Collaboration in Patagonia Helping the Trail Network

October 12, 2010

As an avid hiker and resident of Patagonia for the last three years, I thought it important and appropriate to share the following video. A great representation of the power of collaboration, the results of this teamwork revitalize an area that deserves respect…


Free Bariloche Argentina Restaurant Guide

October 6, 2010

In spirit of sharing, I am happy to announce my San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina dining guide book, Bariloche Restaurant Guide, is now free to download.

Please go to Bariloche Vacation Rental main page, and page to the bottom, click on the link to download.

¡Buen Provecho!

Join in Hands Across the Sand on June 26th

June 23, 2010

On June 26th there is an international rally of support for marine life and the end to offshore oil drilling, Hands Across the Sand.

The movement, started in February of 2010, is a call for all types of people, despite religion, political affiliation and income, to come together and voice the importance of protecting our coastal economies, marine wildlife, and fishing industry.

Please check out the Hands Across The Sand website for the details, and how to start a movement in your own neighborhood. They are asking for all communities around the globe to participate. Something that I will be doing from our beach in Patagonia.

Support the Environment by Speaking Up to Your Senator

June 8, 2010

The next couple of weeks are going to be a critical time for climate change in Washington.

Here is a quick update on some of the key events:

This Thursday is the first key test of US resolve on climate. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will introduce a “resolution of disapproval” that would undercut the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon pollution. If passed, the resolution basically says that carbon emissions aren’t dangerous and could sub-vent the EPA’s ability to hold accountable the largest carbon polluters down the road.

The general consensus is that the resolution won’t pass, and it most certainly won’t get through the House, but surprisingly, the vote has become a bellwether for the climate bill’s chances by showcasing which Senators are in favor of strong climate change policy and which aren’t.

A victory for Murkowski here could spell danger for a more comprehensive bill later on. The resolution needs 51 votes, to pass. If it breaks 45 votes, it’s trouble. If it breaks 50, it’s doom.

Also this week, Senator Harry Reid is polling other Democratic Senators about whether they want to move ahead with a climate bill this year. Obviously, with everything that’s happening the Gulf, its clearly evident that dependence on oil is a failed strategy and the longer that this discussion waits to take place, the more it risks never happening. It is up to us to tell our Senators to tell Sen. Reid “yes” on a climate bill this year.

The current bill, the American Power Act, was introduced by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman on May 12th. In short, the bill aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and then cut them by 80% by 2050. It would set limits beyond which polluters would have the option of trading credits or paying penalties within a fixed price range. Here are the details of the bill.

There are rumors about other bills currently being developed, but nothing concrete just yet.
Our main goal right now, is to make sure the debate begins this year.

Here is a list of Senators who, as far as we can tell, are still yet undecided about supporting clean energy. We need a total of 60 votes. Since 37 Senators have already indicated that they are planning to support strong climate change policy, we need 23 of these fence-sitting Senators to vote “yes” to pass climate legislation in the Senate.

Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Max Baucus (Mont.)
Mark Begich (Alaska)
Scott Brown (Mass.)
Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Robert Byrd (W.Va.)
Maria Cantwell (Wash.)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Kent Conrad (N.D.)
Bob Corker (Tenn.)
Byron Dorgan (N.D.)
Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Judd Gregg (N.H.)
Mary Landrieu (La.)
Frank Lautenberg (N.J.)
George LeMieux (Fla.)
Carl Levin (Mich.)
Richard Lugar (Ind.)
Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
Robert Menendez (N.J.)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Ben Nelson (Neb.)
Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Mark Pryor (Ark.)
Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Arlen Specter (Pa.)
Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Jon Tester (Mont.)
George Voinovich (Ohio)
Jim Webb (Va)

So, it’s go-time. Please send a letter to your Senators today, especially if they are on the list above. The time to do this is absolutely right now.

This is our moment to be be heard, and an opportunity to influence policy to protect something close to us for today, and for generations behind us.

