Life in BA is never boring. I think it is one of the reasons that this place grabs so many people and they never leave. I had someone laugh at me when I said that I was here for two months because he also came for two months … 12 years ago! There is always something going on in this town – markets, festivals, pop-up restaurants, street fairs, concerts, polo!, football games, museum nights, fuudis tours, parties, etc etc. And that’s before you even start on the regular range of great venues – flea markets, restaurants, markets, puertas cerrada, etc etc – that are always there to enjoy. There are also some great resources available to help you keep track of everything that’s happening and the best places to eat, two of my favourites being Pick up the Fork and Inside Buenos Aires.
And I was lucky to meet some great people too, both local residents and people passing through, and make contact with some friends I met when I was last in South America. It all adds up to a great time in a great city that is never, ever boring.
As Christmas drew closer, the activities only got more numerous, and more fun! One of the events that popped up early in December was the BA underground market. I had met Gil at the Fuudis Green dinner – a self-employed Canadian travelling here for a month, hoping to get some work done (yeah, right!), learn tango, do a lot of yoga, learn Spanish and eat good food. Well, one out of five! Having a mutual love of good food, we decided to check out the market at a location only released the day before, in this case, the Parque Palacios neighbourhood.
We arrived in a taxi and found the place full of food stalls, most manned by at least one foreigner, many offering the kind of food they missed from back home, like the homemade peanut butter, Thai satay, cookies, etc. We purchased “tickets” at the front door and took a tour around to work out what we’d eat … first. We both decided we had to try the satay, me opting for the chicken skewers and Gil for the rice paper rolls. Not bad, though for my liking, the satay sauce could have been a bit crunchier and a bit spicier. We then couldn’t go past the POKE Korean style tacos. POKE runs a pop-up restaurant once a week out of one of the Palermo bars, Magdalena’s party. The tacos were crispy bits of pork on a nori taco, with crunchy salad and sesame, and a delicious, lightly spiced sauce. Yum! Hard to beat!
For dessert, we found a lovely couple making homemade cannoli, filled with a lightly sweetened and spiced ricotta mix, dipped in dark chocolate and orange at one end, and pistachio at the other. She was English and had come here a number of years ago, met her now husband, and stayed. They now make cannoli and, armed with well-equipped, cane-basketted bicycles, sell them in the gardens of Palermo on the weekend. I don’t often like cannoli, especially is it’s been filled with a custard mix instead of ricotta, but YUM YUM YUM! Not too sweet, not too rich, just deliciously flavoursome with the perfect combination of creamy filling and light pastry crunch.
The underground market was definitely worth finding, but I had to rush off and leave Gil there so that I could get to the polo finals!
Long before we finally made it to Hernan Gipponi for Christmas Day, Gil and I had reservations to go the Sunday following the market but, unfortunately, he pulled up sick due to some dodgy reheated leftover pizza that he, for some reason, felt the need to eat after all the lovely food at the market. Not to worry, there were plenty of other options available in BA, and I decided to seek out another brunch spot on my own. I headed to Palermo Hollywood, to a cafe that I had heard did a great brunch.
One of the perks of travelling alone – when there’s a long queue for tables, there’s often room for one. Sure enough, despite the large groups waiting outside, I was seated straight away at the bench inside which also gave me prime view of all the goodies laid out for temptation. It was my first bacon and egg breakfast since leaving Aus. It was good, and huge, but not something I’d rush back for. It was served with a side of lemon roasted potatoes though that, for someone who’s not a huge spud fan, were amongst the best spuds I’ve ever eaten!
After brunch, I went off to check out the Palermo Flea Market, which is full of wonderful stuff such as antiques and rustic handmade furniture that I can only dream about getting home. On the way home to my part of Palermo, at the opposite end, I stopped off for a cold drink at a Palermo Soho rooftop terrace that I had spotted from the bus. It was there that I met Ceci and y Ruso, who were the only other people on this relatively undiscovered terrace, so they invited me to join them at their table. With Ceci’s waitress cousin providing jug after jug of cold beer on a hot day, we sat and talked and laughed for a long time. Both were from a rural town in Argentina, and now lived and worked in BA. Ruso, so named because he looks more Russian than Argentinian, works as a distributor for Quilmes, the most famous Argentinian beer (now Brazilian owned). Ceci (Cecilia) is a pastry chef, and originally helped establish a now-successful cupcake chain who decided they didn’t need her once they had her formula done pat. She now gives private baking lessons to people in their homes. Over many beers, and with Ruso’s encouragement, I was trying to convince her that macarons were the next thing that BA needed and she should start her own shop. Watch this space!