Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2010-2011

This is for all of you whom I have not been able to talk to or write to. I am grateful to you for reading my posts and following me.

I will do my best to share as much as I can regarding my "new" life in Argentina as an expat, as an entrepreneur and as a father and fellow porteño.

Have a great night, be merry and safe.

Is Argentina Too Efficient?

Seriously, I am not laughing as I type this.

Let me explain...

You go to a cervecería and you sit down and you order a beer, quite literally that is what you ask for and that is what you get.

This is an example:

mozo: Sí?

me: una cerveza por favor

mozo: chopp?

me: dale
(mozo is what you call waiters here in Argentina)

I could just say "un chopp" instead of asking for a beer and that would cut the conversation down by half!

And what is a chopp you might ask? It's a mug, or a glass. It's how you order beer on tap.

When I first came to Argentina I saw these "cervecerías" and I thought, great, they have beer joints!

I am going to be able to go in and find some varieties of beer that I have not yet discovered since I am from a different hemisphere away.

I wonder how many types of beer I am going to find....

One is the usual number of beer brand you would find at these places.

Fernando of BA Cast has a different point of view. Here is a recent conversation we had on the topic of "variety", his new pet peeve.

Fer: The thing's when you go to the supermarket and ask "where's the bitter?" and instead of pointing you to the alley, they ask you "what bitter do you want? Bitter sweet, bitter sour, bitter sour with a dash of sweet...decaf sweet bitter?"

Me: But, when you go to a "cervecería" here and ask for beer, it reminds me of repo man. There is only "beer", no asking what kind or anything.

Fer: Isn't that great?! Aren't you guys all about "getting to the point"? There you go...
Me: It's too efficient it's scary, it's almost anti Argentine the way it is so efficient. I mean you just sit and say beer and that's it, end of conversation.
At the very most the waiter would ask you if you want head on the beer or not when he serves it.

Also, it's not wine, serve the whole damned thing!
And so it goes. That conversation is still taking place by the way. Who knows where it will end up, but at the very least, we should continue it over beer, but at a real cervecería like Antares for example. 

Your move Fer...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Happy Threesome

Last night I went out to the new Antares in Las Cañitas.Yeah, it was part business visit part socializing which made it an incredibly fun way to work.

Weather or not Antares decides to give Sugar & Spice or El Tejano a try we at least had fun pitching ideas to them over some ice cold beer.

Our copetines (cheese based cookies) just go hand in hand with El Tejano´s home made, and now very spicy Nº4 salsa.

Our cookies have a lot of taste to them and if you pair them with something you better bring something that can stand up to them. In this case, the salsa was fantastic and we had the added benefit of washing it all down with very good artisan beer from Antares.

Amanda Robert Jones wrote about our last trip to Antares and you can read her write up here , and watch the birth of a new expat Blogger writing from Argentina. I highly recommend her blog.

My new favorite beers at Antares are the new Pilsner, Cream Stout, Honey Beer and the Kolsh.

I will eventually make it to the other beers they have. I want to go back and try something different each time.

And if they add either the copetines or El Tejano´s salsa they might as well reserve a permanent spot for me and start calling me Norm.

"What's the story, Norm?"
"Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

Antares Las Cañitas
Arevalo 2876
Happy Hour from 7pm to 9pm
They have a very cool upstairs deck and a fashionable main room (with A/C) downstairs.

The pictures are courtesy of El Tejano and Antares.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

YoQueVos Likes Sugar & Spice too

And we also like them right back!

I am really liking all of these Top 10 lists that we are being included into!

This holiday season we were published in La Nación, Clarin, Elle, Viva, Joy Magazine, The Urban Grocer, BAFoodies, The Landing Pad, and we even made it to a hard cover book by Narda Lepes.

Now we made it to YoQueVos, which by the way I really, really love how they manage to find so many unique stores, gifts, foods, entertainment, etc.

Amongst all of their unique finds they included us in their list of the best gifts of 2010!

And to top it off, there newsletters normally come with discounts.

Do yourself a favor and sign up. You won´t regret it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

BA Cast vs Me?

I seemed to have touched a nerve on my appearance on a fairly new podcast that has popped up in Buenos Aires. But, before I get to that maybe I should introduce you to this show.

Above all, it is entertaining, funny, witty, and they manage to do this even when they touch on serious topics. It never gets pedantic.

The hosts are Daniel Karlin (The American) and Fernando Farias (The Argentine).

