Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cookie Day!

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Today was the blogger´s event at Sugar & Spice. I was so glad to finally meet so many of my fellow bloggers in BA. There are some who could not make it and hopefully somewhere down the road I will get the chance to meet them.

Meanwhile you can go -here- for Alan´s (of Buenos Aires Argentina Guide) set of pictures of the event, and you can click -here- for his version of the event itself. If anyone else puts up pictures I will be adding links to them from here.
Diva just posted on the event. Click -here- to read all about it.
Julieta and Lorena just posted as well and you can click -here- to read about it.
Nathan just posted as well. Here is his version of events.
Pip in the City even added a jam recipe to go with the brownies. Get the recipe -here-.
Tango Cheri added a post as well and you can read it -here-.

Meanwhile if you click on the picture above you will be taken to an online album where you can see more pictures that I took.

The blogs, magazines, and baking schools that were represented here today are:

Buenos Aires Argentina Guide
Buenos Aires Through My Eyes
Buenos Aires Daily
Filosofía de Sabor
Pip in the City
Trendy Palermo Viejo
Tango Cherie
BA Insider Magazine
Instituto Buenos Aires (pasteleria maestra)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Espacios TV

Espacios TV is a weekly show produced from Tucuman. The show spotlights design, fashion, art, tourism, architecture, and "vida sana" (healthy living). Half of the show´s content has to do with Buenos Aires and the rest with Tucuman. If you go to the sight you can click on the little orange TV and you can view a clip of the show. It loads pretty quickly. I have Fibertel cable modem so nothing too fancy under the hood here.

Our PR agency, Flavia Tomaello, organized an interview on this show. I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Sofia Alurralde. I say pleasure becuase not only is it obvious that she is very pretty but she was also very nice and sweet. In fact, she is even prettier in person than in these pictures and I imagine she looks pretty good on TV.

So if you happen to be anywhere near Tucuman and have access to a Television you can check out the show.

It runs on Tuesdays at 11pm and then repeats Wednesday at 1pm; Thursday at 8pm; Friday at 8:30pm; Saturday at 11:30am and 8:30pm; Monday at 6:30pm

They are going to send me a CD of the show so if I can figure out how to load video on to the blog I will post it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Alfajores Helados or Ice Cream Sandwhich Cookies

Argentina has a long tradition with cookies of their own. Their representative product, in the world of cookies, is the alfajore. Like any well loved cookie there are many variations of this, but it is basically a sandwich cookie with the middle part being Dulce de Leche. Who invented these cookies is basically unknown. I have even read somewhere that they traced them back to the Middle East and where introduced through the Spaniards that colonized the Americas.

The picture of these alfajores I borrowed from a food blogger called La Majuluta. She has some great pictures that accompany her recipes so head on over there if you want to know how to make these babies.

During the summer time they even have ice cream alfajores or frozen alfajores but they are not easily found or no one has really pushed them. The ones I have found have been nothing to write home about either.

Ever since I started introducing our cookies I have been wanting to push the idea of an ice cream sandwich cookie with our cookies. I mean, can you imagine making one of those with a homemade cookie and some great ice cream? Just looking at one is enough to make your mouth water.

I found this great picture on the cover of Bon Appétit. Ours would look similar although not as artificial. I mean how many chips are poking out of a cookie like that? You have to place those chips individually by hand on top of the dough as they are baking to come out like that. What they most likely did is put them on for the picture.

Anyway, our current ice cream clients (Freddo & Munchi´s) are not making their "frozen alfajores" this way and I am having a hard time persuading them to try them out. But never fear, I am trying and I am not giving up after hearing "no" the first time.

Meanwhile if you happen to want to try them on your own here is how you go about making them:

You have to leave your ice cream out long enough so that it is semi-soft. You scoop some ice cream onto the flat side of one of your cookies and then press against the ice cream with the other cookie (flat side as well). Any excess ice cream you can scrape off with a knife. You have to then wrap them in wax paper or plastic wrap and stick them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be better).

That´s it. Why do you need to freeze them? Because if you try eating them right away you are going to end up with a huge mess. The cookie will break and the ice cream will run down your hands. It´s very important that you start with soft ice cream and then freeze the sandwiches.

