Local eats and wine

After being here for almost 4 weeks, I’ve now settled into a comfortable groove – working during the morning/day and exploring at night.  A large thunderstorm made the temperature cool down a bit so last night was the perfect time to dine alfresco.  I wanted to stay local so it made perfect sense to return to a place that shared its namesake, Local.

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Due to having a light lunch of a smoked salmon sandwich courtesy of my favorite delivery spot, Marfa, I couldn’t hold out for the traditional dinner time.  So, it was no surprise when I got to Local that it was completely empty.  It’s a small, intimate restaurant though so it wasn’t like I was alone in a vast empty space.

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As much as I wanted to have that delicious wood-fired chicken again, I decided to try something different.  The bondiola – pork shoulder – caught my eye but I had to check for garlic.  While this was going on, I had already ordered a glass of the Tempranillo from Mendoza but soon found out that, yes, there was garlic in it.  Oh well.  Although I was actually fine with ordering meat again, the wood oven trout sounded too good to pass up.  Of course, that wasn’t exactly an ideal pairing with my wine but so be it.

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The trout arrived about 20 minutes later (nothing is ever fast in Buenos Aires) and the aroma was amazing.  It’s not really clear from the above picture, but the trout was sliced in two.  The top as shown, then a layer of delicious roasted potatoes that were square like bricks, and then the other half of the trout.  The skin was perfectly crisp, the trout had a surprisingly robust flavor and the roasted vegetables were a great complement to the dish.

As I was finishing, the owner, Daniel, walked over to me and said he recognized me from my previous trip there.  We chatted a bit about how they source only local products, and Daniel bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t get the lamb he wanted for tonight.  He told me I had to come back for their version of matambre, essentially a pork flank steak.  I still want to get their chicken again so I guess I’ll have to make 2 more trips there.  Yes, I know I’m leaving such a tough life.

After dinner, I walked a few blocks more to a new-ish wine bar that I noticed last week.  Despite Buenos Aires being a pretty wine centric dining scene, there are surprisingly few places to get multiple options by the glass.  Out of that apparent need, Bar du Marche was born.

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A small, classic French bistro/wine bar, they have an astounding 50 wines by the glass, arranged from lightest to the most robust.  I was concerned that it would be mostly French but thankfully the vast majority were from Argentina.  I decided to start with a Pinot Noir from Manos Negros, an Argentine winery – a first for me.  It was a classic fruit-forward Pinot, which was just what I wanted.  I sat at a table outside, enjoying the nice cool breeze and soaking in the local scene.

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I had to try a Malbec, of course, so I chose one from their Robust section.  It was a deep red color and was substantially heavier than the Pinot, in a good way though.  It was a very generous pour and at only $45 pesos (which was only $7.50 with my increased buying power) a steal.  I will definitely return here soon.

Snapshots of Buenos Aires

Yesterday was a day of work and rest for me so no food porn or dating disasters.  Instead, here are a few random snapshots I’ve taken over the past week for your viewing pleasure.

View from my "office" aka my bed

View from my “office” aka my bed

Palermo Hollywood

Palermo Hollywood

Messi section at a sporting goods store in Alto Palermo Shopping Mall

Messi section at a sporting goods store in Alto Palermo Shopping Mall

Recoleta - past bumping up against present

Recoleta – past bumping up against present

Recoleta

Recoleta

The massive Avenida de Julio 9 - the widest avenue in the world

The massive Avenida de Julio 9 – the widest avenue in the world

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SDIM0789

 

A Taste of Peru in Buenos Aires

Argentine food tends to be a bit on the heavy side – empanadas, steaks, massive cuts of glorious meat.  I love that stuff, don’t get me wrong, but after awhile it can become a bit one note.  Plus, given the hot weather, one can only take so much dense food before wanting something a bit lighter.  After another fairly hot day, I decided it was time for something not only lighter but also cooler.

When I was first exploring Las Canitas, one of the restaurants that caught my attention was a cevicheria conveniently named Ceviche.  It was a Peruvian/Japanese fusion place, and I made a mental note to check it out at a later date.  As it turned out, that was actually the second location, and the first one was even closer to me.

