Eating for Fame: Writing for Comosur

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So sometimes door just open. In this case, twitter was that fateful door to the food world – or at least I hope so.

The English language food blog that covers all the yummy things happening in LATAM, Comosur, contacted me to see if I could emergency cover an event at El Baqueano (among the top 50 restos in Latin America). It was that night with some 8 hours notice, but who was I to say anything but a resounding “HELL YES”. And so I became food blogger and photographer (working on that bit) for Comosur. I plan on eating my way through the currently hot and sticky streets of BA and its going to be awesome.

Take a look at my first post and stay tuned!

Breaking Boundaries by Crossing them: Cocina Sin Fronteras Featuring Kamila Seidler

(By the way, sorry for the hiatus. I’m back.)

Confiteria San Blas: the Inflation Stumper Bakery (for now)

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We just moved offices. We used to be on a nice, although too residential building on the corner of Malabia and Charcas. Its a nice neighborhood, close to other places I guess. But I wont miss it too much. In the immediate area there wasn’t much to write home about. But if there is one thing that I will miss about that neighborhood it would be Confiteria San Blas. 

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The neighborhood was residential enough, with a couple of panaderias, some small supermarkets, a rotisserie or two and a dietetica. Prices were generally in the mid range–neither cheap nor too expensive. Now that we are in the beautiful Palermo Botanico, I know just what expensive smells like: AR 32 for a small coffee and two bad medialunas at Pick Market. Disgraceful.

Confiteria San Blas had always piqued my interested when I walked by it on my way to the subte. It was very unassuming and looked quite old. I went in once to buy an empanada after working straight through lunch one day. I remember thinking that it was surprisingly good, but would be better warm.

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But what really got me and my work mates hooked on it was when prices started shooting up in January due to inflation. Our favorite panaderia raised their prices for tartas from 14 pesos to 17 pesos. That might not sound like a lot, but with our salary staying steady with no raise in sight, we started searching out other options. Remembering my initial interest in San Blas, I finally took the plunge. It should have been my first stop. 

My favorite tarta has been “tarta de calabaza”, or butternut squash quiche. I have a serious love affair with the stuff. I eat butternut squash in ALL forms and have been cautioned more than once that my hands could turn orange if I don’t limit my intake.

That didn’t stop me from trying all the neighborhood options, settling on my three favorites, one of them being from Anita Bakery. But since trying the calabaza creation (better described as a pastel) from San Blas I have been hooked. My freezer is even full of them.

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The pastel de calabaza y pollo has a magically addictive quality that, when I asked the baker, turned out to be the fault of butter. She said good quality chicken breast–I still say butter. The pastry isn’t anything special but the filling is hearty, filling and comfort-food quality. At AR 16 with two rolls (brown or white bread), I see few deals in the city having the potential to trump this one.

Since this discovery, everyone in my office began to get their cheap lunches at my favorite place down the street. We discovered that, although sometimes a little burnt on the bottom, the facturas were tasty and cheap at the frozen-in-time price of AR 2/each. The cookie and homemade cracker selection was also quite nice and I was able to get about 16 pretty cookies (special shout-out to the mini alfajores de maicena) for around 18 pesos. The other tartas (carrot and eggplant; jam and cheese; corn, tomato and swiss chard; butternut squash and carrot etc) were just as cheap and came with bread, but varied in quality; it was really the butternut squash and chicken tart that stole my heart.

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And then we moved. I think I’ll still be making the trek to get my favorite tarta for lunch. Or maybe just to bring them home and stick them in the fridge. I just want to say, thank you San Blas for keeping my belly full and helping me fight inflation when no one else will. I’ll be back very soon. 

Confiteria San Blas, Malabia, between Santa Fe and Guemes
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Top Five Free Reasons to Put on Pants and get OUT this Weekend

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Buenos Aires makes my head spin sometimes. Yes, its a big city. And yes it probably has too many people and cars, but that’s not why I get overwhelmed. There is such an overload of things to do and see–so many of them free–that I almost always feel like I am missing out somehow.

I have always been interested in doing the cheap/free events in BA, especially when I studied here. But If I thought I was being frugal then, this is a completely different story.

I have recently given myself a budget of 30 pesos per day…including food. This week my solution has been to ply free meals out of my wonderful, loving boyfriend (3 dinners and 3 lunches to be exact). Thank god for boyfriends. Can I get a holla back from anyone other “en negro” foreign workers who are feeling the effects of the end of the month?