Please click here to see where your Senators stands on the issue and to easily send a letter to them urging their support:

Collaboration Helping the Trails in Patagonia Survive

May 10, 2010

Living in Patagonia, I have come to realize the magnitude of beauty that exists in the far reaches of South America. Sometimes the views are so awe-inspiring and lovely that it brings tears to my eyes.

So, when I found out about a collaborative effort that helped the access into the inspiring earthly jewels of southern Patagonia, I was excited to share the story of their efforts. Not to mention, the scenery alone is worth the four minutes of time…

Collaboration Warming Things Up

February 19, 2010

One of my passions in life is helping disadvantaged children.

Included in the reasons my husband, Jamie, and I decided to move to Argentina from the United States nearly 5 years ago was to assist  lower income families access the tools needed to improve their life.

Living in Bariloche we realized that an immense part of the local population does not have the proper gear or means to get into the beautiful surrounding Patagonian wilderness. So, to help other’s experience, and, hopefully, identify and appreciate the amazing natural environment, we started collaborating with our Lake Tahoe, California circle of snow-loving family. We began a program that connected the extra gear from our Tahoe tribe to people in Patagonia 7,000 miles away.

Bringing these two factions together has been such a wonderful experience. Not only has it helped shelter people from the cold, but all I have to do is think back to a coat recipient’s smile and my heart is warmed.

Well, recently our reach has broadened.

We have started working with Fundación Cruzada Patágonica, a non-profit organization with thirty years under their belt, two progressive schools that house over 150 children and the educational curriculum needed to offer those youngsters tools for a positive future.

Not long ago, we had the pleasure of lunching with the president of the organization, Diego Baudo. A friendly, welcoming persona with a big smile, it is obvious by the enthusiasm in his eyes that he loves his job.

During the meeting we mentioned our winter gear drive and that we had a large box of nice equipment waiting for him in our truck. With our offering a partnership was made; we will continue to help bring in warm clothing and the foundation will sell gear that exceeds what is needed by the children and use the money to help with the school. Excellent!

Our last sale brought in over 2,000 Argentine Pesos, which has gone to school supplies for the children. The gear that wasn’t sold was given to the kids. More smiles to keep the heart rosy, thanks to global collaboration.

Global Collaboration Creating a Foodie Paradise in Argentina

January 25, 2010

While doing research for a  restaurant guide that I wrote for the city of Bariloche, Argentina, I was lucky enough to get to know some of the owners of the great dining experiences around town.

One of those eateries, Butterfly, impressed me in a collaborative sense…

You see, an Irishman, German and Argentine came together to create one of the best restaurants in the Lakes District of Patagonia. Chef Ed, a Michelin-trained culinary artist is a gifted creator of designer dishes with flair. The house sommelier is the happy-go-lucky German, Sebi, whose smile and knowledge about accommodating wines are worth the trip alone. And then there is the beautiful, enchanting and welcoming host, Coni, that offers the much-needed female touch.

Chef Ed sat down with me and let us in on what it is like to have a culinary masterpiece dining experience in the northern gateway city of Patagonia, and more importantly, what it is like to have an elegant example of global collaboration. Here is what he had to say…

SM: What do you feel is the premier aspect of Butterfly?

Chef Ed: The Concept. In Butterfly we serve a 7 course tasting menu every day, prepared daily with the best ingredients the market has to offer. The evening in Butterfly is a special occasion and we never do re-sits. The table is yours for the evening. It’s for people who love food and wine like we do and we want you to feel special. If you leave a top class restaurant and they didn’t make you feel special you may as well have stayed at home and cooked a steak with a good bottle of wine.

SM: With the three different cultures coming together for Butterfly, what do you feel is the major difference between Butterfly and other fine dining restaurants in Argentina?

Chef Ed: Everything in Butterfly is done with love, it actually has nothing to with different cultures. We are three people from different cultures who all happen to be very like-minded in how we want Butterfly to be. The three of us do just about everything and we do it all with love. I cook with love, Coni prepares the restaurant, greets our guests and serves with love, Sebi chooses our wine menu, and even waters the garden with love.

