Texas, Arizona, and Peru

Just before Easter, Mom went down with a bad gallbladder. Usually, it is a smooth operation, but hers turned out to be a bit more complicated. Anyway, like a good son, I went home to help get her back on her feet. I think she really had been missing me and wanted me home for Easter.  

Actually, maybe it was me who was missing home.

It was a great Easter - I had missed the last couple due to my travels in Europe and now have come to cherish family holidays. Uncle Mickey and I picked out a new smoker and christened it with a nice brisket for Easter lunch.

 Look at that smoke ring on our Easter brisket!

Look at that smoke ring on our Easter brisket!

 When I'm home, I'm under constant attack - everybody wants me to make bread! To fend off the hungry hordes, I made a few batches of bread. I was quite proud of this fella - turned out to be a beaut.

When I'm home, I'm under constant attack - everybody wants me to make bread! To fend off the hungry hordes, I made a few batches of bread. I was quite proud of this fella - turned out to be a beaut.

After lunch, Mom announced that she had a photoshoot coming up.  Those that know, know my mom and her sisters have an apparel company based in Texas. Anyway, Mom disguised the shoot as a "vacation" and convinced Sam and I plus all of our cousins to come along. I knew she would need a hand with her just out of the hospital, plus the promise of all of us loading up in an RV and driving to Arizona was just too good to pass up. 

 Arizona is home to many varieties of cactus.

Arizona is home to many varieties of cactus.

 Cousin Mitchell and I were sent off to take some still shots of jewelry - Cousin Taylor got this picture where it looks like we were up to no good! I promise these is a necklace draped on that rock!

Cousin Mitchell and I were sent off to take some still shots of jewelry - Cousin Taylor got this picture where it looks like we were up to no good! I promise these is a necklace draped on that rock!

 I rose early one morning and meandered out to the horse stables before we started the photoshoot for the day. The horses had just spotted the feed truck and by the looks of it, I'm guessing they were hungry!

I rose early one morning and meandered out to the horse stables before we started the photoshoot for the day. The horses had just spotted the feed truck and by the looks of it, I'm guessing they were hungry!

 For me, the photoshoot consisted of moving sets and props, running for more props, and making sure the sun didn't interfere with the shot.

For me, the photoshoot consisted of moving sets and props, running for more props, and making sure the sun didn't interfere with the shot.

Arizona provided some amazing scenes for the 'shoot. We ventured up Mt. Lemmon the first day and shot her Winter collection up in the pines.  The second day we shot out in the desert around White Stallion Ranch and wrapped up the shoot in Old Tuscon, an old movie set which has continued to grow since its debut in the movie Arizona (1940). Since then, countless western classics have used the set for production purposes including Gunfight at the O.K Corral (1957), Rio Bravo (1959), and Little House on the Prarie (1970's-1980's). After the shoot was in the can, I hot-shotted back to Texas and within 24 hours was back in Peru.

My vacation wasn't quite finished, however - As I worked for Renzo, I found out his father was also in the fashion world. Once Mom and he connected, it was only a week later that she and Sam came to Lima for a textile trade show.  

My brother missed out on our first trip to Peru, some ten years ago. Mom and I hit all the sites, like Manchu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, before heading to Iquitos where we took part in a mission trip along the Amazon river. Once the family was in, our first destination was Cusco.

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Mom didn't feel like making the trek to Machu Picchu again, so the Sam & I set out for the ancient Incan ruins on the first day. Honestly, I didn't remember how much traveling you have to do to reach Machu Picchu - it's a long day!

 Sam and I, sporting our new ponchos, at Macchu Picchu.

Sam and I, sporting our new ponchos, at Macchu Picchu.

 The Sacred Valley, once the royal estate of the Incan Emperor.

The Sacred Valley, once the royal estate of the Incan Emperor.

Back in Cusco, Mom went to her "poncho guy" who she has stayed in touch with  with all these years. His shop is still there, and I'm sure he was happy to see us!

 Just down the street from our hotel in Cusco, there was a chocolate musuem. After taking a short tour and learning more about the process, we had a little chocolate tasting!

Just down the street from our hotel in Cusco, there was a chocolate musuem. After taking a short tour and learning more about the process, we had a little chocolate tasting!

 Sam and I overlooking the valley of Cusco.

Sam and I overlooking the valley of Cusco.

We returned to Lima just in time for Mom to swing by PeruModa, the textile show I referenced. As Mom walked through the show, looking for manufacturers, I got a decent Spanish lesson in textiles - My Spanish usually revolves around a kitchen, I was able to help with a little translation.

What kind of host would I be if we didn't eat some delicious food when the family was in Lima?

Our first night we were in town, we dined at DonDoh, a collaborative restaurant between chef Ciro Watanabe of the Oshaka restaurant group and Renzo Girabaldi. This Japanese roboto grill provides a high-class oriental cuisine with a touch of Peru - a unique experience!

Next up was Osso, the restaurant that I knew quite well! We journeyed out to the suburbs of Lima for a massive feast consisting of tartar, ribeyes, and pork chops. I even got them to try the marinated beef hearts - I don't think either of them became beef heart fans. Personally, I think it is one of the most flavorful cuts there is.

Our grand finale was Central. Featured on Netflix's Chef’s Table series, Central is unique - Head Chef Virgilio Martinez has climbed to the top of the restaurant world by plating complete ecosystems found in Peru. Each dish corresponds to a different altitude at which everything is sourced.

 Mom, Sam, and I after the meal of our lives at Central.

Mom, Sam, and I after the meal of our lives at Central.

I'd love to tell more about it, but I think Central needs its own post. Shortly after the meal, Mom and Sam headed for the airport. VACATION COMPLETE

 Photographical evidence that Mom made the trip. I had a blast with these two in Peru!

Photographical evidence that Mom made the trip. I had a blast with these two in Peru!