Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kalimnos

If you read the blog, you know not eating pork in Argentina is a little adventure in and of itself. Yes it’s like the beef capital of the world, and yes there’s a lot of chicken, but when you’re talking about ease of accessibility – a sandwich on a ferry ride or from a kioski refrigerator, you’re about out of luck. I’m a bit of a turkey sandwich fanatic, so when I didn’t find turkey in the supermarket deli case, I was ready to stoop to the level of prepackaged slices and still had no luck there.  
Finally, in my imported-food-driven wanderings I came upon Kalimnos, a small specialty food store with a few locations throughout Capital. It was the condiments in the window display that caught my eye, and inside I found an extensive deli counter, wine shop, imported grocery section and Mediterranean (I’d  guess Greek by the name) antipasto bar. Always on the search for some good cheese, I made a beeline for the deli counter and to what did my wondering eyes appear but two types of turkey (smoked and regular) AND feta was here! Naturally, I ordered both. Mega bonus! The guy cutting the feta gave me all the crumbles from cutting to eat in the store.
I should note that feta is nearly impossible to find, and this was not what I would call totally authentic. I’d give it a 6 out of 10, 10 being an excellent feta and 1 being a cheese they call feta for no apparent reason. Anyway, the turkey was superb, seasoned and delicious, not wet and slimy like the prepackaged stuff. 
The back of the store is the wine and liquor shop, which has a good selection of high quality (read expensive) wines, imported liquors and some specialty beers. The real attraction here, is the basket on the floor of discount wines, where I was able to score a sweet bottle of white wine originally over A$R 100 for A$R 40. 
The grocery section carries a variety of imported products from the U.S. and Europe mostly, including: jams, sauces, spices, pretzel sticks and chocolates.
The Kalimnos pictured here is at 3025 Santa Fe (5 blocks from the Bulnes Subte station). 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

San Andres

I've proudly grudgingly, joylessly gone kicking and screaming where no American (American as in United States of AMERICA, not the continent so I don't want to hear it) ex-pat has gone before: Provincia of Buenos Aires. If you don't already know, the term Buenos Aires applies to two distinct regions: Cuidad Autónoma de Buenos Aires aka the cosmopolitan world class city home to especially sophisticated neighborhoods like Recoleta, Palermo and Puerto Madero; and Provincia de Buenos Aires which includes all the other stuff. 
If Puerto Madero isn't really Buenos Aires (see Perfil article where PM residents say they pay high taxes so they don't want to see homeless people in their neighborhood), then all of Capital isn't really Argentina. That is to say, what's outside of the city of Buenos Aires actually feels like South America. 
On my way to work from the campo (my pet name for San Andres) I see the things I expected to see in South America: a morning can fire at the bus stop, kids being brought school on the handlebars of their parents' bicycles, sidewalk grills, the Detroit-esque Fargo bread factory, dozens of stray dogs roaming the streets, people collecting recyclables from the trash using horse-drawn homemade carriages and a shrine dedicated to Gauchito Gil (the Argie gaucho Saint, of course!). 
The people of the provincias are the masses, the "K" supporters, Evita's descamisados. Painted on walls and plastered on bumpers are support for the president, Moyano and other public figures who are despised by the majority in Capital. (Haha. The Capital, and we're like district 12).
Despite the prevalence of private security and the sounds of weekend street racing and passing trains, there are still remnants of San Andres' golden age including neighborhood bakeries (like La Nueva Moderna, seen in the photo below), big houses and vintage retro signs. 
I should point out that not all of Provincia is like this. There are some ultra upscale suburbs like Vicente Lopez and San Isidro plus the BA beaches, which are even nicer than CABA's best neighborhoods. However, the vast majority of cities and towns throughout the country aren't something out of a guidebook. 


