Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Expat Food Porn

Food is amazing and I'm obsessed. And although new food is definitely one of the best parts of  traveling, as an expat it's also definitely one of the best parts of going home or having guests. (Yes the people come before the food, albeit by a close margin). Some things are just irreplaceable - the things you grew up on, comfort foods and cultural staples. What are these for me? Well, off the top of my head: Twizzlers, Butterfingers, peanut butter, Thanksgiving dinner in it's entirety, fruit snacks, rice pilaf, cranberries, ranch, maple syrup, gum, American cheese, Cool Whip, marshmallows, Maine lobster... I'll stop myself. Unfortunately, not all of these things are portable, but you can bet I'm getting what is.
Check out the post Christmas and family visit loot. Future visitors take note.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Cars in Argentina have you wondering what decade you're in.

Best Websites About Buenos Aires

Thank God for the internet. No really, it blows my mind that people survived without it. I know I sure wouldn't be lugging out an encyclopedia at the rate I use Wikipedia. Travelers feel this even more, imagine life with no booking websites, no online reviews and no translation sites. Dios mio! Well personally, I think nothing shows appreciation more than utilizing something you're lucky enough to have access too, so I get Bs.As. info from the internet on the regular.
If you're a foreigner who finds yourself living or traveling in Buenos Aires, with medio mal español, it's more than likely you won't be talking with the locals to get the info you need. But thanks first and foremost for the internet, and also English being an international language, Google translate and the huge expat community in Buenos Aires, there are tons of websites that will make your time here easier and better.

1. ComoViajo This site is literally a lifeline, because despite what they say Guia T is not easy to use. It's like public transportation Mapquest. You put your starting location your ending location and preferences like how long you are willing to walk or if you're looking for the shortest travel time, and then it tells you the different routes you could take by bus, subway, etc, and how long each should take. It also has general information on the state of service for public transport and info about private transport (taxis and remises.) FYI, this one's in Spanish.

2. The Argentina Independent It's an English language Argentine newspaper. Like any news site, it has news, events, art, lifestyle, etc. The homepage also shows the daily exchange rate and weather in Fahrenheit.

3. Groupon That's right. You're favorite discount site has an Argentine version. Stretch your pesos, and get deals on beauty services, food, shows, shopping, trips - pretty much everything. Make sure you read the conditions, Groupons here can have a short time period for which they are valid, and nearly all require a previous reservation. Also note that the prices are in pesos. There are other sites like this as well: Pez Urbano, ClubCupon and Clickon

4. Agenda Cultural This government website has info about events sponsored by the government, many of which are free. They also provide pretty extensive information about private cultural events and museums, guided tours, theater, festivals, etc. You can search by date, location or type of event. 

5. Pick Up The Fork The expat writer of this blog has been living in Buenos Aires for years and knows the food scene inside and out. Not only are there helpful reviews with pictures, hours and addresses for restaurants, but the blog is funny, witty and a pleasure to read. The recent addition of a grocery guide will save you hours, if not days, searching for culinary imports or rarities.  

* Bloggers in Argentina This is more of a portal than an actual site, but I'll mention it because it's great if you're into blogging. It seeks to be a comprehensive list of blogs about Argentina broken down into helpful categories like Expat blogs, Argentina blogs, English blogs etc.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Puma Urban Art

