The Good And The Bad in BA

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We’ll be heading back to California soon. It’s been an amazing trip, full of good food and lots of rest. I sheepishly regret that I didn’t post as often as I had planned, but once the sunny South American breeze hit my skin (and a few cocktails flew down the hatch), well, blogging was the farthest from my mind. Shame on me! However, we met amazing people who made our trip such an amazing experience and once I’m home I definitely plan on sharing more about Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I’ve compiled a quick list of things we really enjoyed, and if you are planning a trip to Buenos Aires you might want to check them out.

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1. Home Hotel and the staff.

Even though I gushed about the hotel a few posts earlier, I could spend a few years going on and on about this place. Seriously folks, if you are heading to Buenos Aires you simply must book a room here. Or visit for tapas. Just go. I’ve never stayed somewhere that felt like a big giant hug. I miss the delightful staff already…not to mention those long afternoons by the pool. This place is off the charts when it comes to quality.

2. El Zanjón De Granados

This historical building, originally built by a weathy family, fell into disrepair after the yellow fever epidemic. It then became tenement housing above and filled with shopkeepers on the ground floor. It was purchased as an abandoned building in the 1980s for commercial development until the demolition process revealed an original foundation that was underneath current street level. The restoration process also revealed a series of underground tunnels where river water once flowed, along with large sisterns that gathered rainwater for drinking (the wealthy employed sea turtles as a purification process inside the wells). The 20-year restoration process was a collaboration between architects, historians, archeologists and various landowners. There are daily tours, and what I most enjoyed was seeing how superbly the various centuries were blended within one building. It was also great getting a slice of Buenos Aires’ history, and I had no idea that the river was only a few steps away from homes and buildings like the Casa Rosada before the city expanded.

3.  Maté

You won’t see me running around town with a thermos of hot water underneath my arm quite yet, but I did learn to enjoy the national drink of Uruguay and Argentina quite a bit. The highly caffeinated bitter herb makes a tasty tea, and while I might argue it’s an acquired taste I must say it’s delicious nonetheless.

Is it only a matter of time before Starbucks starts offerings a Chai Mate Late Frappucino?

4. Medialunas

It’s not breakfast here without a few medialunas, the diminutive version of the flaky croissant. Paired with café con leche and you can’t help but have a great day. I think this may be one of the things I will miss the most once I’m back home.

5. La Cabrera

This gem in Palermo actually has two locations a block apart from each other. It’s pure parilla with a twist– – try the Pato De Confit, a duck leg confit that’s been thrown on the grill until crisp and juicy.

6. The Smoking Ban

You might think it’s funny to know that Adam packed Febreeze so that we could get the dreaded cigarette smoke out of our clothing. But guess what? Buenos Aires recently enacted a smoking ban, very similar to the bans in many American cities. For a city as old as Buenos Aires it seemed impossible, but it’s truly wonderful to not feel like a human ashtray.

7. Beef.

Enough said.

8.  Dulce De Leche. Anything.

I grew up eating Dulce De Leche in Texas (which we called Cajeta). It’s a natural by-product of farming – anywhere there’s beef you’ll find cheese and milk, and anywhere you’ll find milk you should find Dulce De Leche, the caramel sauce made from sugar and milk. It is rumored to have originated here in Argentina, which is something I actually believe based on the ubiquity of this dessert. Ice cream, crepes, as a topping on flan, in and on top of pastries, you name it – if it can be done they’ll add it. And do you hear me complaining? Hell no. Like my hubby says, it’s probably the finest thing one can get from a cow.

9. Provoleta

Take a disc of provolone, garnish with herbs and olive oil, and grill until melted. The result? A crisp, flavorful chewy crust of cheese with a gooey, savory interior. These things literally disappear in my presence.

