Tag Archives: argentina

Inappropriate Street Art

30 Mar

Buenos Aires  Cunt Crew

Dear Yolo,

A few years ago B and I decided to get our friend Jon a calendar for his birthday. A note about Jon: he is a great guy who gets disproportionately upset sometimes by people playing pranks on him (the fact that he gets annoyed in general makes it all the more tempting to do so). At the farmers’ market one time, someone convinced us to buy a bag of jujubes. Because they are disgusting and basically inedible, we decided to draw faces on all of them and hide them in Jon’s room (this is when he and B lived together). We hid about two dozen of them in corners, drawers and under things. Once he found one it didn’t take long to find almost all of them but we kept alluding that there were more hidden for months which sort of drove him nuts.

Of course we thought it would be a hilariously banal gift for someone whose birthday is the day after Christmas to get him a calendar. Also, we wanted to see the look on his face when he saw the pictures from the calendar we got him: Extraordinary Chickens. It is full of different chickens for twelve months, most of them are extraordinary, some hideous. Since then we have gotten him Extraordinary Pigs and a Toilets of the World calendar.

In keeping with the tradition we decided to go a slightly different route this year and are making him a homemade calendar: Inappropriate Street Art. I doubt he’ll be annoyed and will hopefully find this one amusing. Once we have gathered all of the photos we will put it together (maybe I should sell copies online). The difficult part is gathering all of the images. They have to be found and photographed by us (may change those rules depending on how many we find). We have five total so far. The above picture was taken in Buenos Aires and is one of my favorites. There is also a great picture of a sprayed painted penis on a bright yellow wall, a picture of kids showing their junk to each other I saw on a dumpster, and the following:

Mr. Cock - Bariloche, Argentina

While it isn’t technically street art, it is pretty funny. It’s a sign for a children’s clothing store in Bariloche that sells clothes for babies and kids up to 8 years old. I have a hard time believing they didn’t know what cock means in English (aside from rooster) but I’m glad they named it that.  My other faovrite is certainly not the prettiest, but I laughed really hard when I saw it on a dumpster outside our local Albertson’s in Los Feliz:

No Babies Dumpster Los Feliz, Los Angeles

The one next to it also says ‘no babies’. If I find more examples I will continue to post them because they make my day sometimes.

Love,

Yolo

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The Finest Meats & Cheeses (mostly meats) Part II

22 Mar The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.
Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Dear Maroon,
My favorite place we went to in Buenos Aires was probably a restaurant called Sipan. It is ridiculously good. It is situated in a boutique hotel in the Palermo district and while a bit pricey, is fucking awesome. You can see sky overhead when not rainy and there’s an entire bright graffitied wall. Our amuse bouche on the first day for lunch was a piece of salmon sashimi over rice with a passion fruit miso glaze. Stupidly good. The ceviches there are literally out of this world. They’re amazing and they have the freshest fish ever with other beautiful sometimes lightly fried fish or octopus, with the best citrus and other components. I’ve had some good ceviche, but holy shit, get a bottle of Torrontes and just sit back and enjoy. We went back the next day. Honestly, this place rules (please note: there is another Sipan in Buenos Aires but the one in Palermo serves lunch).
I made it a point to try and get empanadas wherever we went and was not ever disappointed. The flaky pastry dough filled with ham and cheese or lamb and beef goodness never dissappointed.  We stayed in the Retiro district at the Park Tower. It’s a really nice hotel that apparently only tourists go to (the only people we came into contact with at that five star hotel were American or Chinese, I suggest you go elsewhere if you want a more local feel). It has a gorgeous view of the Plaza de San Martin and is walking distance from one of the most monied areas in Buenos Aires, the Puerto Madero neighborhood. Walking through Puerto Madero is really pretty but if you’re anything like me, you view it as a lovely frontispiece for people I will never really know.
We went to dinner at a restaurant there that was by far the most expensive place we ate at with the least quality of service (six courses not that well thought out). We’re no strangers to fine dining but if you make someone wear a jacket, you better damn well pull out the lady’s chair (seriously, a guy kind of pulled it out and then left midway). You will be forgiven if your food is good, but if I can’t find the waiter for a good ten minutes to get some water with our not-that-amazing wine, I am going to take issue. It’s not even worth noting the name of said restaurant, suffice to say that you are better off eating at any of the other myriad restaurants. The service is lackluster and the food? Go elsewhere in the city, seriously (except for ice cream, people really like it in Puerto Madero). The waterways are gorgeous, but I didn’t see a murder, so not that interesting.
The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

