One That Does Not Wither

2008.Jun.25 Wednesday · 4 comments

in Restaurants

“Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth or pigweed, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are presently recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia. Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world value amaranths as leaf vegetables, cereals and ornamentals. The word comes from the Greek amarantos, the “one that does not wither,” or the never-fading (flower).”

Buenos Aires – I expect this one will not whither. A restaurant, that is. Relatively new, it’s a mere couple of blocks from home and I’d passed it by numerous times, thinking it was nothing but a simple cafe. Then one Sunday morning I wandered in, figuring on some toast and coffee, perhaps an egg, only to discover that they offer real brunch – eggs benedict (though having difficulty sourcing Canadian bacon), huevos rancheros, bagels with lox and cream cheese – and real bagels too, they make them on-site, muffins, waffles, pancakes… you get the idea, right? Not common here in Buenos Aires. Since then, I’ve been back to Amaranta, Junín 1559, many more times, and it’s become my neighborhood hangout. It’s also seems to be the spot of choice for many a norteamericano expat or visitor, as they seem to be the mainstay of the clientele. [As of December 2009, this place is closed, and the owners have moved back to Bolivia, where the chef is now teaching at a culinary school in Santa Cruz. We stay in touch, on and off.]

Amaranta - chicken parmesan sandwich
No matter, sometimes just being surrounded by English rather than Spanish is a nice change of pace. The menu, a mix of U.S., Mexican, and the occasional Italian-American sort of dish. The food – quite good, well priced. The service – delightful and friendly, the owner Humberto is charming to chat with. The atmosphere – casual coffee shop, with a few newspapers and magazines around to read (all Spanish ones, which might be something to change up a bit given the clientele – they’d be an even bigger hit with a few copies of U.S. based papers or mags). And hey, at least one or two days a week, you can find me there, ensconced in a corner, munching on a bagel or a chicken parm sandwich, drop by the table and say hi.

As best I can tell, the name is just a name, I have yet to see amaranth or any other Andean grains on the menu, even if Humberto is from Bolivia.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dan July 2, 2008 at 14:05

I have been corrected on the use of Amaranth, and, also, a thank you to all those of you who have been popping into the place and telling Umberto and his wife that you heard about Amaranta via SaltShaker. He was delighted, and I think he sold out of bagels last Sunday before brunch was over! He tells me he uses amaranth in his granola mix for breakfast, and also bakes both amaranth bread and cookies – I tried the bread, delicious! However, the name doesn’t come from the grain, at least not directly, but from the character in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Evie Abat December 6, 2008 at 08:08

Yum! Bagels! I tried a bagel once here, and it was just alright. So glad to read there’s another place ot get my bagel and lox fix! Will definitely give it a try!

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