Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Temazo Tuesday

So it's Tuesday again! These weeks just seem to fly by, especially since they're such short weeks, what with all the holidays and such. Although, Tuesday might possibly be the worst day of the week. It's not Monday, which has the promise of a new week ahead in which anything might happen. Wednesday is "hump day" which apart from having a hilarious name means the end of the week is coming, and it's all basically downhill from there...Thursday and Friday are barely even real days. But Tuesday. Ugh. Tuesday has nothing going for it.

Today's Temazo is a strange song called "Nice Day for Ducks" by Lemon Jelly, and its pretty much an acid trip in video form (or so I've been told). I first heard this at my old (read: mind-numbingly tedious) job, where we played music all day as a way to escape from the dull reality of our labor. It's one of those songs that gets stuck in your head, and I figured since I already have it stuck in there, why not share it with the rest of you! Mwu-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Buenos Aires Christmas

Being away from home this Christmas wasn’t as easy as I though it was going to be. Since I moved to BA I’ve only really had one attack of homesickness—the kind with the incessant sobbing and fetal position maneuver—but that’s about it. I miss my family and friends constantly, of course, but it’s not a painful or depressing thing…more of a “Wow I really appreciate them and love them and when I see them it’s going to be amazing!”

The holidays are different. When you grow up having Christmas a certain way, it’s bound to be a little strange the first time you do something new, and sadness and nostalgia is going to creep in. This year, being so far from home, I found myself thinking about all the little things that make Christmas Christmas, at least for me and my family: driving home at night and counting all the houses with Christmas lights, decorating our banister with garland and tinsel, my brother putting the plastic candy canes on the tree, the dogs’ tails knocking off all the ornaments on the bottom branches. I can remember each Christmas decoration that we put up, and where it goes: the wooden train on the hearth, the miniature tree and the Nativity scene in the front room, the candle on the kitchen table. And the traditions that we as a family have established over the years—advent calendars, our particular way of opening presents, Christmas dinner, Boxing Day with the extended family.

All these things I missed greatly this year. But, thanks to my mom and the powers of Skype and international post, I was able to partake in some of our old traditions. Of course, being here in Buenos Aires I wanted to experience an Argentine Christmas as well, even while I was missing my traditional family celebrations. The result was a very interesting Christmas—a kind of cobbled-together holiday made up of parts that clearly aren’t meant to fit, but that come together in a lovely mess when forced, compelled by the conflicting emotions of melancholy, excitement, and curiosity.

Here is a compilation of my Christmas 2009, in list form naturally:

-bought tiny Christmas tree, tinsel, and bows, and decorated the apartment. Barely.
-package received from mother, contents included: advent calendar (yay!), ornaments for tiny tree, stocking stuffers…this beautiful package made my Christmas, totally worth the 3 hour wait at Retiro!
-new roommate contributes flashing red Christmas lights to the décor, which we hang around the picture of the horse in the living—it’s amazing how tiny little bulbs that glow in the dark say “Christmas”
- downloaded Celtic Woman Christmas CD and listened to it constantly—every day on the way to work for the week before Christmas, those lovely Irish ladies drowned out the roaring of the 106 colectivo…too bad they couldn’t help with the sweating
-made Christmas Cookies! Instant transportation back in time to when we used to make cookies at home, my brother and I covered in flour, decorating cut-outs of bells and stars and trees with blue and pink sprinkles, me eating the dough…some things never change
-early in the morning on Christmas Eve (3 am), I can be found sitting on a doorstep down some street, passing around bottles of Isenbeck with my teammates after an hour of intense indoor soccer…not a traditional part of Christmas back in the States
-received texts from new Argie friends saying “felices fiestas” and “Merry Christmas”
-watched the 1969 “Frosty the Snowman” and “A Christmas Story” (frah-gee-lay, must be Italian!)
-attended an outdoor mass in Recoleta on Christmas Eve, despite not being Argentine and not being Catholic. It was a beautiful ceremony on a lovely night, and reminded me of the church service at my aunt’s church that we usually go to (minus the cold, the flute solo, and O Holy Night)
-Christmas Eve dinner = 1 pizza with ham and red peppers, calamari, and 2 bottles of Malbec with Anna at Plaza Serrano. Accompanied by people-watching, Christmas fireworks (a tradition here, kind of like the 4th of July), and much discussion of men
-Christmas Eve became Christmas Day about halfway through the first bottle of wine
-stayed out until 6 am, tried to watch the sun rise from my apartment but the wine insisted on sleep
-Christmas Day!! Woke up slightly hungover but excited about the pile of presents under my tiny tree (courtesy of mother, of course!)
-Skyped family at home, opened presents together, saw my brother’s long hair, watched the dog unwrap gifts with her teeth—almost like I was there. Perfection.
-spoke to best friend on Skype while eating Christmas dinner (polenta, hot dogs, 5 Christmas cookies)
-watched “Love, Actually” and cried about 8 different times…gotta love Love, especially at Christmas time