We ended up eating at Filo in the Retiro district one night and have to say, the octopus was again amazing. We thought the place a last ditch effort for ourselves (not helped by the bare-tittied manequin in the front), but had yet another really good meal. I think there are more restaurants in Argentina that serve pizza than in New York. Big Italian quotient, and they have a really nice ham laden pizza you can get anywhere and with a liter of quilmes (Argentina’s national beer), that kind of puts our outdoor places to shame. The octopus is not to be ignored. We had it several different ways before we went to a Spanish tapas place and decided to get (Spanish) octopus. It was a large octopus served with boiled potatoes and paprika. That’s it. I desired more from the dish because I’m American but the octopus was just as tender as it was in every place we had gone to.
When we went back to Montevideo for our last night in South America, we visited the Criolla del Solis.  We didn’t have offal. Instead, some chorizo and morcilla (too sweet for my taste), and the recommended ribeye which was honestly the best I can remember eating. So fucking good. We got on a plane the next afternoon, but I still want more chorizo. I have a feeling it won’t be the same until we go back to Sudo America. (Next up for travel: Vietnam andThailand vs. Greece and Turkey).
Love,
Yolo

The Finest Meats & Cheese (mostly meats): Chimichurri & Criolla Sauce

20 Mar Criolla in Montecito
Dear Maroon,
One of my favorite things about South America is their ability to produce the finest meats the world over. Yes, I said it. South America has arguably the best beef and sometimes lamb in the world (also octopus, more on that later). I now endeavor to take you through our culinary experience in Argentina and Uruguay and because I travel with a chef, that seems to be the first and foremost way we experience everything, through food. Our first stop was Montevideo, Uruguay on our trip and that city is beautiful. It’s rife with historical buildings and situated on some very lovely beaches. I couldn’t change currency in the states before going there so we had to take out money at an ATM. The interesting thing about cab drivers or anyone else in Uruguay is that they hate making change for your bills and often won’t do it, to the point where they either berate you for such a large bill or give you a slightly lesser price so they don’t have to make change. I have no fucking clue how that country operates on cash. We went to the old district our first night and ate at the criolla del solis. A criolla is basically the same as a parilla, but Uruguayan. It basically refers to meat cooked on the type of grill they have and holy shit, it is awesome. In a really good (or sometimes mediocre) restaurant you will see said grill cooking your meats (a very large grill often on hydraulics to lift up and tend to the coals). Quick note because I am used to Mexican Spanish: people in Argentina speak Castellano, not “Spanish” and the double “ll” is pronounced not with a “y” sound but, well the closest thing I can approximate it to is the first sound of something like “je m’apelle”.Anyhow, our first night we started with an appetizer platter of offal. Sweetbreads, liver, morcilla (blood sausage) and some chorizo. The chorizo in Uruguay is the best I’ve ever had and I crave it to this day. It is slightly crispy on the outside and bursting with succulent deliciousness on the inside. It is nothing like Mexican or even Spanish chorizo and it is divine (somewhat akin to German braut, but not really). We had a baked potato with blue cheese to supplement our meat dinner and even the potatoes are better in South America….as they should be since that is their origin).The morning after we had lunch at the famed market near the port and sure as shit, there were meats everywhere. The building itself is beautiful, but eating at some of the “restaurant” style places there proved to be more expensive than it was worth (thanks tourism). Anyhow, it was right near the buquebus (ferry) that we took to Bueno Aires.The first night we were in Buenos Aires was Valentine’s Day. For some reason, I didn’t expect Argentina to recognize that Hallmark holiday, but they do. We had made reservations in advance at a restaurant in the boutique Hotel Fierro called Hernan Giopponi. You should check out the hotel’s blog.  Our pre-set six course Valentine’s meal was good and certainly interesting, but the best thing is that hotel’s blog. Last July there was an event called the “Taste of Titus Andornicus”, which, well you should just read about. I would’ve loved to go to that. Shakespearean play where diners can engage in the final food fight scene? Yes, please.

