Review: Editor Market Café

Editor Market Café

Buenos Aires has experienced a serious coffee boom in recent years, with a slew of sleek spots popping up all over town – not only in the typically trendy Palermo but also in Microcentro and San Telmo. After generations of accepting burnt cortados and mediocre cafés con leche, younger palates have grown more discerning as their penchant for buzzwords like “fair trade,” “organic,” and “flat white” gradually evolved into genuine interest and expertise.

We’re all familiar with the current favorites: LAB Tostadores de Café, Lattente, Barrio Cafetero, and Coffee Town (special mention for The Shelter and its insanely well-done interior design). No one can deny that they’re the collective caffeine kings, bolstered by delicious add-ons like LAB’s chocolate chip cookies and Lattente’s special guest Sheikob peddling his perfect bagels on Sunday mornings.

So let’s take a minute to give a warm welcome to newcomer Editor Market Café, a special little gem that is sure to earn its spot along the new ruta de café porteña (patent pending on that phrase).

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#MAPA14 Comes to a Close

#MAPA Final What a glorious year it’s been for the aperitivo, wouldn’t you say?

Whether you’re a hipster who drinks Campari with soda while you’re at some underground party, a chic society girl sipping on Aperol as the sun goes down, or an old-school man’s man who washes down your Cinzano with potato chips, 2014 was a good time to celebrate our love for aperitivi.

It all came to a dramatic close last sunday at the Quinta Trabucco out in Vicente López. The 15 finalists – five experts and ten aficionados – set up shop at the bar and got ready to wow both the judges and the people, hoping to be crowned not only with the title of victor, but also with a ticket to Italy.

The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, and the humidity decided to let us all have a good hair day. Partygoers sprawled on picnic blankets (day drinking and sprawling definitely go hand in hand), scarfed down sausagey treats courtesy of DOGG, and chugged cocktails all in the name of honest competition. Also, there was a photobooth, of which I took full advantage, because duh.

#MAPA Cocomero Rosso#MAPA14 PhotoboothThe stakes were high, and there were a lot of great contenders out there. From the experts category, my favorites were El Sodero (Mar del Plata) and Tradición (Santa Fe). El Sodero is the perfect summer drink – crisp, sweet and citrusy, and light enough to trick you into drinking 25 without realizing that this is maybe not a good decision. The cool part was that the cocktail was mixed and loaded into a Drago sifón so each magical squirt was the perfect blend of boozey goodness. The Tradición brought together whiskey, green apple, pecans and cinnamon, resulting in a dangerously delicious drank that I would happily put into a thermos and call it my special juice.

From the aficionados side, my personal favorites were the Cocomero Rosso and the Divino Fibonacci. The former took on one of the Argie’s favorite myths – that drinking wine and eating watermelon together will result in CERTAIN DEATH. Somehow, by the grace of God, we all lived to see another day. The Divino Fibonacci really brough it home with the divine proportions, Cynar, and a rosemary garnish. Simple, light, fabulous. I may or may not have had several servings of each. Hey, I had to be sure of my favorite before hitting the ballot box, right?

As voting wound down, everyone started to get antsy and we just wanted to know WHO WON ALREADY PLEASE TELL ME. Drumroll please….

Little Blackberry Spritz, el aperitivo ganador de Facundo Tochi (1)Cocomero Rosso, el aperitivo ganador creado por Matías DanaCordobés Facundo Tochi took home the expert prize with his Little Blackberry Spritz, while Matías Dana and his Cocomero Rosso soaked up the glory for the aficionados. Both winners will get to pack their bags and hit up Italy with their team captains, not to mention the badassery of calling themselves Crown Prince(s) of #MAPA14.

If you want to see more pictures from the day, visit the Comando Gourmand Facebook album.

Feeling nostalgic? You can still follow the #MAPA14 hashtag on Twitter. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

 #MAPA14 Comando Gourmand

Hernán Gipponi’s T&A at Gran Bar Danzón

…That’s Tapas & Arroz, sickos.

HG at Gran Bar DanzónLast week Hernán Gipponi took over the kitchen at Gran Bar Danzón and rocked Recoleta’s socks off with a four-day gastronomic extravaganza. The propuesta? Tapas, rice, and wine, featuring versions of HG’s most well-known dishes, such as organic rice from Corrientes, sous vide eggy goodness, and light, citric desserts that cleanse the palate.

