Monday, April 19, 2010

Scenes From A Brunch: Oui Oui

I think I could get used to summer in January, and even winter in July.

But I can't quite wrap my head around fall in April. While all of you in the Northern Hemisphere are breaking out your skipping ropes and sandals, down here we're putting away our summer dresses and digging out sweaters and jackets. While you're finding early-season berries at the farmer's market, we're thinking about root vegetables and hearty stews.

And while you're watching the whole world blossom, we're watching the leaves fall.

Last week it rained steadily for three days, and I don't think the temperature went much above 15°C. But on the weekend there was plenty of sunshine, and at one point on Sunday the thermometer read 27°C. Maybe I could get used to this kind of fall weather, especially when there's Sunday brunch involved - this week at Oui Oui in Palermo Hollywood.

Are you sensing a trend here? On Sunday afternoons, Palermo Hollywood is the neighbourhood in Buenos Aires to find a Sunday brunch worthy of New York's Upper West Side. And in the case of Oui Oui, by 2 p.m. there's also a queue of hungry locals and visitors - just like you'd find Sunday mornings at any brunch spot on Amsterdam Ave.

While I'm not sure that I'd stand in line for Oui Oui's eggs or bread, their Bloody Mary is worth waiting for. And the potatoes are more delicious than I'd imagined breakfast potatoes could be.

After brunch there were cupcakes, across the tracks at Muma's Cupcakes in Palermo Soho. We sampled La Muma, a yellow cupcake piled high with too-sweet-to-finish passion fruit frosting but charmingly decorated with red fondant stars. At a spendy AR$9 (around $2.35) per cupcake I won't be picking up a dozen anytime soon, but that won't stop me from window shopping--I suspect these beauties would cheer up even the dreariest of fall days.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DJ G-Money

Our recent spate of visitors means I have come into possession of something more valuable and rare in Buenos Aires than maple syrup, almond butter, and flared jeans: English magazines. (Aside: Skinny jeans were not designed to flatter my body, and harem pants were not designed to flatter anyone's body. At least throw me a boot cut, Buenos Aires! First stop when I get to Canada: the Gap--via Tim Horton's, natch.)

Having English magazines has given me the chance to stop reading celebrity gossip online and instead read a slightly outdated version on paper! What can I say, I like kickin' it old school sometimes. All of this is a very long and convoluted way of telling you that I was reading something about Gwyneth Paltrow and was reminded of her lifestyle (?) website, Goop. I perused, as I'm apt to do, and found lists of party jams, each a playlist of 10 songs recommended by some celebrity or DJ or celebrity DJ.

It should be noted that every time we have a party, Ken is tasked with creating the playlist. The only way I learn about new music is at the gym, which worked in NY where my gym actually had a DJ on Tuesday nights. In Buenos Aires, however, you're most likely to be leave your workout humming "Tarzan Boy" or some phat reggaeton beats. At right: Even I'm not sure that was ever cool, Baltimora.

Much to the surprise of the love of my life, I took an interest in these playlists, and have been downloading them in bits and pieces. (When I described to Ken what I was doing, he said it was akin to me looking up the best clubs in Buenos Aires, which, I can assure you, is not going to happen, unless I'm on the losing end of a very expensive wager). I have now compiled the playlists suggested by Samantha Ronson and DJ AM, I'm halfway into Guy Oseary's 80s playlist, and guys, they all make me want to get down, earnestly and enthusiastically.

In the process of finding these songs I have learned the names of songs I previously liked but couldn't pick out of a lineup, not to mention the value of a good remix. I even feel like my iTunes is slightly less embarrassing.

All of this isn't to say there isn't still a lot of White Girl Music in my repertoire, but after this little exercise, at our next party I may be to thank for more than just the cupcakes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scenes From A Brunch: Tartine

Yesterday, Norma and I resumed our weekly brunching with a visit to Tartine Crêpes & Bakery.

Do you like Sunday brunch as much as I do? Do you like to rub the sleep out of your eyes around noon and tie your hair into a ponytail before venturing out to find a steamy cafe con leche and a plate of eggs, maybe scrambled, with bacon? How about a basket of toasted homemade bread and a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice? Still hungry? Try this pain au chocolate, you won't be disappointed. And oh yes, I'd love a glass of rosé, thank you so much.