So that was my Christmas this year. Different, yes. But different doesn’t always mean worse. And when it comes to love and appreciation and the true Christmas spirit, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are…Santa will always find you. FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Temazo Tuesday

OOPS! Soooo I completely forgot about Temazo Tuesday--I know you were all just breathless with anticipation to see what I would post this week! Well, what with the new job and the hour commute each way and the waiting at Retiro for three hours to pick up a package and the late-night soccer, it's been a little busy around here and I haven't been writing as much as I would like. I have a list of posts that I want to get up soon, so maybe over the holidays I'll be able to catch up.

As for now though, I have to go get ready for some fútbol action YAY...although I might have to walk the 22 blocks to the cancha because I don't have any moneda. I tried to get some yesterday and the kiosko guy gave me a pack of gum for 2 pesos instead of 3 because he didn't want to give me the moneda in change. It's ridiculous, this shortage of coins...the other day I chose to take an 8 peso cab rather than attempt to acquire 1.20 in moneda (of course, this was before I realized the taxi fare had gone up, from starting at 3.80 to starting at 4.60 and with a similar increase in the distance-traveled rate, que mierda).

So here is Tuesday's Temazo, posted on Wednesday, but whatever. It's a song that I looovvveee--the beat is amazing and it reminds me of some really fun nights out dancing. I present: "Tocarte Toa" by Calle 13.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do You Bidet?

Buenos Aires is a bidet culture (I don’t know about the rest of Argentina). It joins England, France, and most other European countries as part of an elite class of toilet snobs who continue to insist upon the presence of a bidet in the restroom (or “lavatry,” in British snob voice) regardless of whether the thing actually gets used. You know it’s true. I have one. You probably have one. But WHY? After discussing this issue at length with some friends over dinner, I decided to investigate bidet history and try to understand why these things exist, both here in Argentina and in general.


While I knew the general idea behind bidets, I’ve never understood the specifics, so I did some heavy research (Wikipedia) and found out some interesting/disturbing stuff. First, “bidet” is a French word for “pony,” because apparently you sit on the thing much like you would sit on a pony (first mental image). As I’m sure you’ve gathered, a bidet is used for washing…private parts, and can be done facing forward or backwards. However, bidets are also often used for washing feet and as a bathtub for babies, although hopefully not all three. In general, a bidet will either have a tap and plug which you use to fill up the basin, or it will feature the always-popular jet propulsion function, in which a stream of water is shot forcefully upwards, effectively power-washing anything in it’s path, including the curious faces of people who just HAD to find out what that little knob does.

Wikipedia informed me that bidets are found in most European countries, especially southern European nations such as Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Italy, as well as in parts of Asia (Japan, India, South Korea), Africa (Morocco, Egypt), and most of the Arab world. In Latin America, bidets are found in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Cuba. While Wikipedia neglected to say why these porcelain enigmas are such fixtures here in South America, I would assume it is because the first immigrants from Europe brought the apparatus with them, unable to imagine a (GASP) bidet-less life. The things don’t exist in North America, which is why Americans are so often the victims of bidet assault—we just can’t leave well enough alone and have to go twiddling with all the knobs. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye to a bidet.


In terms of actual usage, I have spoken to a few people, the majority of whom do not use bidets in the way they were intended. They are either not used at all, or used as foot-baths, laundry basins, or storage tubs. I’ve heard that some Argentines rave about them, but I’ve yet to ask any of my close friends…it’s not really a dinner table question: “So, have you shot water up your bum lately?”

