Tag Archives: Argentina

The Office ***

Arevalo 3031
Buenos Aires, Argentina
(+54) 2050.3942

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“Yo tengo bajón.”

What does it mean?

In the words of the wise Kat Williams, it means, “I ain’t dead. I’m gonna wake up in 20 minutes, hungry enough to eat up everything in your house.”

I’m talking about the munchies. And you can imagine (being the foodie that I am) the level of munchies that I get. I’m not gonna lie, it gets a little out of control sometimes. It starts with a singular oreo and ends with a pizza covered in ranch dressing, a grease soaked bag from taco bell, a bowl of something chocolatey but not readily identifiable, and is that peanut butter I taste stuck to the roof of my mouth? My goodness the things I do to my poor belly between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am!

I have encountered a problem satisfying the munchies in Argentina though, because the best foods (and by that, I mean most gross and fattening) are American creations often unavailable here. There are no coco-puffs, no buffalo chicken wings, no bagel bites, no Tostito Hint o’ Limes, no pretzels, no double stuffed oreos, and if you really want peanut butter, you have to purchase it from a fancy wine and cheese shoppe for the steep price of about $80 pesos (thats 3 hours of my salary, to put that figure into perspective).

But as the munchies crept up on me the other night, I had an idea. I remembered hearing about a burger joint in Canitas, serving up ‘Yanqui-esk’ concoctions such as onion rings, chicken wings, juicy burgers, and quesadillas. I wanted anything fried, spicy, breaded, and fattening, and I wanted it ASAP. So my friends and I headed over to The Office for some proper Yanqui grub.

We started with an order of Buffalo Chicken Wings, which came with an intensely hot dipping sauce (not Frank’s Buffalo sauce of course, but still satisfyingly spicy). The wings themselves were good, although Casa Bar still takes the trophy for best wings in Bs As…they import the Franks Hot Sauce so they automatically win.

Then we got 2 large orders of cheese fries for the table to share, which were a nice taste of American comfort. They were crispy, well-salted, and came topped with a delicious variety of melted cheeses. Definitely hit the spot.

Next to arrive was the basket of onion rings! (I told you I get out of hand sometimes). These were FABULOUS! Actually, my favorite menu item from The Office, which is surprising since I normally don’t indulge in this fried delicacy (but then again, I consume a lot of things I wouldn’t even admit to eating sober, when I have the munchies!). They were piping hot, the batter was thick and crispy, and the mayo dip was absolutly perfect!

Now for the main course! I ordered the California Burger with ground beef, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, avocado, bacon, and honey mustard. Of course, this was served with even more french fries! Unfortunately, the burger patty itself was dry but the toppings and sauces compensated for this cooking error. Also note, I seemed to be the only one with an overcooked burger, so maybe this is a freak thing (I’ll find out, because I will go back!).

My friends also got the BBQ Bacon Burger with cheddar cheese, bbq sauce, and a large onion ring. It look monstrous and yummy, but I was not disappointed with my burger choice!

All in all, a good place for American expats to enjoy the foods they miss and crave and a great way for Portenos to sample some proper American grub.

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{ Food Porn – Asados en Argentina }

A look at what I have been grubbing on since my arrival in Argentina…. It’s okay to be jealous!

Asado en Mendoza

Asado en Buenos Aires

Asado en Atuel

 

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{ Chicken Milanesa }

Based on my observations here in Buenos Aires, there are five staple dishes in the Argentine diet: steak, pizza, pasta, empanadas, and milanesas (they will also consume dulce de leche in any, and every, form possible!). But milanesas are just about as popular in Argentina as hamburgers are in America. Likewise, they are decorated with many different toppings and condiments and served in numerous forms. Originally an Italian creation, Milanesa is a thin slice of meat—veal, chicken, or beef—that is breaded and fried to a golden perfection. Argentines, however, have taken their creative liberties with this simple dish and used it as a blank canvas to invent unfathomable and uncountable flavor combinations. There are even entire restaurants dedicated to the art of milanesas (i.e. Club de Milanesa). Toppings range from four cheeses, to sundried tomatoes and basil, to fried eggs and pancetta. Here is a look to get you inspired:

This is my simple recipe for chicken milanesa, although you can do it with any meat and top it with any ingredients that you like! I prefer mine simple like the Italians, with a little bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a nice side salad.

