Buenos Aires – Several topics to touch on today, the last 36 hours or so have been cold and rainy, so it’s been time to sit inside and think of things. I had my first Spanish class yesterday morning – I’ve been self-teaching and it’s time to get some structure to my vocabulary. It’s not totally necessary to get around in BA, but for me it’s worth enriching the experience. I found my teacher through friends who recommended him highly.
Bread – I just don’t get it. There’s a huge Italian population here (estimated at anywhere from 45-60%). There are wonderful artisanal bakeries throughout the city. But most restaurants seem to serve the exact same flavorless, chewy textured, white bread, and virtually always sans butter or olive oil. It may as well be a piece of cardboard used for helping push things onto your fork. It’s such a joy to find places that offer a selection of breads, or even just one really good bread, that us foodies down here get excited and share the information! La Corte that I mentioned the other day was one such place.
This leads into last nights dinner. We were in the mood for something simple, casual, and just plain warming. Two blocks away I’d spotted a pizzeria that looked a bit more upscale than the usual here. Typically, a Buenos Aires pizzeria serves an inedible mass of dough and fat that bears only a superficial resemblance to a decent pizza. Flavorless cardboard for dough, tomato purée for sauce, a version of mozzarella that makes velveeta look low in oil content, and, given the usual quality, a thankfully skimpy portion of toppings. I’ve been told to avoid the usual casual pizzeria here and look for something a touch more “upscale”, so here was a chance.
Well worth it! Los Maestros Pizza at Uriburu 1305 (and other locations) was perfect for a cold, rainy evening. It was warm and inviting, with a bustling, friendly staff. They clearly do great delivery business – there must have been six or seven delivery boys/girls who were kept running on bicycle throughout the evening (and they take one pizza at a time to ensure it is delivered hot). The menu of pizza selections is extensive, and you can, of course, “build your own.” We selected a large Napolitana con Ajo y Albahaca (sliced tomato, fresh garlic and basil) and added olives (aceitunas). All pizzas are offered cooked al moldé or a la piedra (in a mold – i.e., deep-dish pan pizza, or crispy thin-crust on a stone). We went with the al moldé. Absolutely delicious, and beautiful to look at besides. The crust, and the overall style, was reminiscent of “Chicago-style” deep-dish.
Before heading out to dinner, Mickey & Marta dropped by for a glass of wine on their way out to dinner at some Palermo Hollywood (yes, it’s called that) venue. I’d picked up a bottle of Postales del Fin del Mundo Malbec-Syrah 2004. Back in New York I’d tried the last two vintages of Bodega del Fin del Mundo’s Pinot Noir and really loved it. The “Postales” is their second label and has been getting a big marketing push here – supermarkets (where most wine is bought here) offering major discounts, Mickey told me about a restaurant they’d been to recently that was offering free lunch if you bought a bottle! Well, unfortunately, I think you can keep the second label – at least the Malbec-Syrah. Overripe fruit, with a stewed, almost tomato flavor, high alcohol, and just plain out of balance.
Although slightly more expensive, I think I’ll stick with their “first label” wines. Besides, how can you not like a winery named “the winery at the end of the world?” (They claim to be the southernmost winery in the world – out somewhere towards the tip of Patagonia.) As far as I know, only the first label is currently available in the U.S.