( A local individual was flirting with the idea of combining peanut butter with dulce de leche and chocolate. Here is her perfect chance. For example, she could use Dulce de Leche Granizadodulce de leche with chocolate chunks) and she could put peanut butter on the flat side of one of the cookies. I am pretty confident that she would have the very first Chocolate Chip, Dulce de Leche, Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie in the world. What do you think Diva?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Le Shop Long Weekend Promo

This weekend Le-Shop is running a promotion with our cookies. If your total shopping ticket is over $200 pesos then you get Sugar & Spice cookies for free.

Boutique del Libro

I would like to welcome a new client to Sugar & Spice. Boutique del Libro is a chain of book stores with 12 locations. Some of those locations have cafe´s in them. So my actual client is not the book store itself but the cafe inside the bookstore. In this case in particular it is the cafe inside the location in Palermo Viejo:

Thames 1762
Monday - Thursday from 10am to 10pm
Friday from 10am to 11pm
Saturday from 11am to 11pm
Sunday from 2pm to 10pm

So if you are in the area and you need to shop for books and you have worked up a desire for a coffee and a cookie or a brownie then just head on over there.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Customers

It´s not everyday you find someone that likes your products so much that they take the time to actually write about it. Believe me, as a blog owner, I know that not just anything will do for your own precious blog (time, effort, etc.).

I am thrilled that I found these two posts regarding our cookies. Mind you, I did not pay them nor asked them to do it. They did it because they really liked our cookies.

Marc from "Asado Argentina" - post: Cookies, Cookies and Cookies

Jeff Barry from "Buenos Aires, The City of Faded Elegance" - post: Hmmm, great cookies!

They have great blogs by the way. So if you are interested in reading more about what Argentina is like, go on over there and take a look.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The City that Fades Away II

This is another entry into Jeff Barry´s series titled The City that Fades Away.

Okay, so I may be getting carried away with this but I wanted to show the other side of the neighborhood. This is an example of what is going on over here. This used to be a home and it was rehabbed into a boutique shoe store. This is on El Salvador (4600 block between Malabia and Armenia).
The dark splotches above the awning are due to humidity. This is most likely the original facade of a home that was built around 1900. This store owner left the facade untouched.

Next to this store is what used to be a home. This was a chalet style home so no loss there to the neighborhood. I thought it was a pretty good idea to have the construction site covered with a wooden wall in the shape of a house. If you click on the pictures you will get a slightly bigger image to look at. Also notice that in the street, right in front of the shoe store, a sink hole is developing. I wonder when they will get around to fixing that?

Right along this same block you have Cluny and Mott. Around the corner you have Spell Cafe and so many more restaurants that I don´t want to name them all.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The City that Fades Away

Jeff Barry is the owner of the blog Buenos Aires, City of Faded Elegance and he started an irregular series of posts about buildings that are currently fading away, crumbling, and most likely will be facing a wrecking crew in the near future. The post is titled The City that Fades Away.

I decided to chip in and send in this picture of a building in my neighborhood. I live in what has always been a residential neighborhood and now is one of the city´s hottest tourist destination spots, Palermo Soho, which happens to be part of Palermo Viejo. This area is now currently known for it´s street lined boutiques, recycled homes, and restaurants. When I moved there it was such a quite neighborhood. My own house was built around the late 1800´s (obviously recycled). I used to have a fruit stand on the corner and the nearest serious restaurant was several blocks away. Now I have no more fruit stand, and I have to put up with people parking in front of my garage, but I don´t even have to leave my block to have a choice of at least four good restaurants.

This picture I took looking down El Salvador from the intersection with Armenia. Just a couple doors down, on the corner, is Mark´s Deli, and our newest famous new neighbor is non other than Francis Ford Coppola himself. There is still life within this building. Every once in a while I see someone going in or out. However, the balconies are in such bad state that I don´t even dare walk underneath them for fear that they would fall at any moment.