There was actually a very pleasant breeze helping cut the heat as I strolled to the restaurant.  I was a bit early – 9PM – so the restaurant was fairly empty.  The space was pretty massive, with a large front room and an even larger backroom which led to a patio area.

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Given that I was alone, I decided to take a spot at the sushi bar, which also served as the ceviche area.

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The bar contained a pretty impressive array of sushi grade fish, including a massive amount of gorgeous looking salmon.  Daniel, the chef in the picture above, explained to me that they source most of their fish from Chile as it’s much better quality than what they can get in Argentina.  The menu was pretty extensive but I was immediately drawn to the ceviche section.  There were several different options, from traditional to more fusion based dishes.  At the bottom of the page was the Ceviche Tasting, which I knew immediately was the way to go.

I selected a glass Mendoza based Sauvignon Blanc and waited for the seafood goodness to come.  Daniel told me that pretty much every sushi restaurant in Buenos Aires is actually a Peruvivan/Japanese fusion called Nikkei.  They still have nigiri and rolls, but also have Peruvivian dishes like ceviche or heavier meat-based fare.  The restaurant was run by a Peruvian but the other chefs, like Daniel, were Colombian or Argentine.  Still, given that the guiding hand was actually from Peru, I thought I’d be in good hands.  This proved to be true as the following appeared in front of me:

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The ceviches in the tasting were the following:

– Traditional – a traditional, classic ceviche with corn, sweet potatoes, onions and white fish cooked with lime juice and a piece of fried yucca

– Del Mercado – similar to the traditional except with sole and a more acidic Leche del Tigre

– Arequeno – A mixed seafood ceviche with squid, shrimp and caramelized sweet potatoes

– Palmerian – Chilean salmon chunks with mango and sushi rice.

The last one was the real winner as it was sweeter than the more acidic ceviches that came before it.

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This was the real winner.

All and all a fantastic meal and a much needed break from the usual.

Adventures in Cooking – Take Dos

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.

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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.

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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.

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Taken after I cooked my meal but wanted to show my perspective

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.

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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.

 

The brunch to end all brunches

After eating light the past couple of days, it was time to go a bit overboard again.  I had walked by a place called Pani only a couple of blocks from my loft and looked good so I thought I’d check it out for brunch.  The layout was interesting, essentially a long hallway with seating along the way which eventually led to a fairly large dining room and outdoor patio.  It was packed but I lucked out, securing a table in the hallway, which was great for people watching.

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As one can see, the decor was a bit kitschy but fun, with all kinds of different furniture and nicknacks everywhere.  It had a slight Alice in Wonderland vibe to it, which I assume was completely intentional.  The menu was extensive, spanning several pages but then I was presented this.

The combination of it being in Spanish along with slightly dicey handwriting made it a bit of a challenge to understand.  Surely those were options and I was to pick one per category, I asked?  No, my waitress replied, you get all of it.  Since most of you dear readers don’t know Spanish, this is what I would get with the brunch:

– OJ
– A glass of Malbec
– A glass of champagne
– Rillette of chicken, mushroom and bacon
– Smoked salmon with 2 poached eggs, cheese and Hollandaise with a savory French toast
– Salad with cherry tomatoes
– Bruschetta with duxelles and Brie
– Dulce de leche mousse
– Parfait of passion fruit, strawberries with chantilly cream
– Chocolate cookie with a chocolate ganache filling and caramel.

…. All for $130 pesos (which meant $20 with my increased exchange rate.  It was a no brainer then to get this and see what madness would unfold.

The first thing to arrive was both the fresh squeezed OJ and a very generous pour of a quite good Malbec.

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I was curious how the various courses would be presented and soon found out.

