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A Sixteen Course Feast at La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar

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Haute Cuisine Books

Make sure your mind is open and taste buds in fine working order before you sit down at La Vineria de Guaterio Bolivar, on Calle Bolivar in San Telmo. Dinner is a set menu, with sixteen highly creative dishes served over the course of three hours.

Restaurant San Telmo

And I do mean creative. How else to describe lamb tongue pate wrapped in pumpkin slices? Or frozen salmon balls? Or olive oil emulsions and meat topped with foam? We were continuously amazed; each of the sixteen courses set in front of us was a tiny marvel, some tastier than others, some more clever, but all unique. Every time our waiter (who resembled a handsome version of Borat) would approach our table with a new tray, I’d get a little fidgety. Nervously excited about what I was about to consume.

After setting down each carefully arranged plate, the waiter explained the ingredients, a bit about the preparation and concept, and how to go about eating the dish, which was not always as straightforward as put-fork-in-mouth. He also served wines; the menu allows you to sample Argentine wines appropriate to the food you’re eating. We had delicious whites with the appetizers, dry reds with the meatier dishes and sweet wines with dessert.

This wasn’t so much “dinner” as a cultural experience. Jürgen and I are in no way gourmets, closer to McDonald’s than Michelin, but we really loved our meal at La Vineria de Gualterio Bolívar. Though each of the plates was tiny, we left full and satisfied. The set menu is pricey, but definitely fair given the extraordinary amount of creativity in the food and the attention of the staff.

The restaurant is small and well-known, so make reservations if you want to go, and show up promptly at 9pm. All the guests are served at the same, so that the cooks can fully concentrate on one dish at a time.

La Vineria de Gulaterio Bolívar
Bolívar 865
Location on our BA Map
Tel: 11 4361 4709

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February 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm Comments (5)

Buenos Aires’ Notable Bars – El Federal

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Coffee Culture

One of the best parts of moving to a new city is deciding upon your favorite new bar, the place you plan on haunting with a disturbingly constant presence. Buenos Aires has assisted newcomers on this all-important quest by honoring 60 bars and cafés with the distinction of Bar Notable.

Bar Federal

These places have been chosen for their long years of service, architectural flair, or famous patrons, and can officially advertise themselves as “Notable”. Most of them are found near the center of the sprawling city, and we’ve yet to visit one we haven’t been impressed by. That goes particularly for El Federal, on the corner of Peru and Carlos Calvo in San Telmo, which immediately established itself as a front-runner for the glorious title of my favorite bar.

Stepping inside El Federal is like stepping into back into the early 20th century, when Buenos Aires was in its golden age. The decoration is ornate, and well-stocked shelves hold antique soda bottles. The gorgeous wooden bar is over a hundred years old, and supports a large, fluidly carved arch, in which a defunct clock and stained glass are encased.

For being such a famous establishment in prime touristic real estate like San Telmo, the prices are amazingly reasonable. El Federal has a full menu, and we enjoyed everything we’ve tried; the plate of picadas (slices of meats and cheese) is an especially good choice. There’s both a smoking room and outdoor seating, but I always choose a table close to the bar, so that I can spend my time thirstily admiring the bottles of whiskey.

El Federal is the kind of place in which you’ll want to spend hours, and they don’t mind if you do. In fact, a small shelf of reading material is available in the corner. Digging into a well-worn copy of Borges’ Ficciones, with a strong cup of coffee on the wooden table in front of you, while the bustle of city life passes by in the window… that’s about as “bonarense” as you can get.

Location on our BA Map
List of Hostels in San Telmo

Entrada Bar Notable
Bar Buenos Aires
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Bar Notable San Telmo
Jugendstil Bar Notable
Alcohol
Soda Buenos Aires
Soda Bar
Peanut Basket
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Bar Notable Mirror
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Bares Notables
Bar Notable
San Telmo Bar Notable
Bar Notable Moderno
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February 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm Comments (7)

Pedro Telmo – Good Cooking in San Telmo

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Great Pizza Recipes

We’ve been eating out a lot since we arrived, mainly at places which have come highly recommended by guidebooks or locals. Great parrillas, Peruvian cuisine, famous pizzerias. But that doesn’t mean we’re skipping the less well-known places entirely! This past week, after a long day of exploring the city, we sat down inside Pedro Telmo, on the western side of the San Telmo Market.