These broke-girl circumstances have led me to search for free activities with a kind of desperate fervor that tends not to make for the best schmoozing conversations. I will admit, I get a little too into it. That and searching for recipes…

So I’m going to ask that you guys help me out. Even though they are free, gratis, SIN CARGO, I couldn’t possibly get to all of these things on my to-do list. I need my beauty sleep, of courseMy new theory is that if I post about all the cool things that there are to do over the weekend I’ll feel a little less guilty about not getting to all of them! I’m no superwoman anyway.

So check ‘em out and GET OUT. You’ll have fun. I promise!

BAFICI Short Films in Microcentro

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If you thought BAFICI was over, think again! You still have today (Friday) to enjoy some independent film action, no matter how odd. Starting at midday today (12:30 PM) you can see the projections BAFICI’s short film selection in Plaza Estado el Vaticano, along side the Teatro Colon. The plaza was inaugurated in 2012 as a modern space integrated with the old opera house. I have to wonder though, can you hear anything over the roar of 9 de Julio? Let me know!

Feria del Libro- Noche de la Ciudad

This yearly festival celebrates books! What a lovely idea. Taking place in La Rural in Plaza Italia, the event runs from yesterday (oops) until May 13th, but has one night of book bliss FREE on Saturday, April 27th starting at 9 PM and running till 1 AM (the feria can be your previa before the boliche!!). Check out the whole schedule here. Also, apparently it will be free for students next week as well? Worth checking out!

A couple of other cool tidbits:

Brazilian musician Toquinho will be playing a free concert, an homage to Vinicius de Moraes, in Plaza Italia starting at 7 PM on Saturday (27).

And if you don’t mind paying the entrance fee, there will be some food authors speaking on Friday (26) and Saturday (27). Including Narda Lepes…oooooo.

Waiter and Waitress Race (Carrera de Mozo y Camarera)

Photo Credit: Agendacultural.buenosaires.gob.ar

Photo Credit: Agendacultural.buenosaires.gob.ar

This event needs no explanation. But I guess blogging demands it: this is a freaking race where waiters and waitress walk carry trays AS FAST as they can. First service member to cross the finish line without spilling their goods wins! Piece of cake. Or cafe con leche y medialunas. Depends what you order.

(Why this event reminds of Washington DC’s Drag Race, aka High Heel Race I don’t know.)

Saturday 27, from 4-6 PM on Avenida de Mayo.

I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one wearing the “I’m a FAN!” apron. 

Theatrical Neighborhood Walking Tours

This is a new thing. Someone in the city thought (rightly) that tourists tend to stick to the same parts of the city too much and needed to be coaxed into discovering more of Buenos Aires! Genius person. Love him/her.

This is one of the most unique free tours I’ve ever heard of! I am totally dying to do one (expect a post about it when I have), but farted around too much before heading to Mataderos last Sunday. No worries, though, because they will be running from now until October. Two cool ones this weekend though, in San Telmo and Boedo. Make sure to check them out!

Foto Credit: bue.gov.ar

Foto Credit: bue.gov.ar

Los Fantasmas de San Telmo, Saturday April 27: this tour shows the well known neighborhood’s mysterious underbelly, giving visitors the chance to see the creepier (and ghost filled?) side of its history. The one-hour tour starts at 6:30 PM from Plaza Dorrego.

Boedo Antigo, Barrio de HistoriasSunday April 28: this tour tells the story of Boedo! I’ve never been there and the description is sparse. Guess that’s a reason to go and check it out. The one hour tour starts at 3:30 PM on Esquina Homero Manzi (Av san Juan y Boedo).

Photo Credit: bue.gov.ar

Photo Credit: bue.gov.ar

Free Concert at the Teatr: Quinteto Filarmonico

Photo Credit: agendadebuenosaires.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: agendadebuenosaires.blogspot.com/

Want an excuse to see the inside of the incredible Teatro Colon? This Sunday, as part of the “Interpretes Argentinos” series, the Quinteto Filarmonico will be performing for free. The show starts at 11 AM and tickets can  be picked up starting 48 hours in advance in the Teatro Colon ticket office. Its early, but who wouldn’t want to start their Sunday with some beautiful classical musica? Depends on what we did the night before I suppose…

Check this link for a little Mozart played by the Quinteto boys.

Being a Creative Cheapskate: Making Butter and Jam

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Sounds neurotic, right? Why would I make two things I could so easily buy? I do have a history of this though (i.e. peanut butter and nutella!).

I have to be honest, it was really just laziness and some plums that were going to go bad, coupled with, of course, a desire to get good food without paying for it. Those were the circumstances that drove me to buckle down and make some homemade goodies. And no, I am not already training to be a grandmother.

