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)

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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Being a Creative Cheapskate: Making Butter and Jam

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.

Jam 1

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.

jam 2

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!

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!

Homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella

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).

 nut1

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.

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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.

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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?

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

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…

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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

The Good and the Bad: Sushi in Buenos Aires

sushi

I am still in the process of finding my favorite budget sushi in BA.

So this is Gastronomy Research Project numero 1 !! This list will get longer as I get fatter more knowledgeable about the BA sushi scene.

If you like Japanese food and have spent any extended period of time in Buenos Aires you may have noticed that it’s not often authentic. More often than not you will be faced with a very serious decision: whether or not to risk your tuna being a tuna fish roll (not even the cat would eat it…). Oh and did I mention the hunks of cream cheese?

I have gotten used to the sushi in Buenos Aires, despite the tendency for it to be smothered in cream cheese. Side story: the first time I ate sushi in Buenos Aires I ordered Sushi Pop with a friend and was so shocked and dissapointed that I didn’t order from anywhere for at least 5 months. Two and a half years later, after becoming friendly with BA sushi, my lovely boyfriend convinced me to try it again. I don’t know if the sushi has gotten better or if my palate has become a little more forgiving, but I LIKED IT. And I ate it all. However I still maintain that there is a rude amount of rice-to-fish ratio.

Barrio Chino Supermarket Sushi

Not good. I guess it sort of somewhat killed my craving, but not really. Way too much rice, way too little fish, and didn’t seem particularly fresh (also been sitting in a refrigerator for who knows how long…). I only tried the sushi at Casa China, but I really didn’t give me any desire to go back. On the upside (yup, there is one) it was incredibly cheap. Around 25-35 per roll but they are massive (again, because of the quantity of rice). I’d say this is only for the really desperate and broke.

Sushi Pop

The classic delivery. Pretty good, not great. It kills  the craving, but the rice-to-fish (RTF) ration is pretty terrible (see the picture above? that extra ring of rice makes me sad). Alaska (all salmon, AR 110 for 36 pieces) menu was good but I suggest chopping up the nigiri (the piece of fish lying on top of rice) and distributing among the other rolls. The Barcelona (salman and fresh tuna) is something I definitely want to try, but so far they have been “out of tuna”. Id rather them tell me that then give me tuna fish instead—which has happened. Gag. Huge, non-traditional selection with something for everyone. Rolls prices are a little higher, around 36-39, but they have 12 pieces. Combos start at 115 for 40 pieces.

Gako Sushi

Definitely better than Sushi Pop in terms of RTF, with interesting flavor combinations too. Particularly enjoyed the rolls with smoked salmon. The spicy mango roll was a nice idea, but lacked mango (??). First time delivery orders get four free pieces of sushi! It’s more expensive than sushi pop, but probably worth it.

Juncal 2819

Haru

Don’t ask, just go. That’s right, don’t order—GO. Very nice place with a varied menu and really well done food. Half of the parties were Japanese, too ! Oh and cheap. Fried tofu with teriyaki served as a complimentary starter. Vegetable tempura is well done. Chicken teriyaki appetizer was delicious and smelled even better (opposite, I know). Rolls were very good: RTF ratio great (although they are smaller than your average argentine goliath sushi rolls) and fish and wasabi were very fresh. My only two complaints would be that the spicy sauce on one of our sushi rolls (probably just a poor choice anyway) covered up the flavor of the fish and that there could have been more of a variety available (no red tuna!). For the price, however, this place is hard to beat. For three people, AR 320 with wine for two and tip included. Oh, and we got a free dessert (I am going to say for being 3 beautiful women) which means that this place wins onda points.

Av. Rivadavia 3324, near corner of Aguero
sushiharu tempura

Benihana Buenos Aires

OK so I understand while you might scoff at this one. But pleaseee hear me out. This yanquilandia chain is, yes, a chain but it has a pretty great happy hour deal. From 4 PM to 8 PM everyday you can get half priced drinks (a list of some 10 fruity cocktails) for AR 25, which are good enough for the price. The sushi, although nothing stellar, is also dirt cheap at rolls for AR 25 with 10 pieces or a tamaki for AR 16 and is arguably the best sushi in the city at the happy hour price. They also have a pretty complete food menu including jalapeno poppers (??) if you feel like a TGIFridays special with your sushi…Perfect people watching outdoor seating too, but it fills up fast. The verdict? Totally worth it for the price.

