Argentina is famous primarily for its steak, Italian food, and wine, and in Buenos Aires you can sample some of the best of each.
While its struggling economy means prices have risen in recent years, you can still get a world class steak for around $15 or less, and I had about 4 of these in my 3 weeks there, each at different restaurants across the city, each delicious.
While I’ve forgotten these places (I didn’t choose travel writing, it chose me), I do know of great one that friends sampled.
La Cabrera– Located in the heart of Palermo (José Antonio Cabrera 5099), this restaurant is often so popular there’ll be a queue outside, so it’s best to make a reservation beforehand. Because of it’s allure, they offer a deal where if you leave within an hour of arriving, 40% is knocked off your bill. This can mean saving quite a bit of money on a top class meal.
I recommend the Bife de Chorizo or Ojo de Bife.
Best steak I’ve ever had, hands down.
Another traditional delicacy, choripan is basically just a chorizo sausage cut in half long-ways in between two slices of bread, with some chimichurri sauce on the side. It’s generally a lunchtime meal, eaten as street food or at football games, and is pretty cheap, around 10 pesos or $1 (approx).
Choripan in a restaurant outside of Boca Juniors’ stadium.
Here is a blog talking about it better than I can, but it’s first on my list of things to get when I return: http://pickupthefork.com/2013/08/13/buenos-aires-street-food-a-bizarre-bondiola-in-the-woods/
I have to confess, I’m not a connoisseur of Italian. I don’t know my gnocci from my felucca (I just made that word up), and although many of my Uni meals contained pasta, they were mish-mash of whatever sauce was on offer at Sainsbury’s and maybe some tuna for a bit of luxury (although I’m now going to call new creations felucca). The lasagna I had in Buenos Aires was sumptuous, creamy with just the right amount of crisp, and my favourite pizza at the place next door to my hostel (Estoril on Avenida de Mayo) wasn’t oversaturated in cheese, the way I like it. The place I frequented for easy and cheap meals was La Continental.
I’d also recommend the tuna tart, which had a pizza base but was filled with tuna (strange that).
Another Latin American favourite (although originally Italian) is ‘milanesa’, effectively a piece of breaded meat or chicken. On my first day in BA I made the mistake of ordering a plain milanesa, no sides or sauce. I didn’t do it again. Even in a sandwich or with plenty of sauce, I found it incredibly dry, although I suppose it’s relatively cheap (maybe $2) and a source of protein.
While most sensible countries reserve sticky substances like caramel for rarities such as sticky toffee puddings and banoffee pies, Argentina includes it in pretty much everything. It, in this case, is dulce de leche. Effectively it’s caramel except they use milk instead of butter, so you can kid yourself and pretend it’s healthy. In one of my hostels (Estoril) we were given huge tubs of this for breakfast, and I certainly made the most of it, coating it in everything I ate.
Another delight I was served at breakfast at this hostel was the medialuna (half moon). These are small, heavily glazed croissants often served as part of deals with coffee at cafes, and are just as delicious as they sound.
Traditionally Argentina. Medialunas covered in dulce de leche.
Another dessert I sampled in BA was the rogel cake (pronounced ro-hel). This I had at a restaurant that is famous in the city for its quality in tortas (cakes), Como En Casa, in Palermo. It is effectively layers of wafers and dulce de leche with a cream topping. I am ashamed to say the piece I received (about $5) was too much for me, and I couldn’t finish it. When I want to beat myself up, I sometimes look at this photo wistfully and wonder why and how I couldn’t finish it. It´s on my bucket list to return to it.
I feel incredibly unqualified to talk about Argentine wine. Before I came out I knew nothing about it, and going back my knowledge will not have been added to, except that i now know Malbec is a good one. It’s a bit shameful but the only times I actually had wine were on the bus to and from Iguazú Falls, and at a tango show on my last night, where we were supplied with unlimited bottles for the duration, hence this red-cheeked photo of my mate Matt:
Doubtless these were two low quality Argentine wines, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
Another classic Argentine drink is fernet, a bitter spirit, often served after meals at posh dinners, with coffee, or in a mixer with coke at clubs. I recommend not taking it in a shot, unless you’re some kind of hipster bartender who over-describes things, like this guy off wikipedia: ”The easiest way to explain the taste is to imagine Jägermeister without the sugar. You shoot it, immediately getting a strong hit of mouthwash – drying the mouth out, stinging the tongue. Its kind of like getting hit in the nose. Your brain hurts, your eyes sting and water, you cough a bit. Then, as soon as it begins a warm wave of relief washes over and you are left baptized in Italian herbals and golf ball eyed awake”.
That was actually an quite entertaining read.
Anyway, fernet and coke is a worse mixer than than rum and coke, or vodka and coke, so I don’t think it’s going to take off elsewhere.
Next post will be on nightlife, or museums, or whatever I want it to be on, because this is my blog alright?