Summer is finally here, and even though the world didn’t end, I’m still eating like there’s no tomorrow. Spring was filled with food fairs, chef stalking, bar hoppings, educational cocktail courses, urban gardens, computers breaking, hamburger discoveries and lots of Toddy cookies. Here’s a recap of the good, the bad and the butt ugly of my favorite time of the Buenos Aires jacarandá year.So there was this little food fair November 16 – 18 that you might have heard about called Masticar. Organized by the ACELGA organization (an org of chefs, cooks and restauranteurs) who teamed up with the government’s ‘get healthy’ campaign, Masticar marked a very historic day in the Argentine gastronomic scene. In a country that now has the highest rate of child obesity in Latin America, Masticar aimed to raise awareness to promote healthier, more conscience eating, highlighting local products that are affordable. The fair had some pretty BOMB food available, made fresh from the celeb chefs themselves. Some of Argentina’s biggest rock stars in the culinary world played a starring role, and I got the chance to get up close and personal at the press event. Culinary boners popping left and right, I was totally starstruck by the amount of cooking talent in one room.
While on the topic of chef stalking, I got the chance to attend GAJO’s latest pop-up dinner at Hernán Gipponi’s restaurant. An incredibly memorable food experience, my favorite dish of the night was the squab by Juan Pedro Rastellino. First time ever eating pigeon, and man was it good.I even got Pietro Sorba’s fabulous new book Nueva Cocina Argentina, featuring recipes from notable chefs, and the GAJO edition of El Gourmet magazine. Offering to sign my copy, with utter shameful excitement the chefs passed around the books for an autograph. Best.night.ever. Things are definitely changing in the Buenos Aires culinary world with what looks to be a very bright and delicious future.Honor y Causa is the perfect example of two young chefs who are doing big things.
As is Aipim and their wonderful brunch.
Santi and Vanesa from ILatina are arepa-making Gods.
Eating in the aire libre season also kicked off so I made a massive Palermo list of the best places to eat outdoors.
I have to mention that I was almost out of the game, with my computer running on its last few legs. Spinning wheel of death syndrome in full force, I took my Macbook to the lord, savior and laptop repairman Oscar The Geek and he made it work better as new. Go to him if you are in computer dispair.
The time had come for a Buenos Aires expat club Korean BBQ / Chess Club Karaoke excursion. While I hear there are some new great Korean restaurants in Flores, Mido can never really disappoint.My unhealthy and crack addiction to Toddy cookies somewhat subsided, but luckily I found a way to make these artificially enhanced cookies even worse for you: TODDY COOKIE CHEESECAKE!
I went on a bit of a salad binge, and found that these were the best spots I tried. I remember back in the day when you would order Caesar, and they’d bring you lettuce drenched in mayonaise. The past three Caesar salads I’ve tasted, at Baking BA (shown above), Kansas and even Decata (although expensive) were all really good.
Back to Baking BA and their REAL English muffin breakfast sandwich with crispy bacon and Kraft-singles-equivalent cheddar cheese. Absolute perfection, it’s how I like to start my unhealthy mornings. Add a bit of egg in there, and I might travel to the centro just for that.Keeping up with the baking-breakfast sandwich theme, Café Crespín’s new spot Don opened in Villa Crespo. They have Krispy Kreme inspired doughnuts, decent bagels ($5 each), a toasted egg sandwich and iced coffee.Don, Crespin’s American-inspired to-go style deli.
Why does Indian food in Buenos Aires have to be so expensive? Luckily Akbar 72 in Recoleta exists, a fast food, take out only rotisserie owned by a family from Bangladesh. A decent option if you are in the neighborhood and want some cheap buffet-style Indian. I tried the garlic naan and samosas, both good (not great).
Till Bistro is just a few blocks away, and another nice spot. The polenta medallions were really tasty.
Almagro is the next Villa Crespo – gastronomical mecca here we come! La Cresta in Almagro is also the bomb – makes the 2012 best restaurant list, and it’s not even a full blown restaurant. Go there if you haven’t already. You’ll be pleased.
Their wraps look good enough to smoke and tasty enough to eat.
In the same realm of good tasting, inexpensive fast food done right, La Puerta Roja is another spot that makes the best dressed list.
Páru inkas sushi & grill just re-opened in the fancy Vilas Club. This Osaka rival made mean Peruvian-Sushi fusion dishes with banging tiraditos, cocktails, ceviches, causas and grilled shrimp.Oh yeah, and they have an impressive display of salmon.
Pretty obsessed with all things Brazil related, Boteco do Brasil became my go-to caipirinha hang out. Because everyone needs a caipirinha hang out.
Everyone also needs a coffee hangout. In the middle of the San Telmo market, Coffee Town is the place to be.
In the attempt to curve my eating habits, the most logical thing for me to do was to start drinking more and writing about bars. So I did. And visited a bunch of them.
The new tasting menu at HG also makes the cut. Not only is the menu a winner, but those guys at Fierro sure know how to pair their wines – standouts were the Zorzal Sauvignon Blanc 2012 + mollejas, Escorihuela Gascón Pequeñas Producciones Rosé + Chubut langostinos and my favorite, the Alegoría Gran Reserva Chardonnay + a grand truchón. I’d also like to eat this mega trout dish on a daily basis.
On a health kick, this has been my go-to dinner when I don’t know what else to cook: brown rice, lentils with tomatoes and a shitload of spicy Indian spices, topped with shredded cabbage, tomato, green pepper dice in a mint-cucumber yogurt dressing.I also put it in lettuce wraps. You can put pretty much anything inside lettuce wraps.
My health kick drastically was put to a halt after a Jauja ice cream incident — 14 flavors in under two hours, that’s gotta be some kind of record. Jauja ice cream is really something special. It was a special tasting/game where you had to guess the first 7 flavors, and if it had cream or egg, and the last 7 you had to try and guess the flavor blindfolded. I was one Aussie short of winning. Totally screwing the idea of any sort of diet, I thought it would be a good idea to embark on a hamburger tour, to find the best hamburger in Buenos Aires. Despite high hopes for new resto bar MAD in Belgrano, their signature burger disappointed, and while the salmon, chicken and lamb burger were all tasty, they were definitely not worth the hefty 70+ price tag. *And while I can appreciate the excellent bottle selection (they have Cristal for only $4,500) I also can’t help but mentioning the elevated prices all around – FORTY PESOS for a small Heineken?! MADness!
After countless dry, flavorless, expensive burgers — I just about gave up, too depressed to keep eating underwhelming burgers. Until I stepped into the Oasis Clubhouse and KAZAAAM — coming straight from the burger heavens, not only is this by far the best burger in Buenos Aires, it’s one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
Inspired by the Shake Shack model, this perfectly medium rare patty was pimped out with just the right ratios of cheese, lettuce, tomato, SPECIAL SAUCE and served on a pillowy-soft-as-a-bosom bun. Oh, and the seasoned fries were pretty bomb too. And I cannot help but give a WAZZUP shout out to the mini pork sliders. Perfection in a few small bites, it had that sweet, tangy, crunchy, porky, savory textures and flavors that appear in my pork-induced dreams. Well done, Clubhouse.
And due to popular demand, I’m whipping out on my best sausage charming flute and like a hungry chorizo-eating pied piper, leading food tours throughout the deliciously mean streets of Buenos Aires.