Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

¡Tanta comida (so much food)!

November 28, 2017
For the last few mornings we've been cooking breakfast in, but this morning we decided to have an American-style brunch in Villa Crespo. It's just south of Palermo Viejo – where we're staying, and where we used to live – but for whatever reason we hardly ever visited there. We followed the recommendation of the wonderful food blog Pick Up The Fork and went to Cafe Crespin.

(First, I got up at the early vacation hour of 8:45 and ran 4.3 miles, burning 624 calories before breakfast. I like to think of this as earning the rest of the day's meals.)

At the cafe, I ordered an "English LHC" sandwich – lomitohuevocheddar on a large English muffin  and Steph ordered french toast with eggs and bacon. (Her dish was twice as large as mine and I ended up eating half of hers.) All delicious.

A few hours of reading in the park, window shopping, and science-museum-learning later, we stepped into another (mediocre) cafe for more coffee. Their menu had both café con leche (what we'd call in the U.S. a latte) and a laté. We ordered one of each to learn the difference. Turns out, at least at this place, a laté is a cold (more like room temperature), overly sweetened milk-and-coffee beverage, more like what Starbucks would call a "frappe" (I think – I've never actually ordered one). (Earlier with brunch, we ordered cafes doble, thinking they'd be like cafe con leche with two shots, but they were just double shots with no milk. Our local food lingo is rusty.)

Then it was time for an afternoon snack of ice cream. We had already tried and greatly enjoyed Tufic, and were familiar with the older chains (Persicco, Freddo, etc). An Argentine friend had recommended Lucciano's, so we went there. A quarter kilo was much more cost effective than two small cups, so efficiency dictated that we eat delicious dulce de leche granizado, Bailey's, and hazelnut helado. Yummy.

Then I wanted to go back to Chori. This little joint serves amazing choripan, an Argentine street food of sausage on bread with chimichurri and other toppings. (Sort of like a hot dog, but the sausage here is homemade, and cut lengthwise for a larger ciabatta-like bun.) We had eaten there a few days earlier, but... we're leaving in two days and I needed another fix. (We split one this time.)

Dinner: We had been in Buenos Aires for six days and hadn't had any steak! We went to a new parilla which everyone was recommending (with reservations made several days before), La Carniceria in Palermo. (Their owners also happen to own Chori.) Steak in Argentina obviously pairs best with Malbec, but this place is also known for its gin & tonics (gin being a thing that seems to have caught on in the last few years, specifically the local brand Apóstoles), so we started with those. (Chori's gin & tonics were too sweet, but these were quite good.) The menu had two Malbecs in the 350 peso (~US$20) range, so we asked the waiter to help us choose between them, and he said, "oh those are shit Chinese wine" and insisted we order a different one. Kind of funny (they were of course from Argentine wineries, not Chinese)... but we ordered a bottle a notch up and it was excellent.

The steaks were HUGE. (It was the second-largest steak I'd ever eaten, after the monstrosity I shared with a friend in 2012 at La Brigada, and Steph's largest.) Three inches tall and six wide, bone-in, medium-rare, dry-aged rib eye. Wowzers. (Oh, and before the steak, we had their whole wheat sourdough bread – perhaps the best bread we've had in BA so far, tied with Caseros in San Telmo – and then a delicious slab of smoked provoleta for an appetizer.)

The amazing thing about parillas here is that they're still relatively cost effective. Most of the other food we've eaten seems very inflated, certainly relative to 2012, and even comparable at current exchange rates to San Francisco prices. Some places, like the Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant Osaka, are really pushing the limits of dinner prices. But those massive steaks at La Carniceria cost 380 pesos (US $22), and a steak a fraction half the size would probably cost three times as much at home. (I can't remember the last time I got a steak at an American restaurant; they never seem worth the price.)

Conclusion: When you visit Buenos Aires, eat good choripan, ice cream, and steak, and you can't go wrong.

- Ben

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