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

 

Review: Steaks by Luis

The Fire - Steaks by Luis

Any tourist planning a trip to Buenos Aires will hear ad nauseum, “You gotta try the steak!” It’s made quite clear from the get-go that if you pass through la Ciudad de la Furia and don’t scarf down the better part of an entire cow, you’ve missed the mark.

Luckily, you can’t walk more than 15 feet in this town without passing a parrilla. The offering ranges from the unassuming holes in the wall to the ostentatious, catering primarily to those looking to impress (and with well-padded wallets).

While this is a great way to savor one of Argentina’s national treasures, what about taking it a step further and getting a little more hands on? Locals and transplants alike will argue that to understand the real magic of the local steaks, one must score an invite to an asado at a someone’s home. “OK,” you mumble, “but I’m only here for a week, and obviously have no friends here.”

Fret not! Enter Steaks by Luis, a premium closed-door, five-course asado experience hosted right in Palermo Soho. Diners have the best of both worlds: access to local traditions surrounding the asado ritual alongside top-notch service in a setting that puts your friend’s backyard quincho to shame. Imagine having a pal that lives in a badass loft, grilling up some of the best meat you can find, and washing it all down with a variety of boutique wines, from picada to postreContinue reading

Achaval Ferrer at the Clubhouse

It’s no secret that living in Argentina means you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to wine selection. From the BBB (bueno, bonito, barato) to even the most exclusive, your options are pretty much endless. I find that I waiver between branching out and trying new, up and coming bodegas testing the waters through new blends or techniques, and sticking with my tried-and-true favorites that never let me down. We are creatures of habit, after all.

AF

Achaval Ferrer has always intrigued me with its premium reputation and near-universal level of acceptance as one of Argentina’s best wineries. However, I’d never really taken the plunge to dive deeper. So when I got the chance to attend a tasting at the Clubhouse, I figured it would be the perfect excuse to give it all a whirl.

Achaval Ferrer at The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse oozes an air of intimate exclusivity that draws an interesting mix of expats (or tourists staying at one of Oasis Collections‘ properties) and locals that hope to one day enter into a relationship with one of these expats (not a bad game plan at all, you do you). After four years it has managed to stay current and trendy, due in part to its varied agenda of events that range from the cultural to the bacchanal. Besides, nothing beats their pool parties on a hot summer’s day.  Continue reading

Review: Shout Brasas & Drinks

SHOUT Brasas & DrinksThe shortest distance between two points is always a straight line, correct? Now imagine that if along the straight line between your office and home there were a perfect little spot for a drink and some tapas – it would be a pretty good deal, don’t you think?

When Shout opened up along Maipú, just steps from Plaza San Martín, a couple of months back, I was thrilled to pop in and see if I could add it to my barrio repertoire (the #RetiroRenaissance is real, people). Luckily, it was a home run. The lovechild of two veterans of the noche porteña (Sebastián Maggi and Santiago Lambardi, who cut their teeth at Sucre and then moved on to head up the drinks team at Pony Line/the Four Seasons), Shout is reminiscent of a few of my BA favorites mixed together: Milión, Dill & Drinks (RIP), and Florería Atlántico.  Continue reading

#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

New Kid on the Block: Aramburu Bis

Bis Menu

Spinoffs aren’t always the best idea. I mean, how many people actually watched “Joey“? See what I mean? But when matters are handled by a master, the results can be much more successful.

Enter Aramburu Bis, the hip, laid-back little sister of molecular powerhouse Aramburu. Opened recently, Bis is a more informal presentation of what makes Aramburu one of BA’s greatest restaurants: spectacular food, an excellent wine list, and attention to detail that makes even the most subtle element stand out.

Located on the corner of Humberto Primo and Salta (just steps from Aramburu), this bistro has a friendly neighborhood feel and a very unpretentious vibe. It’s the perfect blend of high/low – sophisticated dishes are served at communal tables, and the space is light, with vintage touches that make you feel like you’re hanging out in an almacén de barrio. A mix of vecinos, locals, and tourists make up the clientele, an inviting mix.

The menu is brief but changes frequently in accordance with what’s in season and what’s market-fresh. The wine list is curated by Agustina de Alba, whose accolades precede her (and rightly so). Twice named the best Sommelier of Argentina, she’s just 26 years old and quite the luminary. Expect more greatness from her down the line.

What’s special about Bis is that it offers solid riffs on Aramburu’s impeccable cuisine at a more friendly price-point, without sacrificing quality or creativity. I don’t know about you, but a 12-course tasting menu with wine pairings isn’t something I’m able to swing on a regular basis. At Bis I can chow down on a huevo a baja temperatura or some fantastic seafood, but won’t need to break the bank in the process.

Everything we ate was just fantastic, from start to finish. Portions were abundant, perfect for sharing at our communal table and left us full, fat, and happy.

The beef tartare was perfection – a faithful version of what you can find across the street at Aramburu with the mustard sorbet, but with a twist of crispy shoestring potatoes that results in a more unbuttoned approach. The rabbit stew, served in a steel sauce pot, was a welcome remedy to the first whiffs of brisk fall air blowing outside. The prawns wrapped in a crisp dough (one of my favorite courses from Aramburu) are served in a piping-hot cast iron dish table-side, complete with a fresh seafood broth poured over it all to finish.

Bis rabbit stew

As for mains, the cochinillo (suckling pig) was my wildest dream come true. Slow-cooked for 24 hours, it falls apart when you go to attack it, but the skin is so crispy and crackly that it provides a great contrast. The barley and mushroom risotto provided a strong complement but still allowed the pork to be the star (duh).Bis suckling pig

The corvina (drum fish) served up with a cauliflower puree and fennel was heaven on earth: light, fresh, and flavorful. Plated beautifully, it was a reminder of who’s behind the whole operation.

Bis corvina

I’m not usually one to crave red meat (so sue me) but the ojo de bife was straight up sensual. Crispy on the outside, juicy and bloody on the inside, served up with a bright pumpkin puree, onion, and chimichurri.

If you’ve still got room (and even if you don’t), dessert is a must. Gonzalo’s arroz con leche has reached reviews of mythical proportions, but once again – it’s well deserved. First off, who doesn’t love eating comfort food out of a little jar? That means no one can shove their spoons in and steal a taste, which is great for fatties like myself. I’m pretty easy to please and have always liked this dessert, but those who tend to be harder to convince have changed their minds once they dig into this beauty. A classic nostalgic dish prepared and served with a twist, it’s the ideal way to end a meal.

Even though I knew I’d be a fan of Bis before I walked through the door, I was so pleased that my expectations were confirmed and then surpassed. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again, whether it’s bringing friends visiting from out of town or just because you’re not in the mood to cook on a Friday night. You’re guaranteed to feel like you’re an amigo de la casa as soon as you sit down, which makes the food more delicious and the wine taste better.

Maybe it’s because I’m a younger sister myself, but I wouldn’t mind a little sibling rivalry here. I guess I’ll just have to visit Aramburu and Bis on several occasions to see which one is in the lead…

Bis table

Aramburu Bis
Humberto Primo 1207, esq. Salta – Constitución
Mon – Sat 12:30pm-11:30pm
4304-5697
Reservations recommended
Park at the garage next to Aramburu or better yet, take a taxi