{ My Tips for Cooking the Milanesa }

  • Really pound out the chicken so that it is thin and tender.
  • Use panko breadcrumbs if you can, they seem to brown nicer.
  • Bread the chicken one-hour before frying it, allowing it to chill in the refrigerator in the meantime. I find that this helps the breading adhere to the meat, so it doesn’t fall apart when you are turning it.
  • Make sure the oil is hot enough before you start to fry. I test the temperature of my oil by throwing in bits of breadcrumbs, and checking that they sizzle upon submersion. Also, make sure that the oil is not too hot or the breading will burn and the meat won’t cook. You should heat the oil over a medium-high flame, not high.
  • When you remove the fried chicken from the oil, place it on a bed of lettuce leaves, which absorb the oil better than paper towels and brown paper bags!

 { Ingredients }

  • 1 cup all-pupose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, pounded to ¼” thickness
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, if it’s in your budget!)

 { To Make the Milanesa }

Set up three bowls; one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs combined with the parmigiano reggiano cheese. Season the chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and black pepper and then take each piece of chicken through a standard breading procedure: dredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then through the egg wash, and then through the breadcrumbs.

Make sure that the chicken is well breaded!! Lay the breaded chicken on a baking sheet and allow to sit in the refrigerator for a hour or so.

Pour the oil into a large sautee pan until it reaches a thickness of about half an inch (remember, you want it to cover the chicken). Then heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Once the oil is hot, cook the chicken in batches for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy!

When the chicken is removed from the pan, lay it on a bed of lettuce leaves to absorb the oil and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges or go the Argentina route and top it with whatever your heart desires!

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San Telmo’s Burrito Boy *****

Near the corner of Defensa and Chile
San Telmo, Argenetina
Sundays Only!!

It’s Sunday morning and although I haven’t set an alarm, my phone is ringing. The message reads:

“Yo kids,  u know i b in SanT every sunday afternoon with burrito boy. Come hang!” – M. Koo

My head is pounding, but I am salivating at the thought of a warm, flour wrapped, beef burrito. I want it almost as bad as a glass of ice cold water and advil. I look at the time and it is 3 O’Clock, which means I have approximately two hours to get my ass to San Telmo before burrito boy leaves the market. I grab 10 pesos off my nightstand, wake up the girls, and head out (still wearing remnants of last night’s 80’s Halloween costume, might I add!).

We plow through the sea of vendors and tourists that crowd the narrow streets, until we reach him–Burrito Boy. Since my entire Sunday revolves around this burrito, he is my idol. We kiss on the cheek, and he places in my hand that shiny, foil-wrapped, piece of heaven. Cue eating frenzy.

I think it is a fair statement to say that I am a burrito connoisseur, given my love for Mexican food and my weekly burrito consumption. As such a qualified connoisseur, I assert that Burrito Boy has by far the best burrito in all of Argentina. It is a bold statement, I know. But here is why I arrived at this conclusion:

  1. The burrito only costs 10 pesos 
  2. The wraps are all homemade and hand rolled by Burrito Boy
  3. The burrito is actually hot, in fact steaming hot, when you get it
  4. Burrito Boy’s wrapping technique is fail proof, it never falls apart
  5. Burrito Boy serves his Mexican masterpiece with an incredible spicy sauce that will keep you at his stand for the duration of you burrito eating experience, God forbid you should have a bite without the sauce
  6. Burrito Boy has personality–he will talk to you the entire time you are eating (without passing judgement as you double fist with your burrito in your one hand and the bottle of hot sauce in your other)
  7. Lastly, Burrito Boy has an entire roll of paper towels, which he will give out freely to anyone with a face covered in hot sauce (which is everyone by the time they are done)
Now, I cannot take the credit for discovering Burrito Boy (although I wish I had). Instead, I got the tip from another fellow foodie, Mr. M. Koo, who sent the text message above, and can in fact be found posted up at Burrito Boy’s stand every Sunday afternoon (with me now, of course!). If you care to come join us–I encourage that you do–you can find Burrito Boy located on Defensa near the corner of Chile.
I didn’t even bother to describe the burrito in this post, because some things are just too delicious for words–this being one of them. But I will give you the heads up that there are just two kinds of burritos: vegetarian (with sauteed spinach) and carne (with barbacoa). I am normally a meat person, but happen to think that the vegetarian burrito is better because it isn’t as dry. Then again, you should be slathering every bite in Burrito Boy’s hot sauce, so pick which ever one tickles your fancy!

