Archive for the 'Eating' category

A Wedding Reception Featuring a Catfish Head and Pimped Model Cars!


Our first party this last Friday was the multi-cultural wedding reception for our friends Leah and Pablo!

Pablo’s family was in attendance from Chile, some of whom we sat by during lunch. It was fun talking to his cousin, who was a young woman who studied civil engineering…you know we had to have the female, engineering, girl power moment. His uncle, Ricardo, was very patient sitting across from the two blond Zs, believing they were cute even though Zoe managed to look like a lynx tearing out the throat of a fox while she ate her carne empanadas! (We’ve really got to work on table manners. *sigh*)

Leah’s mother and one brother made it from the States. Her mother is a fabulous woman who worked her fingers to the bone to elect Obama (in North Carolina, no less) and is now concerned about health care and finance reform getting passed. We bored all of the locals in attendance with our spirited political discussion.

The restaurant where the reception was held was called Almacén Secreto, and they weren’t kidding about the secreto part. When the cab pulled up to the sparsely populated, dead-end street in the Villa Crespo neighborhood, the driver looked at his American charges with an expression that said: “Really…?”

We left the cab and nervously shuttled across the street to ring the bell that corresponded to the address (there is no sign indicating that you are in the right place). We were let in and found ourselves entering a magical environment that two artists converted from a home into a restaurant. Needless to say, it has the coolest atmosphere.

Oh yah, and Leah says dinner on TH includes free wine, so check it out! Pictured here is some of the art housed within and without the space.


A Precious Snooty Food Post


One would think that if you buy a reasonably high quality tea or honey, they’re all pretty much the same — tomato, tomahto. Well, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong!

During the good times, even though we felt a little silly, one of our personal extravagances was airlifting our honey from Georgia — we just couldn’t help ourselves!

Yes, that’s right, I would battle to the death over a graceful, long-necked bottle of Savannah Bee Company artisanal honey. We first received it as a gift and thought, really, how different could it be? Oh, I still remember the first time I tried the delicate orange blossom variety, which smelled and tasted of, you guessed it, orange blossoms.

This honey caused me to resurrect an old Joy of Cooking biscuit recipe so that we could conduct honey taste tests! (All of which scientifically confirmed that each flavor was unique and delicious.)

As reviewed in the nibble:

“The third [type of honey] is a rare, varietal honey, carefully tended by artisan beekeepers and delivered to you as raw honey—not heated or treated but with multiple layers of flavor. Call it “gourmet honey,” just call it over and spoon some out of the jar. As soon as you taste it, you know how different it is. Just as not all cabernet sauvignon rootstock is created equal, the nectar from some orange blossoms produces far superior orange blossom honey; and beekeepers, like winemakers, have different levels of skill in handling the bees and extracting the honey.

When Savannah Bee Company’s Ted Dennard decided to become a full-time beekeeper, the world became a sweeter place. His rare varietal (or monofloral) honeys are sought by aficionados the world over. Once you taste the distinct flavors of his black sage, tupelo, orange blossom, sourwood and raspberry honeys, you will never buzz around lesser honey again.”

When we returned from the US last month, I brought some of my favorite tea with me (which I am drinking as I write this, by the way).


The brand is Tea Forté. Funnily enough, we first stumbled upon this tea when staying at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas right after it opened. This merchant features an amazing array of choices, so I really recommend the purchase of a sampler so that you may imbibe and appreciate the breadth of their offerings. I guarantee that you’ll discover new unexpected favorites!

Aside from their delicious black teas, I adore their herbal teas (which I normally dislike), their White Ambrosia is swoon-worthy, and their green tea blends are intriguing as well. If you are looking for something different, we just tried their dessert tea blends, most of which are rich and smoothly satisfying (we drink them when we have a sugar craving).

Pictured above is one of their pyramid-shaped silk infusers with a little leaf on top about which they write:

“Our unique Silken-Tea-Infusers are individually hand crafted, and provide the world’s finest method to brew a cup of tea. The open weave of the fabric allows the water to flow freely around the teas, allowing the tea leaves to unfurl and the flavors to mingle in the large open form of the infuser.”

