Russia won unbeaten and playing beautiful hockey, Finland was 4th and Sweden fell off in the quarters. The first worlds co-hosted between Finland and Sweden were a lot of fun, some images and videos below.
I hadn’t visited Paris since 2007, so it was quite nice to make a quick visit to France (more photos here). Had good meetings and was even able to meet a couple of friends.
As you probably know if you read this blog, one of my passions is food, especially of the Mexican kind. Unfortunately, most of the Mexican food you find outside of North America is not really Mexican, so I make a point of testing Mexican restaurants when I’m traveling to make sure they are more Mex-Mex than Tex-Mex so that I can recommend them to friends.
You can find an abridged list after the map below (they’re listed by how far away they’re from Finland, with the first being the farthest out).
- Viva México, Singapore, Singapore. Pretty decent decor. Indian & Pakistani staff wearing Mexican dress. Some of the items in the menu are Tex-Mex as that’s what people know so far away from the land of nopales, but the chef is from Oaxaca so he can recommend what to eat. I had caldo tlalpeño and chiles en nogada when I was there and they were very good (photos). From what I hear, they have to import a lot of the foodstuffs, even the rice (kinda funny as it’s in Asia).
- Fonda de la Madrugada, Tokyo, Japan. A restaurant in a huge basement, descending those steps transports you from Harajuku to an Hacienda. Mexican movies shown in a corner. The chef was Mexican, even if the owners weren’t. The staff speaks Spanish and Japanese (few things cuter than a Japanese girl in a huipil), but no English. While it’s not the cheapest place to eat out, the food was absolutely worth it: we had guacamole, caldo tlalpeño, enchiladas and even carnitas a la michoacana (photos).
- El Mexicano, Shanghai, China. Small place slightly out of town. Mexican owners. The pollo en salsa verde was not great, but the tacos al pastor more than made for it (photos).
- La Palapa, New York, USA. A restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in Coyoacán, even if the portions are American-sized. Their quesadillas were to die for (photos)
- Tehuitzingo Deli & Grocer, New York, USA. The best taquería I’ve been to outside of Mexico City (no wonder as it’s smack in the middle of Puebla York). Once you get inside past the grocery part of the locale, you will reach a small corner of heaven in Hell’s Kitchen. Tacos de lengua, pastor, chicharrón or suadero, sopes, quesadillas de flor de calabaza… all washed down with a Pacífico (photos).
- Rosa Mexicano, New York, USA. You realise the Mexican food market in NY has matured as they’ve gone from Tex-Mex to Mex-Mex to haute cuisine Mex. A selection of tequilas that will leave a connoisseur drooling, their arrachera & shrimps plate was very good and worth the price tag (photos).
- Barriga Llena, Madrid, Spain. Part of a mature Mexican-owned chain in Spain, the food is close enough to its origins and the sense of humour is a breathe of fresh air.
- Ándele, Barcelona, Spain. I used to visit Barcelona every year for work, and I always tried to visit this small place. The tacos are quite OK and they also sell Mexican foodstuffs and tequilas (indispensable if you live far away like me).
- Anahuacalli, Paris, France. This is the only one I haven’t visited of the restaurants in this list, but everybody I know and trust who has eaten here recommends it. The founder has lived in France for 40 years.
- Mestizo, London, UK. Mexican-owned as well. Also a little bit pricey, but the food was excellent. We had ceviche, tacos al pastor, pato en mole con ciruela, tamales, pozole, flan & crepas and it was all good (photos).
- Taquería La Neta, Stockholm, Sweden. For a while the closest source for proper Mexican food, this taquería was opened in 2009. Their menu is simple: tacos and their relatives, but the results are excellent as they have their own tortilla-making machine (photos). Mexican-owned.
- Café de Nopal, Helsinki, Finland. Recently opened. I just wrote a review about the place. They offer a “comida corrida” lunch every weekday with a choice of two/three main courses and brunch on weekends (photos). Mexican-owned.
We were able to get tickets to the Gotan Project gig in Helsinki on Monday. I saw them live in Brussels in the summer of 2007, so catching up with them 3 years and one album later was really cool.
I was not able to take video of this concert, but you can see a video of 3 years ago (the song is “Mi Confesión”, one of my favourites) below:
The last month has seen a dearth of posts in this blog for two very simple reasons: work has been absolutely hectic and the World Cup has overtaken the little available spare time I have.
