Let’s start with that sucker there: the all-famous alfajor. Two shortbread cookies, a smear of delicious dulce de leche, and sometimes a little coconut or something else on the edges. Ubiquitous, and available everywhere, but not without good reason.
Oh, hi, that day we ventured into the countryside and found this delightful cafe on the square. I ordered the plate of regional meats and cheeses, and let me tell you: #winning. The husband’s lunch was good, but mine was all rich cheeses, salty meats, and luscious crusty bread. Of which I ran out of far before the meat and cheese. #tragedy
Also, see above: the empanada. I grew up eating these lovely little hand pies, but every South American nation has their twist. I suppose it’s become a bit of a personal mission to try one in every country. Chile, yours are good, but I don’t know about the raisins.
(Side note: remember this sucker?)
Back to Argentina, we can’t forget the national drink, mate.
It’s basically green tea, but there’s a whole lore and method and social structure that goes along with it.
We sampled that mate at the ultimate Argentine food experience, quite aptly named: The Argentine Experience.
You guys: DO THIS.
It was so fun. Outgoing staff prepare and introduce you to all the Argentine classics (empanadas, wine, steak, alfajores and mate) in true gourmet fashion, with a side of culture thrown in. Like, I’ve had mate before, I’ve shared it with Argentinos, Uruguayanos and Lebanese people before. I know you don’t move the straw, and it’s bitter, and you add hot water over and over to the tea leaves, but at AE, they give you the whole run down of what it means socially to the culture. I also credit AE with finally teaching me how to cook a steak (even though I’ve read it a hundred times in magazines and recipe blogs, tasting the amazing result made it stick in my head. BRING ME ALL THE STEAKS.
In summary, AE is like having dinner with good friends who introduce you to everything you need to know about the culture. They said they were in talks to develop a similar venture in Barcelona, so hey, maybe that should be my next stop.
My dad and aunt grew up eating at this places when their family lives in Argentina/Uruguay for a couple of years, and with a name like “French-Fry Palace”, how can you go wrong? I was sure to track one down. And even though I knew about the late Latino hours, it was still surprising to see all the restaurants open late into the evenings, with the places packed. Also, probably the most common BA fast food is pizza. It seemed like you couldn’t walk more than 20 feet before hitting the next take-away pizza place.
And now, in our culinary tour, I’d like to pause for a moment to honor the one that will nearly always have my heart:
The factura filled with dulce de leche. Trust me: I tried all the kinds, and every morning I still returned to this dear love.
All the kinds.
Those kinds were pretty, but dry.
Mine, and his.
And excellent start to a day of exploration.