What’s for dinner?
My favorite question.
Traveling alone means dining alone, most of the time, and since being a party of one is somewhat intimidating, I prepare most of my meals at the apartment. The good thing about this is that its easier to eat healthier, especially considering the emphasis on helados (ice cream), bife le lomo (tenderloin) and flavored mayonnaise in this city. There were a few meals eaten alone in restaurants that went undocumented because I felt weird sitting in a restaurant photographing my food. I’ve gotten over this, so from now on you’ll see a pretty faithful history of what I consume here in Buenos Aires.
Last lunch before hopping the cab to EZE. My upmarket neighborhood parrilla, Hola Luis, puts a Mediterranean spin on the usual meat grill. Might have been the best beef kebab I had in BA and the fig and honey dessert that followed was really special. Go here!! Its on Conde and Teodoro Garcia in Colegiales.
Good-bye Jennifer dinner with Sofia. She made a lovely little Moroccan meal on my last night– carrots with dried cherries and seeds, cous cous, blue cheese & olive spreads, spinach hippie burgers. Very nice!
Sometimes I like to go to the tango classes that bleed into milongas or practicas, with the dinner hours somewhere in there. I’m really not tempted by milonga food (floppy empanadads etc) so I started making high-protein tupperware dinners to-go:
Spinach and egg tarta– they make beautiful ones at all the panaderias here, v. enticing… with quinoa salad & tomatoasts.
Luncheon: chicken from the parrilla on the sandwich with olives mayonnaise, some spinach pocket thing and quinoa salad.
I’m on the vegetarian restaurant tour this week for some reason. Here’s the lunch salad from Masamadre es con M, in Chacarita. Cute place, great bread. I should’ve ordered differently– this was a pretty boring selection. I promise I’ll have some beef and gastronomic misbehavior coming soon this week.
La Prometida is a cute restaurant here in Colegiales and here is my fish baked inside some leaves with some roasted vegetables. Its was pretty bland.
Brunch in Baires: toasts with white peaches, dried plums, onions, garbanzo beans, tomatoes and crushed red pepper.
Last night was a light dinner so this morning I am hungry for big spaghetti breakfast. I LOVE spaghetti for breakfast do not argue with me. The colder, the better. Also, some tuna and tomato toasts.
My neighborhood vegetable place to whom I owe a lot of loose change to because there is a severe shortage of modedas (coins) here, and with the rest of the city, I hang onto the coins for dear life because its the only way to ride the bus…. anyway the neighborhood veg stand is run by these really nice women who make empañadas too. Here they are stationed on the border of a salad Jennifer style, then some details:
Oatmeal and frutas secas at home. Starting the day the healthy way.
Pescaaaado! If I could change the world one thing I would do is add fish to standard parrilla fare. You can get it once in awhile and often the “vegetarian” places have it, like La Casa de Ohsawa in my neighborhood. I don’t remember what she called this fish, but it was really nice, with a vegetable broth, steamed carrots and squashes. Miso soup came in the little red tub and there was also a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a whole-grain veg-stuffed empañada. With sparkling water I think my bill about about $40 pesos (a little over $10 USD). Not totally cheap for here, but I think good value.
I have either have a tango cold or some bad allergies… Garlic, cayenne, lime soup and gingery vegetables:
MMmmmmacrobiotic. This is from La Esquina de las Flores in Palermo: basic steamed seasonal vegetables, lentils, brown rice, terrific organic wine, olives, whole grain rolls with little tubs of pureed protein. Like most meals from restaurants in Buenos Aires, this was enough for two, so I ended up with a good doggie bag.
I can’t believe I’m showing you this. This is the story: everyone loves Sarkis just off Córdoba on Thames so Sunday it was late and I was coming home from El Beso on the bus and hopped off and hit Sarkis, knowing they stay open and that its cheap and good. I ordered a half portion of tabbouleh (huge!) and a half portion brochette of parrilla-grilled tomatoes and onions ( I know, you can’t tell) with a few hunks of Argentina’s pride (beef). The large dish comes _doused_ in lemony-mint yogurt, that while being very good, was just too much in quantity. Beneath it all there is a crispy piece of pita that soaks the drippings. It really delicious, moderately priced, but next time, guys, yogurt on the side…. sheesh. Now I know!
This is the nothing-in-the-fridge breakfast:
This was actually pretty gross– it was like everything I had in the refrigerator thrown into the wok: brown rice, leeks, reconstituted shitakes, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, garbanzos, some slimy Japanese green I found at the market.
Ensalada del dia:
Ew, what’s the gross stuff in the glass? Lemon & cayenne pepper seltzer prescribed by Irem for lethargic morning feelings. Today I had black coffee (oh, I miss 1/2 & 1/2, I do, I do) and some veg toast.
Ensalada del dia: arugula really, really perfect avocado, white peaches, onion, and red pepper. Then there’s a side of steamed broccoli with teryaki-ginger dressing.