The Mexican team was eliminated in the second round of the World Cup, but I wanted to recap on its campaign in the tournament (for the full tactical analysis go here). Its preparations were the best in recent memory, doing not only the usual tour of the US against mid- to low-tier teams but also a tour of Europe, where the team lost against England and the Netherlands but beat Gambia and Italy.
As the Tricolor played the opening match against South Africa expectations were very high, but the team looked imprecise (if you could blame the ball the time was now) and lacking killer instinct in the last third of the pitch. South Africa scored a beautiful goal on the counter and Mexico had to search further, with captain Márquez saving our blushes (and our chances to qualify for the next round).
The second game, against France, was the one everybody expected the team to lose. The French team, however, hadn’t read the script and arrived tired, divided and overconfident. Mexico, having performed some changes in defense compared to the first game, looked the better team throughout, but it was the introduction of youngsters “Chicharito” Hernández and Pablo “Dinamita” Barrera that really made a difference. The first open the scoreboard and the second provoked a penalty that sealed the game as 2-0 in our favour. The victory was celebrated by the 110 million Mexicans in Mexico and the 30 million abroad, it was the main news item in domestic media and life was good.
The third game of the group stage was weird: Mexico and Uruguay could go through to the next stage with a draw, while a victory by either team would mean trouble. Both came out swinging anyway but it was Uruguay who scored the only game in the match. Mexico would meet Argentina in the second round… just like in 2006.
Expectations being enormous, it was the Mexicans who played the better football in the first 30 minutes, until a blatant offside goal gave Argentina the lead and totally crushed Tri concentration. That was obvious with the second albiceleste goal, rising from a childish error in defense. The 3rd goal for the South Americans, however, was a thing of beauty and there’s nothing the opposing fan can say about it. Mexico picked up the pieces and it was again “Chicharito”, coming as a sub, who led the Mexican charge and scored what in Spanish is called the “honourable” goal, but that was it.
Aguirre, the coach who saved the Mexican qualification campaign, will not continue at the helm of the national team, but many of the men he picked are called to become the backbone of the group that will seek to play in the next World Cup in Brazil: Ochoa, Moreno, Aguilar, Guardado, Dos Santos, Vela, Hernández, Barrera are all under 24 years old, and many are either playing in Europe or have the possibility to move here within the next 4 years. Other players who figured in the team but didn’t make the trip to South Africa are also young, so right now would be the time to find a good coach, create a proper plan and stick with it.
Regardless of what happens, this is the moment I’ll cherish until I see the guys in green, white and red sing the anthem at the World Cup again:
You’ve probably seen the ads if you watch the Beeb or CNN: a dreary-postindustrialised world in CGI that is thoroughly transformed into a tree-hugger paradise when Sean Connery pronounces the magic words “Back to common sense, it’s time for green banking” in that lovely Scottish accent of his.
I’m terribly sorry to say this but if you don’t explain to me properly why would I believe you as a bank stand for sustainable development and a reduced carbon footprint, even if I have no chance of becoming your retail customer I’d say you’re full of it (and quite some people agree). These are the kinds of campaigns that give marketing a bad name, really.
The video above (via alt1040) explains Chatroulette better than I would. My experience with it has been mixed, but it reminds me a lot of the old BBS/ICQ free-for-all 10 years ago. I’ve read metaphors comparing it to TV zapping with people, but I think it’s more akin a people player in shuffle mode. Some of the nice people I’ve found (after nexting all the flying male body parts) included:
- A bored Filipina (at 3 a.m. her time) asking what music was I playing (Nortec Collective, of course).
- A Dutch law student with a great sense of humour.
- A German dude interested in banking for development (we were chatting about Muhammad Yunus)
- Random male stranger asking questions on existential philosophy (my conclusion is he had watched The Matrix too many times).
- A Texan in his 50’s very interested to know my views on the Mexican drug violence situation.
- A French literature student just interested in a chat, also with a really nice sense of humour.
- A young Indian female doctor waiting for her night shift to start who gave me a couple of nice suggestions of Indian indie after I mentioned I collect “local rock” from all over the place.
Serendipituous, yes. Extreme, sometimes (but you can also next them or even better report them, jerks!). An interesting study of the human condition, absolutely.