Anyway, I’ll leave you with that. If you would like more information on the subject, I hear Youtube has some informative instructional videos. Have fun!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Resto Review: Lotus Neo Thai

Argentines don’t do spicy. This is a recognized fact, and I should have known better than to have expectations this weekend when I went to a Thai restaurant this past Saturday night. I went with two couples (yes I was the fifth wheel): Anna and her boy Camilo and Anna’s friends Juan and Ana to a restaurant called Lotus Neo Thai, located up in the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) in Belgrano (Arribeños 2265).

Anna and Camilo and I got there at about 9:30, and already the place was full. We didn’t have reservations, and initially one of the waitresses told us there was no room for 5 of us, but since we had to wait for Juan and Ana to arrive anyway we decided to sit at the little bar and wait and see if a table opened up. It’s a cute place, with about 10 or 12 tables, a little 4-stool bar, and adorable lotus flowers painted on the walls. The lighting is low—there are candles on each table and dim lamps in the shape of lotus flowers—and two of the tables are set up so you can sit on the floor on cushions, in traditional Thai style (??? Do Thai people eat sitting on the floor? How ignorant am I right now).

(pictures are from Lotus Neo Thai website)

So we sat ourselves down at the bar and ordered some drinks—caipirinha for Camilo, strawberry daiquiri for Anna, and caipiroska with passionfruit for me—which were delicious and only moderately expensive (22 pesos each). While we were waiting for the table someone brought us these crispy, airy, wafery chip things (I’m sure they have a name but I have NO clue what it could be) and some dipping sauces, a sweetNsour and a more spicy one. The spicy dipping sauce was by far the spiciest thing I ate that night, which is a little sad considering Thai food is known for its delicious kick.

Once Juan and Ana arrived, we got a table and ordered four dishes to share between the five of us: chicken pad thai, pork with green beans, chicken with cashews, and a chicken soup with ginger and coconut called Tom Kha Gai. The food arrived pretty quickly, and in good portions. I was a little disappointed with the pad thai—it wasn’t spicy at all, and was actually kind of bland. The chicken with cashews was OK, the pork was flavorful although a bit salty, and the soup was good if you like coconut and ginger—it had a very strong flavor and I only had a few spoonfuls. All in all, I was underwhelmed. All the Thai food I’ve eaten in the past has blown me away and so I think I’ve been spoiled. There was just no spice, no kick, no zing. But oh well. Can’t win them all!

The prices weren’t too bad, about 36 pesos for a basic chicken or pork dish, to about 55 or 60 for a seafood platter or shrimp dish. They had a yummy-looking list of desserts too, such as sticky rice with mango slices and various sorbets, but we were all too stuffed to order any. We opted for coffee and tea instead—I tried an herbal red tea with cinnamon, fig, honey, and apples, which was pretty good and reminded me of Christmas with the cinnamon smell (I miss Christmas!! It soooo doesn't feel like Christmas here, and I'm kind of sad about it, especially considering my hometown just got 2 feet of snow and will be having a lovely white Christmas for the first time in years...typical...the one year I leave. Bah humbug.)

Anyhoo, to sum up Lotus Neo Thai: a big fat “meh.” Not bad, but not great. Nothing that offended me to the point of no return, but nothing that inspired me to make the trek back there anytime soon. I will say that the staff were really nice and helpful, and managed to get us a table even though we just tipped up at the door with no reservations whatsoever, so that's a plus. Maybe if I go again I'll take my own spice and just sprinkle it on discreetly. That's a thought. Check out what other people say on Guia Oleo. Or check out the Lotus Neo Thai website, here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Temazo Tuesday

Hola! I feel like so much has happened since I last posted, even though it was only a few days ago. First, I got a JOB! Farewell to lazy days around the house, hello 45 minute commute and real responsibility--I'm loving it! Second,  I got a new roommate! My new friend Elizabeth recently moved into my apartment for a few months, most of which she will be spending at various beaches and luxury resorts instead of at the apartment, but hey, who wouldn't rather be at the beach?

On Sunday night I went out to dinner with Eli and two of her friends to a "puerta cerrada," a closed door restaurant here in the city. IT WAS AMAZING. I'm going to do a whole post about the experience as soon as I can put together 30 minutes of free time...this work thing takes up a lot of my day! I work from 1 to 8:30 (stupid West Coast clients), and have to commute out to Flores on the lovely 106, which unfortunately is often packed with tourists going shopping at the outlets on Córdoba, the lazy bums. Don't they have jobs?! I don't get back until about 9:15, and on Monday and Wednesday nights I have soccer at 11...I guess I'm just going to have to start getting up earlier...MUR.

