Oh Linda, oh Linda
Oh Linda, oh Linda
Oh my Linda, me Linda
Oh my heart, oh Linda
Oh my love, me Linda
Your love is sweeter than wine, honey
Oh wine, honey
So please, please, baby
I want your love o
I want your children o, to be mine
Please, please, marry me
Oh, girl, I go die o
Oh, my love o
Destiny has put us together
Oh, my love, don’t go
– Ofori Amponsah
Buenos Aires – No, those aren’t lyrics from the ’60s, when that sort of repetitive, umm, poetry would have seemed perfectly at home, it’s the work of a current artist from Ghana. I haven’t heard the song, so I can only hope that there’s some sort of musical accompaniment that makes it more interesting. I’ll let you know. And, it’s really just a way off-base lead-in to talking about my visit to Olinda bistro, Jose Leon Pagano 2697, in Recoleta [This place has closed.]. The name comes from, well, I don’t know. There’s an Olinda that’s a port city in Brazil, and there’s both an Olinda Creek and an Olinda which is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Maybe they just liked the sound, maybe it’s someone’s name? Either way, it’s a small, casual, modern bistro at the corner of Pagano and Tagle, a mere block away from one of my favorite museums in the city, the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, a truly delightful tour through the world of home furnishings, decor, and art from the 15th century onward. That’s important, because it’s also a mere block or so away from what has to be one of the cities worst architectural monstrosities, the Biblioteca Nacional.
Back to Olinda bistro, where I plopped myself down at a lovely little outdoor table to catch up on some reading and for some proper people watching. And there’s plenty to be found here, especially on a sunny Saturday afternoon. As folk ambled by, I dug into the menu, and soon found myself facing this nicely presented bowl of tomato soup with a swirl of cream and another of parsley purée. The soup was little more than a couple of simply liquified tomatoes with a little seasoning and olive oil, but the tomatoes were perfectly fresh, and the soup just warmed so as not to cook the bright flavor out of it. It did need a dash of salt to bring out even more flavor, and was delicious.
Pastas seem to be the specialty at this venue, with an interesting and creative sounding selection of 8-10 on the menu, including daily specials. There are other plates available as well, but as this seemed to be the focus, I headed in the general direction of noodles. The raviolini sounded perfect – a filling of goat cheese, ricotta, and cured ham, with an arugula, walnut, and sun-dried tomato pesto. The ravioli were plump and about the size of what we might consider a normal one, small by local standards where they tend to be the size of sofa cushions, but just right in my view. The filling was rich and well seasoned. The pesto was, well, once again, not pesto. One day it might be interesting to see who brought the idea of pesto here and have them burned in effigy. In this case, the sun-dried tomatoes had been blended with olive oil until they were basically a fine powder, and the whole thing became sort of an oily paste. The ravioli were dressed in that and then topped with toasted walnuts and whole arugula leaves. The flavors were right, it was tasty, if a bit oily, it’s just the concept that’s off.
Still, I was happy, and enjoying my afternoon in the sun. The menu listed a pear crumble for dessert, along with a freshly brewed pot of green tea infused with pear and cardamom. Let me digress, twice, for a moment. The crumble – I can’t do much better than this to define it – the whole discussion at the link, but the immediate definition being “a British dessert in which raw fruit is topped with a crumbly pastry mixture and baked.” The second digression – Olinda claims itself as a salon de té – I’d have to dispute that, much as I liked the place – a “selection” of five teas, listed as “leaf tea,” which would imply fresh brewed from loose leaves, but actually arrive as tea bags from some zen-ish tea company, does not a tea salon make. Besides, what I got for my té verde frutal was a green tea infused with camomile and orange peel. It was still decent, though not as good of a match as the pear tea might have been with the dessert. And, the crumble was good, though there was a thick layer of cake on the bottom, which would make it, I think, more of a crisp than a crumble.
All in all, a nice, casual place to pass an hour or two, and certainly one of the better choices near to the museum. Being a beautiful day, and wanting to stay outside, I didn’t head into the museum, and continued on to the Jardín Japones for an aikido demonstration that I’d read about (I used to study the art, so it’s of interest). It was held out on one of the bridges that stretches over the pond in the garden, and, unfortunately, was little more than a touristy demo without any real substance. Still, it was nice to wander in the garden a bit, they’re in the midst of restoring parts of it, but for the most part, it’s quite tranquil and pretty.
I did like one of the sensei’s quotes, which roughly translated as:
What’s the difference between being old and being young?
A young man without dreams is old. An old man with dreams is young.