Thanksgiving Dinner at Borago in Santiago, Chile

For Thanksgiving this year, we ate stone soup. Oh, and leaves. I guess I should mention the leaves, since there was a plethora of leaves.

Nope, I’m not even joking.

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I guess we did it because we’re totally authentic, old-school Pilgrims. And that’s what the Pilgrims probably ate that first Thanksgiving.

(Actually, that first Thanksgiving menu was a lot better than our meal at Borago in Santiago, Chile. And, at least we had wine. Sorry, original settlers. Sucked to be you—on so many levels.)

Not really. We did it because we jumped on a low-cost fare and went to Chile for Thanksgiving week. And, well, you gotta eat somewhere on Thanksgiving, right?

 

Borago is the no. 36 restaurant in the world. As the World’s 50 Best explains: “owner-chef Rodolfo Guzman’s interest lies as much in the pastures and woods as much as it does the markets and kitchen.”

Let me tell you, this Guzman dude has been spending a LOT of time in the pastures and woods. So get ready to masticate some dusty flowers and lick sticks—literal sticks, aka: “pre-spring flowers skewers”—because eating at Borago means you will be eating items picked from the nearest tree and foraged from the wild woods of Chile.

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This girl before she realized she’d be paying a whole lot of money to eat foilage.

Especially leaves. So, so, so many leaves. A cornucopia, if you will.

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We had dry leaves next to a cube of grilled lamb.

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Pickled leaves sheltering some grilled octopus, aka: murder-y plate.

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Slimy seaweed type leaves over a tiny piece of fish.

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Leaf sandwiches with a couple of water crackers and a schmear of cream stuff in between.

Then, of course, there was the rock soup. Literal rocks—one of which is covered with a black bean paste and two are covered with some sort of gelatin—over which a rock broth is poured. You are then instructed to “scrape the rocks” and make your own bean soup.

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It was all….a bit much. We’re pretty adventurous eaters. Sidenote: My sister was asking me about this just recently, and said: “When did y’all start…..or why do you…. eat stuff that’s like…ummmm….not American?” Which legitimately made me chortle and snort. And then I said, “I don’t think you mean un-American, I think you mean, like, unconventional stuff.” Which—thankfully—she confirmed was what she meant, pointing out that I have willingly eaten rabbit, which she considers a no-go.

Oh, dear younger Poe. I’ve eaten so much weirder stuff than rabbit. Like, (below) raw kambucha fashioned as meat and a side of Pewan (aka, tree bark, I think!)

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And we love a big tasting menu event. We trust chefs and want to go on a journey with them into what inspires them. We consider it all very much theater or art you can eat.

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It’s ummm, pretty, I guess.

But Borago definitely had us scratching our heads. We’re cool with being inspired by your country’s flora. But honestly? Almost nothing was very tasty. We just weren’t into the flavors. Or the flowers. I feel bad about it, but that was just the way it worked out this time.

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That’s fine. When we got back home on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, my own personal-forager/chef-for-life XFE struck out into the wilds of our local Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter stores and made me a fantastic, totally American Thanksgiving feast with nary a leaf or rabbit in sight. My Thanksgiving meal at Borago made me appreciate and love it all the more.

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Ah yes. More like it.

(XFE was also inspired to rake up all the leaves in our backyard that weekend, while I toyed with the idea of reaching out to Borago to see if they’d like to buy some.)

Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Coma Activities

I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Thanksgiving my favorite holiday. Quite a controversial statement, I know. Hopefully, Olivier Martinez doesn’t come over and give me a turkey day whooping for uttering such a contrarian viewpoint. (In his defense, he’s French, so he probably doesn’t really respect the whole Thanksgiving dealio. Come to think of it, Gabriel Aubrey is Canadian, so it was probably just another ass-kicking day for both of them and not the holiest of eat-fests).

“We are for-hen….we do not care about your stuh-pid holidays. We only care about our manliness and fighting over who wears zee summer scarf better.”

Actually, I need to amend my earlier statement – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday after my birthday month, which is, quite clearly, my favorite holiday of all. I have no idea why it hasn’t yet been declared a national holiday.