Oh, I couldn't eat another bite. But that fruit salad does look delicious. Yogurt with homemade granola? OK, I'll try some. And maybe just a small plate of greens with flax seeds and sun-dried tomatoes, and did you see the cheese plate?

This, friends, is my ideal Sunday brunch, and Tartine delivers, better than anywhere else I've tried in Buenos Aires. It's a friendly, airy space on a quiet corner in Palermo Hollywood, and if you're anything like us, you might not even notice that more than two hours have passed before you think about ordering la cuenta.

The best part? Tartine's Sunday Brunch costs a mere 55 pesos per person (that's less than $15), including that glass of rosé.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

As my very wise yoga teacher used to say, planning is priceless, but plans are useless.

Last March, we planned to live in Buenos Aires for a year.

Then in September we whittled our possessions down to fit (snugly) in two backpacks, and set off for six months of buses and bunk beds.

In January, Fate had other plans for us, and a certain knee injury and its subsequent rehabilitation suggested that we make Buenos Aires our home for a few more months. Ken joined an Ultimate Frisbee team, and was invited to play on another one that might go to Prague in July. And he found work, or rather, work found him, and he's spending around 25 hours per week writing iPhone software. (I spend about that many hours per week playing Scrabble on my iPhone, which unfortunately doesn't pay nearly as well.)

We've talked about extending our stay here indefinitely, but it turns out I can't wait quite that long to see my family (when did I turn into such a softie? Stupid 30s), so on April 27 I'm flying to Canada to bake birthday cakes and wedding cakes and to smother a certain feline with very large amounts of affection.

I booked my (one-way!) ticket last week, and when I clicked the final Purchase button, I teared up: It hit me that this is the first time in what seems like forever that I'll be traveling alone, and I have to tell you, after a year of mostly being within arms' length of someone, you kind of get used to him being around, especially when you like him oh-so-much.

So that's what's going on around here. Ken will stay in BA while I'm gone, and we'll reunite in some hemisphere or other in late May. At this point it seems pointless to make plans that far in advance.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

North America Visits, Volume 2: Leslie & John

Last night we bid farewell to our New York visitors. Leslie and John were our neighbours in Brooklyn, and I was over at their apartment so much that one day my mom asked me if I'd moved in. They arrived in Buenos Aires on Easter Sunday and we kicked six days of carnivorism to be reckoned with. There were four, count 'em, four, visits to Desnivel, during which we consumed approximately eight bifes de lomo, two provoletas, half a dozen empanadas, a chorizo, a panqueque con dulce de leche, and several litres of both Quilmes and Malbec.

Having guests gave us the impetus to do touristy things that even after a year of living here we hadn't done, like walk around the famous and very colourful Caminito in La Boca.

We did other stuff, too, like visit Evita's grave in the Recoleta Cemetary and cheer for River Plate in their home game against Newell's Old Boys (Best. Team name. Ever.). We ate at a new (to us) puerta cerrada restaurant. We shopped for leather goods: Leslie scored in the purse department, and all week I have been enjoying erotic dreams involving these shoes, which are probably meant to be purchased by people who are gainfully employed but I might have to make an exception, because seriously, look at them.

But I digress. Even with all the action and delicious, delicious meat, the best parts of the week were the times when we sat around debating hot topics like Facebook and Lady Gaga and babies and life. We're lucky to know these guys. And yes, maybe we're a little bit glad they're not vegetarian.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

One Year and Sixteen Days

On March 19, 2009, we moved to Buenos Aires. I've already told you about all my favourite Buenos Aires activities, and the list is mostly the same, really. Ken might add playing Ultimate Frisbee to the list (he's now on two different teams and parties practices with them half a dozen times a week) and I might sing the praises of physical therapy (but that's maybe just because it's my current hobby). Leaving is still not among our favourite things to do here, which is probably why we've drawn our stay out beyond the planned year, and still aren't exactly sure when we're returning to North America.

Fortunately, North America is coming to us! Our first guest was my cousin, Katherine, who came from Ottawa for two weeks. She brought a few treats from the Great White North.

For a girl with no sisters, I have a lot of sisters in the world, and Kath is one of them. She's funny, smart, and pretty! Maybe the best thing about Katherine? She always wants to order dessert.

And tomorrow morning when we wake up, the Easter Bunny will bring us even more treats: Our friends and Brooklyn-neighbours Leslie and John will be here.

Too bad I didn't save them any of those Mini Eggs.