Thursday, February 10, 2011

Botanical Garden Party

Kind of like Ricky Nelson's Garden Party, only he was singing about a concert he gave in Madison Square Garden.  I would go into more detail but I promised to post pictures of last night's affair at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens before I head off to play Mexican bingo and have dinner.  I will add my always witty and vastly entertaining verbiage later so check back tomorrow if you are so inclined.

I must say, though, that this was supposed to be a night of 1000 Candles and a friend of mine, Gary, charged me with counting them to make sure we got our pesos worth.  I counted 1013 but may have missed a few in the women's banos.  And I probably double-counted at the end after a night's worth of free Margaritas and cervezas with a few glasses of purchased wine thrown into the mix.

Anyway, here are the pictures and tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Okay, here is the rest of the story.

First, because I was busy putting together the pictures for this post I ended up getting to No Way Jose! too late for the Mexican Bingo.  The place was packed with a turn-away crowd.  Hey, it was a charity event so I am glad that they did well.  I had time to kill before heading out to a little dinner soiree so I went to the upstairs dining area for a drink and a little nosh.  It was so nice up there that I decided to book reservations for Valentine's day.  But more on that in another post.  Back to the garden party.

We caught a free bus-ride to the Botanical Gardens, about half-an-hour from Puerto Vallarta, past Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan and on the way to El Tuito.  In fact you usually have to catch the bus to El Tuito to get to the Botanical Gardens.  We arrived there when it was still light, around 4:30 PM or so.  

Marie And Bar Man And Margaritas

Now don't get excited, I hadn't forsaken the Mysterious Chinese Woman,  Marie is Peter's wife (see the post on the Super Bowl Party) and she came to the Botanical Garden affair sans Peter who, apparently, isn't into flowers. At least not enough to cough up the 500 pesos to become a member of the Botanical Garden.

The Walk To The Main Building

This is my third visit here and the place just continues to grow and sprawl.  Lovely nature walks, one along a river that ends at a swimming hole.  We didn't take any of them this time because we had a party to go to.

The Main Building

The Lily Pond Pool

Some Of The Crowd

And no lily pond would be complete without a sea-serpent.

Where's Beany?

That was in reference to a favorite childhood television show of mine that featured Beany and Cecil, the sea-sick sea serpent.  Hey, if you remember that maybe we can discuss Rootie Kazootie.

There was a nice little crowd.  Actually, quite a large crowd.  Three bus fulls and quite a few people who came by car as well.

Obligatory Overhead Crowd Shot

Just Scenery

Now I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, back in the Beany and Cecil days, you could send away for your own real insect eating Venus Fly Trap.  The advertisements in the back of the comic books always featured quite lurid pictures of a giant Venus Fly Trap chomping on some horrifying and humongous looking insect.  Of course what you got were four of five scrawny little things that never seemed to live longer than a day or two and would never eat anything.  The ones here were closer to what I had hoped to get.

And A Big Bug Too

There was also a gift shop where you could buy a variety of souveniers.  The had some nifty tee-shirts and if I visit again this year I will pick one up.

I Liked These As Well

They had a silent auction going on and the people at the table are deciding whether or not to bid on the donated prizes.  The prizes ranged from plants, naturally, to a seven day stay at an exclusive resort with accomodations for six.

Hmm, Do I Really Want This?

And We Were Seranaded Throughout

Ah, Here's The Mysterious Chinese Woman With Marie

As the sun set it nicely illuminated the mountains in the background.

Believe Me, It Looks Specacular In Real Life

During the silent auction they served pizza appetizers and, in my opinion, they serve the best pizza in Puerto Vallarta here.  The make them in a wood burning brick oven and the crusts are thin and crispy.  And the toppings were great as well except, perhaps, for the pepperoni. Not that the pepperoni is bad, it just doesn't taste like what I am used to.  But these pizzas would definitely rank right up there with the best that you can get in New York.  Chicago pizza fans may have a different opinion, however.

And then there was the buffet.  Tamales and chicken prepared in a variety of ways and a very spicy creamy corn dish.  I had the chicken mole and it was one of the best I have ever had.  They had more, but the chicken mole, tamales and corn were plenty for me.  I could have eaten more but I kind of went overboard on the pizza.

The Hungry Crowd Loading Up

The had children from El Tuito all decked out in their traditional garb dancing for us as well.

The Evening's Entertainment

And, then, all too soon the evening was over and it was time to head home.

Homeward Bound

The candles had all  been mysteriously lit and the whole garden, or at least the paths, took on a magical appearance.

One Last Look Back

And A Look To The Future, Or A Least To The Bus

And now that I am an offical Botanical Garden member I can get 10% off when I go back to buy my tee-shirt, and get a whole pizza for myself.  Well, maybe I will share it with the Mysterious Chinese Woman.

Oh, and Ricky Nelson's garden party?  When Ricky, by now Rick, Nelson played Madison Garden with his Stone Canyon Band in  he was pretty much booed off the stage because he was playing his newer country-style music instead of his old 1950;s hits.  Mr. Nelson was more than a little miffed about this and his song "Garden Party" is basically a slam of the unappreciative crowd.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The New Farmers Market

Now here was something new in Puerto Vallarta that seems like it is a big success, a small farmers market.  It is actually more of a mixed bag of stuff with little produce offered for sale.  That is probably because the space is relatively restricted.  And because a lot of the stuff comes in from outlaying towns it doesn't open until 10:00 AM and then only stays open for about four hours.