The Meat Lorry


In our neighborhood, we sometimes see an old, open-air truck filled to the top with meat parts driving by the local butcher shops. (The transport in question is very similar to the truck pictured here, but without the canvas top.)

Generally, there are two guys standing in the back of the truck amongst the pile of meat, hacking away with cleavers, even while the vehicle is moving. As Tom likes to say, driving at 30 or 40 miles per hour over bumpy roads shouldn’t stop you from working with a sharp, heavy knife!

We’re hoping this truck is for scraps, and not deliveries.

As my dearest husband commented today…”there goes a truck full of chorizo ingredients.” Not a pretty picture he cemented in my head. Thank you so much dear.

UPDATE: Futbol has challenged me to get an actual shot of the Meat Lorry — I have picked up the gauntlet, and come hell or high water, will get a damn photo!

Dripping-Freezing Fridge Rant


What is up with the refrigerators in Argentina? They go through various freezing and thawing cycles that ruin all of our food by either a) freezing it; or b) dripping on it while the refrigerator defrosts.

The refrigerator isn’t even supposed to get icy — it’s not the freezer! *sigh*

We have lived in 4 apartments, and each has had the same issue with what appears to be fairly new refrigerators. They freeze up on the back, near the top shelf of the refrigerator (as you can see in this photo), and then they self defrost, which causes a flood of water rivulets to course down the back of the fridge, pooling on anything they can while they take their one-way trip to the produce drawer.

We’ve tried setting the thermostat (steady-state) at every level, and we have attempted to dial in the temperature depending on how full the icebox is. Unfortunately, nothing seems to make a difference.

Now, we keep the vast majority of our produce out of this vegetable and fruit killing box that resides in our kitchen. (Multiple freeze and thaw cycles wreak havoc on strawberries!) For the most part, it has become a “meat and milk box!” Oh well.

Zee French Pot Roast

potroastThis was a very fussy recipe that we embarked upon somewhat grudgingly yesterday.

The first step entailed the pleasant task of trying to locate a chuck roast equivalent in BA. The chuck comes from the shoulder of the bife. Specifically, we were looking for something from the first 5 ribs.

Tom said that discussing our meat requirements would surpass his butcher Spanish capabilities, so he enlisted my aid. Armed with a picture of meat cuts superimposed over a cow, I marched in and started quizzing the hapless young man behind the counter at the Avicar. (You could tell that he was wondering why he had the misfortune of drawing us as clients!)

After much debate, we decided that the aguja roast was the closest approximation, and we examined the hunk of meat he pulled out of the case and dickered over which 2 kg section we were going to cut off based on rib indentations.

Meat secured, we returned to the house to begin a day of cooking. Reducing a whole bottle of wine…crisping some pancetta to render grease…browning the hunk o’roast…slapping it all in a pot with some herbs…adding carrots…cooking pearl onions and mushrooms separately in butter and sugar, eventually browning and glazing them (wow)…removing the meat…reducing the cooking sauce…slightly thickening the jus with some gelatin. (I was skeptical, but it was perfect.)

Verdict? TO FREAKING DIE FOR. It was really amazing, probably the best pot roast we have ever made. (And, Tom’s new favorite recipe.)

Empanadas, Tucumán Style


Yesterday, when we went to pick up the girls from school, our favorite and most wonderfully helpful parent, Silvia, had a little gifty for our family — empanadas caseras. (Oh yes, that means homemade!)

These gems of beef wrapped in pastry dough were prepared by Silvia’s sister, and she was very insistent that we understand that these were crafted in the manner common in Tucumán, Argentina, from whence her family hails. (The implication being that their way of assembling an empanada was far superior to all others!)

In further questioning Silvia, it seems that the main distinction of a Tucumán-style empanada had to do with the beef, which she stressed was hand cut into cubes, not just ground, as you often find in Buenos Aires. You can see the delicious finished product straight out of the oven here, and may I add, they were probably the best Argentine Hot Pockets (our name in jest for empanadas) we have yet tasted.

Handy Guide to Packing on Pounds

First, it helps to break your back and maybe some ribs, thereby rendering you rather useless for 4 weeks. Even when you cut back on the food, the fat settles in, especially when your body had grown used to a lot of walking and regular workouts previous to your injury.

