Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Buenos Aires - Carne, Carne, Carne!

Sometimes you arrive in a city and you just know you're going to like it. Its impossible to put your finger on why, but as the bus pulled into Buenos Aires I had that feeling. It just has a good atmosphere. European colonial architecture, a lively nightlife, an open disdain for vegetarians reflected in every menu of every one of its thousands of cafes and restaraunts. The place is a melting pot of French, Spanish, Italian and countless other influences which makes for some of the best food, wine and nightlife on the planet as well as being home to one of the most hotly contested footballing derbies, El Superclassico - you'll see what I mean if you click on that link. In short, Buenos Aires has everything you need to become one of the worlds great cities. It was one of the few places Emma and I decided we could happily live in and we spent over a week there, and that wasn't nearly long enough.

We checked into our hostel and imediately went for a walk around the historic San Telmo district, home to one of the largest antique/art/food markets in South America as well as to countless hole in the wall eateries specialising in meat in general but specifically in a simple sandwich known as a 'Chori Pan' as you can see this consisted of nothing but a bit baguette with a sausage, unceremoniously sawed in half and cooked on an open grill and then liberally covered in two different types of garlicy pesto, one red, the other green. Best served with a glass of red or cold beer dependant on ones preferance of course. All this would set you back around £1.50. These sandwiches became part of our daily routine, as you can probably tell by the photo, they weren't the most nutritionally rich, particularly when washed down with wine or beer, but my goodness they were delicious.

Staying in hostels means you meet all kinds of people, those screeching 19 year old gap year girls travelling on their parents credit cards who 'paaahty awl night, yah!' and wake up at 3 in the afternoon never seeing or experiencing anything but the hostel bar. Those irritating, constantly smiling blond guys who insist on strumming Bruno Mars' I wanna be a billionaire over and over again. Those guys with dreads who end up acquiring a street dog and living in a squat selling friendship bands. The old guys with tattoos, whose story you never quite get to the bottom of and then you got Levi. Levi was a very strange Brazilian gentleman who spoke perfect English and worked on a cruise ship. Its hard to describe exactly why he was weird, but weird he most certainly was. We first met him in the hostel bar when he approached the group we were sitting with and asked if anyone was hungry. Yes we replied, it had been 6 hours since our last Chori Pan after all. I have a friend, he continued, a friend who owns a very nice restaraunt not 10 minutes walk from this hostel.
Now, I don't think we would have gone anywhere with this very overtly strange man if it had just been Emma and I but we were sitting with an Ozzie guy called Tim and the safety in numbers he represented emboldened us and we agreed. And I'm glad we did. The restaraunt was called 'Rosalia' and it was absolutely brilliant. Probably the best all round dining experience I've ever had. We arrived at the restaraunt still a little dubious of Levi's claims. 'The owner is a very close personal friend of mine' etc. etc. but sure enough, on arrival we were whisked directly to the best table in the restaraunt, directly in front of the stage, pausing only to let Levi creepily kiss each waitress that we passed on both cheeks.

The menu was just varying sizes and cuts of steak, with varying different types of offal to start. Doesn't sound great, but even the offal was delicious. The steak was brought out by an officious waiter who unashamedly cut each of our steaks with a spoon. It was without doubt the best steak I've ever tasted and made me understand finally why each Argentinian personally ingests 100kg of red meat every year. The US is a distant second with 45kg per person. The steak was amazing, the wine was amazing and the Tango show that began halfway through the meal was incredible. 4 impossibly good looking couples suddenly emerged from behind the curtains and did some of the sexiest dancing its possible to do whilst fully clothed. At one stage I was pulled off my table and awkardly spun around for a while by a smouldering Argentinian woman until I think my awkwardness started to make her look bad and she let me sit down again. It ended up costing us about £10 per head, I'm still not sure whether this was because of Levi's bizzare influence or whether it really was that cheap, either way though, we were delighted and I maintain that this was the single best dining experience I've ever had. Cheers Levi, you odd, odd fellow! We heard unconfirmed reports a few days later, that Bono aka Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ate at that very retaraunt the day after we did. Must have heard we were there.

We didn't get any less debauched for the rest of our time in Buenos Aires, with Steak featuring highly on most of the meals we ate for the rest of the duration of our stay. At one stage, we'd eaten a fillet steak lunch and I'd polished off a bottle of wine by half past two in the afternoon. I felt contented and ashamed at myself at the same time. I would do it all again given half a chance, so I don't know if I've learned any lessons.....

Too much happened in Buenos Aires to pack it all into one blog so going to end this one here and continue in another one. Next stop, mas de Buenos Aires.

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