Anyway, I'm not really inspired by any particular song at the moment, considering I am sitting on poof on my balcony watching an old man across the street scrape dried paint and chewed gum off his balcony rail...not really something that inspires poetry. So, I will post something completely lacking any kind of poetic grace: 'Bad Romance' by the one and only Lady Gaga. This video is...interesting. Kind of creepy, actually. But the song is catchy and it's fascinating to watch Lady Gaga do her stuff, especially if you keep in mind that lots of people think she is actually a man. Yeah.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Resto Review: El Dorinda

Ah yes, another restaurant review! No unfortunate incident to avoid discussing in this one, however (if you would like to read about the thrilling events preceding my visit to the last resto I reviewed, go here).

Anyway, this place is too cute! I went to El Dorinda last night as part of a group of expats, partly because it’s fun to get together and meet new people, and partly because I had been sitting on my ass all day in my apartment and I needed to get out before I became glued to my futon. Located in Palermo Viejo (Guatemala 4487) El Dorinda is a restaurant and bar that serves “comida y bebida con mucho arte,” according to their website, and is fairly new on the BA restaurant scene. I don’t know about the art (there were a few pieces of interesting fabric-work hanging on the walls), but the food is amazing. The menu features an extensive list of mostly Spanish food, including tapas, picadas, pintxos vascos, and other appetizers, as well as a daily homemade “plato del día” and several salads, sandwich, pizza, and dessert options. Since we were a large group of about 20, we ordered lots of little dishes to share and then each got a main course.

The tapas we got included various cheeses, jamón crudo, salami, guacamole (very salty and lime-y) with tortilla chips, sardines with onions, bell peppers in oil, and a few small tapas sandwiches with toppings like olive spread, eggplant, and tuna. I recommend the bell peppers in oil (morroncitos en provenza), which was delicious on top of some slightly crusty French bread. Among the main courses ordered were a vegetarian sandwich (not too complicated, just some avocado and spinach on bread), a chicken dish with potatoes, and homemade hamburgers (which I ordered—they came with roasted potatoes and were delicious, although I did ask for some mustard to go with them since they came un-sauced).

But I must say I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewers on Guia Oleo: the star of the show was the Empanada Gallega (it deserves capital letters!). A whole portion would feed two people (for just 18 pesos!) and is really really good. They also have a half portion for 10 pesos. The crust is fluffy and buttery, the filling of tuna (I’m pretty sure it’s tuna) and sauteed peppers and onions is flavorful and perfectly seasoned, and the whole thing is just one big casserole of YUM! I really enjoyed it (clearly), and next time I will order a whole portion just for myself, fatass that I am.

The drink menu is also extensive, although we mostly stuck to beer and water. The service was excellent; we had one waiter for all 20 of us, and he was perfectly pleasant, got all the orders right, and brought out anything anyone requested (like my mustard). It is a small place, with about 10 tables inside and two outside (complete with comfortable wicker chairs instead of those awkward metal director’s chairs most places have), but the staff is truly very nice and attentive. The prices are quite affordable as well—most of the tapas are between 10 and 16 pesos and each pintxo vasco is 5 pesos. Pizzas are 24-34, salads and sandwiches are 17, and drinks range from a 10 peso porrón of Quilmes to a 36 peso Glenlivet 12 year Single Malt or a 70 peso bottle of Tomero Malbec.

(fotos from El Dorinda's website)

I would highly recommend El Dorinda; it's a comfortable place to sit and enjoy some drinks and tapas with friends. Get a few different dishes and try them all, and definitely order an Empanada Gallega. Or three.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm back in the game!

My body hurts. My legs are sore, my back aches, and I have blisters on my heels and on three out of ten toes. And it’s AWESOME! These pains are the price I’m willing to pay to do something I love: play soccer.

It’s been oh, say, 5 years since I played any kind of real soccer and given that those five years consisted mostly of drinking copious amounts of watery beer and drunk-munching on ranch-soaked, bacon-embellished megafries, I think it’s safe to say I’m a wee bit out of practice.