The Argentines (that eat) enjoy four meals a day. Desayuno (breakfast) is light and consists of café con leche and a quick medialuna (croissant) or toast, sometimes oatmeal or cereal, according to my Spanish tutor. Almuerzo (lunch) can happen anywhere between 1pm and 3pm or so and is the largest meal of the day (pizza/pasta/salad/sandwich). Then, since Porteños don’t eat dinner until 11pm, around 5pm we have the Argentine version of afternoon tea: merienda. Cafés and confitérias offer a little set menu of junk food to accompany your coffee. $14 peso gets you a café con leche, either 3 medialunas or a stack of freshly toasted baguette, orange juice, and a plate of dulce de leche, butter, and marmelade. Here’s mine:
Sofia and I are acquainted through mutual friends from the Watermill Center where approximately 100 creative types gather each summer to drive golf carts, dig holes, move gravel, and separate leaves for one Bob Wilson. Although we attended the program different summers and never met before I arrived to BA to sublet her apartment, Sofia and I feel like we’ve known each other for years, having both endured the debauched antics of Watermill. Somewhat in honor of the pan-Asian cuisine we are fed there I went out on a mission to find Chinese greens, ginger, tofu, teryaki sauce sesame oil, and the like. Here’s what I came up with:
But sorry, do salads bore you now? This one is another nothing special… it has the plums though. Don’t forget, Americans, its summer here. Plums & peaches & tomatoes… and grapefruit soda.
I am going to take this week to recover from the carne-val at La Cabrera and be a vegetarian. white peach, cherry tomato and basil salad, peppermint maté:
This is Sunday lunch at La Cabrera– I tried everything my Chowhound friends ordered including blood sausage, sweetbreads, really amazing tenderloin, and smokey pork. This place is pretty amazing but kind of a once-in-a-lifetime meatmeal:
Lots of beets here, so I made some borscht. Not as good as the incredible stuff from B&H on 1st Avenue… am I starting to miss New York, just a little? Tal vez….
The peaches (both the white kind and regular ones) here are like Oregon in July, super sweet and juicy, perfect for breakfast:
Here is a hamburger I made using that little toaster thingy on the stove-top:
The hamburger came from this mound of ground beef that I bought from the neighborhood butcher. I thought I’d heard him wrong when he said “tres y cuarenta” so I handed him a $10 peso note and sure enough he gave me back six and change. This was a huge lump of ground beef. Guess you can’t really tell but it was a little bit bigger than a coconut:
I also made spaghetti of it (oops ate it too fast):
Last night was a special treat: Dinner at Grandpa Medici’s house in Recoleta for home-made pizza, then ñoquis, lasagna, and rissotto, then… four kinds of ice cream. Whoa.
The neighborhood parrilla grills some amazing things. Look at my 1/4 chicken!! Its perfect:
Channeling Mark Bittman, I turned my leftover parrilla chicken bones into a stock, and then into a simple garlic and tomato soup:
Here is my first empañada– a simple onion one, with ensalada con manzanas, arvedas, palmitos, lechuga, y whatever:
This is my salad at Oui, Oui which was excellent, albeit too big. Like most salads in restaurants in BA, they are built for two. This photograph was taken after I had eaten my half. When it first arrived it had some nice big pieces of grilled chicken breast and one of those piles of greens that inevitable topple and get your table all greasy as soon as you take a fork to it. The dressing was very tasty dijon/honey and the crumbly things are toasted pancetta:
Here is something more exciting from Café San Juan. It is un poco caro by BA standards, but I thought that the service, the old-skool tango soundtrack, the funny black and red décor, and the food was top-notch. This giant iron bowl of Ñoquis came with a great home-made bread & crostini basket, black & green olives, and wine. My bill was about 60 pesos including tip so divided by 3.5… its still well under $20. I’ve been picking at the leftovers until this morning. (I still feel like a whackjob taking pictures of my food in public but then again I couldn’t eat this by myself without documentation):
Boring leftovers salad from the other day. Brown rice, garbanzos, olives, tomatos, onion, some sort of goat cheese, oak leaf, lemon, Cholula:
I learned how to make toast using this handy little stove top thing by watching Sofia’s father in Tigre. The bottom tray is perforated to let the gas heat flames in a little, and then there is the grille to keep things from turning rock-hard. For someone who sorely misses her little black & decker conventional oven, this was a great discovery.
Here is a milanesa chicken with eggplant something and cheese that Sofia’s father prepared in Tigre. Very good:
Did I mention the figs here? Really huge, juicy, excellent. Add them to everything, including parrilla chicken salad with olives and garbanzos:
Oh my god, you GUYS. Dulce de leche? Why do they allow this stuff? Shur, shur. The Americans have peanut butter, but this stuff is sin in a yogurt cup. Peanut butter is a source of protein; it is sort of a health food. This, especially eaten the way the Argentines do (with butter or some sort of crema which is a little like sour cream, on a piece of toast or cracker) can not possibly attempt to call itself healthy. It is evil. I disappeared a whole thingy of it in about… nevermind.
Its really hot here. All I want is salads really. Here is another one. The tuna from the can in olive oil is really inexpensive and salty and delicious here so I’m taking advantage (they run for about $8 in NYC!). Also, note the new use for cucumbers.
I was really happy to find out that FIG JAM, my favorite thing for breakfast, is abundantly available here. and goat gouda, and the stomach-churning coffee.
One thing I brought from home was a bottle of Cholula, mexican hot sauce. I read somewhere that the Argentine palate is really mild. Mild rice and beans? Nooo graciás.
After having a lot of fun grocery shopping I was all bummed out when I got home and tasted the PEPINOS (cucumbers). The things are so bitter here they’re almost only good for slicing up and putting on puffy eyes…
So this is the first dinner I had in Buenos Aires and it consists of an “ensalada para llevar” (to go) from the neighborhood parrilla which was totally confusing. You order a salad, then you choose your toppings. Not sure what I’d get if I ordered “arvedas” I ask the lady “Como es arvedas” and she produces a can of peas. “Y remolacha?” and she disappears into the kitchen, returning with a tupperware full of beets. OK! got it. So I brought it home and added tuna from a can and the little toasted things.