Alto Palermo Mall, on the corner near Colonel Diaz and Arenales; or just look between TGIFridays and Starbucks
sushiben

Sushi Colors

Sushi 3

I recently decided to throw caution to the wind and try out Sushi Colors. These guys deliver fresh, well-portioned rolls to much of Buenos Aires (although they very inconveniently stop right before my neighborhood, las Cañitas). Combos are surprisingly plentiful and the RTF ratio was impressive. I didn’t even have to divvy up the fish from the nigiri to compensate for less than impressive filling, like I always do with Sushi Pop. Was it more expensive than its cheaper competitor? Yeah, a little. The AR 164 price tag on the 40 piece box cost us 38 more pesos than the all salmon Alaska box at Sushi Pop, but I would pay more for more fish any day.

Sushi 2 Sushi 1

Since we were two ladies and two gents, we sprung for three more rolls: the Tiger Roll, the Tino roll and the Boston roll. The Tiger and the Tino were fried sushi, which were unsurprisingly ordered by the Argentine gents. I can’t say I liked them that much, but that’s a personal preference against cooked (and fried) sushi. The smoked salmon Boston roll was good, although I think I preferred the basic sushi and avocado roll. All in all, GREAT price for quality. Our total price tag was about AR 320 with tip, split between 4 people. We also got a 10% discount because we ordered between 7 and 8 pm on a Friday. But we didn’t eat that early; we just asked them to bring it at 10 and it was EARLY. They do a 15% discount ordering between 7-8 Tuesday-Thursday.

Where do you get your affordable sushi in Buenos Aires?

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…

.

.

I bought this…(for ARS 3.50)

.

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.

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).

Feria Masticar: Massive BA Food Party

feriamasticar

Not that you needed an excuse, but here is one to get out this weekend…to eat. And maybe shop for lovely produce and artisanal products (I’ve still never really been able to figure that word out) blah blah blah. But really its the eating that should always be center stage.

Which brings me to Feria Masticar, the new Buenos Aires festival dedicated to food and cooking and organized by the Argentine gastronomy elite. Its happening this weekend !

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Members of the group ACELGA (Asociación de Cocineros y Empresarios ligados a la Gastronomía Argentina and paradoxically sharing a name with a relatively unappetizing vegetable)  have joined forces to create a weekend of heaven on earth gastronomic delight including a market, food stands, cooking classes, and wine and possibly beer tastings. Even Narda Lepes (think young, hip Rachel Ray/Martha Stewart with an amazing BA grocery shopping guide) is going to be there teaching cooking classes.

The details that make me want to go NOW:

1. Narda Lepes, Francis Mallman, and Maru Bottana

2. One Stop Shopping: So many amazing products in one place at one time (L’epi bread, national sea salt, olive oil, micro greens…!!!)

3. A cocktail stand among the food stands brought to you by Bar 878!

4. Variety and reasonable prices at food stands, somewhere between $20-35 for meals (although who knows about sizes)

5. Wine tasting “tunnel” (anyone heard of Club Amerika’s touch tunnel? *shudder*)

6. Cooking classes and talks

At ARS $30 pesos this Feria is bound to be cheaper than a lunch out and, of course, is your activity for the day. Tack on a $25-35 peso sandwich and you’re still doing pretty well. Oh hell, how often to you get to go to a food festival for less than USD 6-4.50 (depending on exchange rate you work in) anyway? And if you were planning on paying that USD 60+ for the class to make empanadas and drink a glass of wine, please spare yourself. ITS NARDA LEPES FOR fu… FOODS SAKE.

So be there. Period.

Feria Masticar, “El Dorrego” at Zapiola 50, Colegiales (see google map here)

November 16, 17, 18

Friday & Saturday: 12 PM to 11 PM

Sunday: 12 PM to 10 PM