La Peña del Colorado

Where do you take a newcomer to Buenos Aires to show him the grittier, more rustic, and way romantic side of the music I so love? La Peña del Colorado of course (we mentioned it in our list of Ten Things to Do in Buenos Aires). The live shows are great, but I also recommend staying later to see the spontaneous guitarists and drunken singers that stick around until dawn. Plan for a late night.

 La Jury

Last Friday we watched La Jury sing her heart out for over two hours. La Jury, whose real name is Luciana, is from Buenos Aires. She sings in the style called “canto criollo.” Here are the names of a few famous criollo singers from Chile, Argentina, and Mexico to help you get familiarized with the style should you want to study up on the style before getting here (Violeta Parra, Mercedes Sosa, Lhasa del Sela, Chango Rodriguez, Oscar Valles, Chavela Vargas). 

At first, La Jury was accompanied by Carlos Delgado on guitar and vocals. 

Midway through her performance, master guitarist, Carlos Moscardini, joined her. Amazing. Truly amazing. 

 Carlos Moscardini

My memory stick was full, which was a total bummer because Carlos Moscardini’s guitar playing coupled with La Jury’s amazing pipes was truly spectacular. But here is Carlos Moscardini on guitar. Wow!

La Peña del Colorado is located in Palermo/Barrio Norte on Guemes, 3657. Call for a reservation and ask for a table close to the stage. The show was scheduled to start at 10:00 but really began closer to 10:30 (as is to be expected in Argentina). It cost 25 pesos for the show, and we had some dinner, too. Now, let me say that I would not go to La Peña del Colorado for sophisticated dishes or the best of Buenos Aires (here’s the menu). But I love that it is so very typical. Typical parrilla fare. Very good empanadas salteñas. Yummy casseroles of pumpkin with quinoa and goat cheese. Traditional guisos or locro. Tablas of cheese, meats and olives. It’s not creative; it’s traditional. As it should be.

 

La Jury y Carlos Moscardini

If you really want to do things the way the locals do, order a penguino instead of a regular bottle of wine and ask for a bottle of soda to go with it. The penguino is actually the shape of the pitcher that the house wine is served in. Because it’s not the greatest quality wine, Argentines often add a bit of soda to it. It’s like a sangria without the goodies. If you’re picky about wine, you might want to get a regular bottle first to have with your food and then switch over to the penguino when your taste buds don’t care anymore.

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Feliz Año Nuevo a Todos!

My cousin sent me this quote and it seems like a great one to share as we bring in a new year. Since the struggling global economy may make 2009 a difficult one, I felt like this quote puts things into perspective.

Happy New Year to everyone! 

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them–work, family, health, friends, and spirit–and you’re keeping all of those in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls–family, health, friends, and spirit–are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

~Brian G. Dyson, speaking at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement address in September 1996. 

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Introducing The Pad!

We’ve been busy lately getting our new two-bedroom apartment ready to rent out. It’s ready! It’s in the same building as The Loft, but one floor up, which means it has a terrace. Great news for those who want a quiet place to read or feel like trying their hand at Argentinean grilling

 
Airy and Breezy
 

We’re still working on getting more pictures and updating our website. The Pad rented out so fast, we hardly had time to document all of the artistic details that make this place so unique.

 Details

We’ll announce the updated website here, but if you’re on your way to Buenos Aires and looking for a stylish, roomy, apartment to rent. We’ve got it.

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Polo in Buenos Aires

Dust Flies
The 115th Argentine Open Polo Championship is underway in Palermo. This is one of the oldest and most well respected tournaments in the world with some of the very best polo players. The matches are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 and 5:30 pm.

 Goal posts

There are two more weeks left, so get your tickets and spend the day in the sun hobnobbing with the hordes of socialites.

Rapido

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Noche de los Museos 2008

We’re back. After a very long hiatus, mostly due to vacationing (check out my photos of Hawaii), somewhat due to work, and greatly due to my holding my breath until Obama got elected, we’re back to blogging. And it’s just in time really. My favorite night of the year is coming up. La Noche de los Museos (The Night of the Museums).

