Feria Masticar 2016

Feria Masticar 2016

I’m not usually a “festival” person. Long lines, massive crowds, getting jostled around without much to show for it… sometimes it’s just too stressful to handle. However, there are times when taking a deep breath and diving into the insanity is all part of the fun.

It’s time for Feria Masticar, the star of Buenos Aires’ burgeoning food movement, now in its fifth year running. Waving the #ComerRicoHaceBien flag, it promises four days of eating and drinking extravaganzas, with the city’s best and brightest talent showcasing their goodies for the people.

In an effort to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved, this year the fair is sort of an XL reloaded version of itself, having annexed a few extra blocks and open spaces surrounding El Dorrego. There’s a whole brasas section, a beer garden, tons of market vendor stands in the middle of it all, and more space overall to stroll/scarf/lie down when your food baby gets too big.

Let’s get down to business. Here’s my shortlist of what you can’t miss from this year’s edition:

Feria Masticar 2016 / i Latina

Savory

  • Chorichang by Astor Bistro (the wild boar raviolis are also the jam, slurp up that brodo, bro)
  • Arepas de pollo y cerdo braseado by i Latina (#PuraSabrosura)
  • Oysters from Patagonia (served both raw and breaded in Panko) by Crizia
  • Chorifish + Cebichón by La Mar (be prepared for XXXL lines, however, everyone wants a piece of Gastón Acurio’s Peruvian magic)
  • Empanadas de Yacaré by El Baqueano (yep, you’re going to eat caiman)
  • 100-hour Bondiola by Pura Tiera (Chef Martín Molteni literally makes me want to live in a cabin)
  • Pulpitos by my favorite neighbors BASA
  • Pastrón by Mishiguene
  • Prawns by Gipponi + Rastellino (#UnaToneladaDeLangostinos)

Feria Masticar 2016 / CriziaSweet

  • Sugar rush chocolates by Compañía de Chocolates
  • Dolce Morte ice creams by Elena (smoked milk has never been so sexy)
  • Elderflower sorbet by Cassis
  • Cookies by Santa Teresita (if you weren’t lucky enough to summer in José Ignacio, now’s your chance)
  • Chocolate Cardamom Mousse by the Nespresso Patisserie

Feria Masticar 2016 / GanciaDrinks

  • Bar de Vinos by CAVE (rent a glass for 100 pesos and go to town on some fancy wines from Argentina’s best bodegas)
  • Alfredo Romero + more by Ludovico De Biaggi at the Gancia Cocktail Truck
  • Mimosa de Remolacha by Julep
  • Negroni Balestrini at Florería Atlántico (points for their awesome floral garnishes and beards)
  • Pisco Punk by 878
  • Everything coffee by the Nespresso Patisserie (go for the coffee + chocolate pairings to really get your blood sugar roaring)

This obviously doesn’t cover everything, but these recommendations will guarantee you leave having sipped and nibbled one some of the best that Masticar has to offer this year.

Feria Masticar 2016 / El Esteco

Double up on patience before you arrive, be prepared to get pushed around by surprisingly strong Argentine grannies, and take a lap or two before you commit to anything. Crowds are more manageable later in the evening, and if you go on Sunday when things are winding down you might be able to take home some of the goods (one woman I spoke to made off with 14kg of clams last year… why that seemed tantalizing to her I will never know).

Feria Masticar
Zapiola 50 – El Dorrego
Now through Sunday, May 8, every day from noon-11pm

Entrance $80
Dishes & drinks range from $50-80
Be smart – Buy tickets in advance here

Feria Masticar 2016 / Florería AtlánticoFeria Masticar 2016 / Pura TierraFeria Masticar 2016 / NespressoFeria Masticar 2016 / Choribondi by La Cabrera

 

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Review: Pain de Sucre

Pain de Sucre Lemon Pie

It doesn’t take much to convince me to dive into something sweet. No one has to twist my arm to order (more) dessert after dinner, and there’s always room for another bag of Haribo in my bag after a trip through Duty Free. Since I can remember, my palate has been fine-tuned to favor a decadent chocolate mousse or a brownie sundae piled high with whipped cream. When I moved to Buenos Aires however, I had no idea what I was in for. Dulce de leche on top of dulce de leche, crema pastelera out the wazoo, kilo after kilo of creamy helado in every flavor imaginable. The saccharine overload was almost enough to turn me into a savory-only girl.

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Review: La Alacena

Photo courtesy La Alacena

Photo courtesy La Alacena

For those of you that are either from Buenos Aires or have been here long enough to remember the glory days (pre-inflation with that solid 3 to 1 exchange rate), you might reminisce about a time when Palermo wasn’t overrun with pastel-pink cookie cutter shops, cafés peddling mint lemonade, or French bulldogs wearing leather jackets. A simpler, more wholesome time indeed.

Well, you can stop living in the past. Enter La Alacena, the newest gem in a Palermo that harkens back to the quieter days with a real barrio feel. After dominating at BASA (and before that, Le Blé, Bar Uriarte, and beyond), Juli has spread her pastry-making wings and opened up shop on the wide, sunny corner of Gascón and Honduras.