So it was my roommates birthday and I promised to make her a cake for the party. She initially fought it (why, I still don’t get) but we settled on a rainbow/tie-dye cake as the special dessert we would shove in her face eat at the party! If you haven’t seen it before, its awesome–reminds me of the t-shirts I made at summer camp, but edible!

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While shopping for ingredients I realized that it was going to take some extra effort to find unsalted butter. I could have just left the salt out if I had wanted to be super lazy, but I also needed buttermilk. So I had a brilliant idea: I would make more work for myself and make my own butter and use the left over liquid–the buttermilk–in the cake as well! Genius.

And you know what? It wasn’t even close to difficult. I describe this method of making butter as “messing up whipped cream”, because you literally over whip whipped cream. And the product is damn good. I know, it surprised me too.

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The cake turned out great, although the colors could have been a bit more artfully placed.  But at least I could say I made the butter in it!!

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And then I turned to my overly soft plums. They were really some office leftovers that I couldn’t bare to see thrown out. There are so many ways to use old-ish fruit and veg there is really no excuse! Except laziness of course…But no one was going to fight me for them anyway, so I took them home and began to google.

Turns out jam is easy to make and doesn’t necessarily require pectin. I also wasn’t about to try and search for pectin because a) I don’t know what its called in the Spanish/Argentine language (pectina, maybe?) and b) why spend more if the internet says it can be left out? I didn’t even buy the plums in the first place so it was a great excuse to test out the method and possibly screw it up.

After a good hour and a half to two hours my mission was complete. Results were stellar and now I have homemade jam in the fridge! Practically free, I may add.

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Best bet to replicate the free part is to ask your fruit/veg people if they have any overly soft fruit. In my experience they are more than happy to get rid of these things, especially in the bulk needed for a nice sized batch of jam. Worst case scenario they say no, but most likely they will at least sell fruit to you at a heavily discounted price. You might have to spend a bit of time paring the brown bits off, but its worth it in the end!

The best part? Eating homemade butter and homemade jam together on my overly whole-wheat toast. Sweet success.

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Homemade Unsalted Butter (and buttermilk)

Ingredients:

4 cups cream*
1/8-1/4 teaspoon fine salt (optional)

Directions:

Beat the heavy cream with a mixer in a bowl on high until it looks like whipped cream. Continue beating until the cream separates. Pour of some of the liquid and reserve, taking care to not let the butter go with it. Beat until as much liquid as possible is extracted and then until smooth.**

*note: when I made it four cups (about 1 L) of cream made about 3-3.5 cups (about 500g) butter and 1.5 cups (375 ml) buttermilk

**note: some recipes say to use a sieve to “dry” the butter, i.e. get as much buttermilk out as possible. I didn’t do this and it came out just fine. 

No-Pectin Plum Jam

adapted from Savory Sweet Life recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups chopped plums, most peels removed, but some left on for color
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Cook plums and lemon juice on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir until everything is well combined. Cook for an additional 25 minutes until the thickness of the jam has been reduced to the consistency of thick honey, stirring occasionally. The jam should not be too juicy, but thickened (it will also get thicker as it cools).  Skim off the foam, remove from heat, and allow to cool.

So splatter that baby on anything and everything toast or scone-like. With the homemade butter of course!

Happy Munching!

Nail Me BAires: MALBA on my Nails!

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I’ve never been visually artistic. I can’t draw or paint and I sure as hell can’t make any sort of sculptures. Doodling has always  been a source of shame because my doodles are just straight up ugly. Despite having two artists for grandfathers, none of the visual art genes were passed on to me. Don’t they say that the younger siblings are  the more artistic ones? We’ll that’s 100% the case in my family. Lil’ sissy got it all and I’m only a little bitter. I do get the advantage of some of the paintings, drawings and clothes she designs. And she also has to set the table on special occasions. I’ll take that as a win.

But just because I can’t make art myself doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. Which is why when I saw the write up of NailMe Buenos Aires on BA expat blog MyBeautifulAir I couldn’t help myself. I was just about to embark on an incredible week of travel in Colombia (hence the post hiatus!!) with a group of friends from high school (not nearly as weird as it may sound) and crazy nails seemed like the perfect send off, like my version of dying my hair. I am a major nail color wuss and always tend to get basic colors.The big reason I like the bold OPI polish Cajun Shrimp is the name. 

But NailMe’s website was exciting in its inspired take on the basic manicure. So I made my reservation with Kristin G.

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Getting a manicure is often a spur of the moment decision with some sort of element of pampering and relaxation in mind, right? This is a little bit different.