The parks in this area used to be old as well. They are all being recycled by the city. This was an election year so all the parks got recycled. Palermo Viejo is fading away rather quickly. I wonder if they will still call it "Viejo" after there is nothing old left about it.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Boca, Indian restaurant, Fog, Ear Infections and Pizza

Before the Spider-Man movie last weekend, my wife and I went to a grand opening of an Indian Restaurant called Tandoor with another couple, Hernan and Andrea. While we were strategizing on how best to get a small plate of chicken ticka masala my wife asked about the Boca game. Hernan was a little depressed about it because he is a huge Boca fan and Boca had lost that game 3 to 1. I reassured him that Boca was going to win the next one. I really truly thought so and told him so. Right away he asked me if I wanted to go. My confidence in Boca must have awoken that positive spirit of his because as soon as I nodded yes he was on the phone scoring some tickets for the game. Now if only he could have worked the same magic on Tandoor... In all honesty though, the restaurant was overwhelmed. They had a bigger turnout than they expected and I am definitely going to go back on a regular night.

Game night: I meet up with Hernan on the corner of Corrientes & Pasteur. As we get into his car a friend of his said "Hey, the game might be called off on account of fog". We laugh it off thinking the guy was joking about the slight fog we saw around us. Fifteen minutes later we are sitting in traffic and in the middle of some crazy thick fog. We decided we were going anyway and luckily for us the game was delayed an hour due to this fog so we still managed to get their with time to spare. We were supposed to meet Hernan's contact at a YPF gas station near the stadium but this guy was a no show and he wasn't answering his phone.

We decided to look for scalpers. We asked everyone and no one had any tickets. We were just about to give up when all of a sudden a guy with a radio in his hands, and an air of authority, asked us how many we were. He directed us to a curb near him and told us not to move.

Me: "Hernan, are we going into the popular seats with "La Doce"? (infamous soccer hooligans).

Hernan: "Nah, La Doce are on the other side of the stadium. These guys are the 36." Or the 18th I can't remember which one he said, but he was just trying to be funny.

Anyway, I noticed a couple more guys like our guy with the radio and other pockets of groups of people. Our guy comes back and tells us to follow him. We walk up to the first turnstiles and the turnstile operators start to let everyone through in these groups. We walk up to a parking lot right next to the stadium and the radio guy sits on the hood of a car and tells everyone to cough up $50 pesos per person and to stand behind him once we paid.

We all do as instructed and then we follow him right up to the stadium where we wait again until he directs us to go through the police frisking area where we are patted down. Once we do that we go through a second set of turnstiles and we are in.

We walk up to the seats and find ourselves in "La Popular". This is where the hooligans watch the game and there are two of these sections, one behind each goal.
"La Bombonera" is actually very steep and even though we are up kind of high and behind one of the goals we can see the whole field. Well, we could see it if there wasn't any fog.

If you want to see and hear what that section looks like click here for a short 1.29 minute movie.
We could hear the chanting and the singing from outside the stadium and now we were right in the middle of it all. We were packed like sardines. The hooligans were leading everyone in song. It was loud, it was rowdy, and it was the most fun I have had watching a soccer game. Meanwhile I was starting to develop an ear infection and pink eye. By the second half my ears were ringing, my throat was soar, I was caughing, my nose was stuffy and my right eye was blurry. Boca prevailed and won the game 3 to 0. Now it's on the finals and to a doctor!

Before the doctor though we had to wait what seemed like an eternity to leave the stadium. We were even more smashed up against each other waiting to get to the stairs than during the game. What was even more amazing is that when any of the official hooligans needed to get through people just opened the way for them and somehow managed to make a path for them to walk through the crowd. Really it was so crowed I didn't think that was possible.

After the game we went out for pizza at El Cuartito. A fellow blogger, Dan from Saltshaker, wrote about his not very good experience with this place. However, I did visit once before and I did like my pizza, which was different from Dan's choice by the way. I really liked their fugazzeta. They have two flavors that are similar--the fugazza, which is a thin pizza with sweet onions on top and their fugazzeta, which is a pan pizza with lots of cheese and sweet onions. The pizza, paired with an ice cold beer, did the trick. I did not like their faina though.

