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Kevin K

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Kevin K last won the day on November 23 2018

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    Tucson, AZ & San Antonio Tlayacapán

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  1. Such a loss to the community! Thanks MtnMama for posting the link to his obituary. While I attended several of his wonderful talks at Open Circle I really had no idea of the vastness of his achievements. Surely the epitome of a life well-lived.
  2. So sad to hear this news. “RV” was so altruistic, witty and kind. Kevin
  3. Thanks everyone for the very helpful feedback. I'll pass it along to my friend. Costa Rica would definitely be too bland for me, culturally and culinarily. And I have a feeling their tourism-dependent economy is going to suffer as much or more than Mexico's from the pandemic. But one has to admire the many things they do right as a country, wish them well and dream of other countries learning from their efforts to preserve nature (and democracy). Thanks again!
  4. I have friends who are seriously considering moving to Costa Rica and as it's been quite a few years since I last spent time there thought there might be folks here with more up-to-date perspective. l I did a lot of business travel in CR (since I was a coffee buyer) and mostly remember lovely people, bland food, lots of natural beauty and a pretty "white bread" culture compared to, say, Guatemala or Mexico. But I do know they have a vibrant democracy (maybe the healthiest in the Americas) and good quality of life. My sense is that cost of llving in the highland cities near San José where year-round expats congregate is at least as high as Lakeside or San Miguel de Allende, maybe higher, but that could be outdated info. Any thoughts from folks who've lived in both places or traveled recently would be appreciated.
  5. Thank-you as always More Liana for the education. I actually did know that but lazily repeated the pre-Hispanic characterization of the food from another Lakeside author. I corrected the mistake on the blog post . I look forward to a return visit to El Zapote, though I must say El Rinconito is just as enjoyable. To have two places that good just kitty corner from one another and the plaza restaurants AND Cenaduria Elba just a stone's throw away made living in Chapala centro pretty amazing. I miss it everyday.
  6. Thumb's up to everything already recommended and a few more choices here. Mario's in San Antonio and the cenadurias in Chapala are especially good. http://eatinglocalatlakeside.blogspot.com
  7. As not just a coffee roaster but a buyer and taster who's worked at the highest levels of the specialty coffee industry for 30 years (and as author of a highly-regarded book on coffee, "Coffee Basics:) I do feel obliged to correct some of the well-intentioned misinformation here. Coffee in whole bean form stays fresh for up to 2 weeks from roast at room temperature. That freshness can be extended by packaging the coffee in special multilayer bags (foil must be among the layers) with one-way valves on them to allow CO2 to escape, drawing a full vacuum on the coffee, back-flushing the bag with nitrogen to get residual oxygen down to below 2% and heat sealing the bag. The roaster has to do ALL of the above steps to extend shelf life to up to 3 months from roast date. Starbucks and other large roasters do this, local roasters at Lake Chapala do not have anything like the capital required for the equipment and at best just heat-seal their coffee in bags with either a small pinprick hole to let the gas out or a valve. In such cases the shelf life is two weeks from roast date. It is uncommon to see a roast date on supermarket coffees at Lakeside, but the 6 to 8 weeks from roast standard is incorect and is basically just pawning off stale coffee on consumers. If you do have access to truly fresh-roasted beans (which at Lake Chapala means buying them directly from Cafe Grano Cafe or El Arbol de Café/The Coffee Tree in Chapala AND you don't go through those beans in a week then freezing them in airtight containers will extend their shelf life to a month or two. This is not just my opinion, it is scientific fact, as detailed in Michael Sivetz's "Coffee Technology" and numerous subsequent studies, including a recent one on freshness conducted by the Specialty Coffee Association. It is also not true that the general quality of Mexican coffee has improved dramatically in recent years. There are hopeful signs in a few areas, with some good innovations in Oaxaca in particular as well as the Cup of Excellence competitions coming to Mexico but overall Mexico is far behind the top Central American producers. I continue to taste the best lots from Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca imported by my peers in the trade here and definitely stand by my ranking of the three growing regions (My coffee article whcih I provided the link to above is updated annually). As for caffeine content, it's a complex topic but what really matters at the consumer level is that most people (including your manyVeracruz