Wining On: Keeping it meal

Diners at El Histórico on the Fuudis’ San Telmo tour.
Curiosity may have killed someone’s cat, but I’m hoping that the piece of fruit I purchased from the mini-mart opposite work on Thursday won’t have quite that effect on me.

It was half a payday — as in half of my salary began its monthly romance with my bank account — and tempted by the bargainous price of 2.50 pesos for this curious-looking food stuff, I snapped it up.

Showing it around Herald Towers, I asked my esteemed colleagues what it might be. After all, I purchased in an attempt to conquer ignorance. One suggestion was a paw-paw, another was a genetically modified mango. It was neither.

With a dent in the base, symmetrical brown dots, the tuna still bears its belly-button on its top after being separated from its birth plant.

After a little research, it seems the tuna comes from a cactus (the Opuntia ficus-indica) and depending on the country, it goes by various other names such as La reina (the queen) in Mexico and Esmeralda in Italy. What I had unearthed, indeed, was the prickly pear.

Although just the one fruit wound its way home, tuna is good for juice, jams, and even jelly. And unknown to the eye, it also bears teeny-tiny spines, little hairy splinters which secreted themselves into my palms as I showed it off in the newsroom.

Maybe curiosity will beat me…

Which brings me to what has piqued my interest this week, and it’s time for a little foodie round-up, and today’s Wining On really is a week in the life of…

First up was Tuesday’s launch of Chef Surfing. Aiming to bring chefs — students looking to up experience, foodies who already busy in the kitchen looking to make an extra buck, or pros in search of a new outlet — on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis together on one site, Chef Surfing is the brainchild of Eric Knudtson from the US.

Delivery options are available for all key meals, even breakfast, and some of the teatime treats, such as poppy seed and lemon muffins at 60 pesos for a dozen, look particularly tempting.

In fact, Thursday was a bit of a miserable work day, given that the sister newspaper wasn’t putting out an issue and even the canteen was shut. (Which is why I bought that splintery tuna, just in case I required a snack). So ordering in a dozen macaroons seemed like a way of pepping up the afternoon — the anticipation, what time will they arrive? what colour to chomp down? — but the sweet thought entered my mind rather too late in the day. Bookings are taken within certain timetables and I was outside the remit.

However, I do like the idea of starting an online relationship with a chef who lives in my neighbourhood — who doesn’t want a passionate foodie on the other end of “send”? — and so I shall endeavour to be more organized and let you know what I order another time.

But a little porky pick-me-up put my humour in better shape before I started the inevitable trek to work that afternoon, and it was thanks to a nice man called Lucas.

Following some frantic back-and-forth texting, Lucas was soon knocking on my front door with a rather specific kind of delivery, my first ever pound of bacon. Yes, it seems rather extravagant to splash out on a pound of streaky, American-style bacon, but English friends have told me it’s as good as the rashers get in this city, and that’s enough for me.

Previously, delivery schedules haven’t worked out, but I decided that Easter would be the perfect time to get sizzling with Baines Best Bacon and made every effort to receive the goodies. Simply drop co-owner Heath Baines an email and a pound of bacon for 50 pesos will soon be yours. BBB also delivers wine, such as Doña Paula and Los Cardones, given that Lucas is a sommelier and, rather obscurely, basmati rice.

Going back 24 hours to Wednesday, that was another miserable day, given that I had a pending date with the City taxman. Blurgh. An hour in, it seemed there was a solution to my problem, which had certainly been taxing me, and the nice lady was so kind and efficient, I might have to go back and give her a Kinder egg.

As I danced down the street — and dance I did, because this little saga has been going on for months — I came across a takeaway sushi joint on Viamonte. I do miss eating on the hoof in London and the fast-food options available (but not in the cheeseburger sense), and so what lured me in was the giant sushi, a healthy, grab-and-run snack.

For just 12 pesos and my own miniature fish-shaped soy sauce bottle, I took away a giant California roll with salmon, cream cheese and spring onion from Kiosco Sushi Roll and it was definitely a winning alternative to the regular ham-and-cheese toasted sandwich at work.

Although I have an allergy to avocado, there were plenty of options which wouldn’t make me seize up on the spot, and next time I’m in the zone, I will head back for another fishy treat. Sushi Roll also delivers with a minimum 50-peso order.

And let’s go back to the start of the week and a secret dinner. Not that kind of a rendez-vous, oh dirty-minded ones, but a secret dinner complete with live artistic performances. Keen to go beyond the standard eat-drinks-and-leaves dining philosophy, Fuudis hosted its Yellow night at a restaurant in Colegiales. Adding to the six-course dinner’s mystery and intrigue were instructions on where to meet (at a corner close to the venue, so no one gets clever and tries to Google any bright ideas) as well as musical interludes courtesy of a cellist then a guitarist, and a flame-throwing couple.

Besides secret dinners, Fuudis also organizes gourmet food tours around neighbourhoods such as Recoleta or Palermo Chico, taking in three restaurants for a starter, main and dessert, and in between the course changes, soak up a touch of sightseeing. Pop-up events in fabulous settings and themed dinners (one celebrated Día de los muertos) also ensure Fuudis is putting the fun back into eating and turning dining into an experience.

Tuesday’s menu visited northwest Argentina, and included llama steaks as a main course option, and quinoa flan for dessert.

Amid the serenading and the flame throwers, Fuudis is also bringing together a veritable mix of diners. Puerta-cerrada settings seem to attract couples, in my experience, and it was refreshing to swap seats and share a glass of wine with a lawyer who barely knows how to make her microwave work, a translator with a penchant for Luigi Bosca, a Greek lady on holiday with her best friend and a man who undertook a tandem parachute jump last month.

Chef Surfing

Baines Best Bacon

Kiosco Sushi Roll
Viamonte 730, Microcentro


Photo courtesy of Fuudis.
Published in the Buenos Aires Herald on April 8, 2012.

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