Gipponi has been acting as a bit of a free agent after parting ways with the Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood several months ago. Though I’m surely going to miss his legendary brunches and One Table dinners there, change is a very good thing for all. After slinging nearly 500 kilos of prawns from Chubut at Feria Masticar, he moved onto this miniature residency at Danzón the last week in October.

Credit Gran Bar Danzón

Credit Gran Bar Danzón

The menu was paired with Zuccardi wines, with the spotlight shining straight on the Aluvional La Consulta 2010. This wine alone is beyond worth the price of admission and was indeed the metaphorical frutilla en la torta of a culinarily epic Monday night.

We started off with a little pincho of cured beef with mustard, grilled tomato, and turnip pickle. Done, delicious, come to mama. Paired with a crisp glass of Alma 4 Chardonnay, it was a nice prepper for the massive feast that was to come.

Huevo, papa, molleja - Gran Bar DanzónNext up was the tapas round. Much like a gameshow, extra points were indeed earned for scarfing down as much as humanly possible. Between the chilled fennel and green apple soup, baby squid with alioli, salsa brava and papel de calamar, the beef tongue served with little morcilla meatballs, and the sous vide egg with molleja, potato and onion… yikes I just drooled all over myself while reliving this moment. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be a tie between the fennel soup and the egg, but both the squid and blood sausage morsels really gave them a run for their money.

As if it were possible to have any more room for extra food, the main event was yet to come. The skillet of organic rice from Corrientes served with prawns, pork belly, leeks, and giant lima beans was brought out to much fanfare, our cup of La Consulta served suavely alongside it. Jaws definitely had to be picked up off the table; thankfully the music was loud enough to mask our borderline inappropriate moans and exclamations.

After such an intense savory sesh, the only logical dessert was the Copa HG – a light, foamy yogurt mixed with iced passion fruit, lychee, and toasted pumpkin seeds. It was a lovely balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth. The Malamado Viognier paired well, though it was a bit strange to have a dessert wine sweeter than the actual postre.

It was definitely an aggressive(ly good) way to start the week. In fact, I think my liver is just starting to recover from the level of insanity I put it through during that dinner and beyond.

One thing is certain: No matter where he rests his knives, Hernán Gipponi is one fine chef. One can only hope that these pop-up menus will become more of a regular happening until HG hunkers down behind some burners of his own.

Gran Bar Danzón
Libertad 1161 – Primer Piso, Recoleta
Monday-Friday from 7pm; Saturday-Sunday from 8pm
4811-1108

#MAPA14: Start Your Aperitivo Engines

#MAPA14 Convocatoria

Springtime in Buenos Aires: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are warming up, and it’s time for this year’s edition of #MAPA. The Movimiento Aperitivo Argentino is gearing up for another season of competition in search of the greatest new cocktail and this year, anyone can participate.

From now until December 1, aspiring mixologists can enter the running by teaming up with one of the ten ambassadors (last year’s #MAPA finalists) and developing their own aperitivo cocktail, pairing it with one of the nine dishes inspired by the Ruta del MAPA, and tying it into a creative story that weaves everything together.

Earlier this year, the MAPA battalion traveled around Argentina and hosted workshops with Martín Auzmendi – official MAPA ambassador and cocktail king – as well as the country’s top chefs and bartenders (think Antonio Soriano, Hernán Gipponi, Gonzalo Aramburu…). Along the way, these chefs were assigned with the task of inventing dishes inspired by one of the cities, using local ingredients and flavors. Participants in #MAPA14 must choose one of those dishes (based on whatever criteria they wish, be it one of the key ingredients, the chef that created it, or any kind of general good vibe).

Participants will enter one of two categories – Experts or Aficionados – and five finalists will be chosen from each. The jury – Guillermo Blumenkamp (bartender/owner of Doppelgänger), Luciano Banchero (journalist and aperitivo lover), and Pamelo Villar (chef/owner at Yeite) – will choose the winner based on the cocktail itself, the story that accompanies it, and the overall creativity and presentation. The prize at stake? A magical mystery tour across Italy with Martín Auzmendi to eat and drink their way along the original ruta del aperitivo.