French Roast fans) conflate strong (bitter) TASTING coffee with strong (high-caffeine) coffee and the two things are not the same. Darkly-roasted coffee is all about the burnt taste of the roast, not the coffee that's been torched. French Roasts are bitter but actually quite light-bodied and (by volume) lower in caffeine since so much soluble coffee material has literally gone up the smoke stack. And yes - French Roast is wildly popular despite professional coffee buyers and tasters hating the stuff. One of the basic tastings I do in consumer classes is to brew a bright, lightly-roasted Kenya that tastes as acidic as orange juice, a medium-roasted Sumatra that is low-acid but syrupy smooth and heavy bodied, and a French Roast that is, of course, bitter and thin. That tasting is called "the three ways coffee can taste strong" but most consumers only know about the dark roast version. Between the extremes of acidic light roasts and burnt French lies a wonderful world of balanced coffee flavor and good Mexican coffee, with its mild chocolate and nut flavor notes and excellent balance, is optimally suited for such roasts. Regardless of your preferred roast or vendor, you're very fortunate indeed to be able to drink good locally--roasted coffee at Lakeside for a fraction of the price of the same beans in the U.S., and to be able to support wonderful local businesses in the process.
  8. A good thread. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the sharp increase in real estate and rental prices in the past ~2 years, aided and abetted of course by scads of newbie groups on Facebook, dubious Youtube videos and so on. Affordable rentals (even if one knows the ropes and has "boots on the ground") are hard to come by everywhere and buying, if you have less than 200K to spend and don't want to be out in the boonies, is also challenging. Those realities are what drove us back N.O.B. - along with the overcrowding and traffic gridlock. The established expat community is still great (newbieville can be another story) and other key expense items (grocery shopping, local food, in-country travel) are still great bargains but the days of living in popular expat havens in Mexico on a quasi-Social Security budget do seem to be over.
  9. Recommendations from an actual coffee professional, in case of interest. http://eatinglocalatlakeside.blogspot.com/2012/06/buying-brewing-good-coffee-at-lake.html
  10. I've searched for info on this but everything I can find is at least 2 years old. Just wondering if there's still a kayak group at Lakeside. Any contact info much apprreciated.
  11. We've lived here without a car for months at a time and with one. If you choose the car-free route, you need to choose your village carefully. Chapala centro is fine, but if you're a newcomer Ajijic is the epicenter for expat activities and you'll be busing in constantly. The bus system at Lakeside is lousy (by Mexican standards), with beat-up buses full to overflowing and fares that may not seem like much to gringos but are scandalously high for locals since they are unsubsidized. Figure 7-9 pesos for a short hop anywhere, and bear in mind that buses run only from about 8:30 a.m. to shortly after dusk. Taxis must be called - they don't roam the streets here like they do in San Miguel or any other city - and start at 50 pesos for the shortest hops. In short, the bus service is poor and taxis are expensive and must be called in advance, so if you can't walk - easily- to what you do everyday and where you shop you will be limited. Realistically, IMHO, this means live in Chapala centro if your life and friends are there, otherwise Ajijic between La Floresta and the eastern edge of Villa Nova, if you don't plan on owning a car. For us, owning a used late-model Mexican car with less than $5000 invested, we have insurance at around $300 a year and fill up the tank about once every 6 weeks. Beats the heck out of no car, the lousy bus service or taxis, but as others have said, it's a very personal choice. We would prefer to be car-free, but that means living in a city, not a village.
  12. Hey they may be reckless but they're not likely to be wreckless for long.....
  13. Thanks for the education RV! I'm glad to know about this and must have just had bad luck with the stoves in our rentals. Much appreciated.
  14. The LCS Directory has a very nice chart of oven temperatures on page 28. Here are a few excerpts: 300 degrees F = 150 degrees C = Gas Mark 2 350 degrees F = 180 degrees C = Gas Mark 4 400 degrees F = 200 degrees C = Gas Mark 6 450 degrees F = 230 degrees C = Gas Mark 8 In our limited but shall we say "exciting" experience with run-of-the-mill Mexican ovens yes, you'd better darn well have an oven thermometer and watch temperatures vigilantly. Set the temperature where you will, it usually goes up - way up - from there. Mexican cooking is pretty much always stovetop cooking; baking just isn't part of the culture. One either adapts, buys a very expensive oven, or discovers a newfound appreciation for the option of buying baked goods from bakeries with better ovens and/or more patience.
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