NYE Dinner

Since it was raining, I didn’t feel too guilty about taking a nice long siesta before prepping dinner.  3 hours later (don’t judge!) I finally got to cookin.

My first challenge was trying to figure out the rather odd (and very small) range/stove.  I eventually determined that the Star icon was to light the various pilots and away we go!

My next dilemma was how to use the oven without – a) any kind of oven mitt b) no apparent temperature gauge and c) no vent for any excess smoke.  Fortunately, I’ve used enough ovens to be able to guestimate a temperature when I open the oven so that should hopefully be OK.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Your guess is as good as mine.

The other challenge was that this cooking equipment was apparently made for dwarfs, not giants like myself.

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Tall man, little kitchen

Amazingly, I was able to put together a pretty damn good meal.  Rib eye with a Malbec mushroom sauce.

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Our bellies full of meat and Malbec, it was time to relax and prepare for the looong night that awaited.

 

 

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A brief respite

Your internal body clock can do some strange things when trying to adjust to a new time zone.  I didn’t think the 3 hour difference (given I started in Dallas vs. LA) would be that dramatic but I guess my body had other ideas.  As much as I slept soundly yesterday, today was nothing but fits and starts all night/morning.  I tried as much as I could to sleep and when I was up, at least attempted to be productive – such as marking out every possible route to Crobar, downloading a Spanish dictionary and other assorted tasks.
Hunger finally roused me permanently from my fitful slumber and we headed out for lunch once again at Plaza Armenia.

The weather was decidedly less settled as we walked, with gusty winds blowing all manner of dust and grit as well as the occasional rain drop.  We luckily arrived at the Plaza just before a major downpour began and chose a central spot called Bartok.

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The restaurant was filled with locals and had a very nice, low-key vibe.  Since I’ve been neglectful in documenting previous meals (bad foodie, bad!), I took pics of both of our respective lunches.

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To go along with his hot chocolate, Chris opted for the chicken wok:

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Whereas I opted for the mustard chicken with caramelized onions and vegetable risotto.  Both were quite good.

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Next up was a stop at the only supermercado I had seen so far to grab some stuff for tonight’s dinner.  It was slightly surreal waiting in a typical checkout line but realizing it was in Buenos Aires.  While I was shopping, Chris captured this genius bit of packaging:

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It started to rain again as we made our way back home but even the rain didn’t stop people from being civilized while waiting for the bus.

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The final stop was at the local butcher where I picked up these 2 beauties for only $8 total.

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I was both anxious and a bit nervous to try my hand at cooking Argentine beef but that’s for another post…

Plaza Armenia

After being able to check out some NFL games thanks to Fox Sports 2 and ESPN Deportes, it was time to check out another part of Palermo Soho – Plaza Armenia.

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All photos in this post are courtesy of Chris Forrest.

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A rare shot of yours truly, contemplating what to order.

It was still rather hot and muggy but there was a slight breeze to make it all bearable.  The plaza was chock full of people – in cafes, bars, restaurants or just strolling down the street, families, young and old couples alike.  It was a very convivial and inviting scene.

We ended up at Minga, a very stylish but homey parilla that specialized in all things wood grilled.  As tempting as it was to have yet another slab of meat, I instead opted for the daily grilled white fish, in this case, corvina.  Since my trip to Lima, I’ve really enjoyed trying different South American fishes and this one was excellent.  Sometimes referred to as white sea bass, it had a very firm texture that worked great with the charring from the wood grill – delicious.

I had purposefully chosen something not too heavy so I could finally have one of the gelatos I had seen everywhere in my various walks.

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This one had quite the line forming so I assume it would probably be good.  That was a good guess on my part.  The system was a bit confusing but to keep things simple I decided to get a small cup of the dulce del leche gelato.  At first I thought it looked way too small but after a couple of bites, I realized that cup would be plenty.  It was truly one of the best gelatos I’ve ever had.

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Action shot of my crucial decision

We headed back to the loft, me blissfully consuming my gelato and Chris enduring my frequent outbursts of how damn good it was.  The temperature still hadn’t really dropped much but a slightly stronger breeze made it a fairly pleasant walk home.  It was time to call it a night as tomorrow would bring NYE Buenos Aires style and that would require all the energy we could muster.

 

A slightly late start

Anyone who has traveled over a large number of timezone (and miles of course) knows that eventually those time changes catch up with you.  That happened to me yesterday.  What I thought was a nice night’s sleep turned into the shock of finding out it was just after 2PM.  Ooops.  Fortunately, Buenos Aires is a fairly late rising city so all was not lost.