SM: What would you consider to be your signature dish?

Chef Ed: I’m always asked and I never know what to say. I always think I should just lie and say “Creme Brulee with lavender ice-cream” or “Bouillabaisse au Paupillotte”, but I just can’t lie about food. I have no Signature dish, I get bored too easily to cook the same thing over and over again. Also I love to be inspired by what the market has to offer or what my regular guests ask me for, as opposed to what I want to cook.

SM: Where do you find the majority of your ingredients?

Chef Ed: With meat I am blessed in Argentina (and with lamb even more so in the Patagonia). And believe it or not I have also been blessed with great fish, 1000km from the coast! My fish is shipped fresh twice a week from Buenos Aires, they only send me what is good and most of the time I get fresher fish here than when I cooked in Ireland. Other products have been a little more complicated. Fresh vanilla beans have been shipped from Madagascar to my house in Ireland and then been smuggled halfway across the world to Bariloche. Every time friends or family visit us we have a shopping list for them. Noilly Prat, Midleton Very Rare whiskey, Italian Saffron, Sebi’s wine collection, etc.

SM: How has the involvement of three cultures helped with creating Butterfly?

Chef Ed: I think we all balance each other out very well. Sebi is German and keeps everything well organized. Coni the Argentinian keeps everything more in context and keeps us all sane. As for me the Irishman, I try to get everyone drunk regularly.

SM: What is your favorite memory from creating the restaurant?

Chef Ed: We opened the restaurant a month before Sebi arrived, as he was finishing up his job in Switzerland. Coni and I did everything on our own and we were counting the minutes to his arrival. He arrived in a Taxi in the middle of lunch service with the terrace full. After a 12 second welcome and having traveled for 40 hours he was put straight to washing dishes and helping me in the kitchen. He was even pleased with the welcome he got, he expected nothing less!

SM: Do you have any suggestions for guests planning to visit Butterfly?

Chef Ed: Skip lunch and ring ahead!

SM: Is there a particular time of year that is better than others to visit Butterfly?

Chef Ed: May and November are without a doubt the worst time to visit Butterfly as we are closed. As for the best time, I would recommend a warm summer evening, arriving early to enjoy a drink on the terrace before dinner. I never get bored of the terrace or the view we have of the lake Nahuel Huapi.

SM: What are the advantages to creating a fine dining experience in Bariloche?

Chef Ed: Bariloche has the great advantage of being incredible the whole year round. It is one of the very few places in the world with a fantastic ski area for winter and everything you could possibly imagine for summer. Mountains, lakes, snow, sun, restaurants, nightlife, rafting, trekking, climbing, etc. The list is endless. For the restaurant it gives us the chance to have two strong seasons every year. In Bariloche we have the best of both worlds!

SM: What are your favorite flavors of food to play with?

Chef Ed: There is just too much good stuff. Garlic, lemon rind, vanilla, dried tomatoes, chilli, smoked trout, hazelnuts, saffron, basil, lemongrass, sage, nutmeg, lavender, potatoes, salt, coriander seeds, coriander plant, sole, onions, eggs, sweetbreads, prawn shells, ox-tail, brie, osso bucco, baby squid… I have no idea where to start on which are my favorite. I go through phases. I dried a load of tomatoes recently so I’m on a dried tomato buzz at the moment (Dried tomatoes with confied garlic, or olives, or basil, or candied lemon rind, or all of the above).  With cheese, smoked trout or in risotto with roasted almonds and fillet of sole. In a few weeks it will be something else, I’m particularly curious about the new Peruvian/Japanese fusion movement and have recently got my hands on the Nobu cookbook to see what it’s all about. So that will probably be my next buzz.

Thanks to Coni, Seb and Chef Ed for working together to create one of the best restaurants in Patagonia…if not Argentina.

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