Off the Beaten Path: Rural Towns in the Buenos Aires Province

(Photo by Facundo Prámparo)

Argentina is a vast country with many very different places to visit. Traveling to Buenos Aires usually means staying in Capital Federal, undoubtedly, the city has a unique magnetic pull; it is after all the country’s stunning capital. However, the province of Buenos Aires has charming towns that are well worth visiting to get the feel of the rural aspect of Argentine living. Many of these places are close to the city so they make great quick getaways. Below are some of our picks:

San Antonio de Areco:  This gaucho town, just 113 Km’s away North West from the city centre, is the perfect place to find typical customs, native silverwork and to enjoy nature. Some of the recommended places to visit include the Museo Gauchesco y Parque Criollo Ricardo Guiraldes, the Museo Taller Draghi, and La Olla de Cobre for fantastic homemade chocolate and alfajores. Getting there takes two hours approximately by bus to Retiro.

Where to stay: There are various estancias, inns and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. Some of the more known options are Estancia La Porteña de Areco, and El Ombu de Areco.

San Pedro: A little further up North, on the banks of the Paraná river is this small town that was founded in 1907, surrounding a Franciscan convent. Now a day it is a one of the most important fruit ports in the country. Places to visit include La Campiña, a fragrant orange farm open to the public, the Plazoleta Fray Cayetano, and the Fernando Garcia Curten art museum. It is also a great place for fishing and other aquatic activities.

Where to stay: Hotel San Pedro Palace, the oldest hotel in the town which dates back to 1898 and is spick and span due to recent renovations.

Lobos: This small town just 100km to the south west of Capital Federal is famous for its estancias, lake and outdoor life. It is also a historical town where both gaucho and indigenous culture clashed and where General Peron was born. Attractions include the Laguna de Lobos, the Peron museum, a museum of natural sciences and various estancias.

Where to stay: Estancia la Candelaria-A top-notch estancia offering everything from gaucho shows to parachuting and massages in a gorgeous French style chateau surrounded by fragrant nature.

Tandil: Further down south, the town of Tandil sits on the edge of the Sierras de Tandil providing a rugged terrain, perfect for rock climbing and trekking. It is also an important historical landmark as it was a big military fort where important battles were fought. The biggest attractions are natural landmarks such as the Cerro Centinela, Monte Calvario and Piedra Movediza amongst others. Tandil is also a special place for cured meats and cheeses.

Where to stay: Posada de los Pajaros is set in the middle of the sierras providing for a tranquil atmosphere surrounded by nature. Otherwise stay at the Altos Avenida in the town center.

Top 5 Dulce de Leches

(Photo by sunday driver)

Dulce de leche is a part of the local identity, and many a visitor has become a fan of its delicious sweet taste.  Not every dulce de leche is the same however (find a recipe here).  Some are darker with an intense sugary flavor, others more milky and smooth. Keep in mind that there are three types for different uses: the classic dulce de leche, the respostero (to make cakes and other baked goods), and a special kind for making ice cream.

Below is our pick of the top 5 classic dulce de leches for you sample and pick up on the way home!

Chimbote: This creamy dulce de leche is one of the most well known, especially amongst D.d.L fans from abroad that stock up on the milky caramel at the Duty Free shop on the way back home.  A top quality spread with just the right balance of sweetness.

Havanna: The famous Mar del Plata alfajor company has made its fans happy with this dark and thick dulce de leche. Its grainy texture and deep sweet flavor is a perfect pair for desserts such as crepes and flan.

 La Salamandra: This top quality dulce de leche became famous internationally after winning a prize at The Fancy Food Show in New York and exporting to over 25 countries. It’s easily found in supermarkets and perfect to enjoy by the spoonful.

Estancia el Rosario: These dulce de leche producers are in Cordoba and they stand out for their variety of dulce de leches, including solid dulce de leche bars and goat milk dulce de leche. They also offer a 450g pot that comes in a milk jug that makes a great gift. Find the addresses of stores in Buenos Aires that sell their products here.

El Monacal: The monks from Abadía del Niño de Dios in Entre Rios are responsible for this creamy homemade delicacy that they produce with milk from their own dairy farm. They also make cheese, beer and honey, providing jobs to the community. Their dulce de leches are available in health stores around the city and in big churches such as the Abadía de San Benito in Belgrano.

French-Argentine Culinary Workshop in Buenos Aires

(Photo by ReneS)

Throughout May, the “La Cuisine des Chefs, Atelier de cocina” culinary workshops will explore Autumnal flavors at different city hotspots.  The event, which seeks to explore French-Argentine cuisine, will feature eight different workshops by renowned chefs. Each will deal with a different theme ranging from patisserie, to spices to mushrooms.

