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

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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Feature of the Week-er: Dreams of Real French Pastries in Buenos Aires

NOTE: there is some serious food porn in here. If you are offended…go read a cookbook with out pictures. 

I found something akin to a real French bakery in Buenos Aires.

SO PUT DOWN THE MEDIALUNA. I am sure its delicious with its almibar coating and strangely yellow-ish tint, but that is not what I am here to discuss so please clear your mind of such thoughts (and your plate) !

We are here to talk french pastries. Flaky, buttery, fresh and ideally recently taken out of the oven. That is exactly what I found on a recent morning while walking to work. You know in movies when people literally stop in their tracks after being hit by the smell of fresh-baked whatever wafting out of a bakery? I did that lurch-to-a-halt move before deciding that I couldn’t take another step without a very important taste test.

That morning I was lucky enough to stumble onto La Patisserie Francaise.

And after being faced with this…

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I bought this…(for ARS 3.50)

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And I died. And dubbed this place the “Next Best Thing to a Ticket to Paris” (at least until I own my own airline…ha ha).

I, the queen of shovelling food into my mouth at a steady stream, actually ate this slowly. It was perfect–at least as far as my standards go. My French experience is relatively basic (a total of three weeks) but I made sure to make my French collegue try it. She said it was up to par. I say it goddamn SURPASSED it.

And so I went back and ate this…

At ARS 3.50 its a full peso more than the average factura (Argentine version) so I don’t know if you can spare it.

I AM SO KIDDING. You would be missing out on a daily weekly trip to France by not trying these babies. Did I mention that the French Embassy apparently orders from here? And anyway, lets SAY that the ARS 6.27 pesos per euro was accurate (hem, inflation makes it more like ARS 7.75), then your French style pastry here would be at least half the price than the real thing. Now thats my kind of deal.

Oh, and this is what I saw when I finally turned away from the pastries…

For more details check out 2XTango’s review.

La Pâtisserie Française

Malabia 2355, between Charcas and Guemes (Palermo Soho)
Update: The croissant is good, but its not great. Definitely less medialuna (none of the sweetness, in fact) but not all the way buttery croissant. I still have high hopes for the one with pastry cream in it…and the caracol with raisins is 100% worth it.

Anita Bakery: My Neighborhood Bakery Away from Home

When lunch hour strikes and I want something filling but not heavy, reasonably priced but not empanadas or veg from the stand next door, and free of the block of melted cheese that often accompanies lunch, I go to Anita Bakery. This doll house of a sweet shop has become my go to take-out spot for delicious tartas (quiche) with a side of salad with homemade dressing or oven-roasted potatoes. At $28 pesos this is a great option when last nights dinner just didn’t make it to the tupperware. They also do sandwiches on homemade bread for $30 and salads for $35, making this place one of my favorites in BA.  If you want to splurge for a key lime pie, Anna also has you covered.

Take-away if you want or sit in one of the three stools to chat with a friend while you eat, but know that this place is mini. Located right near the corner of Charcas and Armenia on the edge of Palermo Soho

UPDATE: four months later and I am still going back, even if its just for a chat (SHE IS SO NICE). Lunch continues to be delicious and reasonable and I have to absolutely give a shout out to Ana’s holiday pan dulce. Even a day later and after being squished in every direction on an overnight flight, it was perfect.

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