December 2nd, 2009 — 3:42am
My three months in Buenos Aires are up, sadly. I loved getting to know the city by walking everywhere and sitting in parks peoplewatching. The weekends were my favorite because everyone spent the day outside. I would walk to Puerto Madero’s Costanera Sur, where I’d be surrounded by local people and food.
No, Buenos Aires doesn’t have as strong of a street food culture as some countries you see Anthony Bourdain travel to, but I found the area along the ecological reserve to be the best place to fill up for a buck or two. Although I’ve written some about this before, I have a few more street treats to add.
Bondiola — This grilled pork shoulder can be a little tough, so it wasn’t typically my first choice, but it’s a common order for others. Porteños tend to keep their food simple. Bondiola al limon (with lemon) is standard. I liked to load up on the vegetables. My sandwiches always looked like a salad bar compared to those of locals. In fact, that’s how I decided which parilla to visit, by the topping options.
The stand where I got these choripans (chorizo sandwiches) had great salads and marinated vegetables to add. Oh yeah, and it still costs a dollar no matter how much you load on top.
I also loved the caramelized onions and spicy salsa at the stand where I got this morcilla (blood sausage).
And if you read my ode to dough, you know how hard it was for me to ever pass up the grilled bread. Some stands only offer plain, but others will slice it and add cheese, ham or other filling in the middle. My favorite stand was a mother-daughter operation in the Puerto Madero park. They would mix spiced ground meat into the dough before cooking. Fantastic results.
And then, there’s dessert. People would make cakes and other sweets to sell in the parks on weekends. I usually went with a churro or an alfajor, which involves two soft cookies surrounding dulce de leche, then rolled in shredded coconut or dipped in chocolate.
Yep, I’ll miss this.
More about Buenos Aires street food here.
10 comments » | Generally Food Related
November 29th, 2009 — 4:48pm
Dan Perlman talks to students about removing skins from roasted peppers
While I was in Buenos Aires, chef Dan Perlman was kind enough to let me observe one of his cooking classes and talk to him about his in-home restaurant and other enterprises.
Casa SaltShaker is a restaurant in Buenos Aires popular among in-the-know tourists. It’s a cooking school for many expatriates. It’s the office of writer Dan Perlman. And it’s the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his partner Henry Tapia.
Casa SaltShaker is the place Perlman dons his many hats. In 2005, the American chef/sommelier/writer moved from New York City to Buenos Aires, where he added a few more slashes to his title: restaurateur/instructor/food blogger/author.
Tired of working restaurant hours, Perlman focused on freelance writing for Time Out Buenos Aires and other publications but kept cooking as a hobby. On weekends he had friends over for multi-course dinners as he had been doing in New York since 1994. In 2006, Perlman decided to turn his dinner parties into a business. Friends invited friends and so on until Casa SaltShaker became a destination for hip porteños, expats and tourists.
Dan Perlman and students in Casa SaltShaker's kitchen
The media has since described Casa SaltShaker as part of a new trend of “restaurantes a puertas cerradas” (“closed door restaurants”). Perlman says there’s nothing secret or underground about his or most other in-home restaurants in Buenos Aires.
“People forget that restaurants started in homes,” Perlman said. “We just stopped doing that as things became commercialized. But it continued that way here (in South America).” Continue reading »
2 comments » | Interviews
November 12th, 2009 — 3:17pm
I’m sure you can guess a few ingredients in the abstract swirl of green above. Nonetheless, I continue this He Cooks She Cooks feature and ask, what is that and why is it in my fridge?
Continue reading »
4 comments » | Cooking Basics
November 7th, 2009 — 11:33am
These cookies need a milk chaser, and that’s a good thing. I prefer desserts that demand a cold glass of milk.
By that I mean, rich, dense and chocolatey. For me, there is definitely such a thing as “too sweet” — many commercially made desserts fit this category — but there is no chocolate “too rich.”
The cookies are bittersweet with subtle cinnamon and cayenne pepper. They’re okay on their own, but the dulce de leche adds a needed creaminess. I have had the recipe bookmarked for two years, but you shouldn’t wait anywhere near that long to make a version of these.
Chocolate and dulce de leche previously: Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Layer Cake and Chocolate Dulce de Leche Custard Puffs
Continue reading »
17 comments » | Recipes
November 2nd, 2009 — 11:38pm
The great thing about empanadas is that anything goes. Whatever you have in the kitchen can be sealed in dough, then baked or fried. It’s a fun way to play with flavor combinations.
I knew I wanted swiss chard and ricotta together. I had some shallots, so in those went. Some salt, pepper and lemon juice to bring out the taste of everything. I found the chard to be a little bitter still, so I diced some red bell pepper and added that for sweetness. It worked! Flavor and color balance with one addition.
But even if you end up with a tasty but monochromatic empanada filling, it doesn’t matter because it all gets wrapped up anyway. (I’ve been working on my empanada sealing technique. It’s not quite there, but I have a few weeks left to master it before I leave Buenos Aires.)
Continue reading »
7 comments » | Recipes
October 30th, 2009 — 9:01pm
This dish started because I wanted to do something with polenta. I turned to Plate Online, which has recipes from many well-known chefs and restaurants. I saw a recipe for goat cheese polenta fries and another for soft polenta with jalapeños and bleu cheese. I had goat cheese in the fridge, and I don’t care for bleu cheese unless it is with something really sweet, so I combined the two ideas.
Then I remembered I had black beans soaking in water already (As my friend Kat noted, of course that would be something I would do, start soaking dried beans one night for no particular reason).
I googled polenta and black beans and saw an idea to put a black bean salad on top of creamy polenta. So that was it, I bought a bell pepper and lime, then made do with everything else I already had.
The result was very satisfying. I loved the flavor of the polenta. The beans and bell pepper offered contrasting texture, and the guacamole was a cool balance to the spice of the jalapeños. I would have liked some fresh cilantro but the store didn’t have it. I used a good amount of ground coriander in the salad, though.
All in all, a tasty dish, and a nice alternative to rice and beans.
Continue reading »
3 comments » | Recipes