Madres Argenina

We ordered a couple empanadas, which were delicious, and also enjoyed their heartier meals, such as home-cooked lasagna and pizzas. With posters of Carlos Gardel and soccer teams on the walls, and wonderfully sweet ladies working both behind and in front of the bar, Pedro Telmo is the down-to-earth kind of establishment that abounds in Buenos Aires.

What’s your favorite neighborhood joint to get a quick bite, or take a short break?

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February 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm Comments (3)

Status – Peruvian Restaurant

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Peruvian Cook Books

“You’re right! That is totally Russell Brand! I don’t know, maybe he’s here for a movie premiere? He’s going outside for a smoke, I’m going to follow him!”

I returned about 30 seconds later. It totally wasn’t Russell Brand enjoying a meal in the popular Peruvian restaurant Status with us, just a hip porteño doing a good job of capturing his look. With the distraction gone, we could get back to concentrating on our incredible food.

Peruvian Restaurant

There are a number of Peruvian restaurants in Buenos Aires, but the one which came most frequently recommended to us was Status, near the Plaza Congresos. With huge portions, an unpretentious atmosphere, Russell Brand lookalikes, and unbeatable prices, it’s easy to see why so many people love it. The best sign: it’s frequented by Buenos Aires’ sizable Peruvian population.

Although the most popular plate is the ceviche (raw fish), I went for the carapulcra: a flavorful beef and potato stew with garlic and other spices served with rice. Love. The amount of food was tremendous, and we were glad not to have ordered appetizers, though we did save room for dessert: Suspiro de limeña, The Lima Woman’s Sigh, made of dulce de leche with a topping of meringue.

If we ever choose to live in Peru for 91 days, a huge reason will be because of the cuisine. A blend of European, Asian and indigenous foods, which is unlike any other country’s. Status is a great place to try it out.

Virrey Cevallos 178
Tel: 4382-8531
Location on our BA Map

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Peruvian Bread
Carapulcra
Arroz Con Pollo
Papas-Huancaina
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February 15, 2011 at 12:12 am Comments (2)

Crazy for Mate

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Mate Beginners Kit

Spend any amount of time in Argentina, and you’re going to become familiar with mate, a drink deeply ingrained into the country’s psyche. We first encountered it in Spain, when we saw a group of kids passing around a round container with a metal straw sticking out of it. “Argentinians”, our Spanish friend explained. “That’s all they do. Drink mate”.

Mate

He wasn’t exaggerating. Mate is a way of life here. It’s consumed at all times of day, at work, at home, on the street, in the park. Traditionally, the mate is served in a hollowed-out gourd, but we’ve seen people drink from metal and even plastic containers. A desperate Argentinian would probably sip it from his friend’s cupped hands.

We educated ourselves about mate immediately upon arriving in Buenos Aires. The gourd the mate is served in is also called a mate or matecito. The caffeinated drink is prepared by partially filling the mate with yerba leaf, and then pouring hot water into it. Sugar can be added, and the steeped drink is then sipped through a silver straw called a bombilla.

Sound easy? Well, there are a whole lot of rules to follow if you want to do it correctly. The water must not be boiling, otherwise the mate will be bitter. The dry yerba should be arranged in a slope, which allows each serving to retain flavor. The bombilla is thrust into the leaves, which are then dampened with cool water, releasing desirable nutrients. While sipping, the bombilla shouldn’t be used to stir or agitate the leaves. When in a group, the cebador is the person who prepares the mate. He or she will drink the first mate to test its flavor, then refill and pass it around. When it’s your turn, you drink the entire mate, not just one or two sips, before passing it back.

Yerba mate contains powerful antioxidants and has been shown to fight cancer in some studies, by strengthening defense systems and preventing cell loss. It works as a mild laxative and diuretic, helps regulate heart rate and curbs hunger, which is great for people trying to lose weight. In short, mate is a wonder drink; a mild stimulant without the negative side effects of coffee.

Our own mate was one of the first purchases we made while here. A simple gourd costs no more than $2.50 (US), and the yerba leaf is also freakishly cheap, at about a buck for a large bag. Let us know if we’re missing any of the steps in preparing and drinking mate. I want to learn and practice daily, so that I don’t make any mistakes when it’s my turn to be the cebador

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February 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm Comments (4)

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A Sixteen Course Feast at La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar
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