How could I disagree with a local celebrity cheff? Hey, it's an opinion and there are several others that have waxed poetic on this place so I know that I am not the only one. Besides, at 1am this place was full. We had to wait for a table.

Now it was time to head home and call a doctor for the various infections that I was having. The doctor came within half an hour, left a prescription which I then had to go to Farmacity (a 24 hour pharmacy) and start taking the meds. Now I find myself with a day off at home having nothing to do but write.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Spider Man 3 (not your neighborhood friendly movie review)

So how do I talk about Spider Man 3, which is in fact a movie, without calling it a movie review? I don´t know, but this is my attempt.

I am not a movie critic and I don´t intend to pretend to be one so I won´t even try. I want to talk about one particular scene in the movie.

The added wrinkle to my movie going experience was that I was watching this in Argentina. Normally this would have been no different than watching it back in Chicago if it weren´t for one little scene that caused a collective groan when it appeared on stage.

Yep, that huge, flapping in the virtual wind, digital reproduction of old glory as background for Spidey on his way to a good old fashioned street fight. What in the world was Sam Raimi thinking? Have I been away so long from the States that I have lost touch with my fellow countrymen?

There are several ways in which this is wrong:

Currently the USA is involved in a couple of wars. One of which no one can say anything about and pretty much expected. That´s the one in Afghanistan where the 9-11 attack originated from. The other one, well, what can I say other than it´s the third biggest mistake our country has recently made (first one, letting Bush get his way the first time around in the 2000 elections; second one, giving him the job that he managed to steal in the first place). All of these things together gives the USA a rather bad image abroad these days (not to mention that wall, some Americans call it a gate, that is being built and maintained along the Mexican border).

Slapping a big flag behind Spider Man looks so cheesy, so tacky, so tasteless. Are we so clueless that we fail to think what people would feel like watching a movie and seeing a commercial for the USA in a Spider Man film? What is the point? That Spider Man stands for America? Was this meant as "Let´s go USA and beat up some bad guys"? I don´t like the use of my flag for those purposes. I would rather see us waving it around on our way to the voting polls.

Actually, my first reaction to this scene was joining the rest of the movie goers in that communal groan. Then, I thought to myself; this can´t be. There has to be an explanation to this; it can´t just be a pointless blunder; it can´t be selfish boasting; it can´t be naive, nationalistic pride.

Now this is the good part. I started thinking possibilities: What if this was actually a dig towards Bush and his hawks? I mean the main message behind Spider Man has been that you are defined by your choices. You can choose to be good or choose to be bad. Your choices dictate that about who you are.
"With great power comes great responsibility." - Spider Man 1
The flag scene came after Spidey rejected his bad dark side and was going to go beat up the bad guys. Could it be that the message was aimed at the current administration and telling them that they did not represent our America. After the fighting subsides and Spidey is left standing he finally forgives the person that shot and killed his uncle. Was the director trying to say that this is more like what America should be like? Because this is not how America has been behaving in the eyes of most people over here. Quite the opposite actually. Most people would probably tell you that the black substance that created Venom is more like how Bush has been acting.

To be honest, I have no idea what the director was thinking. I choose to believe my theory regardless of the original intentions of the people that made the movie. My theory makes more sense. My theory may be a little more naive but I can´t think of any other good reason for putting the flag up there in a Spider Man movie of all places.

What do you think? What do you choose?

La Nación Magazine

We appeared in the Magazine of La Nación this past Sunday. This time, the article was on cookies and how they have changed throughout the years, not necessarily about us. However, we were the only ones mentioned as a company that "packages with quality and style."

Monday, June 4, 2007

Argentine Parrilla in Minnesota?

Who would have thought that in the middle of Minnesota you would be able to find an Argentine Parrilla. I don´t mean a restaurant, I mean a real, working Argentine grill. Well I have the pictures to prove it and the links for those of you who would be interested in reading on why, and how this American business owner hand built his very own piece of Argentina in the US Midwest.
The following is a quote from Jim, the owner of Maplelag in Minnesota.

