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.

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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!

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

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

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.

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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.

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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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…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!

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

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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

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? 

Saving $$ With Your Iphone in Buenos Aires

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Use your Iphone in Buenos Aires. Seriously.

What  kind of cell phone are you using here? Is it that little Argentine brick that looks like the first Nokias (nicknamed the indestructible nokia for all of those who didn’t drown it in coke accidently…), the one with the nifty flash light at the top? If so, then you can say goodbye to the hand cramp that texting on that baby gives you because I may have a solution. Did you also bring your smartphone?  Because if you have recently arrived to Buenos Aires or are staying for some time you may want to consider using it.

Why? I use my iphone in Argentina, so let me make your pro/con list for you.

.Pro #1: you already have it (or another smartphone), so why buy another?

Pro #2: it will probably cost you close to the same amount to use a smartphone as it would to use the brick. You live your life texting here to avoid expensive calls. But when you have a smartphone, you have the added benefit of having whatsap, which has exploded here between people with smartphones and blackberrys. You get to join that club and just pay for internet (1 peso per day on pre-paid plans).

Pro #3: like with regular phones here, you pay as you go, so you control how much you use. You also get 1 free number to call !

Pro #4: you get to have internet at 1 peso per day. Which means you always have your 1) subte map, 2) app to find the bus you need, 3) camera, 4) spanish-english dictionary, and 5) skype if you are in a pickle.

Pro #5: you can stay in contact with people in your home country/town!

And now for the con list:

Con #1: you may get it stolen. We all know pick-pocketers can be pretty genius here (did you hear about the time that Barbara Bush, daughter of the ex-Prez, had her purse stolen in San Telmo when surrounded by secret service?). So if you tend to get things stole maybe this isn’t the advice for you. 

Con #2: 3g network isn’t thaaat good, but at 1 peso a day who really cares? I turn my phone off and on again and it works just fine.

Con #3: this scheme only works with phones that have sim chips, so if yours doesn’t (sorry to some of you Verizon users in the U.S.), you’ll have to think of something else.

Con #4:  you have to go through the process of unlocking your phone if you haven’t done it already. For ATT users its easy (this page lets you send in a request to unlock your iphone and it was eaaasy), for others I’m not sure. In the past I called and they unlocked it for me, but I have heard of some carriers making you pay.

So yeah. There are some cons, but mostly it’s just the getting it stolen one that’s of real concern as long as you have the other elements in order (sim chip, unlock).

On the Argentina side, getting a sim chip/plan is just as easy as getting a sim chip for any phone. In Personal mine cost AR 30 and worked almost immediately. I put on about 30 pesos every 12-15 days and it lasts. I definitely use less credit this way; totally frugal approved.

So if you are looking for a way to use your iphone/smartphone in Buenos Aires, it’s actually much simpler than you thought. Or as our Argie friends would say, es un boludez !

Feature of the Week-er: Rapanui Ice Cream

My Buenos Aires ice cream place is better than yours.

(I dare you to disagree)

Buenos Aires is known for its ice cream. It feels like there is a shop on every corner just waiting for you to ask them to trot over to your doorstep with some of the cold stuff in a freezer bowl  (shout out to badelivery!!). There is even an (popular AND expensive) Argentine ice cream joint, Dolcezza, in my native Washington, DC that really does know what it’s doing. Their salted caramel ice cream is ohmyfkwqkba.

So my second Feature of the Week-er is dedicated to Rapanui. It wins the prize for the “Place you Want to Live Next to but Shouldn’t” spot in the city.

In definite Pick Up the Fork  style, I played my own game of “This Why You’re Fat” and enjoyed a 1/4 kilo with a friend on a recent Saturday afternoon. (Don’t expect Rapanui to deliver to your house; they are too classy for that). The flavors I generally salivate over (of the ones I can remember) are maracuya (passion fruit) and kiwi sorbet, lemon pie with meringue (which tastes soo much like key lime pie it hurts), any of the ddl ones, one that tastes like nutella, and the raspberry sorbet. But I should mention that I never met a Rapanui ice cream that didn’t make my heart skip a beat.

So why is this my Feature of the Week-er? Because this place is cheaper (and better) than the most well known ice cream shop in Argentina, Freddo. A 1/4 kilo at Rapanui comes out to 27 pesos while the same size is 33 at Freddo! And of course, in ingenious argentine style, you get to try 3 flavors per 1/4. Sweet.

Rapanui is also an adorable spot for a coffee or chocolates (it’s originally known as a chocolate shop from Bariloche) with ample seating and even a communal table. I’m thinking this would be perfect ice cream date spot, in fact. I have also been lucky enough on TWO occasions to be offered a free chocolate, so they really have won me over.

If all that doesn’t convince you then know this: I don’t even really LIKE ice cream that much. Please, just try it.