The next day we flew into Bariloche, Patagonia. We had a really good evening consisting of Patagonian lamb, empanadas and wine our first night in Bariloche. The nice thing is that Argentina isn’t big on importing wines (they’re governmental structure is a whole other thing), but that means you can enjoy wines for significantly less than we would get them (read:cheap, they don’t upmark by three times like we do in the states). We had amazing Malbecs the whole time and got tipped off to the best parilla in Bariloche on our second night.

Alberto's, our zip lining British friend's favorite restaurant in the world

We went ziplining with some Brits who now live in Scotland and the woman wanted to come back to Bariloche because it had her favorite restaurant in the world,  Alberto’s.  There is a parilla and pasta place of the same name (the pastas are really good and saucy). They also did an amazing provolone grilled on one side and brushed with oil and then situated on the parilla in a dish. I don’t think locals want anyone to know about Alberto’s because it is primarily dominated by locals and when we mentioned it to the guy at our front desk he seemed to want to talk about it only hushed tones. Sorry locals, but if you have come to our site it is only because we really appreciate your things.

Amazing food once again, but the best criolla and chimichurri actually came from the farm we were at during our rafting adventure. Brian has made a modern version of which I will share with you:

Chimichurri

2 cups picked Italian parsley
3/4 cup picked fresh oregano
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp. red chili flake
3 T red wine vinegar (preferably homemade, get the recipe here)
1/2 cup canola oil (typically a neutral flavored oil is used, but olive oil can be substituted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteFinely chop the parsley and oregano or process in a food processor several pulses. Combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Season to taste. Let marinate for at least 1 hour and use within a few days. Serve over a grilled steak or spoon onto good bread.Note that the above recipe is not exact and requires the producer of said recipe to taste at intervals.

Those were basic notes from the recipes, but like all good savory recipes, require the chef to taste as they see fit. Also, sometimes it calls for cilantro, which I still vehemently hate. Add at will. I’ve found that in an American take on Mexican or South American food there is always an abundance of cilantro. I have rarely seen it on my travels: this is something American people want to project onto other international cuisines. I still fucking hate cilantro. I tried, and actually went so far as to test my reactions with varying different types of coriander. Fact: I love ground coriander. Fact: when it blossoms into a plant whose leaves are picked and put into a sauce I would otherwise love, I hate it. I am not alone. Julia Child hated cilantro. When it is cooked above 160 degrees Farenheit I don’t really taste it and therefore don’t hate it.

Criolla Sauce

1 medium onion, small dice

1 red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 roma tomato, seeded, small dice
1 clove garlic finely minced or grated
2 T chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (homemade if possible)
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to tasteCombine all ingredients and mix well. Best served the next day after marinating for a while. Will hold covered for up to a week. Is great with grilled steaks or sausages or on bread.These sauces are very fundamental flavors of Argentina and Uruguay and can be used creatively if one wishes.

Tales of adventures to be continued…Yolo

Dulce de Leche

9 Mar Dulce de Leche

Dear Maroon,

High tea in Argentina often involves alfajores which are pretty much shortbread cakes with dulce de leche. We never had any while we were there but I am obsessed with dulce de leche even more than before. Brian just made some at home today and I cannot stop eating it. I’ve tried tricking or berating myself into stopping, to no avail. Here’s how to indulge with me:

It’s pretty simple:

Dulce de LecheDulce de Leche

1 quart raw organic whole milk (raw milk is really important – I think the pasteurization process kills some of the amazing taste)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cook on low heat (no lid) for an hour or two until you start to see color. Turn down the heat if it starts to boil over. Once you start to see color add:

1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Cook more until it caramelizes. The darker it gets the more you have to stir it so that it doesn’t burn. Once it is caramel colored strain it and cool it. That’s about it. Enjoy the milk jammy goodness on whatever you like (within reason…you should probably stick to breads or fruit and not put it on fish or vegetables – just sayin’). Going to eat more now.

Yolo

Argentina Adventure: Chocolate & Ziplining

8 Mar Chocolate Fountain in Rapa Nui
Villa Huinid

Villa Huinid

Dear Maroon,

We landed in Bariloche, Patagonia on a really ashy day. The Chilean volcano that erupted last June has apparently been fucking up the landing capabilities in Bariloche since then.

Our first inkling of this was the American black women on our flight who very loudly let everyone on the flight know that just a week prior the Bariloche airport was shut down due to visibility restrictions from volcanic ash. They knew a guy who had to go back to Buenos Aires via bus because of the ash cloud.