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b-Blue Natural Bar & Deli ****

Armenia 1692
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4831.7024

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There are an infinite number of cute sidewalk cafes and restuarants in Buenos Aires. There are little vegetarian spots, tea houses, ice cream parlors, and even places strictly devoted to the sale of coffee and chocolates. The task of choosing just which one to spend your afternoon at can be quite overwhelming, especially in the crowded Palermo area. As I was walking to the gym the other day, I passed by at least 18 adorable cafes, each one begging me to abandon my work out plans and indulge in something delicious and homemade. I tried to fight the urge, but finally caved when I passed by bBlue Natural foods. I could see the salads being served in enormous porclain bowls and almost every table had a brightly colored fruit smoothie on it. I couldn’t resist.

I took a seat and ordered the b-Pollo Salad, which is a bed of mixed greens with shredded chicken marinated in honey, soy sauce, and dijon mustard, topped with sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, carmaleized onions, and croutons, and tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos). Personally, I like the bBlue house dressing with olive oil, vinegar, blueberries, lemon, honey, and mustard. It adds a sweet fruity flavor to the salad, which is a nice contrast with the sundried tomatoes. So far, this place serves the best salad in Buenos Aires (in my opinion, of course!). The portions are huge and they aren’t stingy with the meats or the cheeses. Also, the ingredients are incredibly fresh and absolutely everything is homemade. Ohh and finally a place that serves a non-mayonnaise dressing!! Major brownie points for that!

Since my first time at bBlue, I have become a regular and I have yet to have a bad meal. Another favorite salad of mine is the b-Deli Salad, which is a bed of baby spinach, lemon-marinated mushrooms, cubes of brie cheese, and toasted almonds, tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos) (I like to put the homemade pear dressing on this salad).

In addition to the salads, bBlue also makes incredible gourmet sandwiches!! They have all sorts of spreadable cheeses and aiolis, so the sandwich isn’t dry. My personal favorite so far is the Pollo Sandwich served on French bread with chicken marinated in honey and soy sauce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, melted gruyere cheese, with dijon and mayo (38 pesos). The sandwich is then served with side of incredible herb roasted potatoes and a ramekin of ketchup. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but imagine a gourmet chicken cheesesteak, and that’s this sandwich.

Ohh, and I almost forgot….the POMEDLADO!!!! It’s like a lemonade, but one hundred times better becasue it is made with grapefruit juice, honey, fresh ginger, and a hint of mint (13 pesos). Seriously? It redefines refreshment.

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Magdalena’s Party **

Thames 1795
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
11.4833.9127

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Brunch, in the United States, is defined as a weekend ritual for twenty-something year olds (typically New Yorkers), who gather to share their first meal of the day after a long night of drinking and debauchery. The meal occurs any time after noon and before 5 pm on a Saturday and/or Sunday, where the participants recap the events of the previous night over several rounds of moderately priced Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Brunch is not just a meal; it is an urban cultural affair. In fact, people are so devoted to this culinary phenomenon, that there are entire websites dedicated to finding the best brunch spots in most major US cities—who can make the best eggs Benedict, the biggest blueberry pancakes, the most delicious omelette, and the perfect Bloody Mary. And don’t even get a New Yorker started on the best bagels and egg sandwiches!! Oy Vey!

I consider myself a fairly loyal “brunchee” at home, and after having a rather long and drunken night last night, I decided that the best way to embark on a new day was by starting it off with a proper brunch. Luckily, the brunch concept is catching on here in Buenos Aires and a ton of search results came back, much to my surprise. I was looking at the list of restaurants, when I spotted the words “breakfast buritto” nestled into the description of a place called Magdalena’s Party. My heart jumped and the decision was made, we were going to Magdelena’s!

We got a table right away, and began drooling over the very Americanized breakfast menu, which included items such as “American Diner Special,” belgian waffles, and bagels with lox. My pupils were dialating by the second. We started off with a couple of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, which I thought were all very good. The mimosas here are made with fresh squeezed orange juice–a classy step up from Tropicana back home! And the Bloody Mary was very tasty, especially taking into account that Argentines are typically very shy with the pepper shaker and this drink had whole peppercorns at the bottom! Like little nuggets of gold!

