Buenos Aires – Happy Anniversary to Us!
Not the blog, but Henry and I. We met February 12, 2005. We had a bit of a whirlwind romance for the two weeks I was in Buenos Aires after meeting, followed by daily instant messaging chats and at least weekly phone calls. When I first set out on my travels, a large part of it was to come here to BsAs and see if we had a future together, or if all we’d had was a vacation fling followed by a long distance fantasy. If there wasn’t more to it, I was on to travel the world. If there was – well, I’ve bought an apartment and we’re happily moved in together, as regular readers know.
Our first thought to celebrate our anniversary was to go out and have a quiet, romantic dinner somewhere. But we do that a lot. Our second thought was a cocktail party of sorts and invite every one we know here. We did that for his birthday back in December and it was just more work than either of us wanted to do for this special day. We had so much fun last weekend with our first asado that we decided we’d have another one. That meant limiting our invitations to six other folk, as we can only seat eight of us at the table, and meant, unfortunately, leaving out many good friends. If you are amongst them, please don’t take offense, it was hard for us to decide whom to invite to share this day with us. Rest assured we will have many more special days and hope to share them with the rest of you!
So yesterday afternoon saw gathered together friends Elizabeth and Carlos, two of Henry’s longest term friends here, as well as Javier, the man who gave Henry a home for most of the last seven years that he lived in La Plata. Most of my friends here are of much shorter acquaintance, Heather who I knew only as an acquaintance in New York has become a great friend here and we happily go out dining together, especially for fun spicy food that we both enjoy; and new friends Jerry and Czar, who I met online through this blog, first as readers and commentators, and now as participants in enjoying the dining scene in this city. Everyone started out looking quite eager to dig into the food – here beginning with round one of provoletas. I tried something different, going for dish grilled provoletas, but we didn’t like the results near as much as the nicely crisped ones out of a skillet from last week. Round two, a couple of small chorizos for each of us. Round three – I’ve been promising to make my personal favorite hamburgers for months. Let me just say that 1) Argentine hamburgers, in general, suck – often with the look and texture of shoe leather; and 2) if the U.S. has nothing else to offer in the way of a defining dish, hamburgers are it – nobody else does them as well, and that’s just the way it is. I’ll leave any of the participants in yesterday’s meal to comment, and my recipe is below. Oh, and a large salad of lettuce, tomato, radish, and green onion. Round 4 was chicken and shortribs, the former marinated in my usual quasi-Peruvian style with soy sauce, oil, dried ají panca, garlic, and aji no moto, more commonly known to us as MSG; the latter I decided to dry rub in a mix of coarse salt and Chinese five-spice powder (fennel seed, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and szechuan peppercorns). Needless to say, by the end (in the composite photo), contemplating the dessert (that we’d purchased rather than made) was difficult. One thing Peruvians and Jews share is the belief that you can never prepare too much food…
Dan’s Ultimate Burger
This recipe came about through some experimenation after reading a passage in, I think it was an M.F.K. Fisher book, about her ultimate way of serving a sirloin steak. It involved a slice of paté melted atop, and then a reduction sauce made of various herbs and vegetables in wine. I thought, hmmm, why not make this into a chopped sirloin burger? The paté gives it an interesting flavor and adds fat, but I don’t always use it – it depends on how much fat there is in the meat to begin with – if you want to try it that original way, add a few ounces of good quality simple paté to the mixture below.
In fact, the original recipe was created for the purposes of an article on “Ultimate Burgers” which was published in Q San Francisco magazine back in the spring of 1996, nearly a decade ago. This was long before 4-star chef Daniel Boulud was offering his “DB Burger” mixed with paté and herbs – I wonder if he’s using my recipe? I wonder if I’m owed royalties of any sort?
1½ pound sirloin, coarsely chopped
1 small onion
1 green bell pepper
¼ cup mixed, chopped herbs (the “classics” – parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme – are perfect here)
¼ cup red wine
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Puree all the ingredients together, except the sirloin. I like the coarsely chopped beef because it has more bite to it than finely ground, though, you can use ground beef of your choice. You can use different herbs if you prefer, adjust the salt and pepper to your tastes. Make into four patties and grill to the appropriate doneness for you and your guests. Given that you’re using good sirloin, err on the rare side.