It also wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for a late start as the heat and humidity were oppressive – lower 90s but felt closer to 100 with the heat index – yecch.  Because of that, I broke my “no shorts in foreign countries” rule as otherwise it would just be too effin hot.  We headed back down the main drag of Thames to go check out an ex pat spot called Magdalena’s Party.
As we walked in, we were greeted by a very American sounding young woman who had just moved from Philly.  The vibe was very cool and funky, from the handwritten signs for the weekly specials to the very eclectic mix of music playing.

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View from our table . Chris wanted to try something different, such an artiste.

We both decided to get the American Diner Special, which was a truly American brunch of home fries, 2 eggs (mine sunny side, his scrambled), toast and bacon.  It was a nice taste of home and provided some much needed fuel.

Carne y mas carne

After being roused from my siesta with visions of 2 for 1 mojitos with Havana Club rum that I had seen advertised earlier, it was time to vamamos.  We headed back down to Plaza Serrano, which was now a busy beehive of activity.  Unfortunately, the offer I had seen was no longer valid.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though as we decided to go directly to the famed house of all things meat, La Cabrera.

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Nestled on a busy street, Cabrera, natch, the restaurant opens at 8:30PM but there was already a long line by the time we got there, around 8:20.  We didn’t have a reservation but were told to check back at 8:45 for any cancellations.  As we saw the line grow even longer, we were pretty much resigned to putting our names in for tomorrow.  Fortunately, as luck would have it, there was a bar next door which had the same 2:1 mojito offer except with a different rum.  I was able to negotiate swapping out the house rum for Havana Club so it all worked out in the end.

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I went back to check at exactly 8:45 to our pleasant surprise, we were given a table outside right in the heart of the action.

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When the menu arrived, it was clear that this was a place where vegetarians feared to dread.  The entire back page consisted of pretty much every style of meat you could possibly want, from rib eyes to bone marrow to sweet breads.  It was overwhelming.

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

I decided to get the biefe de ojo (rib eye) which is one of their famed cuts.  Chris opted for the aged bone-in strip.  We got a fairly decent house Cabernet from Mendoza to go along with it.  When our dishes arrived, we knew were in for something special.

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Come to Papa

And yes, that’s the half order of the rib eye in front!

I had read about the crazy number of sides that come with the meals and they weren’t kidding.  I didn’t take a picture of those as they kept coming but here’s at least a partial list:

Sauces:
– Mustard
– Ginger soy
– Chimichurri (por supuesto)
– Horseradish
– Pico de gallo

Side dishes:
– Mashed Potatoes
– Cauliflower au gratin
– Baked apples
– Stewed onions
– and more I can’t remember

Suffice to say after all of that, we were stuffed.  We walked back to Plaza Serrano and now the Plaza was teeming with people.  All of the temporary shops were gone and the bars were now packed.  However, with our bellies full of meat, the idea of standing around in a crowded bar did not appeal.

We decided to head back to our street as we had seen a cool bar only a couple of blocks away called the Whatever Bar.  When we got there though, it was basically empty.  Of course, it was only 12:30AM, early by their standards, but at least that allowed us to snag one of their comfy leather chair and couch combos.

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I loved this bar.  They were playing some great downtempo tracks, had a fantastic cocktail list, including a very authentic pisco sour, and a great staff.  We agreed we’d be back soon.

 

 

Meet Palermo Soho

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After some much needed rest, it was finally time to start exploring the new ‘hood.  It turned out that our travels the previous day had us at the very outskirts of Palermo Soho, which was a relief as I wasn’t very impressed with what I saw.  Now heading in the right direction, it became quickly clear why this is such a popular part of Buenos Aires.  The streets are lined with large trees, providing some much needed shade as the temperatures and humidity have climbed rapidly over the past few days.

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We walked down one of the main streets, which was filled with bars, restaurants and all kinds of cool shops.  I had read that the Plaza Serano was the place to be on Saturdays and that turned out to be true.  The entire plaza had been taken over by vendors peddling their various wares.

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The surrounding bars also became satellite shops making the entire Plaza into essentially one big marketplace.  We decided to cool our heels at one of the bars and get some lunch.  I went with the special of the day, which was fair at best and Chris had what he dubbed a deep dish sandwich – no bueno.

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I was suddenly no longer the tallest person in Plaza Serano.  Bastid!

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After walking around some more for a couple of hours, we retreated back to the air conditioned loft for a siesta and to recharge for the night ahead.

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Meet Chris, my fellow traveler

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For the first part of my trip, I will be joined by mi amigo Chris Forrest, pictured here last night during our first dinner in Palermo Soho.  As is usually the case when I travel long distance, the first dinner is basically a wash so I normally go somewhere close and cheap.  This place fit the bill more or less plus cheap prices on this Argentine staple: