Ice cream Sunday!

Once again, we overslept this morning – we may or may not still be on West Coast time. We weren’t super adventurous with our food today, but we did finally check out the helado situation this afternoon. The place we stopped at had quite the selection to choose from:

It was a tough decision. Like the Sophie’s Choice of ice cream.

This was what I had – that’s flan with dulce de leche on top, and chocolate with bombones (candies) on the bottom. It was deeee-licious.

Mom had crema de rusa (top) and pistachio. She was pleased with hers as well.

The cafe boasted some of the best ice cream in Buenos Aires, and I will definitely back that up, despite the fact that we have not and probably will not be sampling any other helado (to avoid the whole not-fitting-into-our-jeans problem that would arise shortly thereafter).

I think we will have to eat empanadas for the rest of our trip. Fortunately, we found the bakery where we got our favorite empanadas a few days ago – they’re AR $2/US $0.50 apiece, so we will be non-broke and well-fed. My skinny jeans still fit me today, so I’m still good for the time being, despite all the bread. You know what I miss, though? Salmon. And cooking in general.

Oh, before I left Seattle, I had the brilliant idea of freezing cottage cheese like I had with the yogurt. Turns out it’s even better than frozen yogurt, because it doesn’t harden the same way and I like the texture better. I’m looking forward to getting back and making more. One more week…

Too much food, too little time.

I just realized it’s been a few days since I’ve updated this – whoops. We went to Colonia, Uruguay on Friday and spent yesterday walking to Microcentro and back (with a short subte ride to and from Malabia in vain hopes of finding leather). So I guess I’ll start at the beginning-ish.

Colonia was… alright. I got a few more stamps in my passport and took more pictures, so that was important, but there wasn’t a lot to do besides eat and do a very limited amount of shopping.

For the eating, we went to El Rincon, a quaint restaurant with a patio facing the water. It looked as though it was just a restaurant that had sprung up out of someone’s house, but upon further inspection, we discovered that it was quite a pricey place.

El Rincon also had an outdoor grill fired up and ready to go – it looked as though its main appeal was the parrilla – so of course, my mother and I ordered a salad and ravioli with meat sauce. That ravioli was so yummy, though…

Definitely the best part of being in Colonia. Isn’t it pretty?

Of course, after wandering around the shops near the water for an hour or so, we got bored and walked back to the ferry… about four hours before our ferry was scheduled to depart, I might add. We did meet other Americans on the way back, though – a mother and her two daughters from Georgia. We bonded. That’s one of my favorite parts of going to another country, strangely enough – it’s easier to make friends with other Americans.

Yesterday was a little more fun. We decided to do some walking (in an effort to negate the effects of all the food we’ve been eating), so headed toward Florida, a pedestrian-only street that cuts through Microcentro. Along the way, we stopped in a few little shops. I ended up procuring the most fabulous purple leather purse for $80 – it’s wonderful quality and, had I gotten it from Coach or Nordstrom, it would’ve cost at least $500. That was probably the highlight of my day. I know it’s not food-related, but definitely worth mentioning.

On Lavalle, the pedestrian-only street that intersects Florida, we stopped at a restaurant called El Palacio de la Papa Frita (palace of the French fry) for lunch.

So, naturally, we had a caprese salad, chicken with steamed vegetables, and flan with dulce de leche. That’s right, no potatoes for us! We’re such rebels.

And it would’ve been a healthy lunch, had we not ordered the flan! Oh well. I had to make my mom try dulce de leche. The flan was yummy, anyway, and I’m sure we walked it off (haha, yeah, right – you can’t burn sugar. I’m really just kidding myself).

Once we made our way back to San Telmo for our requisite afternoon cappuccinos, we found this cute little cafe called Las Mazorcas. We liked it so much, we went back for a very early dinner (very early by Argentine standards; about 8:00).

This was our afternoon snack – tapas and bread (with cappuccinos, of course). Those were red bell peppers marinated in olive oil and eggplant “caviar.”

Part one of our dinner: chicken tacos with all kinds of delicious vegetables inside. They were wonderful. Not quite as good as leftovers (we ordered way too much and had to take half of it home for lunch today).

For part two, we had this shrimp with vegetables. We took half of this home as well. We were silly – we got two of each when we could’ve just split it, but my mom assumed the portions would be small like our tapas were earlier. Not so much!

I’ll make a new post for today’s adventures in San Telmo – this is getting long and picture-heavy.

Finding Nemo!

One of the restaurants on our list was Nemo, a seafood restaurant in Recoleta, a neighborhood which is also home to the famous Recoleta cemetery. I was craving fish, so it seemed an apt choice for lunch. Of course, we’d slept until 10 today, so by 1 pm we were hungry.

We kept it relatively small today: just a smoked salmon salad…

And a seafood risotto with squid ink. Yes, squid ink. It was wonderful.

Oh, and then we had tiramisu with dulce de leche and cappuccinos. It was almost a small lunch… oopsies.

We ran around Recoleta (mostly taking pictures in the cemetery) for the rest of the afternoon, then made our way back to San Telmo for our afternoon cappuccinos in the Plaza Dorrego. We changed it up a little today – we decided to go on our cab driver’s recommendation and have cappuccinos at Cafe Dorrego.

Then we did some more shopping as we made our way home, and picked up some empanadas from a bakery for dinner. No restaurant-ing tonight… we needed a restaurant break, I think.

Tomorrow… Colonia, Uruguay!

Eating like the Argentines do.

Argentines don’t usually eat breakfast, and this morning, we learned why. We stayed at La Brigada until close to midnight, which is fairly typical for dinner – people here really know how to dine. We then proceeded to sleep until 11, so we almost completely missed the morning. Part of it, I’m sure, was jetlag – but part of it had to be that we ate dinner so late last night.

By about 1 pm, we were ready to leave the house and find food again (this is how my mother and I travel – we basically eat our way through every city). We wandered down Carlos Calvo (our street), aiming loosely toward the ATM, and ended up stopping for lunch at Don Ernesto.

They served these delicious white beans with bread:

And ohmigodthebestempanadasever:

Seriously. They were amazing. We’re going back for dinner.

We made the mistake of ordering another dish, when we would’ve been fine just eating the empanadas and arugula salad, but this was also amazing:

That’s chicken with Portuguese sauce and Spanish-style potatoes. Deeee-licious.

We did some shopping in our neighborhood after that, then made our way back to Plaza Dorrego for our afternoon coffee. Our good intentions – two cappuccinos – turned into one cappuccino, one cafe con leche, and a split piece of torta de ricota.

Torta de ricota = pie stuffed with ricotta. What a novel concept. Not too sweet, yet still a delightful little pastry.

All in all, a delicious day!

Update: La Brigada!

We had this amazing arugula salad with parmesan and vinaigrette…

And then this breaded chicken, barbecued (parrilla) pork, and fries with garlic and parsley…

In addition to the bottle of delightful chardonnay and two pricey glasses of port, the entire dinner for the two of us was $70 US (about 280 Argentine pesos). And all this, at an upscale, though touristy, establishment. Yummy yummy.

We also learned that, not only do people normally eat dinner around 9 or 10 here, but they also typically share dishes. No wonder the entrees have been so sizable – we weren’t supposed to eat them all ourselves! Go figure.

Slowly expanding from all the bread…

We’ve made it to Day 2 of our Buenos Aires trip, and already I’m full of bread. Last night we ended up going to a little cafe in San Telmo called El Secreto – it’s basically a sports bar. Very simple. We landed there because our power went out and 1) it would’ve been difficult to get ready for a nice dinner in the dark, and 2) we needed to use WiFi and theirs was free.

We decided to try this Argentine beef we’d heard so much about:

It looks pretty, but it was just okay. I scarfed it down, though, since I’d just woken up from a nap and for some reason that always makes me ravenous. We also split a small flan and each had a glass of wine as we waited for Eva (the housekeeper) to meet us and find out why the power was out. She did, by the way. It was back on an hour or so later and has not been out since.

Today, Eva took us to La Boca, a poorer neighborhood in Buenos Aires, a short bus ride from San Telmo (in which direction I couldn’t tell you, since I’m still getting my bearings). We stopped at a parrilla (barbecue) for lunch, where my mom and I both had delicious chicken empanadas and salads. Eva laughed at us for having salads. Apparently they don’t do that so much here.