 The workshops cost 190 pesos each, and places must be reserved in advance at Lucullus 4703-3177. Below are the Atelier schedules:

-Sunday 13th of May at 10am: Bruno Gillot & Oliver Hanocq from L’Epi Boulangerie: “Croissant and Viennoiserie.”

-Monday 14th of May at 8pm: Toufic Reda and Emiliano Di Nisi from TO Buenos Aires: “Champiñones en la cocina Frapanese” (Button mushrooms in Frapanese cuisine).

-Tuesday 15th of May at 7pm: Sebastien Fouillade from Brasserie Petanque: “Otoño en el Sud Oeste de Francia” (Autumn in the South West of France).

-Wednesday the 16th of May at 7.30pm: Wine tasting at La Cave a Vin in Unik.

-Thursday the 17th of May at 8pm: Elsa Manelphe from La Cuisine Secrete: “Especias de otoño, currys y sopas exóticas” (Autumn spices, curries and exotic soups).

-Friday the 18th of May at 8.30pm: Jean-Paul Bondoux from La Bourgogne and Jerome Mathe from Cafe des Arts: “La cocina de caza” (The hunter’s kitchen).

-Saturday the 19th of May at midday: Fernando Hara from Unik: “Ultimo tango en Paris” (Last Tango in Paris).

-Monday 21st of May at 8pm: Antontio Soriano from Chez Nous at Algodon Mansion: “La cocina del té” (Tea time cuisine).

This Week in Buenos Aires

Monday

(Photo by jontyjago)

If you´re planning to visit the city center to see the Obelisco, or to take a tour of the Colón Theatre, head to the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes (palace of running waters) on Cordoba Avenue and Riobamba first.  Originally built as a disguise for a water tower meant to provide clean drinking water to the people after the 1877 outbreak of yellow fever, the stunning palace now works as Aguas Argentinas’s headquarters (the local water company) and also as a museum. Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-1pm. Riobamba 750 – 1° Piso. 6319-1104.

Popular British Indie band The Kooks will be presenting their new record “Junk of the Heart” at the Luna Park.  Tickets here.

 

Tuesday

(Photo by Pickersgill Reef)

The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Recoleta is presenting a new exhibit ¨Claridad, la vanguardia en lucha¨, showcasing Argentine art from the 20´s-40´s depicting different social and political aspects that the country was going through at the time. Av. Del Libertador 1473, Recoleta.

If you’re looking for a laugh don’t miss the Grin Go! Stand Up comedy Show starting at 9pm at the Absinth Resto Bar. Bartolomé Mitre 1695, Downtown. 4371-6486. Be sure to make a reservation by emailing gringo@comicosdepie.com.ar.

 

Wednesday

(Photo by Paco CT)

The international circus festival, Polo Circo will be taking place until the 14th of May, and is a great opportunity to check out some of the most talented acrobats and circus shows around the world! Find the full program here.

Don’t miss Mora Godoy: Chantecler Tango, a tango musical directed by the British Stephen Rayne, that is being staged at the Teatro Alvear from Wednesday’s-Sunday’s. Avda. Corrientes 1659, Downtown. 4373-4245.

 

Thursday

(Photo by tkamenick)

The Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta is hosting a special exhibit on renowned Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. The museum is open from 1pm-7pm. Juramento 2291, Belgrano.

For a unique evening, book your place at Fierro Hotel’s Thursday wine tasting and sample some great Argentine wines, chosen by the president of the Argentine Sommelier Association Andres Rosberg and in-house Sommelier Martin Bruno. Tastings cost 25 USD per person and are limited to 7 people. Soler 5862, Palermo. 3220-6800.

 

Friday

(Photo by mikilgenio80)

The city’s most important art fair Arte BA kicks off on Friday providing for a great opportunity for art enthusiasts and collectors to see the latest Argentine art on the market.  Open from 1pm-9pm. More information here.

In the evening, don’t miss the Tango Championship where the country’s best dancers will show the best of their abilities.  Find the full program here. 

 

Saturday and Sunday

(Photo by Dominic Meissner)

On Saturday, starting at 2pm TedxJovenes@RiodeLaPlata will be showcasing inspiring proposals, artwork and music by Argentine youth from 16-21 years of age at Ciudad Cultural Konex. Sarmiento 3131, Abasto.

Don’t miss the new MALBA exhibit, Bye Bye American Pie, which showcases some of the most influential American contemporary art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cady Noland, and Paul Mc Carthy. Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Recoleta. 