But I love the sport. Starting at age 4, my life was pretty much dictated by soccer: the only seasons I knew were fall and spring, holidays were marked not by family gatherings but by tournaments, and at the height of my career (high school) I was playing for not one but two teams and pretty much living in my cleats. Then college came and I reorganized my priorities, choosing to have friends and enjoy myself over another four years of practice, drills, fitness fundays, and weekend-ruining games.

Me (middle) in my prime...and with great bird's nest hair, eek. 

Moving to Argentina has reignited my love for the game, mostly because it’s everywhere. From Maradona’s latest weight gain to hopeful predictions for the Selección in the WC, from riotous fans honking their way down the street to the ubiquitous weekend pickup games in every green space in the city, Argentina lives fútbol. And now I’m a part of it all! Aside from being a reluctant Huracán fan (read about that special experience here) and supporting the national team in their journey to South Africa, I am once again a player of the world’s greatest sport.

I recently joined a group online called Couchsurfers, made up of people who travel the world crashing on various strangers’ couches and those who offer to host them on said couches (an interesting concept, no?) Anyway, some of the Buenos Aires Couchsurfers have been getting together to play small-sided indoor soccer games, and as soon as I saw their list for this week’s games I signed myself up!

I had a vague idea of what to expect, having played in similar situations before back in the States: mostly guys, lots of fancy footwork, a fast pace, and semi-violent contact. And lo and behold! I played Monday night with 1 other girl and 8 guys, and again Wednesday night, with 1 girl and 10 guys. The usual division is Porteños vs Extranjeros, with foreigners coming from all over the world: Germany, Brasil, the US, France, England, Corrientes (another area in Argentina). The pace is definitely fast—we play with the walls so there’s no stopping—and since it’s almost all guys, the play is hard and pretty rough.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself immensely. That kind of soccer is exactly what I love, and I’m pumped to have found a group who lets girls play. Unfortunately, not many girls here play soccer outside of secundarias and colegios, and it’s almost impossible to get into a guy’s pickup game…they just won’t let chicks play (hijos de puta, the lot of them!) Anyway, I’ll just say that after these two games I think I’ve definitely proved that girls can play at fútbol.

On Wednesday after the game I got to fulfill yet another secret desire: I got to loiter on a dark street with friends. Yes it sounds weird, but you know you’ve seen them: raucous groups of young Porteños sitting in a doorway late at night, laughing and passing around liters of beer. And for some reason, I’ve always wanted to do this myself—it’s kind of like another step towards a more permanent life here…if you’re loitering, you’re living the real life. Or something like that.

Since two of the American players from last night are leaving soon, about 10 of us went out to have some drinks as a kind of farewell party. We bought a few liters of Imperial, retired to a comfortable section of sidewalk down a side street, and just hung out for a few hours, until about 2am. People would walk past and stare disapprovingly at the public debauchery, and I wanted to stand up and say “HA! Look how Argentine I am, drinking beer from the bottle on a public street at 2 in the morning!”

It was glorious.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Temazo Tuesday

It's that time again: Temazo Tuesday! This week I'm posting two songs that are seriously EVERYWHERE these days. They play them in clubs, they get blasted from car stereos, and the girl across the street dances to them on her balcony while simultaneously chain-smoking Marlboros, yammering away on her phone, and chugging Coca-Cola. It's a skill really.

And now to get philosophical. I don't know about you, but hearing certain songs can always bring on a wave of nostalgia. Our senses are the gateways to our memories, and just hearing part of a long-forgotten song, or catching the scent of a perfume our grandmothers used to wear, can instantly transport us to another time and place. For me, certain songs and albums are inextricably tied to specific people, places, and events, and whenever I hear these songs the memories come flooding back in waves. OAR's album 'Stories of a Stranger' will forever remind me of my freshman year of college; Kings of Leon is a good friend/ex-boyfriend; and my dad will always be "Hey Jude."

Point being, these two songs will forever remind me of my first months in Buenos Aires: sweaty from dancing in a crowded club, with the sweetly bitter taste of Fernet and Cola in my mouth, having the time of my life. That being said, for anyone else, they're just songs with good beats and catchy lyrics so enjoy!

The first is "Te Amo" by Makano, a club classic. 