So celebrate “Every Day Should be Ice Cream” day (if President Cristina FK can make up random holidays why can’t I?) and swing by Rapanui. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Rapanui, Arenales 2302 (corner of Azcuenaga), Recoleta

Update: I tried Jauja. No comparison.

5 Ways to Use Vegetable Throwaways

Broc

Annoyed when you end up paying for parts of fruit or veg you think you need to throw out? Your man/woman at the veg stand may be very nice, but it IS really annoying (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) when you walk out of there with unripe/overripe fruit or broccoli stalks longer than your arm. This is definitely something I have had to get used to in Buenos Aires.

The following are five ways to fill your belly with those bits you used to throw away. Here’s to living up to your true frugal-ness.

1. Broccoli Stalk Salad

I bet you weren’t aware of this ingenious use for broccoli stems. You can grate them and make a salad from them. Whoa. Who knew? Apparently everyone, though, because there are recipes all over the place! This is truly useful because broccoli in BA tends to come with a lotta stem and not so much top. I have gotten some truly ridiculous stems with my broccoli that made me weep large tears (overstatement).
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Try adding toasted sunflower seeds, raisins and a simple olive oil/balsamic dressing (thanks Chocolate & Zucchini! ). Maybe asian inspired or even pickled for your next toothpick soiree.
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2. Spinach Stems
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Oh the spinach stems. I think these may be the worst. Not only are they really long, but ninety-five percent of the time the part below the tie or rubber band that holds my leaves together is brown, wet, and gooey. Its gross. I know this is a “yanqui problem” but I am just not used to having to throw away a good portion of the veg that I just paid for. I often end up chopping off most of the stems to avoid having to touch, let alone eat, the bottom bit. I’ll get over it, but I think making a delicious looking indian curry like this one made specifically with the stems would help. Lots of stir-fried stems, too. But, uh, still cut off the brown bits.
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3. Unripe fruit
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They get you when you’re not looking. Your eyes are sweeping around the verdularia, deciding what you want to ask for next (your mind trying to figure out how to say it in Spanish, perhaps) and you get distracted. And right THERE is when they sneak in the rock-hard fruit that leaves bruises on your legs as you walk away. If you can’t stand to wait the days it can take for your peach pear whatever to ripen, poach it! Or at least that’s what they say. And with the deliciously priced wine you can often find here in the Arg, mmmmmmm.
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Oh, the worst is avocado. People say you can microwave it. I say set a booby trap for pigeons.
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4. Over-ripe fruit
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Overripe fruit is a bit disappointing, but not the worst because there are so many options. We all know to make banana bread (the moosewood recipe was the staple in my household); but what about the other fruits? You can bake them a la banana bread: This scone recipe for over-ripe strawberries looks great and Deb says you can use it with just about any fruit. Also try making smoothies if you have access to a blender. Or cook them on the stove with some sugar and eat over pancakes or ice cream, mash-up and cook INTO your pancakes, or layer with whipped cream, nuts and/or granola to make a decadent and semi-nutritious (ish) fool. Just remember to cut away the brown, bruised, or furry bits. Please.
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On the topic of avocados again, this time overripe, people say you can use it as a hair mask . Ew, but I’m down.
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5. Vegi Scraps
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All of those veg scraps you are so used to dumping could be your next vegi stock turned vegetarian soup. Take one of those million produce bags you have in the cupboard and start squirreling away bits from prep in your freezer. Avoid using cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, artichokes, beets and onion skins. These veggies will overpower your broth or turn it brown. Everything else is a goThese guys explain the process better. This leek and lemon soup sounds perfect for spring.
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So this is why your next beer can be on you. Any other ideas I should know about? You know I’d love them…

Pill Poppin’: A Cheaper Pharmacy in BA

For two months I have been searching now for a way to get my meds cheaper. Argentina already has a fairly open over the counter policy which suits me just fine. However, prices tend to still be high even with my lovely dolar blue exchange rate. If you have obra social or pre-pago (i.e. health insurance that gives you discounts on medication by showing your card) you are looking at a 30% + discount. For poor little old me thats worthless.

I have a solution:
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A farmacy that offers a perpetual 20% discount !!
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I’m not exactly sure why but I assume it has something to do with a subsidy. Whatever it is, I am glad for it and for the adorable older pharmacist man behind the counter that doesn’t glower at me like the poor, over-worked Farmacity peeps. Supporting the neighborhood and saving almost 20 pesos which can be used on more important things like my eating-out-at-delicious-restaurants fund? I’m in. 
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Farmacia Avalon, Guemes 4028 (in between Scalabrini and Malabia)
UPDATE: I may have found another couple of pharmacies with a similar (and better) deal, one on the corner of Santa Fe and Darregueyra (Palermo) and the other at Santa Fe 3089 (Barrio Norte). They seem to both offer 25%+. Confirmation pending!