On Sunday at 11am the Colón Theatre will be presenting a tribute to George Enescu free of charge. Tickets must be picked up at the city in advance. Cerrito 628, Downtown. 4378 7100

On Sunday between2pm-4pm there will be a special origami demonstration at the Japanese Gardens in Palermo. Av. Figueroa Alcorta and Av.Casares.

New Bar in Town: The Shanghai Dragon

(Photo by theharv58)

The Shanghai Dragon is one of the newest additions to the Palermo Scene and it has a promising future. The bar is owned by the man in charge of the popular British pub Gibraltar in San Telmo and the Hindu Bangalore in Palermo.

As The Shanghai’s name obviously suggests, it is inspired by China. The menu features Asian food and delicious drought beer, a trademark in all three bars that keeps the happy bar-goers happy.

Other similarities with its older siblings are its tasteful decor and music, although The Shanghai is the biggest of the three.

The ultra cool ambiance and the artisanal beer Happy Hour from 5pm-10pm every day makes it well worth checking out!

Aráoz 1199, Palermo

On the Argentine Table: Milanesas

(Photo by Los viajes del Cangrejo)

Many stories are told about the history of the Milanesa, a delicious Argentine staple made by frying breadcrumb-coated meat.

This savory meal, present in every local household, is believed to have originated in Germany (known there as the Weiner Schnitzel). Others argue that it actually came from Austria, and that it was a Baroque concoction seeking to simulate the gold covered furniture and decorations of the time. Yet another version says that the original Milanesa was from Milan.  This story states that in the 1800’s an Austrian marshal traveled to Italy and encountered the Italian version of the staple, claiming it to be the true original.  What many argue is that until the 1900’s the dish was called Viennese Scallops, even in Italy, and that it was replaced by the milanesa term afterwards.

Whichever its origins may be, one thing is certain, and that is that milanesas are delicious! They are also a very important part of Argentine cuisine, specially the Argentine Napolitana version (coated with ham, cheese and tomato). In fact, on an online poll in 2011 that sought to establish the Milanesa as the true Argentine food over the traditional asado, 72% voted in favor of the milanesa.

So, where to try one? A difficult question to answer. The best milanesas are always home made (find a recipe here). Especially in the last few years with the increase of meat prices, as many a trustworthy bodegon has resorted to cheaper thin slices of meat between thick coats of breading, when it should be the other way around. There are however a few spots where this savory meal can be enjoyed.

The best milanesas hands down are served on the corner of Medrano and Gorriti, in a nameless bodegón where the owners (who must be around 70 years old) serve food at midday.  Medrano and Gorriti, Palermo. 4862-9905.

Club del Progreso is another alterative that serves top quality milanesas. The elegant historic club, which dates back to 1852, serves traditional food in a stately antique setting. Sarmiento 1334, Downtown. 4372 3380.

2012 Tango Championship

(Photo by L.A. Shooter)

Visitors who have come to the city enthusiastic to see some of the best tango in the country are in for a treat these weeks.

The 2012 Tango Championship will be taking place from the 10th to the 26th of May and will present a great opportunity to watch top-notch dancers strut their stuff at different milongas around the city.

The categories that will be included in the championship are Tango, Milonga, Vals, and Milongueros del Mundo.  Semi finals will take place on the 23rd of May at the well-known La Viruta in Palermo. Finals will take place on the 26th of May at La Usina in La Boca and will be free of charge, however tickets must be picked up in advance at the Casa de La Cultura on Av. de Mayo from midday-5pm on the previous day.

Winners will be dancing at the Tango world championship in August.

Find more information and the full program here.

The ¨Bondi¨ Identity

(Photo by Libertinus)

Colectivo and bondi (Lunfardo slang) are the common local words for bus. And, the colorful bus lines, with their character bus drivers are truly a part of the local identity.

The bus system in Argentina dates back to the 1930’s when due to the economic crisis, taxi passengers began to dwindle and cab drivers came up with the idea of collective taxis. The exact date is the 24th of September of 1928; it was then that taxi drivers stood on their stop and began to holler out promotional tariffs to specific destinations (Plaza Once and Plaza de Mayo).

From then on routes began to be established, and bigger cars were purchased until the lines were made official and actual buses began to circulate.

As many travelers have noticed, one of the defining characteristics of the Argentine bus system is its colorful bus lines.  As this mode of transport was private, the initial reason for this was to distinguish one line from the other.

One of the most popular color combinations was red and black. Some speculate that this was because the owners of the buses were anarchists.

The colorful system however did not last long. In 1936 the Transport Corporation was founded and bus lines were either bought or confiscated, their colors traded in for a uniform red and ivory.

Then, during the 50’s,  the Ministry of Transport determined that all buses should be silver with a blue lining.  It wasn’t until the privatizations in the 60’s that buses recovered their traditional coloring.  Bus tickets, were also different colors depending on the bus line and distance, and many collected them.