The second is "Llorarás por mi" by Chapa C and is a fantastic song to dance to and will make you want to jump on a table and shake it! Seriously. Just try it, it's liberating, I promise. Also, the video is hilarious...gotta love the manly weeping--I can almost feel his pain.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Paying Bills in BA

BILLS. Everyone’s got ‘em. Everyone hates ‘em. But they have to be paid, otherwise we don’t get hot water or lights or Internets. Now, no hot water I could deal with, but no Internet?! Sweet mercy, not that!

Back in the States bills are mostly paid online, or by sending off checks in little envelopes the companies so generously provide along with their demands for payment. But here, bills are paid differently. In general, transactions in Argentina are done using cash (efectivo) as opposed to with credit/debit cards, and paying monthly bills (facturas) is no exception.

The easiest way to pay a bill in Buenos Aires is to take it to a location that has a Pago Fácil (Easy Pay) or, to a lesser extent Rapipago (Quick Pay). You can find Pago Fácils (plural?) in most Farmacitys and also in various grocery stores, locutorios, and some kiosks--there will always be a sign/sticker indicating a Pago Fácil location (see lovely Google images graphic). Rapipagos are fewer and farther between, but they will also have signs indicating their locations. It’s best if you can find a smaller location that is off the main roads to pay your bills at, because the larger stores like Farmacity tend to have ridiculously long lines of people waiting to pay their various facturas. For example, today I waited about 40 minutes to pay three bills. Typical.

Anyway, once you find a Pago Fácil, it really is very easy. You hand the cashier your bill, he rings it up as if it were a bag of cookies, he tells you the amount, and you give him the cash. Then he will take the factura and run it through a machine that that will print your receipt right on the actual bill. Say “Gracias,” and you’re done! Apart from the waiting in long lines sometimes, it really is a pretty effective system, and given the reliability of the Argentine post, I would say it’s a lot more trustworthy than sending off checks. Plus, a lot of “tourists” live here “illegally” and don’t have checks, so it’s great for people like us. With cash, no one asks questions. How mafia.

If you miss the window of payment (vencimiento), or both windows of payment considering they usually give you two, you will probably have to go to the office of the company to pay the bill. The address will most likely be listed on the factura, and when you get to the office the procedure will be the same. Present bill, pay, get it stamped, done. I recently had to do this for a Metrogas bill, and it couldn’t have been simpler. Now if only there were a South America Fácil…Argentina could use an Easy Button, fo sho.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Resto Review: Quiroz

Last night, after an unpleasant incident which I am hesitant to discuss considering my mother reads this blog, I had dinner with some friends at Quiroz. It was the second time I’ve eaten there, and I can’t decide if I like it so another visit might be in order- third time’s the charm right?

Located in the heart of Palermo on the corner of Malabia and Gorriti, Quiroz is a unique place, at least in terms of décor. Part Middle-Eastern, part Asian, part American pop-culture, the restaurant features hookahs (which you can order), a small cascading water-wall, and images of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis hanging over the bar. It’s an interesting mixture of “ethnic” and modern, but it works. There is also a small stage for live music, which last night featured a female singer with a good voice and unbelievably short skirt (dinner AND a show!) doing renditions of classic American songs, my favorite of which was Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

We arrived at about 11:30, but the place continued filling up until about 2, when we left. In terms of the food, I have mixed opinions. The first time I went to Quiroz, I ordered an appetizer—the vegetarian quesadilla—which was amazing. Stuffed with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and cheese, the tortilla was perfectly crisped (aka not to the point of crunchy) and it came with a hefty portion of delicious guacamole, for about 18 pesos.

Last night I was with three other girls, so we decided to get a bunch of different things and do a little sharing. Among the dishes ordered were mollejas with papas noisette, rabas, langostini, chorizo y morcilla, and two salads. The mollejas were ordered on recommendation from Elizabeth, who had gotten them before and found them delicious, but what came out of the kitchen was nowhere near what she had received before. In my opinion mollejas should be served crispy with a little lemon and butter, which was how they were cooked the time Eli got them before, but these mollejas were served with a heavy sauce with mushrooms which I did not like at all. They were still crispy, but I just couldn’t get past the sauce. The rabas were good, as were the langostini, which were huge and came out on skewers. The salads were basic, as most Argentine salads are--arugula with parmesan and lettuce with carrots--and there were some issues with various ingredients not being available. The chorizo and morcilla were delicious, and the bottle of Uxmal Malbec we split definitely hit the spot.