First of all Kristin works in a “studio”. Its obvious that the art comes first (as it so should, just wait and see); just like any artist she needs her own space. She mentioned that the small extra room in her new Las Cañitas apartment was an added bonus when looking around for a new home base.

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I got comfortable on my side of the table while she went off to grab her computer so we could listen to music. Everything was free and easy, as if I had cajoled a friend into painting my nails for me. We chatted about some people we knew in common (BA is so tiny) and our common love of and longing for spicy. Turns out Kristin knows how to make a mean Thai curry! I’ll definitely see about making my own coconut milk in my food-processor now…

We turned to nails and she asked me what color I wanted. I chose purple because, well, why not. She asked what kind of design I was looking for. I hadn’t come particularly prepared, but I blurted out Mexican art. My friend and I had been talking about Mexican skull tattoos recently and it seemed like a solid choice. Her most used color scheme in photos I had seen matched nicely anyway. She seemed relieved that I had chosen a theme, remarking that she had been doing a lot of Andes region fabric inspired nails.

We started off with a full clipping, shaping and beautifying of my nails–salon worthy results I can never achieve myself. Then after googling for a second she painted three nails purple and two yellow on each hand, pulled out her incredible array of nail painting tools and paints and went in for the kill. I asked her how many nail polishes she has because they were practically spilling out of the boxes. She said she didn’t even know! I’d call that a healthy addiction. 

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Kristin does everything free hand. No decals or stencils at all. She makes things up as she goes along, following color palates in a way that a category F artist like myself could never dream of accomplishing. She said she started painting her own nails, then nails of friends just because she enjoyed it. Eventually she realized she could sell it as a skill here in BA. She even had a stint painting faces at Kika’s Hype on Tuesday nights and custom paints sunglasses in cool neon colors. 

We chatted on and on as the paint slowly spread over each one of my nails. Shes been an English teacher for a while, although she is now in a graduate school getting a masters as well. Talking comes easy to her and her studies and experiences colored our conversation, making the hour and a half nail session fly by. At one point she mentioned that a group of girls had contracted her to do a wine and nail night–they provided the wine. Is that not the perfect addition to any grown-up slumber party? 

Finally my nails were done and dried. So naturally we took a little photo shoot. 

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 Is that not just INCREDIBLE? 

Throughout the next two weeks I got compliments all over the place. My roommate (who has been toying with the idea of a skull tattoo and lived in Mexico) almost died on the spot. Two hostesses on the airplane to Colombia couldn’t stop talking about and touching my hands. My friends from high school wanted them for themselves. A vendor in Cartagena stopped me to ask questions about the “artist” who had painted my nails. I even got multiple compliments from male friends. I couldn’t help but be a walking talking advertisement!

Also, this manicure held up! After accidentally melting the design on a nail or two a bit when cooking right when I got home (I take full responsibility for my stupidity…) the paint stayed put. Keep in mind that I was traveling in Colombia for a full week. Almost two weeks later there were only minor chips and my nails stilled looked like a miniature exhibit out of MOMA. Its blurry, but you get the gist more or less…

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And then comes the price tag. All things considered, its a freaking steal for the work done. A full paint job like mine will set you back AR 70, about double the price of a simple color in a salon. It might not be something you get every week, but on special occasions it can and should definitely be justified. Rarely are you going to find something so unique and cool!

If you don’t feel like you can splurge for the full job, Kristen charges only AR 30 to get designs on two nails. That means you can get jazzy nails (mixed mani, whatever you want to call it!) for less than a boring manicure would cost you at a salon. Now you have no excuses. 

Kristin is also running a promo for 2×1 manicures (either with a friend or on your second visit) if you mention the MyBeautifulAir post! Take advantage while you can!

Here’s the full price list from NailMe’s website:

  • 25ARS - MACHO - Plain manicure, no colors
  • 30ARS - SIMPLE - Manicure, 1 color, 2 nail designs (Or add 5ARS per each detailed nail design)
  • 50ARS - SUPER - Simple designs, shatter, glitter, 2-3 colors (Includes all nails)
  • 70ARS - DELUXE -  The works; every nail detailed with full colors and designs, all glitter and gems included

So go head, get your MOMA nails. It will make you feel like an artist for a day.

NailMe Baires

Contact for appointments: nailmeglowme@gmail.com

Green BA: Mish-Mash of Events in March 2013

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Green Film Festival, Green Market and Green St. Paddy’s Day

This  weekend and upcoming week is probably one of the greenest we will all see in BA for a while–and I am pretty sure someone must have planned this.