Now a days bus tickets have been homogenized thanks to the ticket machine, yet this colorful city emblem keeps unique chromatic combinations, as well as occasionally sporting fileteado porteño, and decorations inside the buses such as engraved mirrors, curtains and special lighting, amongst others.

This Week in Buenos Aires

Monday

(Photo by el_rogos)

Monday is the last chance to stop by the annual international book fair. Tickets cost 20 pesos and the fair is open from 2pm-10pm. Find the full program of activities here.

In the evening stop by La Peña del Colorado where a tango peña will be held at 8.30pm. This Palermo centered Peña serves traditional food and stages live shows by an array of performers as well as hosting folklore dances for the community.  From midnight onwards they also encourage the diners to play spontaneous guitar music. (They offer the guitars).  Güemes 3657, Palermo. 4822-1038. info@lapeniadelcolorado.com.

 

Tuesday

                                     

(Photo by Club Atlético de Poetas)

The Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta is hosting a special exhibit on renowned Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. The museum is open from 1pm-7pm. Juramento 2291, Belgrano.

If you’re looking for a laugh don’t miss the Grin Go! Stand Up comedy Show starting at 9pm at the Absinth Resto Bar. Bartolomé Mitre 1695, Downtown. 4371-6486. Be sure to make a reservation by emailing gringo@comicosdepie.com.ar.

Wednesday

(Photo by Goodnight London)

The international circus festival, Polo Circo will be taking place until the 14th of May, and is a great opportunity to check out some of the most talented acrobats and circus shows around the world! Find the full program here.

Don’t miss Mora Godoy: Chantecler Tango, a tango musical directed by the British Stephen Rayne, that is being staged at the Teatro Alvear from Wednesday’s-Sunday’s. Avda. Corrientes 1659, Downtown. 4373-4245.

 

Thursday

 

(Photo by tkamenick)

A new temporary exhibit will be displayed at the Espacio Virrey Liniers showcasing the latest archeological explorations of Buenos Aires city. Opening hours: Tue-Sun 2pm-7pm. Venezuela 469, Montserrat.

For a unique evening, book your place at Fierro Hotel’s Thursday wine tasting and sample some great Argentine wines, chosen by the president of the Argentine Sommelier Association Andres Rosberg and in-house Sommelier Martin Bruno. Tastings cost 25 USD per person and are limited to 7 people. Soler 5862, Palermo. 3220-6800.

Friday

(Photo by lazzarello)

Don’t miss the new MALBA exhibit, Bye Bye American Pie, which showcases some of the most influential American contemporary art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cady Noland, and Paul Mc Carthy. Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Recoleta. 

In the evening, don’t miss the Tango Championship where the country’s best dancers will show the best of their abilities.  Find the full program here.

Saturday and Sunday

(Photo by rachel a.k.)

Professional photographer Jocelyn Mandryk (who took Fierro’s latest photographs) and her associate Becky Hayes have taken tourist photography to a whole new level on their Saturday Foto Ruta tours.  What they propose is to get to know the city from another point of view, taking their travelers through off the beaten path locations and setting creative guidelines for the photographs so that they can explore the local colors and characters through the lens from a new perspective, finding what they normally wouldn’t on a typical tourist location. The Foto Ruta tour runs every Saturday from 2pm-6pm and costs 100 pesos. Upcoming locations are listed on the Foto Ruta webpage.

On Saturday don’t miss the free jazz concert at Boris Club de Jazz where singer-songwriter María Eva will be presenting Ciclo Bienestar at 11.30pm. Gorriti 5568, Palermo.

Every Sunday until the 13th of May from 1pm-4pm there will be live tango music and milongas at the traditional Bar El Estaño 1880. Aristóbulo Del Valle 1100, La Boca

Barman Fede Cuco at Fierro Hotel

Local celebrity bartender Fede Cuco has embarked on a special adventure. Known as the Cantinero Viajero (Travelling Bartender), he has taken upon paying visits to different bars around the city with a suitcase full of elixirs. This weekend he will be traveling to Fierro Hotel’s Hernán Gipponi Restaurant where he will prepare some of his unique recipes.

The menu will consist of five one-of-a-kind cocktails including a homemade Rob Roy matured in an oak barrel! He will also remind us of the wonders of an old time classic, the Chicago Fizz.  Other delectable drinks to be served include C&C Fizz, Multiple Choice Crusta, and Black & Tan.

Don’t miss this chance to share the stories of your trip with this unique traveler who will be at Fierro Hotel on Friday the 4th, and Saturday the 5th of May from 7pm onwards. Soler 5862, Palermo. 3220-6800.