 

Malba

That’s right, this Saturday, Nov. 15, the museums of Buenos Aires (and many other cities around the world, will be open from 7:00 pm – 2:00 am. It’s not just that visiting a museum after dark is fun, nor is it just that the museums are all free, nor is it that the city designates certain bus routes devoted to getting you from one museum to another, nor is it that the buses are also free. No, it’s that there’s champagne and music and dance and theater and really cool people and, of course, amazing art. Talk about a little slice of heaven.

So, how does it work? Well, you need a plan. There are 120 museums and galleries participating this year, so choose which ones you want to go to based somewhat on their vicinity to one another. If you’re familiar with the major museums, try those in places like Barracas, Boedo, Mataderos, or Caballito. There’s a list of possible itineraries to consider on the website.

How does one get around? Well, the city has doubled the number of buses running on the following lines: 29, 64, 78, 80, 87, 92, 100, 111, 127, 130, and 134. But make sure you print out your pass (Pase Libre) and carry it with you for free transport on these bus lines from 6:00 pm – 3:00 am.

My personal advice is to steer clear of the big guys like MALBA. There are too many people so you’ll spend the whole night waiting in line just to get in. Plus, the MALBA is free on Wednesdays anyway. Find an area with several smaller museums close enough to walk from one to the other. Then take a bus to another area that also has several museums you haven’t visited. Go with some friends and wear comfortable shoes.

P.S. La Noche de los Museos actually marks the beginning of my third year in Buenos Aires and the anniversary of the night I met the other two members of the San Telmo Loft trio, Natalia and Gonzalo. Two years ago, I met Naty and Gonzalo through a friend. They invited me to join them that night. We started at the Fragata Sarmiento in Puerto Madero. And many blisters later we ended up eating an asado in Belgrano after having visited the Casa de Yrurtia and Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta. We saw a live rock band, live tango dancers, a theater performance, a ton of history, amazing architecture, fabulous pieces of art, and a good bit of the city along the way. Now that’s how I like to spend a Saturday night!

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Tango Classes at Tango Brujo

I should begin by pointing out that I don’t know how to dance tango. I think it’s amazing though and I’d love to learn. So when my mom and niece were coming to visit, I decided it was time to take a couple of classes with people who know as little as I do and with whom I have no problem looking like a fool.

Trying to decide where to take tango classes in Buenos Aires is about is no easy task. I asked everyone I know who’s in the tango world and there was no consensus. A lot of people recommended La Viruta, the massive milonga in Palermo, but I had heard the classes at La Viruta were very crowded and I also knew that it attracts a younger group of people. Worried my mom might feel out of place and that we wouldn’t get any one-on-one attention from the instructors, I looked for something smaller. Tango Brujo was recommended in a discussion on Couchsurfing. And since I think the crowd over at Couchsurfers is pretty cool (read an earlier post about this project here), it sounded right for us, too. 

 Tango Brujo Shop

Tango Brujo is housed in a beautifully renovated building on Esmeralda in downtown Buenos Aires. There’s a gorgeous shop on the ground floor. The shoes and clothes are enough to make anyone want to become a tango aficionado. Unbelievably cool stuff! Head upstairs for the cozy dance studio. 

 Tango - Mom and Jordan

They offer classes for all levels and throughout the week, which makes planning a lot easier. We took two: Introduction to Tango, and the Beginners and Intermediate. What I liked about our classes at Tango Brujo was that there weren’t too many people and yet there were enough of us to change partners and get in a good bit of practice. 

 Tango Brujo - Instruction

The classes were in English and Spanish and the instructors were excellent. They were great at figuring out how quickly they could move on to the next step, who needed a bit of individualized attention, and making sure everyone was dancing even though there were more women than men and pairing people up was sometimes hard to do. 

