19 April 2009

Carne Times

Vegetarians, caveat emptor: This post contains a lot of meat.

A few weeks ago at the gym, our trainer, Adrián, proposed a trip with us and our friends Dave and Mersal to what he deemed the "best parrilla [grill/BBQ] in the universe." Of course I agreed that Ken and I would love to go; after all, who am I to argue with a porteño about meat? (It didn't hurt that he also said that we wouldn't have to count any food we ate at the parrilla. Free calories!)

The parrilla in question was Los Talas del Entrerrianos, located about 45 minutes from our neighbourhood. Adrián arranged for a taxi to drive us there and wait while we consumed copious amounts of meat. Los Talas started out as a choripán stand for labourers and grew into a huge, comfortable restaurant that feels kind of like an Oktoberfest tent. Apparently all of the meat at Los Talas comes from their own estancia (ranch).

We started with house-made chorizo sausage, then ordered the lechón, or suckling pig. It's the specialty of the house, and it was beyond delicious. We sampled some of the crispy skin of the pig (which Adrián called the "galleta" or cookie) - it was crispy and salty and very, very yummy. The chicken was the best I've had so far in Buenos Aires - cooked just perfectly to be tender and juicy all the way through. We shared an order of mochillas (sweetbreads), then moved onto the beef: vacío (flank steak) and asado. While asado refers to roasting or barbecue in general, it's also used to describe a cut of meat (short ribs or spareribs).

Suffice to say we were pretty much sweating meat by the end of the meal. The ol' meat sweats didn't stop us, however, from sharing a couple of desserts, and we managed to squeeze some ice cream into our bellies somewhere between the pork and the spareribs. I swear the taxi groaned a bit when we piled back in for the drive home.

More pics on Flickr.

05 April 2009

Steak & Eggs

A day that starts out with this breakfast - at 2 p.m., no less - can't be all bad, now, can it?

02 April 2009

Baking in Buenos Aires

In honour of our Spanish teacher Alejandro's birthday next week, I decided to bake cookies. Tyler recently tagged a delicious-looking Smitten Kitchen recipe for me, so a few days ago I decided to give it a go. The only hitch: I couldn't find what I've always considered the most basic of baking ingredients at either of our local supermarkets. The stores only carried artificial vanilla extract, and brown sugar was nowhere in sight. While our package of oatmeal has a recipe for oatmeal cookies with chips de chocolate, I couldn't find those, either.

Since today was a holiday and we didn't have school, we decided to check out the widely-lauded and appropriately-named Jumbo Supermarket. You can read more about Jumbo on other sites, but it was pretty much akin to Wal-Mart or the Real Canadian Superstore. The produce at Jumbo was better than our local stores, but prices were more or less the same and the selection was almost overwhelming. I did manage to find baking soda and settled for artificial vanilla extract and baking chocolate that I could chop into chunks for the cookies, but was unable to find brown sugar, which I suspected would be key to the chewiness factor in this particular recipe. I finally bought a bag of azucar negra, or black sugar. Even though it looked much darker than standard American light brown sugar, it had a similar "sticky" feeling when I squeezed the bag (i.e., it didn't feel as granulated as white sugar).

When I poured the sugar into a bowl to measure it, it looked a LOT darker than I'd expected. Behold:


Aside from this substitution, the rest of the ingredients were as written, except I measured by weight instead of volume because we have a kitchen scale but no measuring cups or spoons. When I creamed the butter and sugars the resulting mixture was the colour and texture of used coffee grounds, and I was skeptical as to whether the recipe would actually work. To add to my skepticism is our oven dial (the one in the middle). Can you spot what's missing?

If you said a temperature setting, you're right! I set it somewhere in the middle and watched the first 2 batches of cookies very carefully to figure out the correct baking time.

And...? Success! I'm happy to report that we have a delicious batch of (very dark) chocolate chip cookies. We think they taste delicious; I'll let you know what Alejandro thinks.