If you’re not generally involved in the local foodie community, and yes, I used the “f” word – get over it, it’s a word, it’s in use – it’s quite likely you don’t know that this weekend BA is playing host to a gastronomic fair of, while not gigantic, at least quite large, proportions. Ferí Masticar is a venture of a local chefs and food producers cooperative that’s offering up a chance to spend a day (or two, or three – okay, really one is fine) exploring some of the riches Argentina has to offer. Being held in and around a block square warehouse on the border of Colegiales and Palermo, at Zapiola 50 (just off Dorrego), for a mere 30 pesos entrance fee, you can, well, enter.
Then you get to spend more money, because if you don’t there’s not a whole lot else to do. You can walk around and look at the Mercado where various purveyors are selling everything from sprouts to cured meats, from cheeses to jellies. Or you can attend a class where one famed chef or another will talk about whatever it is they want to talk about. Or, like we did, you can eat, chat with friends, and hang out for a fun afternoon. In order to cut down on the on the spot cash transactions there are bank stands sponsored by HSBC that will exchange your pesos for tickets in 5 and 20 peso denominations that you then use to purchase things at food stands run by local restaurants and stores. Signs abound that are quite clear that that’s the only way anything in the fair is to be purchased. And, it’s true, except at the stands where it’s not, because some of them apparently don’t trust the system and were insisting on collecting their own cash rather than tickets. Life in Buenos Aires.
The fair was open yesterday, when I ventured forth, and will also be open today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday), from noon to six. Given how busy it was on a Friday afternoon, I expect that the crowds will be legion over the weekend. What can you expect for food? A wide range, from simple to complex, from appetizers to desserts, traditional to creative-modern, from near unknown neighborhood restaurants, or in one case a food truck, to some of the city’s top chefs.
Crizia was offering up oysters on the half shell at 20 pesos for two. At some point anyway – they didn’t actually get them delivered until a couple of hours after the fair started.
But the food truck was offering mini-wrap type sandwiches with a Brazilian flair in three different varieties – beef at 5 pesos, pork or portobello at 10 pesos. They were tasty little bites and the offer of mild chipotle sauce on the side was a nice touch.
The new young chef’s initiative that’s getting all sorts of attention here, Gajo, had a stand offering a quartet of items including a stuffed baked potato filled with delicious “pulled lamb”, red onions, sour cream, bacon and parmesan chips, coming in at the high end of 35 pesos, but did I mention delicious?
On the other hand, television icon chef Francis Mallmann (who wasn’t at his stand, but presumably around since he was going to be giving a class at some point), owner of what is likely the most expensive restaurant in Argentina, Patagonia Sur, for the same 35 pesos was serving up this vaguely interesting three bite sandwich of flatbread off the grill with some dried out fish, a tomato chip, lettuce and mayonnaise for the same price. Go figure. Pick and choose – there are always highs and lows of any event like this.
Looking for something different to do today or tomorrow? Head out and Masticar some comida.