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Basically, all of the savory courses came at once.  I was a bit in awe of this monstrous pile of goodness, which took up the entire length of my table.  I decided to go for the eggs and smoked salmon section first, which led to the perfectly poached eggs break their yolks into the French toast.  The brioche was a bit tricky to eat with all of that piled on top but I somehow managed to get through most of it.  I knew the bruschetta would be trouble so I just took a few nibbles and that was it.  The rillette though was amazing, chunks of delicious roasted chicken with mushrooms and bacon – what was not to like?

After about 20 minutes, I had finally polished off most of it, including the salad to at least have something slightly healthy.  I forgot to take the aftermath photo but believe me, it wasn’t pretty.  I had opted to save the champagne for the sweeter stuff so they whisked away my savory remnants and reset the table.  For some reason, they wouldn’t let me have the OJ and champagne as a mimosa so I just made one myself.  It was actually a really good champagne, much better than the usual brunch mimosa fare.  Now I was ready for round 2.

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As I waited for my next course or courses I guess, I had a chance to chat with the chef and compliment him on the food so far.  I also got a quick snap of my tiny, cute as a button waitress, who blushed when I asked to take her photo.

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I continued to enjoy my mimosa creation and a few minutes later, this arrived in front of me.

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I was relieved that the sweet courses weren’t as massive as the savory ones because I’m fairly certain I would have collapsed into a food coma if they were.  Once again, everything was superb.  I had been wondering what mousse de DDL meant but one bite made it clear that it was Dulce de Leche.  It was pretty much a perfect mousse, light as can be and packed with DDL flavor.  The parfait was a nice contrast in both texture and taste – tart and sweet at the same time, again delicious.  I’m not a huge chocolate chocolate cookie like the one presented but since it was just a one bite item, I had it too.

It was now almost 2 hours since I had arrived and I felt the food baby growing in my stomach.  I stumbled out of the restaurant and vowed to have something pretty light to eat tonight.  We’ll see if that holds true given the limited choices for Sunday night dining in my barrio.

 

 

A late night stroll through the ‘hood

After another hot day, it finally started to cool off a bit so I decided to go for a nice, long stroll through the barrio.  Here’s what I saw.

This great heladeria is just a block away.  Trouble.

This great heladeria is just a block away. Trouble.

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This isn't a private beach.  It's the symbol for an hourly hotel aka telo used for hanky panky.

This isn’t a private beach. It’s the symbol for an hourly hotel aka telo used for hanky panky.

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Love this lobby

 

 

Date from Hell – Argentine style

In my quest to be a true local, one of the things that was on my list was to try dating here.  I had been having some success but nothing really sticking as it were.  I was chatting with Marcos, the owner of the loft I’m renting, about the local scene and he said he had a friend that spoke English who would be good to go on a date.  I thought that would be fun so I got her info and set up a call to chat with her.

I should have trusted my Spidey sense from the call that this woman wasn’t someone I’d want to actually go out with as she came across as very bossy.  She bombarded me with questions and barely let me reply before going on to another one.  Still, I did want to venture out of my comfort zone so I decided to give it a shot.  The original plan was to go out on Thurs but I knew I wanted to go to Unik then so I rescheduled for Fri.  She was first OK with it but then emailed this:

R u sure u will not cancell again?  Cos I have to make the same bookings again and I do not like to push around the restó’s people .

I should have cut and run after that but again thought at the very least it would make for a good story.  Boy was I right about that.  My first mistake was that I forgotten she told me to come at 9 versus 8:30, which was the plan for Thursday.  I showed up to her apartment at 8:30 on the dot and buzzed her on the intercom.  She was clearly flustered and said that she had specifically told me 9PM and started asking me why I was there early.  I cut her off and said I’d come back at 9 – no problem.