Listening to them is like looking at the actual clash of cultures. It's like watching the melting pot get maid; a little of this, a little of that, mix in a dose of how things have always been with some "variety" (which happens to be Fernando's new favorite pet peeve thanks to yours truly and a little help from Daniel) and you get this show.

Some of the things you get to learn about would be the local´s courting ritual from the perspective of an expat woman in Baires on show 1, as well as how many alfajores are eaten on any given day in Argentina.

The number will shock you. Keep in mind the population is 40 million when you listen in on this one.

On episode three you have Maria Carra of Buenos Aires Foodies and Larry of El Tejano (my favorite salsa!) as guests talking about steak sandwiches.

For episode four Maria Carra comes back to give her top 5 DDL's and Yanqui Mike joins the conversation on socialism, unions, leftists, and the profit motive.

There is Ian Mount from Goodairs; a Canadian expat woman foils a bicycle robbery; they chime in on the culture of children; what do people do on the beach when they find a lost child and so many more little tidbits of life in Argentina.

Speaking of tidbits of life in Argentina they want to hear directly from you. On Tuesday, the 21st of December (yeah that´s tomorrow!) they are going to be at Sugar.

Go with your best story depicting a cultural or linguistic misunderstanding. The winner will get to be on their show. Daniel called his date "un gato" for example and not only did he live to tell the tale, he married her. That is one serious chamuyero.

Take my word for it. It´s a lot of fun taping with them. Which, leads me to my visit with them.

When I visited with them I took Diva, the sassy and mysterious beauty behind Bitch Tours, and she gave her top 5 questions that tourist ask her.

We had a blast chamuyando over wine, mate, cookies and brownies.

I was asked for my top 5 list and I could not think of one on the spot. Mine literally took days. Should I turn it in? Will I insult anyone with this?

I seemed to have touched a nerve with Fernando. Listen to him introducing the segment and you can´t help but see that I cut deep.

Here are my Top 5 mehs. These are things that Argentines think are fantastic, but I just shrug my shoulders and go meh.

You could also hear delight in Daniel reading them on the program.


5. Quilmes - Yep, it´s Argentine´s Budweiser and that is not a compliment.

4. Churros - Just across the river in Uruguay you have great fresh churros. Why can´t they make them here like that? They have to put this awful fake chocolate covering on the churros and totally ruin it. Isn´t there a Spaniard among the population to help out? I can even get a better churro in the streets of Chicago with even more variety of fillings to boot.

3. Chimichurri - I was expecting a little heat, a blast of flavor that would bring out a party in my mouth when combined with steak. All it does is get in the way of a fabulous steak. Meh! Even they try to pass the blame on to the English (read the wikipedia entry).

2. Kiosco Alfajores - Not the premium variety, but those other ubiquitous hockey pucks of dulce de leche and cheap sandwich cookie covered in fake chocolate. Thankfully there are some great quality ones, but the massive consumption of the cheap variety makes them an Argentine staple and to me they are just meh.

1. Sandwiches de Miga - To me they are basically a wonder-bread sandwich with the crusts cut off. Yeah, I used to have those, when I was 5 years old.

So what do you think?

If you have not listened to the show you should fix that and give them a listen. The shows are very short. They run about 20 minutes short, just long enough to listen on a bus ride to and from work, date, doctor´s appointment, whatever. And if you hit un corte de calle, you can listen to two, three, four of them.

I have linked to the show all over this post. If you have iTunes you can also subscribe to the podcast.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Narda Lepes Likes Sugar & Spice (and we like her right back)

I have always had a weakness for beautiful, strong, independent, proactive, intelligent women and when they can cook, well that is just the icing on the cake.

These are all traits that Narda and my wife share (they also both studied in Paris).

Yes, I am a very lucky guy.

The other one they share is that they both like Sugar and Spice products. Sure, one of them makes them and the other recognizes the quality, dedication and love that goes into making them.

Narda is a celebrated chef in Argentina. She began her TV career around the same time that Sugar & Spice started.

However, she seems to have just catapulted into the limelight, dropped from the sky to teach us about food, wine, and how to enjoy them.

And she just came out with a book titled "Qué, Cómo, Dónde".

After responding to so many people's questions every time she would go out to do her shopping, she realized that she could put together a guide that would help us find all those little gems that a seasoned pro like herself would get to know.

I started leafing through it and I was so excited to see that she actually made a couple of references to Sugar & Spice.

She also included us in her top 8 Pan Dulces.

This is not a collection of detailed reviews of different stores, bakeries, deli's, wine shops, café's, fairs, book stores, music stores, organic shops, fresh pasta shops, etc.

