Quin's Progress


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Madonna Wants You To Know About This Cheese Thingy

Chicharrón de Queso

Chicharrón de Queso

I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep lately, so I downloaded this app to my iPhone that is supposed to help you relax and fall asleep faster.  It’s narrated by a Scottish dude who sounds like Liam Neeson in the movie Rob Roy, which, all by itself, made the thing worth the $2.99 I paid for it.  So, last night, I tried it, and I don’t know if it was the app, or that icy Grey Goose martini I had beforehand, but I fell into a deep, dreamy sleep, and didn’t wake up until almost noon today.  Whew, I needed that!  While I was out, I had a really vivid dream that I was riding around in an SUV with Madonna–she was driving–and she was insistent on finding a place that served “chicharrón de queso.”  She was pronouncing it correctly, too, in a very exaggerated way, like when white, midwestern news anchors suddenly bust out a latin accent when they say the word “Nicaragua.”  Anyway, I kept trying to tell Madonna that the only place I knew that served it is in Mexico City, and she said “That’s fine, we can be there in 20 minutes.”  I guess that SUV could transform into the Concorde!  After I woke up, I turned on PBS while I was sipping my coffee, and there’s Rick Bayless in Mexico City, eating chicharrón de queso at a taqueria!  How weird is that?

Those are Bruno's hands

Those are Bruno’s hands

So, I feel like the universe–and Madonna–are telling me to find and/or make this delicious, cheesy snack, as though my life might depend on it.  I’m not sure where to find it in San Francisco.  The only place I’ve ever had it, as I repeatedly told Madonna, was in Mexico City.  My friend Bruno introduced me to it at a D.F. taqueria in the middle of the night, after we had been out and about.  When he suggested it, just from the name, I was afraid it had something to do with pork rinds, of which I am not a fan.  But, no…it is just cheese.  Nothing but cheese.  Cheese, cheese and more cheese, grilled on a hot griddle until the fat comes out of it, and then it’s shaped to cool into a perfectly crisp cylinder.  Oh, cheeses-mary-and-joseph, it is out of this world fantastic.  It’s the Mexican cousin of the Italian frico, the lacy, dainty Parmesan crisp.  Ain’t nothin’ dainty about the chicharrón de queso, though.  Just like Mexico itself, it is big, and salty and caramelized and imposing, and absolutely worth every ounce of plaque in your arteries that it may deposit.  Although, since they brush the fat out of it as it cooks, it might actually not be all that bad.  Yeah…let’s go with that.

If anyone knows of a place in the SF Bay Area where I can find a good one, please let me know.  Barring that, I’m thinking I may need to make it myself.  Thank goodness for youtube!  Check it out — it actually doesn’t look that hard (although this guy isn’t going with the traditional cylindrical shape–we’ll forgive him, though, because of his groovy soundtrack):


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That’s a Lot of Travelin’ Clams!

The main thing that has kept me from traveling more is that, when I have the time, I don’t have the money, and when I have the money, I don’t have the time.  Sound familiar?  Well, I can’t do anything about your schedule, but as for the money, listen up:  Afar Magazine has teamed up with Vayama, the online international travel agency, to offer five $2,000 vouchers good on Vayama.com, and one five-day trip to Copenhagen, to the authors of the six best travel highlights and photos uploaded to Afar’s online, collaborative travel guide.  Details here.  Afar calls these contests “Catch” contests, they hold them frequently, and they are no joke.  Trips to Europe, India, vouchers for airfare and hotels, iPads and other valuable items for travelers have featured as past prizes.

From my most recent Afar highlight on Mexico City's Bazaar Sábado

From my most recent Afar highlight on Mexico City’s Bazaar Sábado

Now, I realize I’m reducing the odds of winning the Catch contest myself by telling you all about this, because now you’re going to go and compete with me by submitting your own highlights that will probably be better than mine.  But, I don’t care.  The reason Afar is such a great resource is because of the number of travelers who contribute their input.  Even if you don’t want to contribute a highlight, take a gander at the site, and see if you don’t lose a whole afternoon drooling over the highlights of exotic places and experiences posted by others.  You can even save highlights to your own personal “Wanderlists” for ease of reference when you’re getting ready to plan your own trip.

Flower merchant at El Bazaar Sábado

Flower merchant at El Bazaar Sábado

I contribute to Afar pretty regularly, but I spend even more time gathering inspiration and ideas for future travels by browsing through the highlights posted by others.  Do yourself a favor, and take a look, you’ll be amazed.  Then, join the party, sift through your travel photos and upload a highlight of your own.  You just might win two thousand bucks to spend on your next trip!

Try Not to Get Locked in the Bathroom at Frida Kahlo’s House

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Coyoacan Plaza

I spent my birthday this year in Mexico City, visiting a good friend who runs the cutest little boutique hotel in the southern part of the city, not far from the quaint Coyoacan district.  Removed from the bustle and crush of downtown Mexico City, Coyoacan was once a separate town.  Even now, after urban sprawl has enveloped it within the boundaries of Mexico City, Coyoacan retains its adorably Mexican small town charm.  It’s the kind of place where, in the evening, the locals wander out to the plaza to mix, mingle, canoodle with their sweeties, let the kids run off some energy, or just watch the world go by.  A place where you see guard dogs on the roofs of the colonial homes that dot the tree-lined streets, so they can bark warnings to approaching strangers, but can’t actually bite anyone.

chihuahua guy  Park Lovers  Roof Dog

Frida's Prosthetic Leg

Frida’s Prosthetic Leg

If you’re a Frida Kahlo fan, you probably know she was from Coyoacan, and that it is the location of her beloved home, now a museum, La Casa Azul.   So, my whole birthday celebration plan was designed around going to Frida’s house, to see where she and Diego Rivera lived.  Plus, happy birthday to me, there is currently the most amazing special exhibit of Frida’s wardrobe and personal effects, on display for the first time since her death in 1954.  This collection includes not only her signature Tehuana dresses, but also such intimate items as her decorated body casts, and her prosthetic leg.  Yes, my friends, that is Frida’s leg.  Fabulous, no? Chinese embroidery and jingle bells, with a platform heel — that woman had style.  And really, why shouldn’t a prosthetic leg be beautiful?  Like James St. James said in Party Monster, “just throw a little glitter on it, honey, and go dancing!

Frida's HouseAnyhoo, I ended up getting an essentially private showing of this exhibit, because I got to La Casa Azul not long before the museum was supposed to close (thanks to SOMEONE’s inability to get out of the damned house before 3pm, thank you very much), and I really had to pee, so I went directly to the baño.  And got locked in.  The attendant was standing on the other side of the door, hollering at me in Spanish, “A la derecha, Señora!  A la derecha!” assuming, I guess, that this blonde was just too dumb to realize that the door latch turned to the right.  But I was turning it a la derecha, and it was just stuck!  After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only about five or ten minutes (which, in all fairness, really does constitute an eternity when you’re trapped in a tiny, smelly bathroom), they sent for the handyman, who came and took the doorknob off with a screwdriver and freed me.  They felt so bad about trapping me in there, that they let me stay for almost an hour after closing, so I could see everything.  That was great, actually, because I got to poke around and look at everything closely without anyone else in the way.  So, I suppose, after all, I do recommend getting locked in the bathroom at Frida’s house–as long as you do it right before closing!

Frida y Diego  Museo Skeleton