"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Friday, March 12, 2010

By The Sea: San Clemente

The Río de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean near the charming beach town of San Clemente del Tuyú, where we spent a long weekend at the shore surrounded by vacationing Argentine families. The oppressive heat of Buenos Aires was more bearable with an ocean breeze, though both were preferable to the arctic winter we left behind.
It was no surprise that the fish couldn't be fresher at San Clemente's port, where we had a particularly memorable meal.
We were greeted by a pair of empanadas fritas (fried) filled with lisa, which my Food & Wine Dictionary by Dan Perlman translates as mullet. Despite speaking Spanish fluently, this book was a handy resource for this sort of vocabulary.

The first order of business was to obtain a cold bottle of wine. It's not uncommon for Argentines to put ice in their vino de mesa, both red and white. I have to admit the heat warrants it (but wouldn't advise it for anything nicer than a table wine.) Vasco Viejo is Bodega Lopez's dependable table wine and always a winner at a reasonable price (about US$3 in a supermarket, and usually US$5-7 in restaurants). This refreshing white blend features Torrontes and Chardonnay grapes.
 We ordered the lisa, of course, a la provencal. The classic porteño provencal sauce is a rustic mixture of olive oil, garlic and parsley, that I also love on french fries.
The simplicity of the preparation on the grill really made the fresh fish shine. I'll have to give this method a go this summer, maybe with some local lake trout.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Starting at the beginning: Breakfast in Buenos Aires

The sun rising over the Atlantic in San Clemente del Tuyú, Argentina.

We're back from South America, and since I wasn't able to keep up the blog from down there, I have returned with notebooks full and thousands of photos to share with you. I am quite overwhelmed by this. Rodgers & Hammerstein's sage advice urges me on, though, so I have decided a very good place to start is "at the very beginning.)

Pictured above is the intersection of Piedras and Carlos Calvo in Buenos Aires, where we began the South American leg of our adventure. The pink building on the right is the friendly corner cafe where we had our cafe con leche y medialunas every morning the first week, and several times before departing. My mind reels at the amount of medialunas that must be made and consumed on a daily basis in Buenos Aires. These sweet, buttery pastries are the staple of the Porteño breakfast and usually served by twos or threes with a cup of strong coffee mixed with steaming milk (for the bargain price of between 2 and 4 US dollars). You could also order your coffee cortado (with just a bit of milk) or just ask for an espresso. The huge Italian influence in Bs As almost guarantees that the coffee will be fresh, potent and delicious.

Medialunas are just a subset of the myriad of facturas (pastries) available. The flaky pastry is made even more delicious with the addition of dulce de leche, membrillo or crema pastelera, or any combination of these.

If you get bored with facturas, or fancy something savory and a little more substantial, order a tostado. This toasted ham and cheese sandwich on pan de miga (delicate white bread with no crusts) is also a great afternoon snack with an espresso.

 If coffee isn't your thing, you can have a submarino, steamed milk served with a chocolate bar (not always submarine shaped) for you to stir in for a first class hot chocolate.

Special thanks to my hand model, Carmel.