She also insisted that we would “need lots of water” because the chimichurri sauce was supposedly so spicy; it had a slight spice to it, yes, but it was not what I would call spicy. Clearly Argentines have not been exposed to Thai food.

We did some walking after lunch (my mom did more shopping – she’s all about the shopping), then caught the bus back to San Telmo and eventually made our way to the Plaza Dorrengo for cappuccinos…

… and a snack of grilled goat cheese…

… which was, of course, served with bread. Oh well, it was delicious.

We’re still trying to decide where to go to dinner (my mom is reading the guidebook aloud as I’m typing this). I think we’ve settled on La Brigada. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Sunshine!

It was a beautiful day in Seattle – finally. We’ve had a bit of an extended winter, with only a handful of somewhat sunny days, which have conveniently mostly taken place on the weekends. So when I woke up this morning to the sun shining in my window, I was thrilled to be going up to Ballard for my hair appointment.

My hair looks awesome, by the way. I love my hairdresser – I’ve been going to her for a few years now and, not only does she consistently do an amazing job, but she always tells me how much she loves my hair (I’m a total sucker for compliments). And I kind of like visiting Ballard, too – it’s got a quaint feel to it. I’d been meaning to try one of the restaurants up there, so after my appointment, I went off in search of good eats.

I searched for a long time. 1) I wasn’t hungry because I’d had a late breakfast, and 2) it is very difficult – though not impossible – to find a restaurant that serves reasonably sized portions that don’t leave me either uncomfortably full or with leftovers. I walked… and walked… and took a bus… and walked some more… and took another bus… and ended up at U Village. That’s four miles from my hairdresser. I probably walked about three and a half miles, and all in search of food.

Here’s where I ate:

Don’t be fooled by the name – Pasta & Co has quite a few options that don’t have anything to do with pasta, and they’re all delicious, at least the ones I’ve tried. Today, I had 4 ounces of “Gobble It Up” (a turkey/Italian chicken sausage meatloaf) and a black eyed peas and mustard greens salad.

I will admit, I felt a little ridiculous asking the server for 4 ounces of the meatloaf instead of just taking a whole slice like everyone else, but the I realized – I don’t know her. I don’t care what she thinks. I may be an American, but that doesn’t mean I have to eat like Americans are expected to eat (at least, judging by how much restaurants serve). Portion control is a concept that many of us haven’t mastered because there haven’t been good examples of it. Sure, I grew up eating my mom’s cooking, and she always seemed to have a good grasp of how much to eat, but I never really grasped the concept – so when I got to college, I just ate everything, and as much of it as I wanted. I also didn’t cook, so I’d go out to eat a lot. It’s a miracle (and a sign that I won the genetic lottery) that I wasn’t absolutely huge as a college student.

I would also like to know why it is that the cheaper the food, the more of it they give you. This is counterintuitive. You’d think if you paid for smaller portions, you’d be paying less, but that’s only the case at places where they charge based on food weight (which makes total sense, doesn’t it?). If you go to, say, a Thai restaurant and order pad kee mao and crab rangoon, you’d need at least one other person to split it with, and you still end up feeling a little overstuffed. I like the concept of eating tiny portions of many different things, like at kaiten sushi restaurants.

Which brings me to tonight’s dinner. After the delightful lunch, I ventured over to QFC to pick up a few grocery items (mostly fruit). While there, I noticed they had unagi in their seafood case. Pre-cooked, pre-flavored unagi strips, without evil white rice, staring up at me, begging me to take it home. So I did.

This was tonight’s dinner:

That’s a mixed greens salad with a few cherry tomatoes and Japanese black sesame dressing, miso soup, the rest of the noodle salad, about an ounce of unagi, and the salmon cakes and ponzu sauce from last night. I warmed up the salmon cakes in the oven because I was afraid nuking them would cause a loss of crispiness. It was a delicious and light dinner, even though it looks like a lot of food. I really like my meals bento-like.

For my bedtime snack, which has quickly morphed into dessert (go figure), I perfected my baked apple recipe. Or at least, I’m getting closer. The almond milk works really well, I’ve found – complements the apple and spices nicely. I drowned the apple pieces in it this time and I think it made all the difference.

I’m also currently working on a frozen yogurt recipe… will let you know how that one turns out tomorrow (it’s currently in the freezer).