Argentina Travelogue: Buenos Aires

Well, here’s part one of our trip… I posted a ton of photos (divided in food and non-food) at a shutterfly site for easy viewing, and I’ll just include a few in these posts.

italian consul

A little bit about the itinerary of this trip:

We left on March 12, arrived at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13 in Buenos Aires. We stayed there the 13th and 14th, and on the 15th we flew to Mendoza (wine country) for three nights. We returned and spent two more nights in BA, then one night in the Pampa (grasslands), and one more night in BA before flying to NY at 4 a.m. on 3/23. I’m going to go ahead and clump all the Buenos Aires stuff together, since we were in and out of the city so many times.

The visit

I loved the city. I love most cities, honestly, but Buenos Aires was really great, especially since we spent most of our time in the very cool but not-touristy Palermo Viejo and Soho neighborhoods. We sent much of our time wandering through the great boutiques in the area, though we did branch out and visit the Recoleta Cemetery one day, and on our last day we made a hurried trip to San Telmo (St. Elmo, according to Ben) for some last-minute gifts. (This fabulous store provided us with many great presents, all made in Argentina and none of them schlocky souvenirs!)

We weren’t in town over a weekend, so I didn’t get to go to the famous street fairs to search for antique goodies. But we did visit the Mercado de Pulgas, a permanent flea market open 6 days a week in the outer reaches of Palermo Hollywood. I loved this enormous bird cage (at least 5 feet tall):

birdcage

and we saw tons of furniture that we would have loved to ship back, but we resisted since we have no idea what our apartment in Boston will be like. I picked up a handful of little things instead–a broken pocket watch from 1914, some old wooden dice, etc. Also a cabinet latch and a brass handle for my brother, who asked for antique hardware.

flea market stuff

In BA we stayed in two B & Bs and one hotel, in a total of 4 rooms. My favorite was La Otra Orilla, which is in a stunning early 20th century mansion that looks like nothing from the outside but opens to reveal a huge entry hall that goes straight back to the courtyard.

otra

Our room was one of two with a private bath, so it was at the back in a new addition. It was small but charming, and I’m sort of obsessed with the iron bed frames they joined together to make a headboard. I love the slightly art deco curves (they remind me of that metal and glass awning in the first photo!).

bed otra

The Food

We had universally good food in BA. We were just walking into random places, but every meal was very good. There is a lot of Italian food—we ate a couple pizzas and quite a bit of pasta, and Ben had risotto two or three times. And, of course, the steak. The beef was as good as I’d heard, and we ate a lot of it. We loyally washed it down with Malbec, which I’m fairly sure would flow from our veins if anyone pricked us right now.

Very typical dinner (under $10):

beef

A restaurant called Lele de Troya caught our eyes one day thanks to a lovely vine-shaded outdoor area on the sidewalk, and later in the trip we returned and ate dinner there (but inside). They have painted and decorated each room in one saturated color. The bar and lounge are deep red, and the small dining rooms are yellow (with the open kitchen), green or blue. We chose blue, and ate a winderful meal surrounded by one shade of deep turquoise.

blue

It was a fancier meal than most of what we ate. We shared an appetizer of Paina (chickpea flatbread) with goat cheese and over roasted tomatoes to start (blurry because of the dark room, I’m sorry):

paina

It’s delicious–soft inside and crispy and toasty along the edges. I ate something similar in Italy, and I’m dying to recreate it. Ben had risotto for his main course, and I had “Lomo Crostante,” a steak topped with mushroom and spinach puree and wrapped extravagantly in phyllo:

package

This sums up our favorite experiences eating in BA—outdoors on a peaceful roof deck, with a bottle of Malbec and a cold bottle of water to prep us for dinner!

roof

That restaurant had a truly hilariously translated menu; I think they had run it through a bad online translator. There were several great examples, including “muffled chicken,” “embezzled asparagus,” and “…accompanied with grilled fungi added saffron to Popes stuffed with brownnose of vegetables.” I hate it when that happens; the poor Pope. My steak with mustard sauce came with stacked potatoes, and was very tender and tasty, but I’ll spare you the horrible blurred photo. I had coconut flan for dessert there—the only time I veered away from straight caramel flan, which is ubiquitous and delicious. Custards rate only a step below pastry treats and fried dough in my pantheon of adored sweets.

File under Pretty but Odd. At lunch one day I ordered crepes stuffed with ricotta, and chose a sauce randomly, since I didn’t really know what any of them were. It turned out to be a tomato-based sauce that may have had red pepper in it, but what I can’t figure out why it was SO tangy; almost sour. Quite strange, though a very pretty presentation:

crepes

Our last two nights in BA, sadly, are undocumented. We were joining an administrator from Ben’s school (who is a good friend) for some admissions events that were taking place in town. We met her at a fancy hotel for a reception the first night, then went out with a girl she’d met on the plane, a friend of that girl, and a guy who’d been at the reception. We went to El Mirasol in the Puerto Madero neighborhood, and had a fabulous meal of empanadas, interesting salads (ours had endive, radicchio, mâche or a similar green, tomatoes and cheese with a great dressing), a wide variety of steaks, from the fried Milanese to grilled brochettes (kebobs) with onions and bacon to a standard but REALLY good lomo. We drank two bottles of Malbec and one of Sauvignon Blanc, and I think we ordered dessert but I know it never came or we never ate it.

The next night there was a special dinner at La Bourgogne in the Alvear Palace Hotel. La Bourgogne in the Alvear Palace Hotel. After quite a lot of delicious champagne with even more delicious cheese straws, we had a mousse of red pepper and tomato, salmon wrapped around cucumber threads, veal chops, and a strawberry dessert. I’m sad that I didn’t get to take any photos, since the food looked really lovely. It was good, but not stunning, to eat—it’s said to be one of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires but I’d had better food at decidedly less upscale places in the city.

Finally, one of my favorite meals is always breakfast, and I liked the Argentine approach, which was the same at every B&B and café we ate at: small croissants called Medialunas, served with butter and jam or dulce de leche, along with fresh juice and coffee. Very simple, and a perfect start to the day.

breakfast

5 thoughts on “Argentina Travelogue: Buenos Aires”

  1. I just found your blog… through your dad’s blog, funny enough.. and how I got there is a crazy story of nonsense, that starts with a guy I’m (possibly) being set up with and some how ended with me on your dad’s blog (ok. It’s not as sketchy or perverted as that sounds). Argentina looks amazing! Miss you! – E

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