Juli’s cooking stands out for its complex simplicity. Here you’ll eat real food, with a focus on high quality, market-fresh ingredients. Fresh-baked, crusty breads form the bases of inventive prensatti sandwiches, bright roasted vegetables top off hearty salads, and pretty much every dessert available will knock your socks off. Daily specials rotate through pasta, fish, and other delights.

Her style is effortless, unpretentious, making you feel that you could almost replicate these flavors at home (if only you were half as talented as she).

The space is simple but homey, with big glass windows facing the street and shelves of ceramic dishes for sale lining the walls. The open kitchen lets you peek in on the culinary action, and overall a feeling of artisanal warmth is transmitted throughout. Service is efficient and friendly (and thank God they accept credit cards).

Salad at La AlacenaSeriously, everything is delicious. How is that even possible? You’ll want to visit every day just so you can eat everything on the menu. Saturday brunch is the perfect cure for a previous night of excess, and nothing can top the now famous chocolate and sea salt tartaleta (featured recently in La Nación). Wash it down with a glass of red wine and you’ll be set for the day.

La Alacena is also open some evenings for dinner, with a menu of small plates meant to be shared. Feast on antipasti like veal carpaccio with arugula, lemon and parmesan, grilled baby squid with fresh herbs and aioli, and roasted mushrooms with almonds and parsley.

Well-deserved positive press means that it’s harder and harder to walk in for a table on the weekends, so call ahead and reserve just to be certain. During the week things are a little more tranquilo, but don’t expect it to stay that way for long. We can only hope that this little corner stays true to its down to earth roots, but with Juli at the helm, we’re in good hands.

La Alacena

La Alacena
Gascón 1401, esq. Honduras – Palermo
Monday – Friday 9am-7pm; Saturday 10am-7pm
4867-2549

Review: Cafe Crespin

Cafe Crespin - Vicente LopezIs there anything better than waking up on a sunny Saturday and meeting your friends for a delicious breakfast? Perhaps, if you add a nice leisurely bike ride along the river to the mix, topped off with a gooey cinnamon bun and a fresh licuado de maracuyá. Pedaling outside of BA’s city limits and into nearby Vicente López, you’ll be rewarded with the goodies of Cafe Crespin, without the long lines and insanity of its Villa Crespo HQ.

Cafe Crespin - V Lopez Tucked away, unassuming, just half a block from a new-ish promenade along the river (overflowing with rollerbladers in spandex, whoa), Cafe Crespin in Zona Norte is truly a gem. Tables dot the sidewalk and the inside is just as welcoming and cozy. After you’ve spent the past hour or so whizzing past the Lagos de Palermo, the Estadio Monumental, and Parque de los Niños, you will spend a few thrilling moments along the highway (don’t tell mom) before ducking into the green oasis that is the “costanera” of Vicente López.

Pedal on for just a few more minutes, keeping your eyes on the prize – a big rewarding breakfast that will help you reponer energías and lull you toward a nap in the sunshine.

We ordered a mix of everything – muffins, French toast, cinnamon roll, bagel with lox and cream cheese – you know, because we had just done a lot of exercise. Of course. Sipping our respective licuados while we waited was an ideal way to cool down; the flavors were bright and fresh, nothing artificial, just … yum.

French Toast at Cafe Crespin Since I’m a glutton for carbs, I ordered both the bagel and the cinnamon roll. Hello, heaven/obesity. Both were amazing – as we know, good bagels are hard to come by in this town – but I think the cinnamon roll took home first prize. Gooey and flaky, with the perfect icing on top and just enough crunch … I could have eaten several more of these and am planning to in the not so distant future.

Cinnamon Roll at Cafe Crespin The French toast was also surprisingly good – just one bite and I was brought back to childhood mornings with my mom at the stove. Served alongside scrambled eggs and bacon, this dish is not for the faint of heart.

Service is friendly and attentive without being too overbearing, which is what you want when you’re lounging in the sun, chatting with friends and in absolutely no rush at all.

Sunshine at Cafe Crespin The verdict? If you’ve been to the original Crespin, or have heard raves about it but have serious fiaca when it comes to waiting for ages to get a table, or are just looking for a new breakfast / cafe spot beyond your typical “bubble” – you’d be missing out big time if you didn’t cross the border and visit CCVL (that is the new abbrev, obvi. Don’t worry, I’ll show myself out).

Cafe Crespin
Hipólito Yrigoyen 477 – Vicente López, Zona Norte
4796-0119
Tuesday – Friday, 8am-8pm / Saturdays 9am-8pm / Sundays 12pm-7pm
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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

Review: Farinelli

Keeping on trend with the huge crush I have on my own neighborhood, let’s visit another Palermitano transplant in Retiro: Farinelli.        Farinelli Interior Situated on a sunny corner of gallery-lined calle Arroyo, Farinelli serves up fresh-baked pastries and delicious savory bites like sandwiches and salads, all in a space that makes you want to cozy up in a corner seat and just watch the world pass by.