In school, artists were usually one of three types. There were the people who liked doing portraits, landscapes and still lifes following classic traditions (boring types). Then there were those who produced abstract doodle-style works, which either didn't portray anything or looked like a lot of miscellaneous crap thrown together and connected with swirls (stoner types). The last group, who you probably considered artists by default of any other politically correct term, expressed themselves via mutilated dolls and skulls (or like motifs) scrawled across every surface they possessed (creepy types). The first group probably missed high time for fine art, but maybe could end up as art teachers or curators. The last two groups didn't seem like they were going anywhere with their talents. They were though, to South America (obviously), and more specifically a weekend long urban art exhibit.
Since 2008 Puma has hosted an annual Urban Art exhibit in Buenos Aires. The two day long event, which wrapped the 2012 edition March 4, at the Centro Cultural de Recoleta, attracted scenesters, families and random people of all ages. International artists of all types including musicians, film makers, painters, photographers, cartoonists and tattoo artists presented their work through a variety of channels. An eclectic mix of gallery work, performances and screenings worked together to tell stories about the minutiae of life, Argentine and international cultures and the struggle of self expression for artists working outside of traditional parameters.
El Centro Cultural  de Recoleta is a beautiful facility with open air hallways, an outdoor stage and a series of indoor galleries. The stage area has an incredible view of statues, a park with palm trees and the general comings and goings of one of Buenos Aires' most exclusive neighborhoods, a place where you could easily pass hours. For those needing a reprieve from the sun, one of the indoor rooms was set up with carpeted bleachers, a live DJ and a promo table giving out free vitaminwater. Some screenings and discussions with artists were scheduled, but the rest of the event was leisurely and relaxed.
Many of the works were really out there, and a little alternative for my taste. Thus, my favorite pieces from the show were part of a customized bike exhibit. Biking was not invented in Argentine, and relative to other places is not even very popular here. However, the artists made bikes their own (Argentine) by painting the them in fileteado (a uniquely Argentine painting style) and adding leather (which Argentina is world famous for) details such as the embossed leather seat shown below.
One of my favorite exhibits wasn't actually part of the Puma exhibit, though it was open during the exhibition. It is a series of painting representing the writings of Roberto Arlt, one of Argentina's most influential twentieth century authors. The series called Aguafuertes porteñas is the namesake of Arlt's daily opinion column which was published in a Buenos Aires newspaper for more than 10 years. Ten of Arlt's titles were illustrated by more than 250 artists using a variety of techniques and styles, creating series of diverse interpretations on the same topics.
I don't have the title for these last two. (If anyone reads this and knows, tell me!) But, they represent Buenos Aires to a T, so I can't omit them. Wine from viñedo to copa, family and mate is what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Buenos Aires Drink Delivery

5/31/15 - I've been updated that the numbers previously corresponding to this business are now being used as a home phone number. (haha, typical.) Thank you for your interest, but I guess you're on your own again ....

After hour drink delivery is a crucial part of Buenos Aires' internationally renown nightlife. Despite clubs going strong until 7 or 8 in the morning, store sales of alcohol end at 10 pm. Since no one goes out before 1 am, that leaves a big chunk of time which if not properly planned for can be truly disastrous. Luckily, this time gap/gap in the market has been filled by incognito delivery guys. I don't know if they have a big stash of goods or the in with an overtly law abiding kioski, but they they offer alcohol delivery along with other kiosko accoutrements from snacks to cigs to condoms. Plus, the difference in cost usually isn't more than 20 pesos over supermarket cost, undoubtedly worth the convenience. The only problem is that they can be hard to find. Their business isn't legal per se, but they aren't too secretive. This flyer was slid under the door of my apartment building. If you didn't before, now you know a guy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

La Churreria

One of my favorite memories of Spain is walking around the Feria de Seville and chowing down on every last morsel of crispy churros. The long fried donuts were served alongside a thick liquid chocolate used for dipping at first and sipping afterwards.
When I decided to move to Argentina, I was already drooling for churros, daydreaming of what I both hoped and feared would become a daily ritual. Thus you can imagine my panic and then lingering disgust when I realized these babies are quite hard to find. Well, to be clear churros aren't hard to find, but chocolate dipped dulce de leche filled ones are. Though for some strange reason (churros ≠ bikini/speedo bods), they are super popular and prevalent at the beaches.
However, in my wanderings throughout Capital (limited as they are to the D line), I've yet to find an exclusively churro shop. Plain churros are available in most panaderías, filled ones are the next most common but filled and chocolate dipped are quite elusive. I've only met with one shop in Recoleta that consistently carries them, and even that is in limited quantities so the early bird gets the worm. 
I'd resigned myself to chance encounters, until one day I was strolling the artisan fería at el Puerto de Frutos in Tigre, when it appeared like a mirage.
La Churreria is a pastry shop specializing in artisan churros. It's only a tiny store front, but good things come in small packages. Next to the cash register, there are chocolate baths where recently dipped churros drip dry. A counter along one wall is filled with ready to go goodies. 
I was holding back when I ordered a half dozen for myself. Served in a cute little brown paper bag, they were a beautiful sight. Crispy all around with an airy center, filled in from end to end with sweet creamy dulce de leche and a smooth chocolatey exterior. Heaven in my mouth for A$R 17.50.
Although I haven't been there myself, word on the 'net is that La Giralda at 1453 Avenida Corrientes is the Capital favorite. Bye. La Giralda review coming soon...