Next we placed our food order, which entailed two orders of the Cali Coast Omelettea delicate crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream, served with a side of home fries–(45 pesos) and one order of Blueberry Pancakes (30 pesos). Then after placing our order, we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

We continued waiting for a total of one and a half hours before the first dish was brought to the table. And that was just the first dish. The second one didn’t come out until 15 minutes later, and then the third one about 5 minutes after that. Therefore, we all ate at seperate times and without an appology from the server, who acted as if this kind of service was normal and acceptable.

Now I have worked in restaurants all of my life, and I understand that sometimes there are just “off days” and the server can’t do anything to icnrease the producitivty of the kitchen. However, I also believe that a server acts as the face of the restaurant and needs to honestly and appologically inform customers of problems that occur. It is amazing what a smile (and free round of mimosas) can do to alleiviate the agony of a long wait for food.

This being said, I am torn with my review of Magdalena’s Party becasue the food was not bad, but the service was abomidable. My Cali Coast Omelette was actually pretty good. I thought it could have used a little bit more egg inside of the crepe, but the general flavor was tasty and the home fries were done perfectly. In fact, the home fries were really, really good now that I think back.

The pancakes were also nice, although the server forgot to mention that they were out of blueberries that day and just shrugged her shoulders and walked away when asked about it. And getting syrup was like pulling teeth…quite a painstaking task.

Overall, I probably won’t go back to Magdalena’s becasue I had such a bad service experience and often the service is what you remember the most when the food is just average. But again, I understand that restaurants have bad days, and had the wait not been so long and the service not so bad, I would have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. Try Magdeaena’s Party if you have a lot of free time to kill, becasue your Brunch might turn into a Drunch if you have the same waiting experience that I did.

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Sugar Bar ****

Costa Rica 4619 
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 11.4831.3276

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Those of you that know me, know that my favorite spot in Miami was a place called Greenstreet. It was a bar by night, an amazing cafe for lunch and dinner, and the best brunch spot in South Florida on the weekends. Today, I am thrilled because I have finally found the Greenstreet of Buenos Aires–Sugar Bar. It is owned by American entrepreneur, Martin Frankel, who has managed to bring a small piece of the US bar/culinary culture to Argentina. And on behalf of all us expats, thank you, Mr. Frankel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love eating traditional Argentine food (parrilla, milanesa, empanadas, ect…) but man do I miss thick juicy burgers, spicy chicken wings, and club sandwiches sometimes. Sugar Bar offers all of these aforementioned menu items, serving each dish with a glorious variety of American condiments. For example, The Blue Cheese Burger made with 200 grams of freshly ground beef, grilled portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and creamy blue cheese spread served with a side of fried potato wedges (44 pesos). The quality of the beef is absolutely amazing (which goes pretty much without saying in Argentina), but the topping combination takes the burger to the next level. The blue cheese adds a nice bite to the earthy flavor of the portobello mushrooms, and the french fries (which are more like steak fries) are also greasy finger-licking good.

If you’re in the mood to get a little messy, I suggest the chicken wings at Sugar Bar (available in buffalo, spicy buffalo, and terryaki). They compete on the same level as the wings at Casa Bar and The Alamo, although I must admit that I still think Casa Bar takes the prize for the best wings. That being said, these are pretty damn good  too. They just have a thicker, more non-traditional, flour coating on them than Casa Bar and they aren’t as spicy. None-the-less, I enjoy them with my liter of beer almost every night I go there.

If your not into eating wings off the bone but still want the buffalo flavor, I recommend trying the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is boneless grilled chicken breast smothered in buffalo sauce, topped with a crispy fried onion ring, lettuce, and tomato, served with a side of creamy blue cheese spread and heaping of fried potato wedges (42 pesos). I have never tried this dish myself, but I saw my friends get it for lunch the other day and they went crazy for it. The onion ring looked divine and the blue cheese was mild and whipped into a very light, spreadable consistency.

Additionally, Sugar Bar serves (drumroll, please) SOUP! All of you expats living here in Argentina know just how big of a deal this is! They have an amazing Chicken Noodle Soup that is packed with large chunks of all-white meat chicken and chopped vegetables (23 pesos). Clear broth soup is a rare find at a restaurant in Buenos Aires, and this one is New Jersey diner style! Delicious…

They also serve a hearty Black Bean Chili (25 pesos) and French Onion Soup topped with oven baked gyuere cheese (20 pesos). Anyone looking for a taste of American comfort food in Buenos Aires, should head to Sugar Bar!

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