MAPA’s mission is to bring together the magic of the aperitivo in all its glory against the backdrop of classic storytelling, the buena mesa and all that this entails. As we all know, nothing tops the simple pleasure of getting together with friends and family to enjoy a cold Aperol Spritz, Negroni, or Cynar Julep, watching the sun go down and just taking a moment to soak it all up.

For more information visit the MAPA website, Twitter, and Instagram.

#MAPA14 - Santa Fe #MAPA14 - Mendoza

A Triumphant Return

Sprinkle Drink at BASAThank God blogs aren’t apartments, because I would have been evicted by now.

Remember me? I sure hope so. This little space has become overgrown with cobwebs and too much dust. I could come up with a list of excuses as to why, but none of them is any good. So let’s just move forward and pretend that my hiatus lasted no longer than the blink of an eye, dale?

I’ve missed you all and the joy I get writing about my food and drink exploits about town. Life sometimes gets in the way, though.

One of the most exciting developments that took place in my absence would have to be the coming together of the Comando Gourmand, a group of eight fabulous women – some local, some expat – dedicated to bringing the best of BA’s food & drink to the forefront. We’re a motley crew, and a wonderful one at that. Journalists, sommeliers, bloggers, and all-around bon vivants meeting together at a proverbial communal table. It’s a lovely thing.

El Comando Gourmand Please head on over to our Facebook page and give us a Like, because – why not? We were fortunate enough to be invited to speak about the new trends in Argentine gastronomy at the Día del Gourmet celebrations recently and were then called upon by the Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” during their whirlwind stop in town. We rolled up our sleeves and tucked into some of the city’s best steaks, burgers, and deep-fried deliciousness. Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

2013 was a big year for Buenos Aires. It seems that a corner has been turned and we’re in for a continued wave of stellar restaurants, bars, cafés, and beyond. Allie put together a lovely little review of last year’s Top 25, check it out if you haven’t done so already.

What am I most excited about? Probably the return to local, quality, standout ingredients that come together in a simple way to bring complex flavors to a plate. Chefs are getting braver, stepping away from what everyone else is doing and taking more risks. We’re reaping the benefits, and it’s inspiring new projects to come forth. All very promising indeed.

So, whaddya say? Let’s get this show back on the road, dangnabit. See you on the flip side…

La Huella

Review: BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant

(Quick note before you get to the good stuff: This post was supposed to go live more than a month ago, before I fell off the face of the Earth – OK, the southern hemisphere – and was out of town for a nice stretch. Not that any of this really matters to you, of course, but take this small message as proof that I do indeed still exist.)

BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant I feel like a broken record. The Retiro Renaissance™ (I just did that) continues to take Buenos Aires by storm, and the (now not-so) newest contender on the stage just happens to be located on my tiny little street on the ground floor of the posh Quartier residential/office building mere steps from Av. del Libertador. BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant is the chic big sister of next door’s Grand Café which opened up several months ago. Brainchild of the dream team behind Gran Bar Danzón, Sucre, Sanbenito (RIP) and even some spots in Brazil, BASA had all of us waiting anxiously for its debut.

Inside BASA If you’re familiar with Danzón or Sucre, BASA’s industrial-hip interior will seem happily familiar to you. Though located technically underground, the restaurant and bar area are spacious, inviting and not at all claustrophobic. The bar itself is massive, taking up the whole back wall and proudly showing off an array of booze and cocktail tools and treats.

Ludo's G&THead barman Ludovico De Biaggi knows what he’s doing: at just 23, he has already logged nearly a decade behind the bar (child protection groups, not to worry, he started off practicing alongside guru Inés de los Santos, but strictly with non-alcoholic delights while his mom was busy working in Danzón’s office. Yep, it’s a family affair.). Ludo’s extreme dedication (watch him make your drink and you’ll realize he is more focused on that task than you ever were on anything, ever) results in some amazing cocktails – dare I say, his take on my favorite G&T surpasses that of Florería Atlántico’s famed Tato, and his Smoky Rusty Nail is simply exquisite. Take advantage of his creativity and let him whip something up off-menu for you, if you’re lucky.