I grew up with environmental parents which means I love to stare a rocks and trees have a natural draw to green things. Thats why I was very excited to hear about all three green events this next week.

This post may be semi-misleading, however. I bet you are thinking that I will be talking about thre environmental events next week. That is two-thirds true. First, next week is the beginning of a BA Environmental Film Festival (though small, kids; nothing to get too worked up about). Second, its the return of the Buenos Aires Market, which shows off some of the city’s best organic, environmentally conscience and/or just healthy thangs in the beautiful setting of the Bosque de Palermo parking lot.

The third, is a bit of a different case: ITS SAINT PATRICKS DAY.

Admittedly, I am not Irish (but my friends do tell me I may as well be for my skin tone). But I have found that living away from the US of A has made me increasingly homesick on these certain, over the top, tradition-stealing holidays (see Cinco de Mayo for another example). That is exactly why I had an Oscars Party and expected some effort from the man on Valentines Day. I know its cheesy, but now its what reminds me of home.

Which is all to say one of the technically greenist holidays ever is upon us so it gets included here.

Check it:

Environmental Film Festivalcineambiental

When: March Wednesday 12 (oops!), Friday 14 (oops!), Thuesday 19, Thursday 21; films start at 7:30 PM, talks before hand starting at 6:30 PM

Where: Jardin Botanico de Palermo

What: Outdoor screening of five films

Why: Raise awareness of environmental issues via film. Enjoy some movies in ze nature.

Buenos Aires Market

When: Saturday 16 and Sunday 17bamarket

Where: Bosque de Palermo, parking lot in front of the Rosedale

What: a pseudo farmers market/healthy food  market/veggie burger market (check Planeta Joy’s facebook page for more photos and info).

Why:  lots of interesting free workshops like free yoga class at noon both days! Also a workshop on the wonders of wheatgrass and healthy baking…mmmm. Foods to munch, sammies with which to lunch…and I am desperate to understand exactly what is black garlic and how I can put it in my food.

BA Style St. Patrick’s (Paddy’s) Day

When: March 17

Where: All over the city. For a little more wholesome fun, check out the parade put on by the City of BA and the Irish embassy. It will start at Arroyo and Suipacha at 7 PM and end in the Plaza San Martin with an Irish dance show. Everyone cross your fingers that its the Irish dancing phenom River Dance (JAZZ HANDS).

There will also be a Celtic Fair in Belgrano with dancing and food, if you’d rather keep it tranqui without traveling downtown for the parade.

The traditional drinking fest (as traditional as you can get at least) is on Reconquista, where they block the streets and pen you in like wild, green animals. Woooo!! Any and all Irish pub will be, of course, capitalizing too. Check this list for bars with events/promotions, emphasis being on promotions. And don’t forget to wear green so you don’t get pinched! 

What: I think its pretty clear, right?

Why: why else!? To celebrate this wonderful, green holiday. If I were home I would be eating corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread (which apparently is just not called that in Ireland…oops) and a guinness chocolate cake. Since I can’t do that (makes a girl miss her mommy!), I’ll just have to drown my tears in pure guinness and pat myself on the back.

Verdict? Anybody who is anybody will be getting green this week. Join in!

Mercado de las Pulgas: the non-San Telmo Antique Market

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Antiques are cool. They may smell a little like moth bolls and need a little cleaning, but they make you feel unique without trying–kind of like a hipster (see “hipster fashion and furniture“).

Buenos Aires in itself, you might say, is kind of like an antique market. Traditional buildings look old, some times even decrepit, but almost always unique. I often look up and think, “that building is beautiful, but damn could it use a steam clean”. So many buildings look like they could have been an iconic hotel or restaurant that was preserved for historical purposes, the pity being they don’t seem to be as preserved here as they should. 

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Antiques themselves hold a special place in this city. The combination of European roots, European architecture, European imports and multiple major economic crisis (the most recent being in 2001) make for an astounding number of antique fur coats on the market. Although I could never know this for sure, it seems that people may have sold their belongs during these down periods, which now contribute to a rich array of antiques at the markets. If I am right, it would be a sad truth, but an interesting outcome.

Which is where the Mercado de las Pulgas comes in; translation: literally, Flea Market. Which is maybe why I know someone who has picked up a stray cat here…? Ha, bad joke.

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Located in Colegiales, at the top of what is now Palermo Hollywood, the market is an absolute gold mine for finding used furniture and other antique thangs to decorate your cheap-o digs. Its been around since 1988 (with a brief hiatus and re-opening in 2011) and although it supposedly has things from as recently as the 1970s, some of those mirrors definitely look newer. If you just moved here or just moved out of your parents’ place you might want to consider this a first stop for book cases, picture frames, wardrobes, cool hanging lamps, mirrors and beyond.