Prices are reasonable…the mollejas were about 40 pesos, salads 20-25, chorizo/morcilla 5 pesos each, and the bottle of wine was 38 pesos. The menu is pretty varied—they offer multiple appetizers,  7 types of salads, pretty much every cut of meat available in Argentina, chicken dishes, pasta dishes, pizzas, and about 8 dessert options. The drink menu is also fairly extensive, with many different wines, tragos, liquors, and a few beers thrown in for kicks.

To sum up, I would recommend Quiroz, but only if you go without expectations. It seems that the availability of certain dishes/ingredients varies day to day, and things aren’t always what they say they are. That being said, the prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is interesting, and the service is good. So if you’re feeling lucky, check it out!

Here's the Guia Oleo review if you want more info: Quiroz

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Colectivo Catcall

Yesterday I got hit on by a bus. No, not hit BY a bus, hit ON by a bus. Biiiiiig difference. I was on my way to the parks to go running, and as I was crossing a major avenue a bus (the number 12, I believe) whistled at me. (You know, that whistle people do in movies when a dressed-up woman walks into a room…it’s a bit difficultl to express in writing, but I’m sure you know which one I mean!) And not just once, not twice, but thrice did it whistle! I had my iPod on, so the first time I was only vaguely aware that someone was whistling at me, and I just assumed it was yet another of the many men who like to musically express their appreciation of my person. The second time I looked up and saw the number 12 looming over me, at which point it whistled again, and I realized it was the bus itself that was making the noise. Apparently the driver had installed a custom horn that catcalled women, so that whenever he saw an attractive girl go past he could just toot his horn instead of having to stick his head out the window and actually verbalize his admiration. How lazy can you be, honestly.

Now, Buenos Aires is definitely a city in which the catcall figures prominently. I personally don’t mind them, and actually find some of them flattering, especially if I’m having a crap day. While the traditional catcalls yelled from a passing car or from a borracho across the street do exist here, there is also a more subtle and more romantic (?) method employed on the streets of BA. Often as I walk past a man standing in his doorway (which seems to be a kind of sport here—who can loiter the longest), he will murmur something quietly, so that I can barely hear him. In my case it’s usually “Qué ojos!” given that I have rather large blue eyes. And the other day as I walked past two young men on the way home from dinner, one of them blew me a kiss, which was just too cute. I have of course been the recipient of some dirtier comments that I will not repeat, but in my experience Argentine catcalls tend to the more poetic and appreciative rather than the lewd and offensive.

In terms of responding to catcalls, I usually just ignore them, as do the majority of Argentine women, especially those who have grown up here in the city and have been on the receiving end of these comments since hitting puberty and getting their first pair of fake boobs (no really, it happens...that’s another post though). Sometimes if the commenter says something amusing or blatantly ridiculous, I’ll laugh, which usually elicits a kind of shocked look from the original perpetrator. Now, if only women could catcall men. Maybe I’ll start a trend. Gotta get me one of those horns first though…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The BALife Gets Technorati

Just registered my blog with Technorati...fancy! Soon my little blog will be searchable on Technorati.com, which (hopefully) means more people will be reading about my BA life (and in all likelihood laughing at how dorky I am). I'm pumped.


*ignore this code, it's so the Technorati people can verify that it is indeed myself who writes my blog, and not some blog-authorship-stealing imposter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

riding the colectivo part 4: Permiso, Yo Bajo!

Welcome to the final installment of Riding the Colectivo! So far we’ve covered the Guia-T, bus stop behavior, and how to get on the bus without looking like a silly gringo or losing a limb. Yay! The next and final step is getting off the thing once you’ve managed all the above, and it’s really quite easy.

First and foremost, make sure you know the address/intersection you are going to—riding the bus is much less stressful if you know where you are going and don’t have to wing it. I also recommend looking at the route in the Guia-T before setting off so that you know approximately when you should begin the disembarking process. Whenever I’m going somewhere new, I look at the three streets that come before the street I want to get off at, so that I know when mine is coming up. For example, if I’m on the 152 coming down Santa Fe, and I want to get off at Billinghurst, I will look at the three streets before Billinghurst, which happen to be Salguero, Bulnes, and Coronel Diaz. When I see that the bus is passing these streets, I know that I should stand up and approach the door because Billinghurst is coming up.