Her place was right next to the massive Alto Palermo shopping mall so killing time was easy.  I came back at 9PM and this time she said she’d be right down.  While not a looker, she wasn’t ugly either but her outfit was a bit strange.  She was wearing a halter top floral dress with sparkly high heels and a ton of jewelery along with a Dolce and Gabana clutch.  She looked at my quizzically and asked again why I came early.  By this time, I was getting a bit annoyed with the questioning and tried to get her to stop.  She did and hailed a cab for us.  However, when we got in the cab she started up again.  “I specifically told you 9PM.  Did you not read the email?  I put it in capital letters so your reading comprehension must not be so good.”  Grrrr

We pulled up to the restaurant and I paid the cab.  The restaurant was a new place inside a very cool boutique hotel.  She had read that this chef was the next big thing and seemed to know the hot spots so I thought maybe this night could be saved.  When we sat down, I could now finally see the jewelry and noticed how strange it was.  She was covered in, what I assumed, were fake diamonds, including this hideous diamond crusted spider, which wrapped around her left arm.  And then said this “Just so you know, I have no money with me and if you don’t have enough for both of us we should just leave.”

I had already started to look at the menu prices and knew there was no way I’d have enough cash.  She asked if I had cards and I told her I had a visa debt card.  After a few minutes of arguing with her that yes, a debit card acts like a credit card, she called the waiter over to see if they took that.  He nodded and then she said “OK, good now you can pay for us.”  Gee, thanks.

She went through the menu and decided to get the duck (of course the most expensive item on the menu.)  This was proceeded by her peppering our poor waiter with a series of questions in a really bossy tone.  I felt myself gradually lowering in my chair, trying to shield myself from this embarrassing display.  If there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s when someone is rude to a waiter.  I opted for the veal and then it was time for a drink order.  I ordered a Malbec and she wanted a Semillon.  The waiter explained that was a dessert wine but she waived him off saying that’s what she wanted.

The waiter came back with a large glass for my Malbec and a very small glass for her.  Given that it was a dessert wine, this was par for the course, but she freaked out.  I tried to also point out that she did order a dessert wine but she demanded that she been given the same size glass as mine.  The waiter was getting exasperated by this point but came back with a large glass.  We placed our orders and now it was time to chat again.

I found out that she was a GP with her own practice.  She talked about normally spending the summer in her home in Mar del Plata and it was clear she was pretty well off.  She asked about my education and when I tried to explain my major of International Studies, she said that it was not a serious degree like her PreMed, adding “American education is inferior anyway.”  I decided to fight back a bit and explained that people from all over the world come to the US to go to our “inferior” schools.  This led to extended discussion on higher education and the value of a degree.  “Your country has so many stupid degrees.  People can do whatever they want and waste their education.”

By this point, I felt my skin heat up and my pulse quicken as I resisted a multitude of options which would just escalate things.  I changed the subject and asked about her family/background.  That lasted about 30 seconds before she asked me if I had gone on any dates yet here.  “Do you like just women or men too?  I don’t know which way you go.”  I said that I was straight.  She then replied “Well, a lot of men go both ways these days.”  Gritting my teeth, I said “well, if that was the case, then I wouldn’t be buying your dinner.”

After having a truly superb amuse bouche of spot prawns with an asparagus foam, our meals arrived.  She looked at her duck, poked it a bit and wondered where the oranges were that was in the description.  I agreed that there didn’t seem to be any oranges and she snapped her fingers for our poor waiter.  She aggressively asked why there were no oranges and what was to be done about it.  The waiter explained that it was the chef’s take on duck a’lorange but even I had to admit that was a weird response.  Still, it seemed to quell the situation and we started eating our meals.  I had forgotten the 3 different sauces that came with my meal and she said “he explained them to you.  Wow, your listening skills are as good as your reading comprehension eh?”

After she mentioned that the chef had a French background, I noted that I could see that.  She said “well no this isn’t French cooking”  I explained that in fact it was and pointed out the French techniques being used in both of our dishes.  This led to more pointless insistence on her part that it wasn’t French “I’ve been to France and I know French cooking.” so I just shut up and kept eating.

By this time, I had long given up any hope salvaging things and just started thinking about how it would at least make for an amusing story.  The conversation turned weird when she started talking about dating in Buenos Aires.  It was clear that she was a) racist “Peru is full of stupid Indians who pollute the population” b) possibly bi-polar and c) basically a miserable human being.

