a place to pay a maid to clean it) is not enjoyable.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Up and running!

On Wednesday, we went to the Telefonica office in San Isidro to see what was going on. They managed to clarify a number of things. They checked and verified that our phone line was in the system and active as of Jan 2nd. They also let us know that the Speedy DSL techs would come by the house after 3 days (so Saturday). We had to be in Lima so that I could have internet and work on Friday. We tried to get them to have the techs call us before they came, but that didn't happen.

When we arrived at the place Friday evening there was a note from the Speedy techs saying that they had come by and we weren't home. But they had never called us to schedule anything or to let us know that they were at the place. Luckily this time they left us a cell # to call when we wanted to schedule the installation. We called them around 8am Saturday morning and they came by for the installation the same day at 11am or so. The installation and setup only took about 15 minutes and I'm up and online finally! yay!

So in the end, we were told that internet would be setup by Dec 31st and it was installed on Jan 5th. So not as horrible in the end as the expected Jan 8-10th date.

We're only waiting on DirecTV to come install our antennae now. We were hoping that we could watch some of our pre-recorded DVR shows even w/o the satellite but that isn't possible. We called DirecTV again on Friday and they said that it now took them 48 hours to receive and process a fax (previously 24 hours). So we'll have to check back again on Monday. Hopefully they can come and do the installation sometime next week, ugh.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Business in Peru...incompetence at work.

Telefonica can't seem to do anything right:
So we go into the office on Dec 19 to get details about installing internet and a phone line in our summer beach house. We get the information that we need and the lady starts pushing contracts our way. We tell her that we aren't ready to sign anything yet and we leave. We wanted to check Telmex service and prices at the beach because of the recently poor performance of Speedy internet with Telefonica. It turns out that Telmex doesn't even cover all of the metropolitan area of Lima, let alone any of the beaches.

Dec 24th we get a call from the Telefonica techs saying that they are at our house and we're not there for the installation. We haven't even signed a contract or anything yet, so that seemed very odd. We tell them to come back on the morning of Dec 27th and they say OK. On Dec 26th, we goto the Telefonica office and sign the contract (we have no other choices for phone or internet in the area). The lady there confirms that the techs will come for the installation on Dec 27th in the morning and says that Speedy should be installed by Jan 31st.

Dec 27th and 28th we sit around the beach house all day long waiting, cleaning, etc. Telefonica never comes. We call and they have no idea where the techs are and provide no way for us to contact them. They tell us that they work until 7pm so we wait and waste even more time. They never show up and the central office doesn't have have a 'report' from them at all after being over 2 days late for the installation.

Finally on Sat Dec 29th in the afternoon, the Telefonica techs show up at the place. Just by luck, I happened to be at home because we had given up hope that they were ever going to come. They perform the installation and the guy checks the dial tone on the phone... nada. He looks confused and double checks all the wiring inside the house. He checks again with some specialized phone that they have, still nothing. Then he tells me that he needs to call the central office to activate it and that they 'would call me in 10 minutes to confirm that it was working'. Then he goes with the other guy that did the outside work (1 pole with a box connected to another pole, and then to our building). They double check all the outside work and without saying anything or calling me at all.

Dead line that whole day and night w/ no call. We call the next day and it's a holiday, so they can't do anything about it. Next day we call and they tell us that our number 'isn't even in the system and it will take 5 days for that to process'! So now we're looking at Jan 8th for a possible dial tone. Then another 3-5 days later before they can install internet. So we might be looking at realistically getting it installed around the 15th. Why promise to provide a service by a certain date if you cannot even come close to delivering on that date??!

DirecTV; more delays:
We contacted DirecTV to install a dish at the beach apartment and they told us that it would be no problem. We just needed to send them a fax of the rental agreement and then it would be 5 days or so until they could have the techs come by. We sent the rental agreement on the 26th, but they couldn't confirm that they received it until a day later (it takes them 1 whole working day to walk over to the fax machine and find a fax in the file).

Finally they say that it received but it's no good because the rental agreement is in my name but the DirecTV contract is in my wife's name. They basically tell us that it's impossible to proceed and that we're out of luck. After a good deal of discussion we manage to come to an agreement that we'll fax them our marriage certificate (and translation) to prove that we're married so that they can finally proceed with the freaking installation. But then they tell us that no one is going to be working until Jan 2nd, so we're still waiting.

I can't wait until there's some more competition in the Peruvian markets so that companies can no longer get away with this; horrible service, inefficient processes at super high prices. I guess I should just be content that it's even possible to have Internet or DirecTV in a country so far behind much of the world.