On the Argentine Table: Sandwiches de Miga

(Photo by gorriti)

Sandwiches de miga are typical sandwiches eaten usually at social gatherings and as afternoon snacks. They probably originated from the Italian Tremezzino sandwiches and are made up of either two or three layers (known as dobles or triples) of thin crustless bread (or miga) and a variety of fillings which may include different combinations of ham and cheese, heart of palms, pineapple, anchovies, eggs, blue cheese, olives and more.

The famous tostado is a grilled ham and cheese miga sandwich that is usually served in city cafes. Otherwise, a broad variety of these local delicacies are sold in bakeries at a very reasonable price or at traditional cafes like Tortoni and Las Violetas.  A great place to try them in Palermo is in Santa Paula bakery (Scalabrini Ortiz 3154, Palermo).

Argentine Pastries

(Photo by Xiaozhuli)

We’re not sure what the consumption of medialunas per capita is in Argentina, but we’re guessing it’s pretty high and right up there with meat. So, it’s no surprise that Buenos Aires (and practically every other Argentine city and town) is scattered with panaderias (bakeries).  Of course, being bakeries, their specialties include bread, cakes and pastries, like anywhere else in the world. However, as each place has its own twist on sugar and starch we’ve put together a list of typical pastries to sample next time you’re near a neighborhood carb-dispenser.

Medialunas: Hands down, the most popular pastry is this crescent shaped slightly sweet croissant. There are two types: de grasa (made with lard) or de manteca (made with butter). The first is crunchier and thin, the second puffy and moist.

Vigilantes: These pastries made mostly from butter are generally covered with quince jam and custard and sprinkled with sugar on top.

Bolas de Fraile: The Benedictine’s came up with this pastry in the XV century after searching for a sweet representation of the absolute. Perfection however didn’t come along until the Argies filled them with dulce de leche.

Cañoncitos de Dulce de Leche: The cylindrical shaped puff pastries filled with rich dulce de leche and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar are the ultimate sugar high for those that like it really sweet.

Churros: These crunchy fried pastries are dusted in sugar, sometimes filled with dulce de leche, and occasionally coated in chocolate. They pair best with hot chocolate in winter at one of these places.

Pastelitos: Prepared for national festivities, these crunchy sweet indulgences are filled with quince or sweet-potato paste.

As a curious side fact, anarchist bakers named many of the pastries in the nineteenth century alluding to the different powers in a gesture of ridicule. Such is the case of the vigilante (which means guard), bola de fraile (monk balls), and cañoncito (cannon).

(find a review  by our friend Allie Lazar of the best Buenos Aires panaderias here.)

Top 5 Pan Dulces in the City

(Photo by Frabisa)

Amongst the glories of Argentine Christmas are the panettone in the city bakeries. Know to locals as pan dulce, this bakery specialty are a must on every Argie Christmas table.  Our favorites are from:

Abadía Santa Escolastica: The Benedictine nuns specialize in all things sweet for Christmas and they make fantastic turrones, fruitcakes, chocolate covered dried fruits, alfajores and of course, one of the most respected pan dulces in town.  They offer different varieties including chocolate coated and ice cream stuffed panettone; all worthwhile Christmas indulgences. Libertad 1240, Ground floor, store 19, Recoleta.

El Progreso: This traditional bakery is almost a hundred years old and is one of the city’s hottest pan dulce dealers. They are so popular in fact that they often run out of the seasonal delicacy, so better head there quickly, or otherwise stop by to try some of their other pastries.  Av. Santa Fe 2820, Recoleta.

Nucha:  A more modern option is this popular bakery with stores all around town. They offer both the Italian inspired panettone, which is flatter, and their version of  pan dulce, which is fluffier and higher.  Find a list of all their stores here.

Sugar&Spice: The great thing about Sugar&Spice is not only that their products are fantastic but that they are just a few blocks away from the hotel. Check out their cookies at the Fierro minibars and then stop for some more and one of the best pan dulces or German stollens in town at their nearby store. Guatemala 5419, Palermo.

Patisserie Française: This Palermo centered patisserie offers a great variety of French inspired pastries and for Christmas they make an excellent panettone, which granted is not French in origin, but is delicious just the same. Malabia 2355, Palermo.