I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there when the dessert menus came.  I declined but of course she wanted one.  There were several choices so she asked which one I’d like to split with her.  I chose the apple tart and she dismissed that saying “that’s like something you’d get at McDonalds”  I sighed and told her to pick.  After grilling our poor waiter on some the specifics about one the items, she picked that one.  I was already running a mental calculator in my head on the costs and generally trying not to engage her too much as I couldn’t stand her by now.

After more veiled implications that I might like men “when you and your friend went out, you must have had a hard time convincing people you weren’t a couple”, she announced she had to use the restroom.  As she left the table, I let out a huge deep breath and frantically tried to find a WiFi signal.  Alas there wasn’t one accessible so I had to sit there and wonder how much longer this night would last.  We had now been there over 2 hours, with dessert and tea yet to come.

It arrived when she was still gone so I just stared at it.  She came back to the table and motioned for me to start eating.  I thought she’d start as well but after I had a couple of bites, she stopped me, saying I was ruining the structural integrity of it.  I said that she had told me to start eating it and how that made it difficult not to affect that.  She said that I could continue eating and in my best dry, sarcastic tone replied “well, no I wouldn’t dare want to further ruin the structural integrity of such a magnificent creation.”

Part of the reason she hadn’t started eating was because her tea hadn’t arrived yet.  She scolded me for not grabbing the waiter while she was gone, saying that she would have done that.  When the tea arrived, after explaining to me how no one in Buenos Aires knows how to make good tea, she noticed that the tea was cold and her milk wasn’t there.  She snapped for the waiter and out of curiosity I touched the tea pot, which was perfectly warm.  That final move had vaulted her over the truly psychopathic woman I went out with in San Francisco once, who had freaked out and berated our waiter for daring to give her coffee in a glass vs. a ceramic cup, as the worst date ever.

When the check came, as suspected, I didn’t have nearly enough cash to cover.  However, I didn’t want to pay it all on the my card (and therefore end up paying even more for this awful night) so I took the cash I had and told them to charge the rest.  She explained that I had to give the waiter the tip in cash.  I said no, I can do that on the card and she said that wasn’t possible.  Truly hating her at this point, I shoved the bill in front of her and circled where it clearly stated “Propina” (tip)  This made her finally shut up about it and we left.

In the cab on the way home, I sat in stone silence, quietly seething at the blather she was spouting about dating in Buenos Aires and how terrible men are here.  I bit my tongue when she complained about men not meeting her standards and decided the best thing was to stay quiet.  We got back to her building and, gentleman that I am to the end, waived off her instructions to have the cabbie continue on to my place.  I walked her to the door and thanked her for the evening.  She at least thanked me for dinner and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  I saw those stupid sparkly heels go up the stairs as the door closed and realized I was free.

Unik, Round Dos

I had such a great experience at Unik the previous week that I knew I wanted to return before I left.  They had told us last time that the restaurant would be closing for some repairs soon so I had to speed up my initial timeline.  Even from my new location, it was a fairly short walk and since the humidity had finally subsided a bit, it made for a pleasant stroll.

When I arrived at Unik, I was greeted by Angel, the superb waiter we had the first time.  Since I was alone, they offered me a seat right in front of the kitchen – their version of a chef’s table basically.  I eagerly agreed and soon this was my view.

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I had chatted briefly with the head chef last time so he recognized me when I sat down.  The menu was basically the same as last time with a couple of changes.  I knew I was going to continue my meat detox so I asked him about those options.  He showed me a gorgeous cut of fish he was finishing prepping and suggested I go with that. One slight disadvantage of sitting so close to the kitchen was that I also got a bit of heat from the kitchen.  I thought a good way to combat that would be with a nice cold, refreshing cocktail.

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A variation on a mint julep, this had an Argentine liquor instead of bourbon, along with the fresh, chopped ginger, mint, lime, sugar and soda.  It was just what I needed.  By now, the kitchen was really starting to spring to life as orders began arriving.  It was a very small team – sous chef and 2 cooks.  There was also the former dishwasher who now was in charge of baking their delicious breads.  The head chef was busy tending to the fantastic wood oven and parilla.

