Monday for dinner in Buenos Aires is tough as there are not that many places open. Not wanting something too heavy given the caloric overload I had over the weekend, I decided the best course of aciton was to cook for myself. Given that I hadn’t tried any of the kitchen equipment in the loft yet, I thought it was wise to go with something fairly simple.
I had walked by this store many times and was intrigued by a chicken only butcher. As the sign says “The Best Quality for the Best Price” so how could I lose? Senor Pollo had a variety of cuts, all apparently delivered daily fresh from their own farm. Like most places, the prices were based on kilos (2.2 lbs) which is way too much for just me. I opted for the boneless thighs, which they were in the process of deboning as I selected them. There was a slight breakdown in communication as they seemed puzzled why I would only get .5 kilos but eventually I got my order.
I decided to make a simple stir fry with some kind of vegetable. The next step was to get the ingredients for the sauce. There was a supermarket a couple of stores down but their selection was pretty poor and shelling out $5 for a small bottle of soy sauce seemed like a rip off. I wanted to do a Dijon soy sauce but there also was no Dijon mustard to be found. Still walking around with my raw chicken, I gave up and headed to my local supermercado, which was owned by a Japanese family so maybe I’d have better luck there. That turned out to be the right move as they had a much larger bottle of soy (soja) for a lot less. There was still no Dijon but there was a decent looking mustard that would probably work in a pinch.
I next went across the street to a fruit and vegetable stand. There I found some great looking broccoli and I was set. I also picked up my new favorite beer, Quilmes Bock, and walked back to the loft.
Around 9PM, it was dinner time so I started to take inventory on what I had.
It was a pretty random assortment of tools and looked like they had barely been touched. The knife wasn’t great but looked sharp enough and the slotted spoon would serve as a decent stir fry instrument. I had previously asked Marcos for a sautee pan but it turned out to be almost a wok, which in this case was a plus.
It was obvious that no one really thought about actually using the kitchen as there was no exhaust fan and the lights were comically placed, casting shadows over where I would be cooking. I was concerned there was no cutting board but finally found one stashed away in the back of one of the cupboards. The knife proved to be fairly decent and I was able to quickly cut up the thighs. Now it was time to figure out how the stove and ranges worked.
The first challenge, as one can see, was how low the stove was for me. This combined with the shadows from the light not hitting the area correctly would make this a wee bit tricky. The next task was to figure out how to light one of the burners. There was a large lever (not pictured) that I had to turn to get the gas going. Visions of being knocked out by the gas flooded my head so I knew I need to quickly get a burner going. I found the correct knob and heard the familiar hissing of gas.
As the gas hissed away, I noticed that there was another knob with a picture of a light bulb and a lightning bolt. I assumed that was a way to light the pilot so I turned it to the left, which is where the lightning bolt was….which turned on the oven light. OK, so let’s try the right then…bingo. I saw a blue flame engulf the bottom of my pan. There were a series of dots that I assumed was to turn low or high. I turned it towards the largest dot…and the flame went out. OK, repeat the process with the pilot. Lit? OK, good. Now let’s try to crank it all to the left. I saw the flame increase in size but when I turned it all the way, yep, out went the flame. I finally figured out, for no real logical reason, that the High setting was actually in the middle of the 2 dots. Oookay.
Once I had the flame going, I was pleasantly surprised how hot the pan got in a very short period of time. After a few minutes of stir frying, I added the soy mustard mixture, which actually had turned out to be pretty decent, and soon was ready to eat.
The meal turned out pretty damn good if I do say so myself and gave me a much needed light(ish) meal break. It took way longer than I hoped but next time would be a lot quicker. The downside, of course, was that I also had to clean up everything. There’s something about cleaning up essentially another person’s kitchen that isn’t quite as appealing as doing it in your own kitchen. The other thing that I realized is that I probably could have gotten the same meal somewhere for as much if not a bit less. Nevertheless, it was a nice change of pace and a reminder that it just wasn’t possible to go out every night for almost 5 weeks.