Actually the Argentine staff has not seen the completed parrilla yet. I brought back the grill pieces when I was there last summer, and we didn't start construction until camp ended in August. So when they come next week, I think they will be impressed. Our local welder/blacksmith did a fantastic job on making the grill go up and down with just the pull of a lever and no crank or chain. We used it yesterday for the wedding party and they loved it.

I love the mollejas in Argentina, something very hard to get here.
Just to give you a little more background on why Argentina, normally when we close here the middle of March we head for Puerto Vallarta in Mexico for R and R. Three years ago, the Argentine staff who has been begging us to come for years to visit finally connected and my wife and I went for 4 weeks to BA and then to our best friend, Gustavo who with his family owns a hotel in Carlos Paz. We visited there and to be honest, Argentina just blew me away. So different than I what I was expecting and I couldn't wait to get back. My wife who likes the summer here and the garden stayed behind when I went last summer, and I am coming again this summer. I really hate the hot, humid weather here in July, and loved the temps and weather last year in BA. I went skiing for a week in Ushuaia and that was fun, and will maybe go again this summer. I also took Spanish lessons, but my teacher said I am always asking too many questions and not a very good student.

Click -here- for the link on how he built his parrilla.

Jim is going to vacation in Argentina again. He is going to stop by and check out Sugar & Spice. I just hope he doesn´t decide to go back and build a cookie factory.

Sugar & Spice Event for Bloggers Update

This is an update for the previously mentioned blogger event at Sugar & Spice. The date has been set for the 28th of June. You should be getting your invites via e-mail soon. If by the end of this week you don't get one please let me know. If you haven't yet contacted me with your e-mail and blog name please contact me as well.

I look forward to meeting many of you and talking over freshly baked cookies.

From Sugar & Spice...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Voting Day

My two year old: "we are going walking?"

Me: "we are going in the car. Mommy is going to vote today"

2 year old: "We are going on a boat!?! Is it big?"

Me: "Mommy is going to vote, not a boat. She is going to help pick the next mayor of Buenos Aires" I was hoping she would ask what a Mayor was and I would subsequently try and lead her into other topics.

2 year old: "Is it white?"

Me: "Sweat Pea, we aren´t going on a boat. She is voting today. We are taking her to a building, a school in fact."

2 year old: "Is it blue?"

Me: "What, the school?"

2 year old: "No, the boat"

Friday, June 1, 2007

To Catch a Thief

Or at least make him work harder for it. As if I didn´t have enough on my hands with negotiating prices every month due to inflation I have to worry about someone making out with my metal grating that I put on the curb so that we could have vehicle access to our factory.

As you can see from the picture there is one part that is missing. That one they managed to take away for the second time. I was a little puzzled. Together with the architects we were trying to figure out how they managed to steal the metal grating. They left the hinges behind and they don´t look forced.

I looked at the remaining gratings to see if they had any evidence of tampering and found that the second one was cut and was just barely hanging on. In fact, it was completely loose. I don´t know why they did not take it. Could it have been just one person and the second one was just too heavy to take?

From this picture you can see that it was slightly out of the hinges.

And from this third picture you can see where they cut the grating from the hinge. This gave the grating its freedom from one of the hinges and all they had to do was just lift it and pull it to the right to free it from the other hinge.

As you can see, I went to the Jumbo and bought a couple of chains and chained my grating to the municipal gratings. My chains are so puny and they look like you could cut them with scissors, but they apparently did the trick this time. My people told me that when they came in this morning they found the second grating lying on the floor out of the hinges. Apparently they had tried pulling it out and then they tried hitting the chain with something. The chain had marks and dents all over it. I am going out now to buy some thicker chains.

For now they are two to my one. They managed to rob me the first time and they came back to take one more from me. I came back with a puny chain and blocked their third attempt. If I manage to stop their attempt tonight with some bigger chains I will consider it a tie. After that I will be fixing these gratings and I am going to have them soldered on to each other as well as chained. They are going to have to up their game and go pro if they want these gratings again. I admit that I can´t do anything against a pro but would a pro waist his time and effort on these gratings? This is a hypothetical question since it is obvious I am not up against a pro here, just desperate people, and now I am desperate too (to have vehicle access to my factory).

If any of you have any ideas I am all ears.