Anyway, there are, obviously, many, many reasons to love Thanksgiving. When you combine stuffing your face, stuffing your shopping cart, and all day reality TV marathons, well, you sirs, have the makings of a PoeLog trifecta of awesomeness.

We actually kicked off this year’s festivities with Greige Tuesday. Oh, you don’t know about Greige Tuesday? Well, it’s kinda like Black Friday, except its Tuesday. It’s the day you REALLY get a jump on the shopping crowds by battling the after-work, get-a-jump-on-Thanksgiving-traffic-travellers and driving out to the outlets to load up on Brooks Brothers deals (suits for my prepster-for-life XFE, non-iron button up shirts for lazy me).

This 40-percent-off extravaganza is followed by wings at Hooters. It’s a Greige Tuesday tradition. And, pretty wild for a school night. This year’s Hooters entertainment was provided by an approximately 4-year-old boy who appeared to be the son of one of the Hooterettes and was running wild around the restaurant way past his (and my) bedtime.

It’s always so much fun to watch young women in tight orange shorts twirl a child around dangerously close to my beer.

This just seems wrong.

We’ll skip Hallow Halls Wednesday (where one spends the day surfing the Web looking for upcoming CyberMonday deals and waiting for early release from work), and get to the main event: Thanksgiving.

One of the things that makes Thanksgiving so dang awesome is that we spend it with friends. And lucky for us, our hosts, Matt and Melissa (the M&Ms), do all the work. All we do is bring some booze (gin, usually) and wine (couple of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, couple of bottles of Langmeil’s Hanging Snakes Shiraz). That’s it. Melissa does pretty much everything else (this year, she allowed our other friends Troy and Eddie to bring pies).

It’s our seventh year over there, and the M&Ms always lay out quite a feast – 20 lb turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, gravy, rolls and two types of cranberry sauce, including the jellied kind out of the can for us white trash nostalgics. I swear, cranberry doesn’t taste right unless it’s got ridges in it.

Of course, it all kicks off with tons of drinking options (sangria, pineapple infused vodka, about 4 kinds of gin) and snacks, including my favorite: pigs in a blanket.

After stuffing our collective faces and livers for hours on end, we attempt to play a board game. This year it was something called Apples-to-Apples. I couldn’t possibly explain it, but let’s suffice it to say, I tried far too hard to be clever with all of my answers. If you have to explain everything with, “See, what I did there? It’s a joke. It’s meant to be ironic,” you are not going to win.

But, the very, VERY best part of spending Thanksgiving with the M&Ms is that they don’t eat leftovers. So we actually bring empty Tupperware over and they fill it up! It’s freaking awesome. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle.

My personal chef XFE turns the turkey into amazing open-faced sandwiches with avocado and provolone on sourdough bread that we then eat for several days. Served with leftover side dishes, of course. They’re already perfect and don’t need to be adapted into anything else.

We had managed to stay away from most-shopping related activities after Greige Tuesday, but finally succumbed a bit on Sunday. Let me tell you something, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is an AWESOME time to go shopping! Nobody is out! They’re all worn out from chasing down deals on Black Friday and Small Business Sunday. We cruised right into Best Buy (where XFE bought some video game) and had the run of both Trader Joe’s and DSW.

None of these people were out on Sunday. Maybe they were all recuperating?

About that DSW: a simple window-shopping trip for casual shoes for XFE turned into us walking out with nine pairs of shoes. (To be fair, two pairs of “shoes” were fancy new house slippers for each of us, and another pair was flip flops for me. Hardly shoes, really. More like “minimal coverings for the bottom on one’s feet”). But that doesn’t excuse the rest of that shoe shopping spree.

It was probably more than either of us would have predicted going in. I guess we were lulled by the ease and emptiness of the place. Either that, or a turkey-induced shopping coma. And for that, we only have the M&Ms and all their delicious leftovers to blame.

