Top Five Free Reasons to Put on Pants and get OUT this Weekend

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

110c-baficiplaza

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.

Green BA: Mish-Mash of Events in March 2013

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!

My Bookmarks: Top 10 Best/Useful Buenos Aires Websites

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? 

Free Pumpkin Pie (Recipe) !!

Making (and Eating) Pumpkin Pie in Buenos Aires has sort of become a tradition.

I realize that this post is geared to a certain group of people (the fatties of the USA!). But I couldn’t help myself because today is one of my favorite holidays !

Its Turkey Day, baby. 

I love that there is an actual holiday that is entirely organized around what and when you are going to eat. None of the usual holiday shenanigans–just food.

But living in Buenos Aires complicates this holiday. First, I am not with my family and missing a meal cooked by my mother is practically sacrilegious. And second, Argentina does not  celebrate the wonderful day when the pilgrims and the native (north)americans sat down at a lovely long table filled with gourds as decoration in order to share a meticulously thought out, warm meal and go around the table saying what they were thankful for (pilgrims mostly, because they didn’t die from hypothermia and instead got pumpkin pie). Believe me, this is all factual and accurate.

My first Thanksgiving here was actually a great success. It may have been because I was surrounded by people just as enthusiastic about this holiday as I am, but nonetheless it all worked! We even took a door off of its hinges to make an extra long table. It was glorious.

However, although fun and delicious, it was not easy. There are so many T-giving supplies you can’t get here for obvious reasons. We even had a visitor smuggle in bags of marshmellows and cans of cranberry sauce in his suitcase !

And I was determined to make a pumpkin pie even if it too me weeks. I started my quest two weeks in advance, researching recipes and looking for ingredients. I realized a couple of key things:

1) pumpkin puree in a can is uncommon and, if it even exsits, almost impossible to get a hold of.

2) evaporated milk is also uncommon and, though available, expensive (17 pesos for a can?!).

3) food processors make your life so much easier in pumpkin pie endevors.

Taking all of these things into account I patched together this “pumpkin” pie recipe that is actually incredibly good. It tasted like a traditional pumpkin pie, and a damn good one at that.

So in honor of this very, very special day and of not spending god knows how much on importing or actually buying the smuggled-in ingredients to take the easy route, I am giving you my special Argentina pumpkin pie recipe, dubbed “Pumpkin Pie Remix”. Take good care of it!

Pumpkin Pie Remix Recipe

Ingredients:

Pie Crust, makes top/bottom or two pies (from Smitten Kitchen):
315 grams (2 1/2 cups) All-purpose flour
225 grams (1 cup) butter (cut into 1/2 inch slices and left to chill in the fridge at least 15 minutes, up to an hour)
1 tsp salt, if your butter is unsalted, otherwise forget it (use a real teaspoon)
1 Tbsp sugar (again, use a real tablespoon)
6-8 Tbsp ice water (ditto)

Filling:
15 ounces (2-2.5 cups) fresh Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
120 grams (little over 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar or 3/4 cup White Sugar)
1 Tbsp (15 grams) Corn starch
1 egg
8 ounces evaporated milk (ie. 145 grams (a little less than a cup) dry milk and 170 grams of water)
Pumpkin pie spices (1 tsp. cinnamon, pinch each of allspice, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. Or just do cinnamon and grate some nutmeg; that should do it)

Crust:
1. In a food processor combine flour, (salt), and sugar. Pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times (until pea sized). Add ice water 1 Tbsp. at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump into fine sand like bits. Dump into plastic bag and squish into a ball in one or two movements. Do not over kead! Place in fridge for at least an hour and up to two days.

   If doing by hand, mix dry ingredients first and then use a force or fingers to work the finly chopped, cold butter  in until pea sized bits. Mix in 5 Tbsp ice water with a spatula until big lumps are formed and then quickly knead (no more than 3-4 times) into a ball. Do not over knead! Place in fridge for at least an hour and up to two days.

3. When ready to make the pie, cut the dough in half (recipe makes two pies or a top and bottom if you want to get fancy with a lattice) and begin to roll out. DO NOT OVER ROLL or the dough will be tough. Roll into a round-ish shape (no need to make it perfect) and lift carefully over the pie tin. Gently press into tin and cut off over-hanging edges with a knife. Fill a small bowl with cold water, dip a fork into the water, and press the edges of the dough onto the edge of the pan lightly.

Filling:
1. Either boil the cubed squash in a pot or bake at 200C (400F), either way until tender. Cool. If you do not have a food processor, mash by hand until it is a very fine puree.
2. Preheat oven to 175C (350F).
3. Combine water and powdered milk by sprinkling a little powder into the water and whisking and repeating until incorporated without clumps. Whisk egg in a separate bowl.
4. In the food processor or large bowl combine squash, brown sugar, cornstarch, egg, milk, and spices. Process or stir until smooth. Pour into pie crust.
5. Bake for 50 minutes (or 40 minutes and 20 minutes at a lower temperature to avoid a burnt crust). (Watch this part! My oven was so hot it probably took a combined 40 minutes to cook, and all at the same around “350F” temperature. I also left it in the turned off oven for another 10 minutes for good measure).

Get Outside: Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2012

Free Jazz Festival in Buenos Aires 2012

Buenos Aires is arguably one of the best cities in the world for free cultural events. Its nearly impossible to attend every free concert, festival, museum opening, class etc. that you can find on a weekly basis. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try ! So I found another one for you, and I hope  that I can get to it myself (with Thanksgiving coming up I can’t help becoming a slave to my pumpkin pie recipe).

Jazz Festival BA 2012

The international jazz festival kicks off tomorrow with concerts all over the city. Ticket prices and locations vary…but that doesn’t concern me!

The best deal is the free concert series on the terrace of the Centro Cultural de Recoleta and in the amphitheater in the Park Centenario in Almagro. They will be hosting (mostly) Argentine jazz artists for free outdoor concerts starting Wednesday, November 21st.

Sounds like the perfect excuse to down a quilmes–and don’t forget your envase (empty beer bottle) for the cheaper price!

Don’t you love spring in Buenos Aires?

Cine Migrante For the Masses

In the mood for some currency-free culture? As of Tuesday, October 9th the 3rd annual Festival Internacional de Cine y Formacion en Derechos Humanos de las Personas Migrante put on by the non-governmental organization MigrantCine began showing films throughout the city. Lets just make it easier and call it Festival CineMigrante.

The film festival’s objective is to contribute to national, regional and international conversations about migration through film screenings, workshops, and conferences. Films cover a huge variety of topics and come from all over the world.
And boy is Buenos Aires the perfect venue. Did you know that Argentina is considered to have one of the most open immigration policies in the world? By law as of 2003, migration is a human right and Argentina provides all migrants with access to health, education, and family reunification services at no cost. So yes, thats why they patched you up for free at the Public Hospital.
Films will be shown until October 17th at various locations around the city, including the Centro Cultural de la Cooperacion, Cine Gaumont (AKA Espacio INCAA in Congreso), Centro Cultural de Espana of BA. Check out the show times for more details.
Films you might see me at: