I sometimes think it’s strange, but I’m a huge pizza freak. The boys always remind me of my late-night obsession with Little Caesar’s pizza at UDel ($5 pizzas with buffalo ranch dip, come on). Besides my terrible taste in nighttime snacks, I do enjoy and appreciate a good slice, most likely because I am from New York. It has been VERY difficult finding decent pizza in Buenos Aires…its usually too doughy with a drop of tomato sauce and an overload of cheese (and often topped with green olives…yuck). We were very pleased when our boss introduced us to Pizza Piola. The pizza is so good…we chose a pie with prosciutto and another with basil and sun-dried tomatoes. The crust was perfect and the pies had just the right sauce to cheese ratio. The meal was delicious, especially when completed with a delicious frozen treat to cleanse our palates.
My favorite place in the city has definitely become the botanical garden. As much as I love it, I have not been going as often as I would like. The garden was designed by Carlos Thays and contains thousands of different species of plants and trees. I like how you can always find a quiet spot to sit and relax or read (I always think of it as an outdoor library). Quail and I went one afternoon and I think it became one of her favorite places in the city as well. She even started to lovingly refer to it as the Secret Garden. I sat and read while she explored the different sections of the park. I love so much that the garden is a short walk from my apartment, which will probably be one of the things I miss most about living in Buenos Aires. Although it will be sad to part with, it has inspired me to finally visit the New York Botanical Garden
One thing I have tried very hard to avoid while down here is shopping. It has been easier than I thought (probably from living with boys who could care less about shopping), even though we live so close to some of the best shopping in the city. As hard as I tried, I could not let Quail visit without seeing some of the shops in Palermo SoHo. One afternoon we wandered around the neighborhood and came across Casa Chic. I love the way the store is decorated, especially the artificial tree in the middle that’s used as a display for home goods and knick-knacks. I really liked the clothes as well and even fell in love with a few t-shirts in the children’s section referencing the Hamptons. Casa Chic reminds me of so many of my favorite shops at home, and I will definitely be going back to browse for inspiration (my wallet would probably combust if I tried actually making a purchase).
Back in October, I was glad to catch El Caminito on an off day. It made it really easy to get great pictures of the buildings and since we had arrived right after a rainstorm, we had the entire area to ourselves. The one downside however, was that none of the shops and cafes were open for us to explore. At the time I thought nothing of it, but now having visited the spot a second time, I am happy that I was able to see every aspect of the tourist attraction. Alleyways and shops that were shut down on our first trip were open and lively on my second trip with Quail. We enjoyed a nice sunny day walking the streets, while a group of drummers played music and encouraged passersby to join in dancing with them. We stopped in a few hidden shops where Quail found great trinkets (her favorite things) to bring home to New York.
One rainy Tuesday a few of us decided to grab a drink at a bar up the street from our apartment. On the walk home down Thames, Pat managed to recommend multiple cafes, stop to chat with a few friends, and say hello to the man at our local parilla. It was clear that Thames had become Pat’s official turf, so we decided to name him the mayor of the street. After giving him the honor, I thought it was appropriate to listen to one of his many recommendations and visited a Thames café that he had been raving about. I brought Quail to Dain Usina Cultural for a hangover recovery meal and was pleased with our chosen lunch spot. The space is half café, half bookstore, with high ceilings and huge windows that make it extra bright. The white walls and sleek furniture give off a modern vibe, and few random pieces of abstract art give it perfect pops of color. We each ordered fresh ginger orange juice (strongly suggested by Patrick), and I chose a grilled chicken sandwich with Gruyere, caramelized onions, and avocado on ciabatta. The juice and sandwich were really delicious and just what I needed to recover after a night on Pub Crawl.
I was looking forward to having a visitor for a little reminder of home, but also to encourage me to visit certain attractions in the city that I had neglected thus far. One place that the boys and I still had not visited was the Japanese Garden. The garden is one of the largest of its kind outside of Japan and is conveniently located in Palermo, just a short walk from my apartment. The pond at the park is surrounded by Japanese plants, and contains beautiful bridges, waterfalls, and giant stone lanterns. I was particularly fond of the massive coy fish living in the pond, and the peaceful calm of the garden (other than a toe-stubbing incident). Before leaving, we stopped to have a snack…Quail and I of course chose vanilla and red bean ice creams that came in the shape of a fish (so cute!).
It always amazes me how passionate people are about soccer (fútbol) here. There is constant coverage on television, riots in the streets, and people decked head to toe in their favorite team’s colors. Having wanted to experience a game since we arrived, I was really looking forward to going to a game for Joe’s birthday. We got tickets to go to El Cilindro to see Racing play Lanús. The game was wild, even if it ended in a zero-zero tie. The fans put any fans from the U.S. to shame, standing the entire game and singing song after song cheering on their team (and insulting the other). Fans bring gigantic banners that they hang from the railings of the stands, or hold above their heads during the game. Some people even smuggled in what looked like sparklers and lit them all at once, which was actually pretty beautiful. It was a lot of fun and I’m happy that I finally got to experience a fútbol game in South America.
There are often times in my postgrad life that I am nostalgic of my college experience. Going to the University of Delaware was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I sometimes miss the people I met and the memories we shared. That said, I was ecstatic when my college roommate Kristin decided to come to Buenos Aires on vacation. I’ll never forget meeting Quail at UD during our first days there as freshmen. She lived on the same floor as my best friend from high school, and about two minutes after meeting her, she immediately started harassing me about my dislike for taking shots. “What kind of Irish girl are you?! Here, stop being ridiculous and take another shot.” Needless to say we instantly became friends and continued to share (to my dismay) many shots and countless other memories during our time at Delaware.
Excited to have my first guest since moving here, I tried to squeeze all of the best things about the city into a week.
I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love my birthday more and more. I don’t know why, but maybe its because of an accumulation of wonderful birthday memories from years passed. I remember ice cream birthday parties, events at the roller-skating rink (with a fuzzy green dinosaur skating around), slot car racing, ski trips, a Chilean 21st birthday celebration, and countless cupcakes, flowers, and balloons. All have been so fun and unforgettable, and remind me of happy times with friends and family.
This year I was really looking forward to the big 2-3 and all of the things I had planned for the week. After spa Sunday, Steph and I made a trip to Barrio Chino to ring in Chinese New Year. We got giant dumplings, spring rolls, and chicken meatballs, and finished our feast off with some fortune cookies (which had the same exact fortune!). Before leaving we browsed some of the stores in search of the perfect Chinese New Year trinket, and found adorable golden elephants to take home as keepsakes. Later that night we went to a new favorite summer spot Soria. The outdoor bar makes a great old fashioned and is a cool place to go on a beautiful summer evening.
The next night we had to work at Pub Crawl in San Telmo. Upon hearing that it was my birthday at mid-night, my co-workers made it their mission to get me a little drunk. The owner of La Barceloneta gave us all tequila shots on the house, and wished me the very best birthday. After, my friend pulled me up on the bar so that all of the pub-crawlers could sing me happy birthday (I almost peed my pants I was so embarrassed). It was such a fun night and a great start to my actual day of birth.
My birthday usually falls on the same week as Mardi Gras. This year was no exception, and February 12 actually fell on Fat Tuesday. We had learned from some Irish friends that Fat Tuesday is called Pancake Tuesday in Ireland since people normally make a big breakfast the day before Ash Wednesday. I got overly excited by this bit of information, and decided to do round two of roommate brunch. We changed the menu this time around and made banana and apple pancakes (with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar), home fries, a quiche, toast, and a fruit salad. It was the first time I made a quiche, and I must say it came out very good.
Later that day, Pat took us to a cute French café called Bar du Marche. I loved the black and white tiled floors, and the chic yet cozy feel of the bar. We ordered the wine and cheese tasting that the café offers, and were each given three different types of wine which were paired with different kinds of cheese. Along with the wine and cheese came crusty bread, apple preserve, mini pickles, and delicious olive oil. It was such a wonderful place to go and I am so glad that Pat suggested it as a birthday activity. After our wine tasting we got a few cortados closer to home to wake us up, and then started getting ready to go out.
Everyone on Pub Crawl’s favorite night to go out is Tuesday because of Hype at Kika…and I of course was the only member of the staff to never have gone before. Since it was a Tuesday, it seemed appropriate to celebrate my birthday with our PC family at Hype. We went on Pub Crawl for a little, then stopped at my favorite spot, Acabar, for some Jenga and caipirinhas, and finally made our way back to meet everyone at Kika. On the way we came across a Carnaval celebration in the street, with music and tons of people dressed in crazy costumes dancing and singing. At last we made it to Hype, and it was everything I hoped it would be. The music was awesome and the party was so much fun.
To finally wrap my birthday celebration week up, my roommates and I went out to a nice dinner thanks to my wonderful parents. After working at a barbecue restaurant in East Hampton, I have become a huge fan of BBQ food. I decided to have my birthday dinner at El Tejano (the place behind our Thanksgiving turkey), a closed-door restaurant known for its outrageous Texas BBQ. The meal was all you can eat smoked brisket, ribs, and matambre, along with jalapeño cornbread, coleslaw, baked potatoes, and sweet pickles. I would have to say that this dinner was probably one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. The smoked brisket was perfectly charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Topped with the sweet pickles and El Tejano’s BBQ sauce, and eaten with the coleslaw, it was beyond delicious and definitely my favorite part of the meal (round 1 out of 4). The ribs were amazing as well, falling right off the bone and full of flavor. I could not have been happier to share this meal with my friends, and to celebrate my birthday in South America. The week was so wonderful and definitely adds to all of my fond birthday memories.
This year I am very excited for my birthday. We have a lot of fun things planned and I can’t wait to celebrate with everyone here in Buenos Aires. It’s also extra special this year because my birthday falls on a national holiday, giving us all a nice long four-day weekend. To kick-off a week of festivities, Steph and I decided to treat ourselves to a spa day. We gave ourselves good pedicures (after being appalled by the state of our feet), deep conditioned our hair, and did açaí facials. We also decided to make a nice pitcher of white sangria (similar to this). One of my favorite summer beverages, white sangria is always the perfect compliment to a hot day. We chopped up green apples, peaches, mangos and oranges, and added it to a mixture of Sauvignon Blanc and 7Up (we unfortunately could not find Triple Sec). The sangria was great and made our spa day extra enjoyable.