So, to sum up, this post-Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for:

  1. Super clever boyfriends who win at board games (winning phrase? Britney Spears. Nicely done, hun);
  2. United Airlines miles that let us fly all over the world on fabulous vacations;
  3. Chubby cats who sleep with you in the winter and keep you warm;
  4. Fantastic friends who let you come over, eat all their food, stay overnight safely in their house when you’ve had too much to drink; and send you home with a week’s worth of leftovers;
  5. And, shoes.

*Not an exhaustive list by any means.

Race Review – Alexandria Turkey Trot

Hey y’all! Sorry I neglected you guys! I’m sure you’ve consoled yourselves with tons of leftover turkey.

But man, between training for the Las Vegas Rock N Roll half marathon, finishing up online scuba classes, major work projects (including a complete redesign of the magazine website and revamp of the editorial process), the usual house work, figuring out the logistics for our future trips (in-country air, hotels, etc.), watching all that reality TV and reading all those trashy tabloids, and I’ve been busier than a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest.

So, since I’m so dang busy, I figured I’d heap something else on my plate on Thanksgiving Day: my first Turkey Trot.

I don’t do a lot of Turkey Trots because I don’t like running in the cold. Thanksgiving is usually pretty cold. Too cold to go out and run a 5k. But the weather’s been pretty good here in these parts lately, so when I saw the last call to register on Twitter on Tuesday, I figured, why not? And it started at 10, which isn’t too early at all. Plus, it was right in my backyard – I walked to the start line from my house.

The Alexandria Turkey Trot was 5 miles and was a loop around the neighborhood of Del Ray, starting and finishing near a junior high school. When I say neighborhood, it really was in the neighborhoods, down side streets and past people’s yards, which was a mixed benefit. On the one hand, lots of families were outside cheering us on and giving us water, but with about 4,100 runners, it got a bit crowded at times.

The race fee was $20 and the organizers did something really nice which was give you the option of buying either a short sleeve tech shirt or a long sleeve cotton shirt for $10 extra. Your choice. I, of course, went with a tech shirt and since I did not know what the sizing would be like, I got a large, which is a bit large, but I did not want a repeat of a smedium incident.

Pick up was pretty easy, and there were plenty of places to donate canned goods to Alive Alexandria, a nonprofit organization of volunteers from over 40 religious congregations and the community working together to help those in need in Alexandria, Virginia. I did not, however, see a bag check place, which was unfortunate since I had worn a heavy jacket that I didn’t intend to run in.

It was an ok race. As always, my only goal was to run the whole race without stopping. But, I had some major stomach issues that really slowed me down. I had to stop a few times in a bit of a panic and with some cramping. There were no porta potties and I spent the whole race trying to figure out whether I would be brave enough to go knock on somebody’s door and ask them to use their bathrooms. It didn’t come to that because of sheer willpower. Also, the only organized water station I saw was at mile 3.5. I don’t usually stop at water stations unless it’s a really long run or really hot, but I did think it was a bit late in the race.

They also had a Doggy and Stroller participation, which people definitely took advantage of, but again, because the course was so narrow, it became a real issue at some points. I definitely saw one person using a double stroller to mow down another runner. Like, rolling up on her heels. And dogs, well, they want to stop and sniff a lot, so dodging them became a very big part of the race.

Hey, while I’m thinking about it, let’s go over some race etiquette.

1)      Don’t wear a marathon shirt to a five mile run. It’s douchey, ING dude. We get it: you’re a serious runner who’s gracing us with your presence today. Wear a race shirt of equivalent distance or less.

2)      This is just me, but I don’t wear the event race shirt until I’ve actually run the event. It’s kinda like being that dork at the concert wearing the band shirt. Again, we get it: you’re a fan, but save it for some other time. Maybe at another race (as long as it’s equal or less distance).

3)      Don’t stretch on the ground in the corrals. I know you need to stretch, I do too, but if people can’t see you because you’re on the ground, people will step on you.

4)      And children? Well, you can guess how I feel about that one.

I finished in 52.25 according to the race clock, but 50:10 according to my Nikeplus, which I paused whenever I had to stop and take a breather. Other stats: I was 903th woman out of 2,148women. 284th in my age group. 2,118th person overall out of 4,053. It was a disappointing race for me time wise. And I definitely took a few walk breaks of about 30 seconds, including a break about ½ mile from the finish, which is really demoralizing.