The New Farmers Market

But the place was packed.  Almost too much so, not too much room to move around.  But there was a lot of interesting stuff to see and some decent stuff to buy as well.

Handmade Jewelry

Fresh Tamales

Now Bar Man loves tamales, but the woman said that her's were made without lard.  Perhaps she thought that would be a selling point, and I am sure it is for the health-conscious tofu eating crowd.  But personally I prefer the more authentic tamales for which lard is an essential ingredient.  I took a pass but the Mysterious Chinese Woman (she likes tofu, too) bought one and said it was very good.

This fellow was handing out free samples of his chili and, I have to say, it was very good.

Sid's World Famous Chili

World famous might be a wee bit of a stretch.  There was a chili contest being held this day, one that I went to and posted about last year.  I asked him why he wasn't out there.  He said he won a prize last year and this year hhe was more into money than glory.  He was selling heat-and-eat frozen packages for 120 pesos a pound which I thought wa a bit steep. But it was very good, and if you didn't feel like taking the time to make your own might just be worth it.

I had to stop and sample one of Bickel's pickles and then we got into a discussion about, what else, pickles.  I told him how in Brooklyn you can get pickles out of a tub that are one day, two day, one week, etc., old.  Their pickles were really good, though, and much better than what is available in jars down here.

Bickel's Pickles - Got To Love The Name

I bought a container of them and I am sure they will be gone by this coming Saturday so I hope they return so I can buy some more.  I just ate a couple and I think they gave me the farts.  Or at least something has.  Luckily we have a nice breeze blowing through our place.

I am not sure what this lady was selling.  I thought it might be sauces and dips, but then it might also have been hand creams and lotions.

Just Not Sure

This was kind of the bakery section and they must have really good stuff because it had far and away the longest line of people waiting to make their purchases.

Fresh Bread, Smells So Good

I think this was homemade jams and jellys, but I am not really sure.

Jelly And Jam, I Think

And More Handmade Jewelry

There was also a place where they were selling frozen sausages and other meat products.  For some reason I didn't get a picture, but I did buy a package of their Italian sausage.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman used one with some pasta she made and it was quite good.  Their store is in Bucerias and I sent them an email to see if they can bring in a New Zealand leg of lamb this Saturday.  I am having friends over for a Sunday dinner and want to roast it for them (and me).

As you can see, this really was a big hit and I am looking forward to returning.

Quite A Crowd

I also bought a Puerto Vallarta Fireman calendar (for the Mysterious Chinese Woman) and got a couple of the firemen to sign it (for the Mysterious Chinese Woman).  The money goes for a good cause, buying firefighting equipment.  Obviously Puerto Vallarta has the same kind of budget problems that we have in New York.

Last week we went to a soiree at Fusion Gourmet and I met a couple from Calgary, or at least up that way.  They just moved down here permanently a short while ago. The guy, Randall, plays an electric mandolin in a trio so we went to see him Saturday night at an art show.  Hey, free wine and cheap beer.

Randall Is In The Middle

Tonight we are heading to the Botanical Gardens for a members only affair.  Of course this means that I and the Mysterious Chinese Woman have to become members.  Should be a lot of fun.  Food, drink, music and dancing.  Plus 1000 candles lighting up the garden.  I hope to get some good pictures and will put them up tomorrow so be sure to check.  It is kind of a long bus ride to get out there so I hope my pickle problem has abated by then.  If not I will just glare at the Mysterious Chinese Woman and act like she is to blame.

My New Look

My neice, who has been hounding me to get a buzz cut for a year now, wasn't satisfied with the picture of me with my new haircut that I posted.  She wanted to see a side view.  So okay, Suzie, this is for you.

I am heading out fo my morning walk but will post again later with pictures of the new farmer's market they now have here every Saturday.

Oh yeah, several people asked about the pictures of the Super Bowl party and wondered what was with the cloth held over our faces. 

Relax, This Won't Hurt A Bit

It is a chloroform and nitrous oxide mixture. Very popular down here with the young folks.

NO NO!!! They are just giving us tequila slammers. Tequila and 7-up in a shot glass and slammed on the bar. It foams up and they pour it in your mouth and then shake your head. The cloth is to catch the overflow.

That chloroform and nitrous oxide mixture does sound like it might be fun, though.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Super Super Bowl Party

Hey, so what if the Jets weren't playing and Christina Aquilera doesn't know the words to our National Anthem, we still had a wonderful time.  And we didn't even care that the television wasn't exactly "big screen."

Plenty Good Enough

At Least The Bar Was Big

The usual suspects, Bella, Tom, Peter, Me, The Mysterious Chinese Woman and Marie, assembled early and, at least in the begining, looked positively proper.

It Was Still Early

But then the crowd showed up and the party began.  There really isn't much to say so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

And Even A Beautiful Sunset

It even ended up being a pretty good game after looking like it might be kind of a blow-out during the first half.  When the Steelers came back but still ended up losing it did bring back painful memories of the Jets loss to them, so it was a kind of gratifying payback.  Sorry Allen, my Steelers fan friend, I just can't help it.