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Look at that junk! Just waiting to be re purposed. But please leave the mannequin behind.

The massive rectangular mirror my boyfriend spent AR 1600 on for a friends wedding? Yeah, we saw it for AR 800. And old wardrobes that have more character than Ikea style Easy pieces had price tags of 500ish (no disrespect here, though!). I am guessing this is where the “shabby chic” (ugh I hate myself for using that phrase) shop owners go to find their pieces. So skip the middle-man, man! Not everything is cheap, but bargaining should be used freely. As cool as it was, the old milk crate was just not worth 300 pesos.

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So I’m sure my verdict is pretty clear: this is a great place to do some cheaper decorating. Like any antique shop, flea market or yard sale, you will need to do some serious digging and bargaining. But it will make your find even sweeter.

Stop by and take a look!

Conde and Dorrego, Colegiales
Open 10 AM to 7 PM, Tuesday to Sunday
map pulgas
 

Homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella

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Last week I went a little overboard on the purchases when I was shopping at one of my favorite cheap health food stores, Dietetica Tony. Thankfully the place is so cheap that the damge was minimal; double thankfully, I was inspired by the 600 grams of unsalted, untoasted peanuts that I impulse-bought.

And that is how I decided for the first time in my life to make my own peanut butter.

At university in Burlington, Vermont freshly ground peanut butter was a mainstay in my fridge due to the local Co-Op, Citymarket’s nut-butter grinder (almonds included !!). I never once had to think about the possibility of a) expensive and b) uncommon peanut butter supplies. And even if I couldn’t get the fresh stuff, Jiff was at every gas station in the country.

Argentina has a completely different relationship with peanuts. They don’t come with bananas and sliced bread, in milkshakes, on pancakes or covered in chocolate and wrapped in orange plastic –they come salted and with beer, cheese, and chorizo.

And that is 100%+ ok.

I swear I am not complaining. Its just that sometimes I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hold the meat. You know?

But I didn’t stop there. I decided to try my hand at making nutella too. I could have probably found it in some specialty shop surrounded by 50 peso bags of dried italian pasta (I think I’ll buy the 8-15 peso variety instead, thanks), but I was inspired by the prospect of making peanut butter. So I decided that my Oscars night snacks didn’t have to be quite so expensive (banana nutella emapandas 4lyfe).

So I bought some hazelnuts, powdered sugar and cocoa powder too.

And you know what? It was shamefully easy.

That being said, you need a food processor. So find a friend who has one and take full advantage. Don’t forget to reward them with a little bit of nut butter too!

Homemade Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

400 grams ra, un-salted peanuts

3-5 Tbsp. oil (not olive oil)

Salt, sugar, or honey to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to around 350F/180C

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake until golden. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Let the nuts cool completely (and display in a lovely jar until ready to use, for my fellow procrastinators).

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Place nuts in a food processor and process continuously.

First it will look just like chunky nuts. Then it will look a little less chunky, but still dry…

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And thats where you add in the first 3 Tbsp. of oil in a continuous stream. It will start to get creamy…

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Keep processing until you get your favorite texture. I doubt it will every be 100% smooth, but there is definitely some variation possible. This is also a good time to add in salt and/or sugar or honey !!

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Homemade Nutella

This is very similiar to the peanut butter. The only difference really is that the ingredients are added in sooner.

Ingredients:

1 cup (around 150 grams) peeled hazelnuts; if unpeeled, see below

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa power

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

4 Tbsp oil (again, not olive oil)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to around 350F/180C

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake until golden. Watch them closely so they don’t burn (which is what happened to me). If you could only find hazelnuts with the skins on them, place them in a dish towel and roll around vigourously. The skins should start to come off on their own. Its a pain though, so try to get them without skins in the first place.

Let the nuts cool completely.

Place the nuts in the food processor and process until they are as smooth as possible, around 3 minutes. They will be dry, so don’t worry if its still pretty chunky.

nut8

Add the dry ingredients remaining ingredients and blend until combined.

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Add half of the first 2 Tbsp of the oil in, poured in a continuous stream. Process until smooth. If the nutella is too dry, add in another Tbsp and continue to process.

Note: I added too much oil in at once and the result was a very liquid-y nutella. Delicious–but not quite the right consistency. It does firm up in the fridge a tiny bit, though, so don’t worry too much.

nut10

Then enjoy the hell out of your homemade and cheap versions of these nut butters. I have been eating my peanut butter with bananas and made some banana-nutella empanadas for the oscar festivities.