Then, fly to Portland and attend a 3-day, intense, closed-door conference where they feed you delicious victuals. All.Day.Long.

And lastly, gorge yourself on the bountiful and beautiful restaurant/farmer’s market scene in Portland, Oregon for a month, spare no expense. And while you’re at it, don’t really pick back up with the whole workout thing as your vertebrae fractures heal.

If you can’t manage to break your own columna vertebral, then you should know that being the spouse of the spinally challenged helps with weight gain as well, because your workouts and nutritional outlook go to hell as you assume the mantle of all parental and familial responsibilities.

Your stress level gets ramped up too (with worry for your mate, of course), and food being your drug of choice, you eat like a pig until someone makes it stop.

What does all of this mean? We are purging demon sugar from our diets once again, eating responsibly, and getting on the Crossfit/back rehab bandwagon. It’s going to be a long few months whipping these bods back into shape again.

La Salamandra Versus Mark’s Deli

While Mark’s Deli in Palermo Viejo is an institution, I implore you, if you’re in the neighborhood, skip those misbegotten sandwiches and head over to the dulce de leche/mozzarella bar instead!

(I know a lot of people love Mark’s Deli, so I waited until our little vacation out of the country to post this!)

La Salamandra is a company that produces high quality dairy products (hence the caramel/cheese theme for the restaurant) that can be found throughout stores in Argentina. Happily, they also own a little cafe and coffee shop.

This is my go-to place for a healthy delicious lunch that also features an exquisite dessert at the end! On the lunch side, they offer a variety of hot savory quiches and tarts as well as sandwiches. But, where I go crazy, is the salads. My favorite is the greens served with grilled vegetables; I order it time after time, I can’t stay from it, no matter how hard I try…I think it’s just general vegetable withdrawal that does it.

The salads feature very fresh, crispy lettuce that is actually tossed with a simple dressing (I know, don’t faint).

Mark’s Deli, by comparison, is the restaurant you want to love when you have a hankering for that good old American sandwich, but it really doesn’t deliver in terms of execution. The bread is poor, the deli meat pretty flavorless, and the usual lack of spice, condiments and sauces dooms these bread and meat creations to mundanity.

In the war of the mint lemonade bebidas — I’m afraid the winner is also La Salamandra.

Both places are overpriced and they sport a bit of a scene, but if you are looking for “over the top,” then Mark’s Deli is the place to people watch, no doubt. La Salamandra will turn your table if it’s busy, depositing your check before you ask for it, which is a bit of a shock in Argentina.

And lastly, if you need to pick up gifts for home, La Salamandra carries their dulce de leche with a convenient little cookbook in English to accompany the wickedly tasty sweet sauce.

Bountiful Berries and Cherries


Since arriving a week ago, I have had a mixed-berry crisp, a piece of marionberry and peach pie at my conference, I have picked blueberries at Mom and Dad’s place (the early bush is really productive this year and the berries are sweet sweet sweet), harvested raspberries from the bushes at the parental unit’s house as well, consumed blackberries obtained from a local farm (garnished with a little vanilla ice cream), and positively inhaled so many Bing and Rainier cherries that I get a little woozy just thinking about it.

Fresh, amazing berries and cherries are one of the reasons that there is no place I would rather be when it comes to eating than the Pacific Northwest in the summer.

Charming Museo de Artes Plásticas


If you find yourself, on a beautiful crisp winter Saturday with your children away at an overnight, and you want to stretch your legs and see how your broken vertebrae can handle a longer walk — I suggest a getaway in the park!

Specifically, the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívari. This is a small, very cozy modern art museum that shows a rotating collection of 19th and 20th century Argentinian artists. It is utterly approachable and features a variety of exhibits, a quaint store, a sculpture garden, and they offer courses as well. (When we were there yesterday, there was a class of sculptors tapping away at pieces of wood.)

One of my favorite aspects of this museum is the little cafe that opens onto the sculpture garden and features both indoor and outdoor seating. The service has always been gracious, they have an amazing plato de frutas and they are supposed to have fabulous desserts. (I always seem to get the fruit when there, so I can’t vouch for the postres personally!)