Tango is as hard as I’ve always heard it was to learn. The problem for my mom, my niece and me was that in Louisiana we dance to Cajun or Zydeco music. It’s fast and loose. Hips move and bodies swing in Louisiana. By the end of the class, we’d learned to keep our hips still and wait for the guy to let us know what was coming. But sometimes it felt like I had to wait for an eternity and then I realized… that’s it. It’s that longing and resistance between the two that creates the mood.

An ex-boyfriend once told me I’d never be able to learn tango because I wouldn’t be able to let the guy lead (he was pretty mad at me when he said that). He may have been right, but now that I saw how that anticipation of the guy’s lead is how the couple manages to feel each other and know what’s coming without having to look at their feet or even at each other’s eyes and without their bodies even touching, I’m much more interested in trying to follow.

Here’s a short video of our first instructors, Pablo and Anita, at the end of the class showing us the steps we learned.

The classes cost 15 pesos per person. There’s a complete schedule on the beautiful Tango Brujo website.

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Cooking with Teresita

When my mom and niece came to visit at the end of July, I wanted to make sure they would leave wanting to come back again and again. Since my niece, who’s 15 years old, mostly wanted to shop and hang out in cafes people watching, and my mom mostly wanted to check out the architecture, eat delicious food, and see some museums and churches, I had to find something to do that would be a hit with both of them. Hmmm… what do we all have in common? Ah, yes. We all love to cook.

I researched online and found the options for cooking classes in Buenos Aires to be pretty scarce. Many of the classes in the city were oriented towards professionals. I was looking for something more informal, more fun.

Cooking with Teresita seemed to be the right choice. Apart from having a variety of options, I loved that she was located outside of the city. Taking the train from the Constitución station to Adrogué was easy enough. Trains depart every 30 minutes or so and Adrogué is about 30 minutes away. 

Adrogué is a colorful, elegant town. Its houses suggest it was inhabited by wealth families who wanted to get away from the city.

The Houses of Adrogué
We walked from the station to Teresa’s house where she teaches her classes. It’s clear Teresa was a school teacher for years before opening her B&B and offering cooking classes out of her home. Taught in English, the class was well organized and very hands-on and Teresa clearly loves sharing her knowledge of Argentinean cuisine.

Adrogué - Jordan and Lorraine
We learned to make the filling for beef empanadas first. We sauteed the onions until translucent and then added the ground beef. Next came the spices. Here’s the full recipe.

 

Adrogué - Adding the Spices
Next we prepared the corn filling, which is called humita. It’s a combination of onions, bell peppers and corn off the cob.

Adrogué - Humita

While we let the fillings cool off in the freezer, my niece prepared the dough (while I talked, of course).

Adrogué - Jordan Makes the Dough
It took us a while to get our circles of dough as symmetrical as Teresa and her granddaughter’s were, but we watched and learned. 

Adrogué - We Roll the Dough

Next we stuffed the empanadas and closed them up. We used two types of closures: one for the beef empanadas and one for the humita.

Adrogué - Awaiting the Oven
Most places that serve empanadas will tell you which type of closure is used for each filling. In some places, they may have 12 different types of empanadas. Checking the way the dough is folded will allow you to pick the empanada you want. 

Adrogué - Baked Empanadas

Teresa explained that a lot of people prefer baking empanadas to frying them, but the fried ones are much tastier. She was right. Half of our stash were baked and the other half fried.

Adrogué - Fried Empanadas

While both were delicious, the fried ones, sprinkled with a bit of sugar before being served, were amazing.

We sat out in Teresa’s back yard, where she has a cottage that serves as a B&B for those who want to get out of the city and take some of her more advanced classes.

Adrogué - Setting the Table

A bottle of Trapiche Malbec, and a bottle of Trapiche Torrontés were served with our warm empanadas. The two women staying at the B&B joined us.

Adrogué - Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor

Our day in Adrogué cooking with Teresa was the perfect combination of learning about the food, the culture, and the wine while enjoying wonderful company and fantastic empanadas made by our hands. 

Here’s a video that aired on German television Teresa teaching a group of Germans how to make empanadas.

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