10. Pacú

This South American cousin of the piranha is an herbivore that grows much larger than its toothy meat eating relatives. Popular in Brazil and parts of Argentina, and we were lucky enough to try it a few times here Buenos Aires at Jangada restaurant. With an earthy flavor and a tasty layer of fat underneath the skin, Pacú is grilled on the parilla which results in a crunchy, flavorful skin and tender, earthy meat. I now understand why it’s called “el lechón del rió”, or suckling pig of the river.

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Bobo_hotel

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And now, my biggest trip disappointment: Bobo Hotel. I really wanted to like this small boutique hotel located here in Palermo. I really did. We ate dinner in the restaurant on our last visit to BA and wanted to experience a few nights’ stay, but I wish we hadn’t. In their defense I must say that the staff was cordial and very helpful, but as a guest I felt like an afterthought. I’ll tell you why.

The hotel decided to do some remodeling during our visit. Replacing drywall and installing a new ceiling isn’t exactly quiet, and our room was located directly above the construction. I hated to make a fuss about it, but honestly it was unbearable. The hotel attempted to accommodate us by speeding up the process, but I think it would have been better to either not book the room, move us to a higher floor, or close down for a few days. Instead, guests were inconvenienced and never got to experience the entire Bobo restaurant. During breakfast one morning we were informed that the gas had been temporarily shut off due to construction so pastries and yogurt were all we could get, which was fine – but what if I wanted something from the menu? Again, the needs of the hotel came first and not the guests. I think that’s a shame and can honestly say I won’t return.

Because this area is undergoing a rebirth, construction is everywhere. It’s inevitable. I only wish Bobo would have told us with plenty of warning that we’d be right on top of it. I would have packed a hard hat.

Comments

  1. says

    even though you say you haven’t blogged much from SA, every post you have written has been wondeful and inspiring. you make me want to run away to Argentina RIGHT NOW! I can’t wait to hear more about it.

    it’s a shame about that hotel, it would have been so easy for them to show you that they cared.

  2. says

    Yay! Thanks for all the fantastic posts! I am amazed that you posted at all while on vacation. I’m not sure I’d have displayed such a magnanimous blogging spirit if I was away with my man!

    If you like, I’ll put a can of condensed milk on the stove top to boil for you. You know, to welcome you home (God, that scares the hell out of me!).

  3. says

    I´m glad you had such a great time here. It´s interesting to see my own city from a foreigner´s perspective because it makes me notice which things seem unusual or special from the outside.
    As for the dulce de leche, you can get it on Amazon, and I´m pretty sure you can get it somewhere there as well.
    As for the medialunas, not much luck there, you just gonna have to make them yourself, very convenient, right? hahaha

  4. says

    Woah! I’m going to BA in May. I’m sooo glad that you posted this. I’m going to book a night in that Home Hotel.

    Thanks for the postings and glad you had a great time!

    Joe

  5. says

    Well you have just given me the guidebook for our trip this fall. Thanks for your notes! I’m very excited to check out BA.

  6. says

    I hope you two have a restful weekend after your trip. I wish I could mail you medialunas and masitas, but I’ll pack a box of dulce de leche for you when I return north. Talk soon!

  7. kathleen says

    your pictures are beautiful, and your stories are interesting. you make the food experience a lifestyle, and it’s wonderful to read about it on a regular basis. how does one grill provolone without it seeping into the grill?

  8. says

    wow what a beautiful photo layout. thanks for all the recommendations. they better come in handy for me someday because if i don’t make it to buenos aires at SOME point, then i’ve simply never lived. so glad to see your trip is shaping up well — for the most party. sorry about that last hotel. i guess there’s always gotta be one.

  9. says

    I love cajeta, It’s made with goats milk. You can often find it at Big Lots. I actually think I like it better than dulce de leche.

  10. says

    I enjoyed your Buenos Aires posts so much. I visit your site regularly, but hadn’t been to it in some time so I just now read them. I was in BA in March for the first time and loved it. Dulce de leche, oh yeah! And the steak, how about the steak? I also had a thing for their fries. I don’t know how they make them, but they’re so good. Reading your posts took me back… thanks!

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