So, as the bus is barreling down whichever streets its route dictates, pay attention to the names of the streets as you pass them in order to stay oriented. In general, bus stops are located every two blocks, so looking at the “altura” or street numbers can be helpful in determining where you are and when to get off (although they can be hard to see sometimes given the speed at which the buses go whizzing by). When you’ve calculated that your final destination is somewhere within the next three or four blocks, stand up and move towards the nearest door (except the front door, of course).

To signal the colectivero that you would like to get off of his bus, you have to press one of the buzzers (timbres) located on the poles near each door. Sometimes these buzzers actually make a noise that signal the driver, and sometimes they just make a light go off near his seat so he can see that someone would like to bajar. In any case, it’s best to press the timbre firmly and for about 1 second, just to make sure he got the point. However, if you see that someone near you has already pressed the timbre because they too would like to disembark, there is no need to press it again as that would just annoy the driver.

A word of caution: bus drivers here are notoriously violent in terms of their braking capabilities, so hold on tight when he begins the approach to the bus stop. Also, there is no guarantee that the driver will pull up exactly at the bus stop, so OJO when getting off. If there are taxis in the way, or other buses, he might just pull off to the side a little bit and then you have to be careful of oncoming traffic.

So that’s how it’s done! Once you’re on the bus, you can’t really mess it up, because even if you miss your street you can always just get off at the next stop. Unless you fall asleep and end up somewhere in Liniers when you meant to go to Palermo…that would be a big oops.

Anyway, hopefully you’ve learned a bit about the buses here in Buenos Aires and are no longer quite so intimidated by these monsters of transportation. Especially compared to bus systems in the US, the BA bus network really is a wonderful tool and the possibilities are endless once you figure out the basics. Just last night I was in La Paternal aka Pueblo Nowhere for the Manu Chao concert (oh.my.god.amazing) and had to find a way back to Barrio Norte. Out came the Guia-T, and I quickly became acquainted with the 108, 111, and 106, all of which conveniently run between here and there. Perfect!

If anyone has any ideas for more tutorials, just let me know…I’m always up for sharing the things I’ve learned the hard way. And believe me, I’ve learned everything the hard way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Temazo Tuesday

By the beard of Zeus!  It's December! How time flies when you're having fun, eh? Although it doesn't really feel like December, what with all the sweating that's been going on lately. I see all the Christmas decorations in the store windows, and my poor little brain just can't reconcile what I'm seeing with this weather! I suppose when we grow up experiencing things a certain way, when tradition is broken we can't help but feel a little weird. But hey, that's why I'm here, to break out of the mold and experience the beauty of life in a new way. That, and the Argentine men (talk about beauty)!

Anyway, since it's the first of a new month, I've decided to launch some new projects, two to be exact. The first is more of a personal initiative, one that I like to call Operation Get Off Your Lard-Ass and Go Running. After four months of empanadas, pizza, milanesas, and other such delicacies (meat wrapped in meat, meat wrapped in bread, bread wrapped in bread, etc), I'm beginning to feel the effects. Nothing irreparable, but with summer coming up and bikini season right around the corner, I've decided to get back into running. In college I ran all the time, but since I've been here things just keep getting in the way. So, I'm getting off my ass and going running every day, starting today. I swear. After I finish this churro...

The second project is actually relevant to all of you, and it's exciting! Wait for it........Temazo Tuesday! It's gonna be huge. Last night I figured out how to put Youtube videos on my blog, and I came up with the idea to post a new song/video every Tuesday, just to brighten everyone's day, because who doesn't love a good song? Why Tuesday? Because Tuesday rhymes with temazo, and I just can't resist a chance inject a little alliteration into the world. For those who don't know, in Castellano songs are often referred to not as "canciones" like we were taught in school, but as "temas." A particularly good song, such as a classic Beatles hit or a popular anthem, is a "temazo."

Today's Temazo is "Me Gustas Tu" by Manu Chao, in honor of me going to see him in concert tonight, here in Buenos Aires, for 15 USD! YEAH! Be jealous. Anyway, here it is...Enjoy!