Tuesday, March 11, 2008

15 time zones later, the view from Buenos Aires

Now that we're fairly settled in here in Buenos Aires, it's time for some photos.

Sunrise on one of our four flights. Let's see... I think this was the flight from LA to San Jose, Costa Rica. The whole thing feels like kind of a blur now. Did I mention it took us 49 hours to get here?

Still, nothing a hot shower, cafe con leche and some clean laundry can't fix.

Our second meal out, we familiarized ourselves with the local brew, Quilmes. Quilmes Cristal, to be precise. That's right, we're finally sipping Cristal.

Liz and I felt differently about this pizza, but we agreed on one thing: It's a lot closer to the pizza back home than the pizza in Asia. For the record, I didn't like it as much as her.

This was pretty good, though. Ravioli con pesto. The pesto wasn't as good as real Genovese pesto, but, again, compared to some of the pasta we saw in Asia, it was a treat.

Dulce de Leche. Not just a flavor of ice cream in Argentina. It's a caramel-flavored, Nutella-esque spread that the locals use on just about everything. These are just a couple little pastries slathered in the stuff that we picked up from a local bakery. They weren't as good as they looked.

This is an oversized novelty steak. Seriously, what the hell! I didn't know meat came this big. I orderd the vacio (flank steak). What I got was like the entire flank of a two-ton Angus. Even more impressive, this cut is boneless. I almost ate half.

Game face: On

Only tape. I'm guessing their business has been tapering off for a while. At least I was able to show some support for their dying business model with my T-shirt.

Poo brand cleaning supplies! I'm so glad we have a whole new country filled with Engrish to keep us amused.

This dog was hilarious. We were walking down the street in Palermo Viejo when we saw her resting her head on a stuffed animal outside a candle shop. It was cute, so Liz ran to get a shot. But before she could snap the photo, the dog was up and its owner was showing off her tricks. Like, play dead with a stuffed rabbit in her mouth.

Liz spoke to the guy for a few minutes in Spanish. Apparently foreigners always want to take pictures of his dog. The guy was so genuine and friendly... just like everyone else we've met in this country so far... from strangers on the bus helping with directions to our new landlord and his leasing agent.

This is where I'm currently writing the blog. And where I should be writing my novel. I'll get on it.

Ok, this photo sucks. But I had to post it, because it's the best meal I've had so far in Argentina. Bife de Chorizo con pure de papas y espinaca at a place called Los Loros in the San Telmo neighborhood. 30 pesos, aka $9.52 US. That's less than the BK value meal at LAX!

I could blow through a lot of adjectives trying to describe how good it was, but I'll just stick with one that should cover the entire meal: sublime.

Sunday in San Telmo. The neighborhood transforms itself... from sleepy and slightly worn around the edges to the most bustling barrio in BsAs. The cops block off Defensa street so tourists, street performers, tango dancers, vendors and, well, more cops can flood the cobblestoned corridor for more than a mile.

At the center of it all is Plaza Dorrego, legendary home of sexy outdoor Tango exhibitions. All right, someone needs to update the guide book.

Lomito... aka steak sandwich. 11 pesos ($3.49). Basically, two pieces of toast and a hunk of steak. No condiments in sight. My kind of meal.

Street performers aren't usually my bag, but some of the ensembles were actually pretty dang good. Liz almost bought their CD.

One downside to living in San Telmo is that most of the grocery stores within walking distance suck. It's especially lame as we are hoping to cook a decent percentage of our meals at home. But while these stores may not have, say, saffron, yeast, real olive oil, Saran Wrap or any of the other fancy-pants items we find ourselves wanting, one thing they have in spades is cheap booze.

When the most expensive liter of vodka available is $3.61 US (divide pesos by 3.15 to get the US price), you know you're bargain shopping.

One of our first homemade dinners: Butternut squash risotto with pancetta. It doesn't look great and, again, the photo is lacking, but this actually turned out really well.

Dog-walkers are a common sight here in Buenos Aires. As are the dogs' leavings; the dog walkers aren't required to pick up after their clients.

Things can get a little hairy when you're trying to walk eleven 50-pound dogs at once.

Cementerio de la Recoleta, filled with the decaying corpses of some of Buenos Aires' most prominent former citizens.

I had low expectations... it's a popular tourist site, and looking at a bunch of gravestones didn't sound all that appealing to me. But the place is actually really impressive.

Most of the tombs are huge, some have an upstairs, and almost all of them have catacombs. Many are bigger than hotel rooms I've stayed in.

With a prime location in the middle of Recoleta, the cemetary is reserved for the truly elite (aka rich). But the economic crisis of 2001 affected even some of the old-money families, who could no longer afford to maintain their family plots here.

So among the towering marble and granite tombs, you'll see a few that have fallen into total disrepair, with shattered glass, litter... even this!

Catacombs beneath one poorly maintained tomb.

The rest of the place is magnificent.

And here's Evita's final resting spot.

On a mission to find and purchase a pair of basketball shorts, Liz and I happened into a fancy movie theater complex in the Recoleta neighborhood, complete with arcade. I convinced her to play some air hockey and whack-a-mole.

El Ateneo, a bookstore rivaling Powell's in cool factor if not in selection.

Liz tries a "submarino," basically a cup of hot milk with a chocolate bar in it.

A view of our apartment from the patio.

One of the things I've been missing passionately: Homemade french bread with artisan salami. Yep, it's good to be in a place with a kitchen.

That wraps it up for now. This week we may begin volunteering at a program called L.I.F.E. in Recoleta, and I will definitely conclude my search for a venue in which to play basketball to offset the immense amount of steak, wine and salami I am consuming. Ciao!

1 comment:

Chris Harder said...

You obviously have not had steak in Nebraska with my in-laws.