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Buenas de Buenos Aires y Bariloche

posted on August 7, 2008 at 12:30 pm


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One of the greatest things about Atlanta is Hartsfield and the sheer multitude of flights to pretty much anywhere you could want to go. If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a serious travel bug and fully intend to have traveled to every continent many times over before I die. Although I was born in Rio, I had never been back to South America since my family first immigrated here when I was 2 years old. So, I was ecstatic when my Dad told my sister and I they were going to Argentina for his birthday—skiing in Bariloche in Patagonia has always been a dream of his and he has been in full on “travel the world” mode since he retired last year. You know I was on it in a New York minute. We had plans to go to Rio beforehand but ran into trouble with getting me a visa since I gave up my Brazilian citizenship when I became a U.S. citizen. I was bummed but still excited at the prospect of seeing Argentina in the winter. We stopped in Buenos Aires, which I can only describe as Madrid minus the pretension. The people were so genial and the town so full of color despite its grayish winter pallor. When it came to food, I had four things on my mind: A sandwich de migas, some alfajores, lots of steak and Italian food. I definitely got my fill.

Our first meal was at Piegari which can only described as the best family-style Italian meal I have had in ages outside of Italy. Every 29th of the month is “Gnocchi day” so we picked a great night to come and ordered the gnocchi of course!
Piegari: Buenos Aires
A snapshot of the restaurant
Piegari: Buenos Aires
Fennel gratin
Piegari: Buenos Aires

Grilled calamari with sweet baby tomatoes

Piegari: Buenos Aires
Assorted croquettes–the rice and baby shrimp variety was our favorite.
Piegari: Buenos Aires
Simple green salad with shaved parm
Piegari: Buenos Aires
Gnocchi with tomato and basil
Piegari: Buenos Aires
Fresh pasta with seafood
Piegari: Buenos Aires
Meringue with ice cream and strawberries

La Biela: Buenos Aires
Lunch the next day was at La Biela, a place my parents used to frequent on their trips to Buenos Aires when they were living in Rio. A cute cafe on a nice street with plenty of options and they even have a guy that comes around to shine your shoes while you eat.
La Biela: Buenos Aires
Spanish tortilla with chorizo
La Biela: Buenos Aires
Steak sandwich
La Biela: Buenos Aires
Eggs with ham and French fries
La Biela: Buenos Aires
How civilized


I have no will power when it comes to baked goods and made a beeline at the first sign of these:
alfajores....yum
Alfajores: Dulce de leche sandwiches between two cookies and dusted in sugar. Surely the sweet stuff that dreams are made of. 

We met up with some friends of my parents for a steak dinner at La Cabaña Steakhousewith some of my parents’ friends who had some funny stories about them and my folks at Carnaval. Scandalous! But I digress…on to the steak.La Cabaña Steakhouse: Buenos Aires
My prime ribeye
La Cabaña Steakhouse: Buenos Aires
Souffle potatoes

And guess what was waiting for me when I got back to my room:
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Alfajores

Buenos Aires (Palermo)

The next day was a a stroll through Palermo and Old Palermo. Such a nifty neighborhood with great boutique shopping and cool homes. I snapped this of the city when we were walking to lunch. A nice man told me it was probably not the best neighborhood to have a camera out in. This was not the first time a local told me crime was bad and to hide my valuables. 
Buenos Aires (Palermo)
Lunch at
Grappa, an Italian restaurant located in a renovated industrial building. Good–not great–food but a pleasant lunch none the less. 
Grappa: Buenos Aires
The digs
Grappa: Buenos Aires
Fresh spinach fettucine with meat sauce
Grappa: Buenos Aires
Gnocchi with mushroom cream sauce
Grappa: Buenos Aires
Spinach dumplings with gorgonzola sauce
Grappa: Buenos Aires
Flan casero
In keeping with our Italian feeding frenzy we went to yet another Italian restaurant for dinner, Sottovoce. Very old school spot complete with Frank Sinatra tunes and some killer pastas. 
Sottovoce: Buenos Aires
Pappardelle with mushroom cream sauce
Sottovoce: Buenos Aires
Pasta (I forgot which type) with Bolognese sauce

Sottovoce: Buenos Aires
Milanesa with arugula salad

The best plane food ever:
El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
Sandwich de migas: boiled egg and ham on pillowy soft white bread.
El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
Sandwich de migas

The next day we woke up way to early to travel to Bariloche, a skiing town in Patagonia. This was was waiting for us when we arrived. Gorgeous. 
scenes from Bariloche
The view got even better the next day but that night was the culinary highlight of the trip. Meat, meat and more meat at 
Boliche de Alberto. Imagine a little restaurant off a windy, snow covered street with huge crowds waiting for a simple menu of expertly prepared meat and a great bottle of Malbec. We ate here twice it was so good! Here are some photos of the food and very crude video so you get a sense of the action. El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
The man on the right is Alberto, himself 
Bad lighting and a flimsy point and shoot are a lethal combination but the food was so amazing. Simple and cooked well. You cannot beat that.
El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
Assortment of steaks served family style on a cutting board
El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
A mountain of french fries
El Boliche de Alberto: Bariloche, Argentina
More meat
Like dancers:

I slowed down on the picture taking and just relaxed on the final days of the trip. How could you not want to hang out and stare at this all day?
scenes from Bariloche
scenes from Bariloche
Our final meal that I took my camera to was El Rincón Patagónico, which specializes in lamb and goat. Good meal, great wine selection but Alberto trumped this place. The cabrito was stellar–check out how it is cooked. Sorry for the less exciting soundtrack 🙂

Another great trip comes to an end and I am still processing everything I saw, heard and tasted. If you have never been to Argentina, I would definitely recommend it. How great to travel somewhere so radically different and only have an hour time change! Rio is next on my list. 
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3 comments

  • Re: Buenas de Buenos Aires y Bariloche
    posted by: Jonathan · August 7, 2008  3:09 PM

    wow. gorgeous. I used to work with a batch of software developers who were based in Buenos Aires. You’ve re-fired my urge to go there sooner rather than later.

    FWIW – since you mention gnocchi, we had gnocchi at cakes and ale in Decatur and they were flat out amazing. VERY light and soft, in a light oil with fresh herbs and vegetables. I’ve had gnocchi a lot of place, but nothing close to that ethereal.

  • Re: Buenas de Buenos Aires y Bariloche
    posted by: /dev/nall · August 7, 2008  5:35 PM

    Looks like an amazing trip. One of these days I’m going to make it down there for steaks and Malbec.

  • Re: Buenas de Buenos Aires y Bariloche
    posted by: Meagan · August 8, 2008  6:28 AM

    I second Jonathan on the amazing gnocchi at Cakes & Ale. Just went there Wednesday evening and that dish, gnocchi with local summer vegetables, was the best thing I've eaten in weeks.

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