Now, I’m not going to lie…I had heard about the volcano but we paid a shit ton of money to fly into Bariloche and there was no way in fucking hell that I was going to take a 20 hour bus ride back to Buenos Aires (no kidding, that is how long the bus takes). They said they knew a guy who had to get back that way because the airport was closed. Not happening to me.

Anyhow, we stayed at Villa Huinid, a lovely place on the lake. (All my pics are below) The first full day we were there we went zip-lining. Sooo much fun. I got a bit nervous standing on the shitty makeshift stands 80 feet in the air but I will gladly zipline through any treetops again. There was a point where one could see the entirety of the lake basin while hurling oneself on a cable a few hundred feet up. Do it if you ever can. It’s so much fun. Our nights in Bariloche were well spent. More on that in my food post.We met a British couple that live in Scotland on our ziplining adventure. They spent a 22 hr flight to get to Buenos Aires and then spent a few days riding horses with the gauchos at La Pampa. Apparently they had suffered through no fewer than two 18-hour plus bus rides which made me feel okay that I had spent so much money on airfare back and forth from Buenos Aires and Bariloche (its a fortune, seriously).I will tell you about our rafting experience in the next installment, but I would like to wax poetic about the chocolate in Bariloche. It is otherwordly, it is swiss integrity and chocolate-making at its best…and in the land where chocolate comes from. I am attaching pictures of Mamushka, the finest place for chocolates and Rapa Nui, where we had the best dulce de leche and gianduia ice cream ever. Nothing comes close here. They have hand carved and painted entrances that invite you into the sacred chocolate spaces. Do not be fooled by the amateur pics i culled from the interwebs, these places are divine.I’ll talk about the river rafting trip later, but the pic of the hawk was while I walked to the lake and it followed me. It was raining too hard the last day to get any good pictures of the Arctic Ibis (no idea how to pluralize, but their golden heads were awesome). More later!Love,
Yolo

Photos of Villa Huinid Resort & Spa, San Carlos de Bariloche
This photo of Villa Huinid Resort & Spa is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Zip Lining!

Zip Lining!

Chocolate Fountain in Rapa Nui

Chocolate Fountain in Rapa Nui

The best chocolates come from Mamushka

The best chocolates come from Mamushka

An Arctic Ibis

Hawk

Argentina Map

Zoo Adventures – Argentina Edition

6 Mar

Dearest Maroon,

I am back! After a lot of traveling followed by nonstop work after I got off the plane I feel like my brain functionality is that of a five-year-old. Not a smart one. Like the kid who eats paste or tubes of chapstick in kindergarten glass. I will be regaling you with tidbits from the trip, but first I want to mention the Buenos Aires zoo. I know you probably think that I have an unnatural obsession with zoos these days (and I do), but the one in Buenos Aires rules.

This picture here is of a mara, a crazy rabbit-deer hybrid thing a few feet long. They are everywhere in the zoo, lounging on any grassy spot available and I really wanted to grab one and take it home. Also plentiful were the nutria that swim around in the many koi ponds and will come out to eat food from your hand. They sell buckets of animal food at every corner and apparently all of the zoo animals eat the same things (except the sea lions but they sell buckets of small fish to throw to them). The only animals you are not allowed to feed are the big cats and the bears (I suspect the bears could easily get across the shallow moat and maul a person).

The Buenos Aires zoo has been around since about 1875 and has a lot of architecturally beautiful buildings. In the 1800’s they didn’t put the crazy large barriers and moats around all of the animals that one sees today, so you can get really close to all of them. Animal of the day was a pygmy hippopotamus that Brian named Morcilla (because he did look sort of like a blood sausage). He was only about 6 feet from us and was eating all of the food people were throwing on the ground until a group of people starting throw food directly at him. They hit his sides and head a few times and the hippo stopped and turned toward the crowd. He stared for a few moments and then just opened his mouth really wide so that people could throw food directly into his mouth. It was awesome. I died laughing for a few minutes and even when we passed by a little later he was still standing there with his mouth open.

Also of note was a masturbating monkey and in the amazon aquarium section a fish named after me. All of the tanks in that sections had labels above them with the Latin names for all of the fish that resided in them. At the very end of the row, there was just a placard that said ‘Lisa’. Nothing else, just Lisa and a picture of a puffer fish. I will send it to you.

I have to go back to work now but will continue with more later. I miss you!!

Love,

Yolo

I want to see more subway stalker pictures!

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