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Abuela Pan – Bread and Healthy Eating, Granny-Style

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Vegetarian Cookbooks

Towards the end of our time in Buenos Aires, with too many great restaurants left to visit, we went on a binge. Parrillas, pizzerías, cafés, morning, noon and night. “Jürgen”, I said during our last meal, pork grease dripping repulsively off my chin. “This is getting disgusting. Tomorrow, let’s heat something healthy.” Abuela Pan, your time had come.

Abuela Pan San Telmo

A tiny restaurant on Calle Bolivar in San Telmo, Abuela Pan serves up wholesome, vegetarian lunches every day. There are just a few tables in the dining room, so it’s recommendable to show up early. In a city filled to the brim with beef and pizza, a healthy meat-free alternative is a breath of fresh air, and unsurprisingly, Abuela Pan fills up quick.

For $26 (US$6.50), you get a choice between three meals which differ daily. Abuela Pan prides itself on cooking without chemicals, trans-fats or frying. Their bread is freshly baked every day and prepared with organic flour. For my main course, I ordered raviolis filled with basil and mozzarella, and Jürgen got a rice-burger. The portions were large, everything was delicious, and we both felt pleasantly full afterwards. And we’d finally done something healthy for ourselves, which clearly justified a few more trips to the parrilla.

Even if you’re not in the mood for a whole meal, stop in for their wonderful fresh breads sold behind the counter. Loaves like theirs are difficult to find in Buenos Aires.

Abuela Pan
Bolivar 707
Tel: 4361-4936
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
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May 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm Comments (4)

Bodegón El Obrero in La Boca

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Without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable meals we had in Buenos Aires was at El Obrero, a classic bodegón in La Boca.

Boca Fun Song

We went to El Obrero with friends on a warm Friday night, and had a blast from the moment we stepped inside. The place was a madhouse. Every table was full, with kids running between chairs, waiters zipping swiftly past, large Argentine families shouting at each other across long tables stacked with food. We took our seats and opened up the menu. The prices were out of this world, and we felt no compunction about ordering way too much. Calamari, mozzarella sticks, salmon, lomo. Everything was cooked perfectly, and we took our time with the meal, absorbing the atmosphere of the restaurant.

The waiter was friendly and attentive, a guitar player wandered around serenading tables, and there was a general buzz of merriment. We followed the example of the Argentines surrounding us, becoming gradually louder and more exuberant over the course of the evening, drinking wine and stuffing ourselves to the breaking point on the generous portions.

Found in a seedy section of La Boca, El Obrero isn’t the place to go for a fancy, buttoned-down evening with a new girl. But if incredible food and the boisterous atmosphere of a charming porteño bodega sound good, don’t pass it up. El Obrero is one of our very top picks in the city.

El Obrero
Agustín R. Caffarena 64
Location on our Google Map
Tel: 4362-9912
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May 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm Comments (2)

Sebastián Rivas of Amici Miei

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Incredible Pasta Recipes

One of San Telmo’s most popular spots is Italian restaurant Amici Miei, where tourists and locals congregate in equal numbers to enjoy handmade pasta and a balcony view over Plaza Dorrego. We recently got to meet its owner and top chef, Sebastián Rivas.

Sebastian Rivas Proia

Sebastián perfected the art of Italian cooking while living and working in Parma, and decided to open his own restaurant upon returning to Argentina. He was lucky to find an excellent space in San Telmo. Four years ago, when the restaurant opened, San Telmo wasn’t all that touristy or popular, and Amici Miei has benefited greatly from the neighborhood’s recent resurgence. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the restaurant’s classically elaborated pasta, made with imported Italian products and served with a modern flair, is excellent.

The restaurant itself is unpretentious, adorned with a few paintings from local artists, and with perfect light spilling through the windows during the evening hours. An open window into the kitchen permits observation of the cooks stretching, pulling and cutting the pasta. Sebastián invited us inside, so we could watch him throw together some of his signature dishes, such as black truffle risotto with mushroom sauce. We had a few spoonfuls — it was unbelievable, and I kept waiting for him to leave us alone in the kitchen, so I could shovel the entire bowl into my mouth.

The plates he prepared were all classic Italian recipes with unique touches. For example, he serves the rotolo, a traditional rolled-up pasta, with three kinds of basil: fried, dried and liquefied. This fusion of the time-honored and modern is what Sebastián aims for at Amici Miei, along with a friendly atmosphere (the restaurant’s name means “My Friends”). He comes out of the kitchen to visit with guests, and there’s often live music on weekend nights.

Many of the restaurants on Plaza Dorrego are tourist traps, leeching off the popular Sunday flea market, but Amici Miei certainly isn’t one of those. Watching Sebastián at work in his kitchen was a fun experience; with a small staff and a head chef who’s clearly intent on serving high-quality food, this restaurant is worth a look.

Amici Miei’s Website
Defensa 1040
Tel: 11.4362.5562 (Reservations recommended on weekends)
Location on our Buenos Aires Restaurant Map

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March 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm Comments (2)

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)
Abuela Pan - Bread and Healthy Eating, Granny-Style
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