Friday, July 13, 2012

Walmart Argentina

Chains that I generally ignore in the U.S., like T.G.I.Fridays, McDonald's and Walmart have become points of interest here in Argentina. It's amusing to see how these businesses have changed across national borders and cultural divides. Walmart though, seems to operating with business as usual: friendly greeting at the door, and strange wonders inside.
"Our promise with the client is: Rule #1 The client is always right. Rule #2 If the client isn't right, review rule #1."
So... yeah. It's like that. They do have Great Value brand macaroni and cheese though!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Caminos y Sabores 2012

Caminos y Sabores is back and better than ever. In addition to the food stalls, there is a full schedule of workshops and demonstrations (which are live streamed to TVs throughout the event if you can't get a seat inside), an artisan section, live performances and regional tourism booths. The organization seems a little better than last year (despite the line of hundreds to buy tickets and get in), and more importantly the vast majority of sellers picked up on that fact that people want to try before they buy, and this year I would say close to 80% are offering samples. 
I don't know if it's the change of date or the holiday weekend, but this year is also packed compared to last year. In the camino of meats and cheeses it was nearly impossible to reach the counter to buy anything. Plus, we heard from one seller that he was already sold out of most products, only halfway through the four day event!
After my time-limited preview last year, I was ready with a game plan and gave myself a full 4 hours, all of which I used. I visited nearly every booth and tried all the samples I could get my hands on. This of course led to a shopping spree. 
Here are some of the best products I got, aka what I recommend to you:
Vreza tea: This Patogonian tea company offers sacks of loose leaf tea in 8 flavors and tea prepared in handmade tea bags. Of the bagged tea, they have both individual and mixed flavor cans for sale. 
Celicias mustard dressing: This sweet mustard sauce is ideal for dipping or using as a salad dressing. Plus, purchases help the organization which employs handicapped people
La Cocina Del Vino raspberry chardonnay chocolate sauce: The flavors of chocolate, fruit and wine mingle perfectly in this sauce, which was delicious served on only a biscuit, but has unlimited possibilities as an ice cream topper, cocktail drizzle, fruit dip ....
Caa Yari liquor de yabuticaba: This company bears the name of a legendy figure from Misiones. The liquor is flavored with yabuticaba (also spelled with a "j" as the first letter) a purple fruit which grows in tropical climates including Misones, Argentina; Brazil and Taiwan. 
Frutta Roja sundried tomatos and tomato paste: This preserves company from Mendoza offers both sweet and savory products. Their tomato products were the first thing I tried at the event, and truly some of the best tomatoes I've ever tasted here. 
Olium basil flavored olive oil: This basil olive oil has a light and fruity base with a strong basil taste, and is a steal at A$R 30 for a half liter bottle. 
Now comes the sad part of my story, the regrets. I always say, "you should buy something you love when you can, because you never know if you'll have the chance again." Unfortunately, (very) occasionally I let the microscopic banker inside me tell me to think about my budget and forgo a purchase. I nearly always regret this, and this event was no exception. 
Let me tell you about what I see when I close my eyes, what wakes me up from a dead sleep in a cold sweat and what I catch myself day dreaming about, the two products that got away. The first is natural Patagonia sea salt from a company called Sal de Aqui. The salt is sold in natural and smoked flavors, an obvious necessity, and I let it slip through my fingers. The second is olive oil from a company called Molino La Tebaida. This was the first oil I tried, and it was excellent but I was afraid to make the commitment. After tasting more I meant to go back for it, but in all the chaos I forgot. Don't let the same tragedy happen to you!
I don't want to leave this story on a sad note, so here are a few more pictures of delicious.
And don't forget, the National Sausage Fest is coming this September!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cookies 'n' Cream

Finally! One of my import requests to traveling friends and family in now available here! Hersey's Cookies 'n' Cream has arrived in Argentina! Now the only question that remains is: should we call it American cookies? In honor of the 4th of July, I think yes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Caminos Y Sabores 2012

Caminos y sabores is one of the best events in Buenos Aires, a weekend long event which attracts artisan food sellers from throughout the country. From July 6 - 9 hundreds of stands will offer all types of gastronomic products from cheese and meats to jams and honey. There are also lectures, workshops and cooking demonstrations on various topics throughout the weekend like "the secrets of mate" and "risotto al torrontes." Bring your wallet, because you'll want to stock up on specialty products from distant provinces that you'll never visit.
Entrance costs A$R 40. Hours of operation are noon to 9 pm. 
For more information and the schedule of workshops, visit the event website

Colonia, Uruguay in pictures

 Colonia Express: The cheapest way to get to Colonia
 Old train station
 Radio Colonia
 Public School
 El Torreon Restaurant
 Buen Suspiro Restaurant
 Cheese Picada
 2 glasses of wine & cheese picada : 270 pesos uruguayos, 90 pesos argentinos, 14 dollars
Colonia Welcome Center