24 May 2009

Empanada Cred

Tonight we had a party for Ken's birthday. More on that later, but for now, you should know, a guy from Buenos Aires told me that my empanadas, i.e., the empanadas I made, reminded him of his grandma's.

His. Grandma's.

Really, does it get any better than that?

17 May 2009

Cooking the Argentine Way

I love food. I love reading about food (including reading cookbooks and recipes), I love watching cooking shows on TV and instructional cooking videos1 on the interwebs, I love food preparation from chopping to sautéeing, and I love baking. I am also passionate about eating. In short, food is my favourite hobby, and having a year sabbatical I have been hoping to spend more time on this hobby. So far I've mostly focused on the eating part (see: +1.5 kg). Aside from one (successful) foray into the world of empanadas a few weeks ago, I hadn't cooked any traditional Argentine fare until yesterday, when I attended the lovely and talented Norma Soued's Argentine cooking class.

Before we moved to Buenos Aires I searched2 for cooking classes, but only found classes taught in English and geared to tourists (read: expensive). A few weeks ago when I was perusing Craigslist3 I came across Norma's ad. I wrote to her to ask for more information about the class, and to confirm that she would, in fact, teach in Castellano4. Yesterday I went to her sunny apartment in Belgrano to learn how to make empanadas, guiso de lentejas (lentil stew), and alfajores.

I was very excited about the alfajores, as the only recipe I have seen for these delicious treats was in a Martha Stewart magazine, and it was insanely complicated (surprise surprise). I'm pretty sure it involved milking your own cow to make the dulce de leche.

Norma's class was great. She and the other student, Valeria, both speak English fluently, but since I really wanted to practice my Spanish they graciously (and patiently) agreed to speak Castellano. (Patience, for real: My brain on Spanish is Windows 98 on a 386.) We prepared all three dishes together, and everything was very well explained and hands-on. When we finished cooking, we enjoyed the delicious delicious fruits of our labour with a glass of red wine in Norma's beautiful dining room.

Taking a cooking class was a great way to further my burgeoning Spanish skillz, and happily I am now all set to make empanadas and alfajores5 for Ken's birthday shenanigans next weekend!

P.S. Norma also offers a Middle-Eastern cooking class that you can read all about over on her blog. I haven't taken it yet but if I do, you'll be the first to know.

1 Before I made empanadas the first time, I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube to figure out the technique of sealing the empanada called La Repulgue. In my searches I came across this empanada video that is totally worth 6 1/2 minutes of your time if you like things that are awesome.

2 I have since searched en español and found many more schools and classes that I'm interested in. Hooray!

3 Craigslist isn't so huge here. Most of the postings are for bars showing NBA games.

4 Latin American Spanish. Castellano:Español = English:British

5 Some alfajores will be filled with jam, because Ken doesn't like dulce de leche. I KNOW. [Candace: This is what is wrong with him.]

11 May 2009

Cost of Living

30 Pesos
Originally uploaded by Kitty LaRoux.

In an effort to lose the 1.5 kg I've gained since we moved to this fair city, I now stop regularly at the verduleria (veggie stand) after I go to the gym. This morning's haul included 2 avocados, 2 grapefruits, 2 red peppers, a shredded salad (I like to mix that with balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, and a little chimichurri powder, and throw a boiled egg on top for lunch), 1/2 kilo of cherry tomatoes, 1/4 kilo of green olives, 6 bananas, and the hugest bunch of broccoli I've ever seen. The grand total was 30 pesos, or around $8US.

While beef is super cheap here (we can get 2 T-Bone steaks for around 12 pesos, or $3.50), chicken and eggs at the grocery store are pricey (we've seen eggs at upwards of 20 pesos, or $6, per dozen). On Saturday we passed through a very small farmer's market in Plaza Armenia with a booth selling various meats. They had boneless skinless chicken breasts for 16 pesos/kilo ($2/lb) and 30 eggs at the bargain-basement price of 10 pesos (less than $3).

We have instituted a Sunday brunch tradition of steak-and-eggs, which means our cholesterol levels are rising proportionally to the happiness of our taste buds.

05 May 2009

Cinco de Mayo

For The Soul
Originally uploaded by Kitty LaRoux.

We spent the weekend in Mar del Plata, and on the 5 1/2 hour bus ride there we both caught colds. I spent most of Friday tilting my head awkwardly in an attempt to clear out at least part of one nostril through which to breathe. Saturday we located some psuedoephedrine, which helped matters greatly.

In other news, we left our Spanish school that was in the Centro (a neighbourhood that's more or less Manhattan's midtown--read: crowded, unfun). We now have a private tutor (Sofía) with whom we are both slightly enamoured. The lessons are fun: Yesterday we made up a whole story about a lawyer named "Mauricio" who used to be a hippie, and today we played the Spanish version of "Clue"!

And tonight, in honour of Cinco de Mayo and our waning illnesses, I cooked us up some Chicken Soup with Lime and Avocado.

Finally, I've started running again. Hooray for me! I ran an 8k race two weeks ago and finished in around 47 minutes. I have a few more 10k races lined up, and I've started training regularly with two lovely American expats who will be here to keep me going for at least another month or two.