Arroz negro at BASAIf the drinks are fabulous, the food is beyond. Try not to fill up on the amazing, fresh-baked bread that is brought out before you order, something easier said than done. The menu is pretty extensive, with creative small plates and appetizers that are best shared – the fritto misto and the sartén de hongos are the stuff dreams are made of. Main courses include a variety of meat, pasta and fish dishes joined by a variety of sides. You can’t go wrong with the grilled fish of the day and a simply dressed green salad, but if you want to do it up, the arroz negro with shellfish and squid ink is most likely infused with a little bit of heaven. Although, all of this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that head Chef Julieta Oriolo is the one orchestrating this behind the scenes. The wine list is on the pricey side, but has tons of options, and the desserts are a perfect way to end your meal (check out the profiteroles).

BASA Service is professional (though it’s been clear that some servers know more than others about how to work in a higher-end restaurant), and you’ll notice that one of the owners and/or managers is never far from the action – speaking directly to the legacy that Patricia and Luís have spent more than a decade constructing.

Cocktail wisdom at BASABASA hosts a daily happy hour with drink specials and a lively atmosphere for an area that has previously been quiet for so long. Before, you’d have to either brave the mess that is Reconquista just to have a beer after leaving the office or suffer in silence, but now we can all let out a collective sigh of happy relief knowing that our newest neighborhood haunt raises the bar (pun not really intended) significantly. The best part is knowing after a great night stuffing myself to the gills, I’m half a block from home. Retiro, I love you.

BASA Buenos Aires BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant
Basavilbaso 1328 – Retiro
4893-9444
Lunch, Happy Hour & Dinner
Reservations recommended

Review: Coffee Avenue – Hot Drinks on Wheels

If I could buy stock in my neighborhood, I would (is that even a thing?). As I’ve been blabbing on about for the past several weeks, Retiro is on the up and up in many ways this year, and a new food-related addition is just another jewel in our barrio-fabulous crown.

Coffee Avenue Buenos Aires Coffee Avenue is the first real food truck of Buenos Aires. Yes, indeed, ladies and gents. Let’s just take a moment to celebrate this momentous occasion! Though the truck is obviously mobile (unlike its bondiola counterparts on the Costaneras Norte y Sur), Coffee Avenue has been staked out near Plaza San Martín for the past couple of weeks, brightening everyone’s workday with a warm cup of joe that blows any old corner cafe – or dare I say it, Starbucks (blergh) – out of the water.

Coffee Avenue Truck The truck itself is fun – a giant owl greets you as you pull up to place your order – and customers can see how their lattes are made in the moment, as if there were any other way. Friendly owner Carlos – “Carli, el Méxicano” – is more than eager to chat up his clientele, and when you finally get your hands on your morning beverage, all seems right with the world. No, I am not exaggerating in any way, shape or form. Let’s blame it on my caffeine buzz.

Coffee Town CarlosCustomers can order up a cafe latte, cappuccino, latte (hazelnut or caramel), mocha, herbal tea or hot chocolate (for the man child who still lives with mom and dad? or a real child) in either Regular (Avenida) or Large (Boulevard) sizes. Carlos takes pride in their individual roasting process for the different types of coffee beans, resulting in a cup that is never burnt or bitter.

My cafe lattes have always been nice and foamy on top, with smooth and rich coffee that you really can’t find at many places in this city, despite the overwhelming cafe culture that abounds. Add to all of this that the truck is just a block away from both my home and my office, and I am sold.

You can follow Coffee Avenue on Twitter – @thecoffeeavenue – for up-to-date information on the truck’s whereabouts, but they usually tend to hang around Retiro and some parts of Downtown most days. Yes, this means you Palermitanos and Belgrano denizens are going to have to wake up early and brave the elements to get your paws on this liquid ambrosia. Trust me, it’s worth it – and then some. Let’s just hope that this is the first of many food truck endeavors that BA sees this year. If Coffee Avenue is any indication, things are headed on the up and up.

Coffee Avenue
Monday – Friday, 8-11am
Av. Maipú 1200 – Retiro (*for now)
Twitter
hola@coffeeavenue.com