good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Month: October 2014

Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skulls Tutorial

Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skulls Tutorial

By now, almost everyone knows of Dia de los Muertos or has at least seen the colorful altars and ornately decorated sugar skills that are emblematic of this Mexican holiday. Interestingly, it’s origins are ancient, rooted in a pre-Columbian past. Modern day festivities take place […]

52 Weeks: 43/52

52 Weeks: 43/52

Oh, it was a busy week this time around. Not only did we get a lot of mundane stuff checked off the “to- do” list but we also went camping! “Are there any showers? How about running water?” This is my response when I get […]

The Strange and Unusual

The Strange and Unusual


It’s that time again. Time for pumpkins, goblins, and ghouls. I like Halloween for the creative costumes, candy, decorations, but most of all, I love the creep factor. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I can’t resist a good ghost story, a tour of historic houses with stories of hauntings and strange goings-ons, and old graveyards with tombstones and mausoleums. The older, the better.

In the spirit of Halloween and my fascination with the strange, here’s a roundup of some of the interesting and worthwhile creepy places I’ve visited, some more than once.

La Isla de Las Munecas

Xochimilco/Mexico City

Original Post here

No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to Xochimilco (for me). I always insist on a visit to this lake and an even further excursion via trajinera out to the remote chinampa of Don Julian. Obviously, it’s the hanging baby dolls, doll parts, and hallowed out eyes of heads that are the main draw here as they seem to have multiplied in recent years. The shack is where you’ll find the oldest and creepiest ones.


 Castillo Torre Salvana

Colonia Guell/Santa Coloma de Cervelló

Original Post here

We spotted this castle from a distance and decided to do some trespassing. It’s magnificent from the outside, but inside is where you’ll get the chills. It’s downright dilapidated, but what can one expect afterall, it dates from 992. That’s 992, folks! Among many claims of paranormal activity, the scariest of all is the claim that it has a portal to hell.


Sorrell Weed House

6 W Harris Street/Savannah, GA/ 31401

Original post here

Wealthy plantation owner, infidelity, suicide, and grisly deaths… the Sorrell Weed House has all the elements of a tragic story. The midnight ghost tour further entices morbid curiosities with all the trappings of a spooky haunting and the possibility of experiencing hair-raising paranormal activity for yourself. If you dare…


Basilica Sants Just i Pastor

Pl Sant Just, 6/ Barri Gòtic/Barcelona

Original Post here

This is the church to visit if you want to view a nightmarish altar of unfortunate souls aglow in the pit of hell. Actually, this gothic church is a marvel of its own and quite eerie if you’re the only one in there. Don’t miss the skulls etched into the floor that also serve as headstones.


Hotel Connor

164 Main Street/Jerome, AZ

Whispers in the night, cold sensations, doors opening by themselves, and laughter coming from empty rooms are just a few of the ghostly reports associated with rooms in this hotel. Located in the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, the Connor Hotel and Spirit Room was built during the mining heyday only to suffer repeated destruction from fire and eventual abandonment after the decline in mining. Luckily, the hotel was reopened and once again hosts visitors of this historic town.


 House of the Devil

Calle Josep Torres 20/Barcelona

Original Post here

Who wants to sell their soul to the devil in exchange for a profitable business? Augustin Atzerias, that’s who. As one might guess, shortly after making a pact with the devil, Mr. Atzerias hit it big with a winning lottery ticket and held up his end of the bargain. To show his undying loyalty, Mr. Atzerias went about decorating his palatial home with ghoulish demon heads much to the chagrin of his neighbors. As if the terrifying heads were not enough, there were also murals depicting hell on the facade that have long since been destroyed and covered up.


Chicken Tomatillo Tacos

Chicken Tomatillo Tacos

As the nights get a bit cooler, the grill gets far less action and the slow cooker makes its grand appearance. I love my slow cooker and am always looking for new recipes that practically cook themselves. I tend to prep everything at night before […]

52 Weeks: 42/52

52 Weeks: 42/52

It sure doesn’t feel like fall yet, but at least it has cooled down quite a bit and I’m, loving it. See? What a nice day it was. Here’s what we were up to this week: Trying to squeeze in some activities after work but […]

A Day in Valle de Guadalupe

A Day in Valle de Guadalupe


Each time we visit Valle de Guadalupe, new restaurants seem to have popped up along with luxury lodging, more tasting rooms, and vineyards. Just last week we watched an old video of our very first trip to Valle de Guadalupe when there was only a small handful of wineries- L.A. Cetto, Domecq, and Dona Lupe. Although times have clearly changed and there are many more boutique wineries to choose from, it’s still nice to know that the valley retains its rural charm. This is truly what keeps us coming back.