I still have a lot left! Any ideas?

nut12

nut7

Feature of the Week-er: Gettin’ Nuts at Dietetica Tony

nuts

If its not obvious already, I love to cook. It has to also be obvious that I try to work on a smaller budget. Cooking for yourself is always cheaper than eating out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that making muffins and cakes and starting your day with nuts, yogurt and fruit is the cheapest way to live. To offset those frivolous buys I go to this one little health food store in Palermo. Its taken me a while to get this one out in the blogosphere because I wanted to be completely sure about quality and prices before I divulged the secret of my cheap dietetica. Its not often you find one.

First off: A dietetica is not a diet food store; its more of a health food store.

Just like what you would expect, its the best place to get organic honey, whole wheat flour, dried fruit and nuts and bulk spices that are otherwise impossible to find in the average supermarket (good curry powder does exsist, and in surprisingly healthy quanties in the dietetica world). Truly, most things you need for cooking indian/thai/middle easter/beyond dinners can be found in the better shops.

If I had figured this out before I imported my own tahini I could have forgetten about Sarkis’s “hummus” made with peanuts a long time ago!

All this is to say that knowing a couple of good dieteticas is key to not getting sick of steak  blowing your budget on the high quality, gourmet-eating in the city. I love the idea of going to closed-door resto’s and up-scale eateries, but who am I kidding? I would have to eat lentils and eggs for the rest of the month if I did that on the regular. Reading food blogs will have to cover that department while I try to cover the other side of things–until I magically land that $$$ paying job…

Which brings me to Dietetica Tony, my most recent Feature of the Week-er.

I’m giving it the GET YA NUTZ prize.

Dietetica Tony

Dietetica Tony may not have the most varied selection in all of Buenos Aires, and its definitely not the largest. But what it does have (following the theme here, you see) is that its cheap. See what it says underneath the name on its sign?

“Precios Mayoristas Al Alcance del Consumidor”

Translation: wholesale prices available to the public. 

And truly, they are.

nuts

bread and nuts

See the price on those nuts ?! Excuse my over-the-top enthusiasm, but broken walnuts (nuez partida) go for closer to 13 pesos/100g rather than 7.90 pesos. Same thing goes for the almonds, which are usually around 15 pesos. WOOOO.

The selection of dried fruit and nuts is actually pretty impressive and, of course, on the more accessible side. I regularly take advantage and buy myself some goodies when I make a trip…

goodies

raisins

…check out those chocolate covered beauties.

Another steal is the price on quinoa–4  pesos/100 g, often 9 pesos! Same thing goes for chia seeds, flax seeds and other seedy (hah) things you’d find at such stores. If you are trying to get in touch with your inner health nut be cheap in BA a good way to get some of your protein without investing too much is buy eating chia seeds– they have absurdly high protein levels (shout out to the lil’ sis for her food enlightenment). They were supposedly an Aztec superfood, which of course could only become popular as a health food after the chia pet business was no longer profitable. Whatever; cheaper here!

Chia

Whole wheat flour, also a steal. Again, this is a health food store, so no judging me.

dried goods

Want a sample shop?

250g whole wheat flour

250g powdered sugar

300g unsalted peanuts (making that peanut butter!)

100g walnuts

100g quinoa

100g chocolate covered raisins

Total: AR 32.50 = USD 4.25 (at non-official exchange rate, duh)

Not too shabby.

Dietetica Tony, Thames 2481, Palermo Soho

My Bookmarks: Top 10 Best/Useful Buenos Aires Websites

inspirate

Top 10 Best/Useful Buenos Aires Websites

What better way to be a cheap bastard than to use free resources to do it? Over the past couple of years I have bookmarked a fair few Buenos Aires websites, but there are only a few that I really come back to again and again. When looking for suggestions, clear, honest advice suits me best and keeps me on my toes. If you have a dollar sign system I am happy; tell me the prices to expect and you’re on my most trusted, no BS list. When shopping, I just want to know how to avoid ridiculous prices. Sometimes I feel so lost without yelp or a vibrant craigslist community! You know what I mean?

Like so many here in BA, I have high expectations and a low budget. I literally can’t afford to fool around on this stuff.

So what have I done? I’ve amassed a lot of random BA info. But it’s been with the help of more than one voice. If anything were a BA bible it would be the combined wisdom of these guys.

Here are my top websites that consistently give me my dose of needed information, helping me to maintain my budget and still live BA life like I want to:

1)   Pick Up the Fork

An amazing burnch at Malvón, at PUtF's suggestion.

