Saturday, December 4, 2010

October trip to Buenos Aires

I went to Argentina in the middle of October. Even although the trip took a few hours longer than a trip to Europe it seemed more comfortable, if that's possible - in coach, with a child screaming all night. It had do with the fact that there's no real jet lag. Argentina is just one hour ahead of New York. Here's the view outside of my hotel - the conveniently and centrally located - Panamericano Buenos Aires, window looking south. The Obelisco is one of the iconic sights of Buenos Aires. It actually commorates four different things: the first and second founding of the city, the first raising of the national flag in 1812 which took place on the spot, and the naming of Buenos Aires as Capital Federal in 1880. If you were to look directly across the street you would see the fabulous Teatro Colon - one of the great music halls of the world. I was lucky to hear the Buenos Aires Symphony, under the outstanding direction of the passionate, and animated Enrique Arturo Diemecke, play pieces by Bax, Paganini and Respighi.

There is a wonderful restaurant in the Panamericano, Tomo 1  The restaurant is owned and operated by the septuagenarian sisters, Ada and Ebe Concaro, and Ada's son, Federico Fialayre. The sisters are considered to be the founders of portena-style cooking - the food of "the people of the port". When you want a break from all the delicious grilled and barbecued meat found at every corner of the city, and you long for a slice of homemade pate flavored with fennel seeds and cognac,  jumbo Patagonian shrimp sauteed with carrots, lime and ginger then flambeed and served with basmati rice, roast quail served with fresh mango, kiwi and pear chutney, or a plate of assorted Argentine cheeses; Goya from
Corrientes, Brie from Cordoba served with candied hazel nuts make your way to
Tomo 1 on the entrepiso -  mezzanine level of the hotel.

Buenos Aires is a sprawling, sophisticated city divided into many barrios - neighborhoods.  The Panamericano is located in the downtown area - a bit like Times Square in New York City - but not so crowded, not so noisy - and dare I say - not so dirty.  I like that within minutes I could walk into another neighborhood.

My favorite food market in Buenos Aires is the covered, Mercado Municipal in the San Telmo neighborhood. There are fruit and vegetable vendors displaying stacks of fresh products from all over South America, butchers, and fishmongers as well as antiques and flea market-type dealers.   Stop for a cortado - an espresso with a dollop of steamed milk at the Cafe de Mercado, located smack dab in the center of the market - it's a great spot for people watching.

One of my favorite areas to shop for fashion and decoration is Palermo Soho. I was bowled over by the handmade furniture, and Argentine arts and crafts at Arte Etnico Argentino, El Salvador 4656.

Further on El Salvador at number 4786 find Casa-Chic a kind of  South American Anthropologie.  Casa-Chic is chock-a-block filled with decorating accents; vases, baskets, tablecloths, napkins, candles and on and on - it's a seductive shop.

The Recoleta Cemetery, located in the Recoleta neighborhood (the upper East Side of  Buenos Aires) is a must stop on your tour of the city.  Aside from the de rigueur visit to the Duarte family mausoleum in order to pay homage to the legendary Evita- there are other strikingly beautiful crypts to see.  The sculptural, black, wrought iron wreaths that serve as grave markers are particularly notable.

While I'm on the subject of  Eva Peron - an enduring, beloved figure in Argentina, don't overlook a visit to the beautifully designed, and curated museum devoted to her - Museo Evita.  Find the museum in the Italianate townhouse that once housed her Social Aid Foundation.  The house is on Avenida Lafinur 2988, bordered by the  Botanical Gardens and the Zoo.   Plan on visiting the museum around lunchtime - it's restaurant/bar is charming, very tasty and not to be missed.

SUSANSIMONSAYS There are two more things that you absolutely, positively can not miss while in Buenos Aires - one is hot chocolate and crunchy, sweet churros, served with a schmear of the ubiquitous dulce de leche, at the country's oldest (and most fabulous) cafe - Cafe Tortoni, Avenida de Mayo 829.

The other is to shop for real Argentine products at Arandu (there are a few locations - but my favorite is in the Recoleta area at Avenida Ayachucho 1920).  Arandu is a talabarteria , a saddlery.  The shop is filled with all the equipment that you and your horse need to go out for a ride, a race or a show; bits, spurs, buckles, cinches, girths, harnesses, boots, ponchos, and saddles.  I zeroed in the shop's fancied up version of gaucho-style espadrilles made with striped, gingham, and polka-dotted canvas with rubber, instead of hemp soles, in order to grip the stirrups. They are reasonably priced, light-weight - the perfect gift for everyone.  Just remember to bring every one's shoe size - then get one size smaller - with you.

 photo courtesy of Amy and Jacqui

1 comment:

  1. Hello, and thank you for this post. I am in BA now with my kids, and we plan to visit your suggestions--nicely done.