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His main station was directly in front of me so he would explain various techniques they used for different items on the menu – pork ribs sous vide for 48 hours then finished on the parilla, their smoker device, created by the owner of the restaurant, that was used to inject smoke into things like butter or buratta; confited chicken for their raviolis, all kinds of good stuff.

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The chef also went into detail – some in Spanish, some in English – about the components of my specific meal.  How the fish was something he had discovered on a recent trip to Chile, how he smuggled the Crimean tomato seeds from France for the sauce on the fish, and why he was using Thai basil (which he sliced painstakingly one leaf at a time) to give the dish a nice spice note.  It was an amazing experience as was the finished dish.

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Along side, I had my first Argentine Chardonnay, which was surprisingly good and a nice complement to my meal.  I chatted with the chef some more as well as Angel and just tried to soak in as much as I could.  It was a truly memorable experience and one I’ll never forget.

 

2 weeks down, 3 to go

I’ve now been in Buenos Aires for 2 weeks, which is pretty crazy given how much I’ve packed in during that time. 3 weeks from today I head to Mendoza so time is (relatively) growing short. If I was at home, 3 weeks would seem to be a pretty short time period. If I was on vacation, 3 weeks would seem like an eternity compared to most vacations. In this weird hybrid of work/play, it feels like both.

One of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been here is that I need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. That means I can’t, for example, have huge meals every night as I’m here just way too long to keep up that pace. Last night I cooked something simple for myself and the night before, it was no meat. I’m also moderating any alcohol intake (not that I’d be getting wasted anyway) and generally trying to treat my schedule like I was actually at home.

A big sign for me that I’m now essentially embedded in this great town is that I’m not thinking to take pictures. This, of course, makes for a dull looking blog so I will be making up for it over the next few days. However, I now feel like a local, going to work, walking to go get groceries and occasionally going out to eat. I like that feeling and it’s necessary to ensure my stomach and liver survive this experience.

Tonight I’m heading back to Unik before it closes to do some repairs. So yes, more food porn will follow soon…

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Dining as the locals do

One of the things I enjoy the most about exploring a new city is to walk around dinner time and pick a spot that seems to be popular with the locals.  I eschew any sort of guide or recommendation for this and just go with my gut.  Sometimes it leads to disappointment but usually it turns out to be a great meal.  Last night’s dinner at El Bonpland was decidedly the latter.

My original plan was to go to a recommended sushi spot called Osaka, which was fairly close to my loft.  However, when I got there, I found out it was closed for repairs until February.  I had been looking forward to getting something non-meat related for a change so that was a bummer.  Nevertheless, it looked like there were several other options near by so I started scoping them out.

I had actually walked by El Bonpland on the way to Osaka and had made a mental note to go back there at a later date.  It looked cozy and very much a locals restaurant.  It was still pretty muggy out so I hoped to get a table inside but everything was either taken or reserved.  I took this as a good sign though and agreed to a table outside.

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The menu was pretty extensive, filled with various meat options of course, but I decided to stick to my no meat plan.  Fortunately, there were several dishes that fit the bill.  I was immediately drawn to the tortilla espanola – a long time favorite of mine since my days in Spain – and was very curious to see what the Argentine version would be.  Since I wasn’t sure about the portion size, I also ordered the arroz Bonpland, which was melted cheese, pumpkin, mushrooms and grilled onions.

There was only one waiter for the entire outside area and he was overwhelmed.  That led to some delays getting my food but I had long since given up ever getting anything quickly in Buenos Aires.  This didn’t bother me though as they had a decent WiFi signal as well as being situated on a great corner for people watching.  Looking around, I was clearly the only gringo there, with a lot of couples and groups of friends just enjoying their Tuesday evening out.

When the food arrived (no pic alas as the lighting was off and didn’t quite look like it should have), I was floored to see an authentic tortilla espanola like I had all the time in Spain.  It tasted just like it too and brought back a flood of memories.  The rice dish was also delicious.  The portion size was a wee bit more than expected so I took the rest to go.  Another great spot that I will probably return to before I leave.