An amazing burnch at Malvón, at PUtF’s suggestion.

This chick Allie knows her food. Like really. If you haven’t heard of her yet, she reviews restos, cafes, bars, etc. all with that humor and no BS attitude that I crave. Her suggestions and advice are some of the first I look for (really, I should probably go to more places rather than just salivate in my desk chair) and PUtF (can I do that?) has become one of the best English language food blogs in the city—by a long shot. Allie rides the rollercoaster that is the BA food scene, maybe not gracefully, but with attitude and honesty that is way better anyway. I can’t always afford her picks, but at least its free food porn along with lower budget finds!

2)   Agenda Cultural

Buenos Aires is incredible for the student, intern, low earner, or frugal traveler. Every night there is some event, festival, concert, or party that is free (or very cheap) to any soul that stumbles upon it. The BA City Gov’s Agenda Cultural catalogs them all. There is even a whole section for free events that welcomes tourists along with natives. If you are a twitter person, this is also a great way to get quick updates of what’s happening in the city every day.

3)   Planeta Joy            

Picada at Bar Perón Perón, from a list of Perón themed bars/restos

Picada at Bar Perón Perón, from a list of Perón themed bars/restos

This is my Spanish-language everything food-and-drink-related Bible. Not necessarily thorough reviews (although some stories do a very good job of being more specific), this is my favorite place to go for “Top…” lists. From a list of the top 10 best picadas in the city  to the best and largest food in ba (for my fellow yanquis who still can’t get over the size of “burritos” here), Planeta Joy will tell you whats up. I always type a google search, like “bares para grupos grandes planeta joy” to get directly to the page. Great selection and suggestions, with creative themed lists. PJ knows the city.

4)   Guia Oleo

Guia Oleo is the closest thing we’ve got to Yelp.com in BA for food reviews. As THE restaurant review site in the city, it’s the first and last place you should go when looking for a restaurant. Complete with tools to narrow your resto search and ample reviews, you can at least trust that if it got a very high or a very low rating that it’s probably close to right. Another amazing thing for budget eating is the Cuponera which provides between 20-50 percent off restaurants by printing out coupons from their website (see cupon star  for a more limited but equally accessible selection as well…for movie discounts too!).

5)   Daily Secret Buenos Aires   

A pretty recent edition to my repertoire, Daily Secret has become a good resource for a mixed bag of BA ideas. The scouts do a good job of reporting on places that tend to be a little more off the beaten path and in a variety of neighborhoods—not just Palermo. Although their site isn’t necessarily focused on the cheaper side of Buenos Aires, the site is really good at separating its mini-reports into categories: things to do, food, restaurants, bars, shops, services, and outside the city. Daily Secret is also available in other world capitals, like Lima, Santiago and beyond.

6)   Wifi Gratis

Map of wifi spots! Address on website.

Map of wifi spots! Address on website.

The city government website listing all the places in the city, like parks and plazas, which have free wifi. Perfect for when you need to choose a place to write your latest blog post and get your tan on next to the guy in the zunga.

7)   Baexpats

I wouldn’t really trust all the advice you get (it’s a hot bed for people at both ends of the spectrum like any online forum tends to be) but the classifieds have been pretty damn handy. Because it’s mostly travelers and expats, moving sale items are usually pretty new and cheap as owners try to shed their crap as quickly as possible. I recently helped my boyfriend purchase a king size bed for only AR 3,500.

8)   Facebook

Terrazas del Este...at 6 AM

Terrazas del Este…at 6 AM

Weird, right? You would be surprised just how many tips and tricks are on company facebook pages. A good rule of thumb, always check the fb page of a club earlier in the night before you go. Often times there is a list you can get your name on so entrance is free or cheaper. For example, I have never and will never EVER pay to get into Terrazas. And I’ve gotten free drinks for being on the list too.

9)   Mapa.buenosaires.gob.ar

Having a tool to demystify your transportation route can really help avoid paying taxi fares. You can carry around the good, old Guia T or you can consult Mapabeforehand online. If you’re more of an in the moment kind of person you can still use it on your smartphone, or download the Como Viajo app (also integrated into Mapa), which gives you transportation directions from point A to B.

10)   Craigslist Buenos Aires

The BA version may not have nearly as big of a selection as in other cities, but it has definitely worked for me. I found my (relatively well paid) job on there. And it was just about as easy as finding my boyfriend in a bar…which at least in my case means it was surprisingly easy. Also really good for moving sales finds.

Anyone have another useful site?