Eating for Fame: Writing for Comosur

cards

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.)

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? 

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?

La Cabrera Happy Hour: The Steak you Came for at the Price you Hoped For

This is a big one. If you haven’t heard of La Cabrera you haven’t done your research.  In fact, you haven’t done ANY research because it is one of the most popular tourist steakhouses in the city. The New York Times has written about it, its all over Tripadvisor.com and I am sure there are hostel shuttles that take you directly to the door. Thats not to say that Argentines don’t fall under its charms too–in fact they seem to be fairly jealous that mostly tourists tend to know about it. And I’ll tell you why in one word:

Steak.
Yes yes the city is full of parillas with full animals roasting over coals in the window. And sure, you could probably find one cheaper. But I’m not sure why you would especially after what I am about to tell you.
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But wait let me first explain the carnal sin (heh, carne is meat in Spanish) that is a meal at La Cabrera.
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You sit,
they bring you a wonderful bread basket with three dips,
you order,
they bring you mini plates (about 6) of mashed potato and butternut squash, pearl onions, zucchini fritatta, and more that you didn’t order,
you feast,
they bring you what could only be an up-cycled antique ski carrying little plates of salad with a poached egg, mini caprese, etc. all for the taking,
the meat arrives and you wonder if they are fattening you for a similar fate because the meat is probably HUGE,
you enjoy some of the best steak you have ever had,
if you decline death dessert they bring a lollipop tree to seal the deal,
waddle home,
Scene.
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OK so now that you know how it works let me tell you the best part about this place. They have half price Happy Hour on weekdays from 7-8 PM. You say, “but you didn’t even mention the drinks so why should I care?”. And I chuckle, pat you on the hand and say, “but that includes the dinner menu too”. Yes, ladies and gents, I mean to say that you can eat at this carnival of BBQ (I am sorry but these puns are just coming so EASILY) for half of what they want to charge you at peak hours. You generally have to be in and out within the hour, but who cares? Coupled with the generosity of portions and included side dishes, one cut of meat is more than enough for two peple meaning you could get away with an amazing steak dinner for two with wine for less than 200 pesos. And I would even venture to say easily.
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And yes, I accept thank you gifts.
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La Cabrera

Cabrera 5099
4832-5754