Buenos Aires – We were sitting in a little corner cafe (Manjares, Charcas 2802) having lunch yesterday. For me that meant a reasonably interesting sandwich of bondiola, cheese, hard-boiled egg, lettuce and tomato on pan árabe, which is what passes for pita bread here. For Henry, pollo a la naranja, being a huge fan of duck a l’orange, he decided he couldn’t pass this one up, even if it was chicken. Quite good actually – the sauce pretty much an orange flavored hollandaise, but it still worked. I wasn’t expecting much more, if even that, at a corner cafe. But back to my point, we were sitting in the cafe, and noticed a small museum across the street. [Note: This restaurant has closed.]
The sign said Museo Casa de Ricardo Rojas, and basically stated it was devoted to the investigation of literature. After eating, we walked across the street and entered in to this amazing little courtyard garden. We were informed by the guard, as we wandered, that we were limited to the garden unless we had someone official from the museum with us. Disappointed, as the rest of the house looked like it might be interesting, we started to leave – only to have the guard offer to get us an official. She promptly did, and we ended up on a roughly 40 minute guided tour of this beautiful old house with one of the curators. The house is filled with 20,000+ volumes of primarily Argentine literature and historical works, with some other latin american books mixed in. Much of the original furniture, plus items collected by Sr. Rojas (an early 20th century essayist, poet, and politician), are displayed throughout. There is a large salon where a course was in progress, so we didn’t interrupt – one of the local universities holds seminars and courses on, indeed, the history of literature, in the museum. All-in-all, a great little serendipitous find!
Since I’ve gotten here, Henry has stated on more than one occasion that he’s not a fan of tango. Being a competition dancer and instructor of latin american folk dance, I assumed he was well versed in the genre. Turns out, he’s never studied it, having concentrated on dance primarily from the Andes. After seven years here, he suddenly expressed an interest this week in learning more about it. I’m not much of a dancer, but I admit to some curiosity, and it just happened that we saw an ad for a weekly tango class for men only being given at a new bar in the city, Flux. So last evening we popped onto the collectivo into the center of town and found ourselves in a medium sized, trendy sort of space, with a tango instructor.
We both had great fun – I think I had more because it was all new for me. Some of it was probably a little too basic for Henry, and some of it he kept trying to switch into dance steps that he already knew. But by the end of an hour and a half, we were moving around the floor with a reasonable amount of grace and agility, albeit in a relatively simple pattern. I believe we’ll be continuing!
Right around the corner from the tango class was a little restaurant I’d been wanting to try. Los Chilenos, Suipacha 1024, is billed as one of the few authentic Chilean restaurants in Buenos Aires. More importantly to me, it’s one of the few restaurants that specializes in seafood, and has a good reputation for it. I didn’t have my camera with me, but it’s definitely a place we’ll be returning to, so more later, but let me say that it’s charming, the staff very friendly, our starters of Chilean empanadas and provoleta were good. The main plates, delicious! Henry had arroz con mariscos mixto or rice with mixed shellfish, which was similar to a paella, but a little more “saucy” (they do have paella on the menu as well), and I had a dish of gambas al ajillo, small shrimp stewed in garlic sauce, along with a plate of saffron rice. Well worth a trip into the downtown area, not particularly expensive – who knows, maybe we’ll make it a regular spot after tango class!