South America has changed. I was happy to find plenty of wonderful roasted vegetables and beautiful fruits and salads in both Argentina and Brazil. This was not the case when I visited South America other times. I think it’s us…food bloggers…continually touting farm-to-table, healthy choices and balanced eating. So, a round of applause to all the foodies out there!
Oh, yes, I had meat too. Infinitely more in 1 week than I generally consume in months! Various cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, ham and chorizo passed these lips. And I had fried appetizers, the occasional dessert and lots of bread. But I also had fresh local fish several times and lots of vegetables and fruit. Sounds like a lot of eating, doesn’t it? Come see…
This was my third visit to Buenos Aires but, like the others, it was just for a few quick days. We stayed in the micro center for convenience, but there certainly are more beautiful areas. Buenos Aires is a huge and diverse city with many green areas, especially in Palermo, and historic ‘old world grand’ areas like Recoleta. We were, however, in walking distance to the Puerto Madero, a great complex on the water which houses a lot of restaurants, and to Florida Street (shoppers mecca).
[FYI: Argentina boasts the widest avenue in the world "9 de Julio" in Buenos Aires and the widest waterfall in Iguazu.]
Vamos a comer (let’s eat!)
After flying all night and the usual rigmarole before boarding and after deplaning, we were ready to eat. Since our rooms weren’t ready, we asked where we could go for a quick lunch and the food court at the Galleria Pacifico was recommended. A food court would not be our first choice (ever) but we were tired and hungry. And it was close by.
Let me tell you…this is one great food court! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful tortas can be found all over the place as well as beautiful salads and all kinds of other choices. (They even have a bar and specialty coffee shops.) But I could not get past the array of tortas, most of which were vegetable-based, many layered with pureed pumpkin.
For dinner I suggested Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero (a popular restaurant noted for raising its own meat) but there was a long wait so we went to Happening about a block or two away. I’d read in NY Magazine that this was Gael Greene’s favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires — and I couldn’t argue with that. It was quite nice, comfortable, service great — and we loved their communal antipasto table!
Here’s my group the night we went to the elegant La Esquina de Carlos Gardel for a lovely dinner and tango show.
Other recommendations: Las Cholas in Las Canitas specializes in parilladas (grilled variety of Argentine meats presented together) — we also had a parillada of grilled vegetables. Available everywhere: great appetizers of empanadas and proveleta (baked provolone cheese).
This was my second visit to Iguazu Falls. The first time I stayed on the Brazilian side of the Falls. This time, the Argentine side, which afforded us the wonderful experience of riding the rapids and going under the falls for a thorough (and cold) dousing.
We stayed at the Grand Iguazu Resort Spa + Casino and had a lovely dinner in their restaurant our first night. Here’s my gazpacho appetizer and lamb 2-way entree.
The second night we had dinner in a wonderful restaurant in town called Aqua which specializes in local fish and Italian dishes. This was the appetizer platter for 2. The curly white stuff under the avocado is edible palm flowers.
And then…on to Rio de Janeiro. The first time I was there I stayed in Ipanema, this time Copacabana. Ipanema is preferred.
we stopped for ‘rodizio’ (BBQ that is carried to your table on skewers until you beg for mercy) at Estrela do Sol Churrascaria. All kinds of beef, pork, chicken and even fish – not to mention a huge salad bar.
Feijoada is the national dish of Brazil. It is only served on Saturdays — and only in the afternoon. (You need the remainder of the day to digest!) Perfect timing for us as we were leaving that evening so we had a wonder farewell brunch at the Caesar Park Hotel in Ipanema. It started with a caiprinha bar, appetizers (all things fried like this) and live bossa nova music by a trio.
Then the big reveal. Feijoada! Nice touch that it was broken out by individual cauldrons of the various meats that had been cooked with black beans so that you could avoid pig trotters if you chose to. Feijoada is generally accompanied by white rice, collard greens, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and orange slices to cut the richness. Of course, there was the ubiquitous salad bar and other specialties like roast suckling pig and chicken.
Yes, we were satiated. And, yes, we had dessert anyway. They were really tiny. Really.
Another recommendation in Rio: Stravaganza in Ipanema for delicious pizzas and salads in a trendy setting. For a non-alcoholic drink, try Guarana Zero, a carbonated soft drink.
Home again, home again, jiggity jog. I’m trying to keep my lips zipped since my return. I have less than 2 weeks before I have to pack the suitcase and head out to San Francisco for the FoodBuzz Festival…another eating/drinking orgy. And I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays being right around the corner. Oink-oink.