This last time, we carefully planned an all day trip with friends complete with wine tastings, lunch, and dinner. Two winery visits plus a long and leisurely lunch in the valley turned out to be just the right amount of planned activity for our group without being too rushed. Any more than that and we would have to stay overnight to get it all in. For a day trip from San Diego, this was just right and even included a stop for dinner before crossing back over.


Vena Cava

Exit left near Km. 88/Follow the signs approximately 3 miles to La Villa del Valle/Valle de Guadalupe/website

Vena Cava was our first destination as we knew our friends would enjoy the wines here and besides, we had wine of our own purchased from our first trip (more here) that we needed to pick up. Once again, we enjoyed the tasting, had a great time, and bought even more wine. Note to self: bring more people and tell them they can’t buy wine since they will have to mule my wines over as we are definitely over our limit for crossing over on foot. 






Finca Altozano

Km. 83 Carretera Tecate – Ensenada/Ejido Francisco Zarco/Valle de Guadalupe/website

After wine tasting, we were all very hungry and ready for lunch. We headed to Finca Altozano. This time, I did my homework and made a reservation in advance. It’s a wonderful open dining room with plenty of shade, natural light, and a nice breeze all while overlooking the vineyards. Perfect. We decided to order a bunch of appetizers and mains and shared it all. I have to say, everything was delicious but my favorite, hands down was the quail. We were all raving about lunch and were quite impressed. The consensus was, we’d all happily go there again.








Km 3- Camino Vecinal al Tigre/Valle de Guadalupe/website

To cap off a delicious and quite filling lunch, we headed to our next destination, Alximia. This was our first time here and we were looking forward to trying new wines and touring this architectural wonder. The tasting room here is nothing like anything I’ve seen before. It is unique in design and blends very well with the desert backdrop. From the outside, it resembles what I would imagine the Mother ship to look like. Although we arranged for a tour in advance, by the time we finished our tasting, we forgot all about the tour. Of the 6-7 wines we tasted, our group was split between the fuller body wines, Pira and Magma.



This is the part where we are pretty much tuckered out and are dreading the long drive back. We are also beginning to discuss another trip to the valley but this time perhaps we will make a weekend out of it and stay over night as this will afford us more time to explore even more wineries and indulge in another leisurely lunch and dinner or two (I already have a wish list of places I’d like to try).

Anyhow, on the way back, we stopped at Mariscos Mazateno for their shrimp enchilado tacos and my personal favorite, the fish chicharron taco. After we get through dinner, we are thoroughly stuffed, ready to call it a day and make our way back to the border. Lucky for us, there is a very short line.

Here’s a good website for a listing of wineries and pertinent information in case I’ve piqued your interest in Baja wines… and food.

52 Weeks: 41/52

52 Weeks: 41/52

It’s always good to have something to look forward to, right? My friend calls it the “happy thought”, a place one can revert to when the week is dragging or when you have a bad day. Well, we had plans to head to Baja this […]

Ultra Thin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultra Thin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I did the unthinkable this week and turned the oven on. I dreaded the excess heat the oven was soon to emit, but at the end of this sweaty venture, I knew there would be some lacy, buttery, thin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies waiting for […]

Tortas with Chile Tepin Salsa

Tortas with Chile Tepin Salsa


Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m not generally a fan of sandwiches. Sandwiches never register on the “Things I like to eat” list. It’s more like, anything BUT sandwiches. Then, there are tortas although not technically sandwiches, but the most delicious filling slapped between two slices of bread.

There are all kinds of tortas, more versions than you can shake a stick at. Tortas soaked in sauce, filled with deli meat, stuffed with grilled meats, etc… Then there’s the variety of garnishes: pickled onions, tomatoes, avocado slices, guacamole, salsa, cheese, jalapenos. Whatever you like. My personal favorite is the simpler version made with seasoned grilled beef, refried beans, toasty bread, ripe avocado slices, tomato, and a dash of spicy salsa. Now, that’s a sandwich torta.





yield: 2 tortas

2 rolls of telera bread, sliced in half

1/2 pound thin sliced beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup refried beans

1/2 avocado, sliced thin

1 tomato, sliced thin

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Using a brush, spread vegetable oil over each side of the bread. Sprinkle with salt and toast on the grill or in a hot pan.

Spread a layer of beans on the bottom, then top with chopped beef. Continue to layer with tomato and avocado slices. Place other half of telera on top and press down to flatten. Serve with chile tepin salsa (or your favorite salsa).

Chile Tepin Salsa:

4 tomatoes, blackened on the grill

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon chile tepin, blackened

squeeze of lime

1 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.

52 Weeks: 40/52

52 Weeks: 40/52

Fall is here but it still feels like summer. I’m very much looking forward to cooler weather although we have yet to see any. The web is brimming with all kinds of pumpkin spice lattes, baked goods and what have you but I just can’t […]

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