No, this is set up as a no nonsense guide. She briefly states what makes the place stand out and gives you the address, web site, phone number and hours.

It even comes with a little notebook so you can take notes and take it with you without having to take the whole book along.

I have already found out where I can score some authentic maple syrup from a Canadian expat. For that alone, this book has already paid for itself.

Just in time for the holidays, this would be a great present for those foodies on your gift list.

And from Sugar and Spice we are flattered that she has included us in her book.

Narda, if you see this... Te mando un beso grande y de parte de todos nosotros en Sugar, agradezco tu generosidad y buena onda que has tenido con nosotros.

In Search of the Other America

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Time It´s a Top Five List of the Best Teas in Buenos Aires

The Landing Pad has come out with an article on the Top 5 Teas in Buenos Aires and Sugar & Spice was fortunate enough to make the cut.

I have also heard that we were mentioned in a new book by a local celebrity chef.

I have to go out and buy it and will let you all know shortly what that is about.

After so many years of people not knowing who we are it´s nice to get some public recognition.

By the way, check out the new diggs of The Landing Pad. Great new layout guys!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Los 10 Pan Dulces Más Ricos / Top Ten Pan Dulces Buenos Aires

We made another Pan Dulce list again! This time Carolina Aguirre of Planeta Joy gave us some Top Ten List love and La Nación also published the article.

This is not the first time we have shown up on a Top 10 list.

Just last night I stayed up 'till 5am working at the Dot Shopping mall.

We were there actually supervising more than anything else.

We hired a window dresser to help out our new shop at the Dot Shopping mall. It came out fantastic! It was like opening a new store only one month into having a new store already.

I so wanted to take pictures, but the shopping mall turns the lights off and the pictures would not come out nice at all.

This would be my round about way of saying that you could also get our frequently Top Ten mentioned Pan Dulce there as well.

Now, I just need to take a nap.

2007 - Bacanal Top 8 Pan Dulces
2009 - Oh La Lá Top 5 Pan Dulces
2009 - Joy Top 10 Pan Dulces


Este año volvimos a las listas de los mejores Pan Dulces! Este año fue de la mano de Carolina Aguirre de la revista Joy. Nos incluyó entre los 10 mejores pan dulces!

Esto no fue la primera vez que nos han incluido en este tipo de listas.

Justo anoche estuvimos trabajando sobre nuestro nuevo local en el Dot hasta las 5 horas de la mañana. El local quedó muy lindo y no lo pude creer, pero fue como recibir un local nuevo, solamente un mes después de haber abierto un local nuevo.

Me hubiera gustado tomar fotos, pero el shopping apaga la mayoría de las luces y las fotos no salían bien con tan poca luz.

Básicamente estoy tratando de avivarlos de que los pan dulces también se pueden conseguir en el Dot.

Ahora necesito dormir un poco.

Muchas gracias Carolina!  Thank you Carolina!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bueno Entonces...

I most likely would have used this if I had to learn Spanish. I am pretty much done with that since after 10 years in Argentina I am pretty fluent. However, this sounds fantastic for anyone who still needs to learn.

A fellow blogger called this "a mix between Rosetta Stone and Southpark".

Actually it is a serious Spanish language class that follows a linear story.

In it´s most basic it follows an English chap who just moved to Argentina to learn Spanish. Once here he gets a job making language videos; he is the student and Jimena is his very hot teacher. Obviously he tries to hit on her and she diplomatically skirts his advances.

Watching this was an exercise in DejaVu.

Apparently Ian Mount of GoodAirs and I shared the same infatuation/admiration for the always bra-less Valérie Allain in "French in Action". I tried not to miss a show.

Click here for Ian´s more complete account of what I am talking about.

Anyway, back to today. This is just a great product, convenient as hell since you can access it through your iPhone as well.

It´s funny, smart, focuses on Argentine Spanish and it has a beautiful teacher, what more can you ask for?

Nature Crops Gets Awarded!

Our friends over at Nature Crops get an award! Congratulations guys!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Big Bad Spud

One potato, two potato, three potato, four...

I just realized that it has been years since I have had a stuffed potato.

Thanks for the heads up I got from reading the very entertaining Pick Up The Fork, I found out about a new food chain in Buenos Aires and it´s not a Yanqui chain for once, but from Spain.

Sr. Patata
Reconquista 856 & Tres Sargentos

I have not been yet, but it´s on my list. As well as the new frozen yogurt place in my own neighborhood.

Top It
Gorriti 4721