Farinelli After Argie fashion designer Benito Fernández closed his shop in the same space, I was hoping/praying/wishing that someone would swoop in and capitalize on the chance to bring a little bit of onda to the barrio. Welp, it finally happened. With another spot in Palermo – on Bulnes and Cerviño – Farinelli brings the promise of croissants and fresh fruit juices in an area overrun with stale medialunas and burnt coffee (even though the resident abuelos love that kind of thing).

Croissants Banana Bread Breakfast is always a treat – fresh muffins (banana and dulce de leche, blueberry, chocolate chip), scones, lemon cake, and croissants that are so buttery and delicious you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. I always take advantage of the fresh fruit piled up on the display counter and usually order a giant glass of watermelon juice to wash it all down, though pretty much any fruity combination is possible (bonus: they don’t add sugar or anything unless you want them to).

Smoothies and pastriesAs the morning wears on, the pastries are swapped out for platters of sandwiches and heaping bowls of that day’s specials. Though there is plenty of room to sit and eat, Farinelli is hoping to teach the porteños the magic of take-away: its tag line is “Para sentarse, para llevar,” after all. Sandwiches run a bit on the small side but are tasty nonetheless – definitely taken up a notch from the regular lunchtime offerings. The cured salmon with wasabi mayonnaise was a real treat and I only wished it had been a big bigger so I could have scarfed it down even faster. A variety of inventive salads (think feta cheese, roasted veg, homemade dressings) and mains (ceviche, smoked eggplant and goat cheese croquettes, etc) are available and will definitely make your mouth water.

Beautiful flowers from Florería AtlánticoThe space itself is bright and happy, with high ceilings and white subway tiles lining the walls. Huge picture windows face the leafy sidewalk of Arroyo and let in tons of natural light. Smooth wooden chairs and a nice big communal table right in the middle definitely make it a good place to catch up on some emails, that new book you’re reading, or to spend a couple of hours chatting with an old friend. The amazing floral arrangements are provided by Florería Atlántico, which is just a few steps down the road.

Bright spaceService is friendly if not a bit slow; since you can either order at the caja or wait to be greeted at your table, confusion often ensues. Be prepared to either wait, or don’t be afraid to speak up and tell them your order directly. Otherwise, expect service with a smile. Also, if you’re an early bird like me, bear in mind that those flaky pastries might not actually be ready at 8:30am – on my last trip I was told I’d have to wait until 10:30 to get my paws on one. Not practical for those of us that have to make it to the office at a reasonable hour.

More fresh bloomsAll in all, it’s an ideal spot that Retiro desperately needed. My only complaint is that it’s not open on Sundays, though that’s probably a good thing. Double dose of croissant on a weekly basis – not the best for my ever-expanding waistline.

You can check out Farinelli on Facebook, where the menu is posted daily, and Twitter.

Farinelli on ArroyoFarinelli
Arroyo 900 – Retiro
4328-7998
Monday – Saturday, 8am-8pm


Review: Basavilbaso Grand Café

Despite its pitfalls, I am fiercely loyal to my beloved barrio of Retiro. I am close to work, enjoy a view of Uruguay across the river on a daily basis, and overall love its quirks like the sassy grannies and gossipy porteros. So, despite the Palermo-centric streak of gastronomic explosion that has been happening over the past several years, I have maintained firm in my devotion to Retiro and to my conviction that sooner or later, we’d have a windfall of our own. Well, ladies and gents, the Retiro Renaissance is well underway, starting off with a great little coffee shop just steps from my house.

DSC_0065Located in the Quartier building, Basavilbaso Grand Café serves up coffee (duh), homemade pastries and sweet treats, fresh juices and smoothies, and even has quite the extensive lunch menu. We visited just days after it opened and were happy to see it already buzzing with local neighbors and tourists alike.

DSC_0060Run by the same team behind the wildly successful Gran Bar Danzón and Sucre, Basavilbaso Grand Café offers a sort of industrial chic ambiance (much like Danzón, it has cement brick walls, as well as exposed beams and steel light fixtures) with cozy touches like blooming flowerpots and big cozy couches up in the front windows.

Grand Cafe FlowersOur breakfast was simple yet delicious, though the cappuccino wasn’t nearly as frothy and foamy as it should have been. Medialunas were a lot like croissants (I see this as a postive) and everything had that nice homemade feel. I look forward to picking up one of their tasty sandwiches on the go, or having an afternoon stop for tea and cake in the near future.

Grand Cafe Breakfast Insider tip: Plans are in the works to open up a bistro-type restaurant next door, meaning I’ll have even fewer reasons to cross Av. 9 de Julio in the coming months.

If you find yourself in Retiro, or even are just passing through the area while going from Point A to Point B, making a stop at Basavilbaso Grand Café is definitely something to mark on your to-do list.

Basavilbaso Grand Café
Basavilbaso 1340, Retiro
4893-9333