But, I got over it. At least I went out there and did it. Plus I ran 10 miles a couple days later. And I felt quite superior when I went and gorged later that day.

We’ve gone to our friend’s Matt and Melissa’s every year for the last six years and It. Is. Awesome. There’s usually about eight of us, most of us are repeaters. Basically, our responsibilities as guests are to bring some booze (wine and whatnot) and Matt and Melissa literally do everything else.

We get there about 2 p.m. and start eating. There’s a few appetizers (including pigs-in-a-blanket, my favorite) to munch on while Melissa works her ass off on the rest of the spread, which is a significant amount of food. Amazing turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and not one, but two types of macaroni and cheese. It’s crazy. Oh, and there’s a couple of pies.

It’s a lot of food. And, we always bring our own Tupperware to take home leftovers, which my Gordon-Ramsay-wannabe-for-life-partner XFE turns into amazing grilled sandwiches with avocado, bacon, pepper jack cheese on sourdough bread.

Oh, and sorrys, no pictures. I took a ton of pictures, but they were all on Melissa’s camera. Melissa actually has pictures from all six Thanksgivings, which we looked at this Thanksgiving and that was pretty fun. Some of us have held up pretty well, some not so much. Pretty hilarious stuff.

Speaking of somebody who’s held up well. Some gratuitous Petunia pictures. This is what she was up to while I was running. Neighborhood watch cat.

 

 

 

Getting Your Hair Did for the Holidays

First, an update on yesterday’s post:

‘Mayor Pat Carson of Turkey, Texas has refused the offers to temporarily change the name of his town to “Tofurky, TX” or “Barbecue, TX,” and instead has secured a deal from Pork Barrel BBQ to change its name to “Tofurky Barrel BBQ” for one day if PETA agrees to match Pork Barrel BBQ’s $1,000 donation to three Turkey, TX charities.’

That mayor is pretty smart. He’s trying to finagle $2,000, all without changing his town’s name. Pretty wiley.

 

So it’s the holidays. Time with family and friends, social gatherings. You want to look your best. Maybe get a manicure, buy a new outfit. Of course, you want your hair to look its best. But what should you do if you don’t have the time or money to make an appointment at the salon? You cut a hole in the roof of your local beauty supply shop and steal yourself some weaves.

“Deputies from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a break-in Sunday morning at a beauty shop in Ypsilanti Township where intruders made off with an unknown amount of hair weaves.

Spokesman Derrick Jackson said deputies were dispatched at 2 a.m. Sunday to New Image Beauty Supply, 2098 Whittaker Road, and discovered the business had been broken into. Investigators determined the intruders had cut a hole in the roof to enter the store, Jackson said.”

Hold up: Are there not easier ways to break into a store than going through a roof? And how, exactly do you cut a hole in a roof without being detected? It seems like that would be something that would take a lot of time and large tools, perhaps a ladder?  

“Jackson said the owner of the store reported an unknown amount of hair weaves had been stolen from the store. The investigation into the break-in is ongoing and more items may be reported stolen after the owner does a full inventory of the store, Jackson said.

Jackson said there is no dollar amount available for the stolen hair weaves right now. He said certain kinds of weaves may be expensive and some are rare, but he wasn’t sure if any of those were among the ones stolen.”

Forgive my ignorance here, but what exactly makes a weave “rare?” Also: I love how this story focuses so intently on the fact that there is no dollar amount for the stolen weaves. We get it: different weaves are worth different amounts. Maybe you could give us a range, for crying out loud.

According to one reviewer on Yelp: this fake hair might be real expensive.

They sell weave hair and wigs, too. Lots of them! They’re also authorized retailers for higher end weave hair, so you can buy that here, too, if that’s your thing.

Again, what makes weave hair higher end?? I get that Britney’s been using some substandard stuff. But I think that’s more of an upkeep issue than a hair quality one. Man, she’s had some bad weaves.

Classy Britney, real classy.

All I know is “They’re climbing in your windows, snatching up your weaves and trying to wear ‘em. So y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your weaves.” Thanks, Antoine.