The weather, being its rather unbecoming, schizophrenic self, has really given no warning as to what the hell is happening, temperature wise, and so my British instinct immediately kicked in with a desire for comfort fodder, warming, hearty and definitely unhealthy.
Just last Friday, I was lounging alongside a friend’s swimming-pool, dreaming about daiquiries, any flavour, and sopping up some day-off sun, much more welcome when you feel you’ve really earned it.
Three days later, and it was a mad scramble to find woollen garments, keeping them away from my cat who has adopted a queer fetish for such clothes before wrapping up warm. The flat cap is back, the leather gloves are on, and frankly if I look like a fashion reject, then so be it: I’m as snug as a bug and I don’t need a rug.
It’s weather like we’ve had in Buenos Aires this past week that possibly makes me yearn for home the most. (Sorry, mum.) The thought of tucking into a Sunday roast, lamb or chicken, roast potatoes — crunchy on the outside, fluffier than a cloud on the inside — slathered in gravy, is a distant one, and what did get the juices flowing this week was an advert on a D line subway train.
Those wretched people from cold-meats producer Paladini had plastered a picture of sausage completely perfect for making some toad-in-the-hole all along the train carriage — the brash-looking mortadela was distinctly less appealing — and from that moment on, all I could think of was sausage.
But where to get some decent pork numbers fit for a toady battering?
Actually, one new event taking place this week, although I’m not sure how it will differ from any of the organic markets in existence, such as Palermo Viejo’s Mercado Bonpland or El Galpón in Chacarita, which could prove to be the icing on the proverbial cake, sausage wise, is the Buenos Aires Market.
Hosted by Planeta Joy and the city government, the idea is to bring together producers who will be selling more than 400 organic, healthy goodies at “reasonable” prices.
Held today and yesterday on that most picturesque of San Telmo avenues, Caseros, between Defensa and Bolívar, which is also home to some restaurants I’ve been dying to try such as Hierbabuena, I will be headed there today with one thought on my mind: sausages.
But my yen needed to be filled before this weekend, so the first port of call was some kind of German eaterie. Although one particular favourite Bavarian watering-hole is Untertürkheim (named after a railway station in Stuttgart), for its three-litre “pint” glasses — perfect for comedy drunk photos — a great tapas tasting menu, German-style, and also some decent brews. But given the sense of urgency, San Telmo seemed rather far away so I kept my saus-urges local.
Several months ago I’d lunched at Palermo’s Hermann, and while the bangers of a Frankfurter variety accompanied by mash were decent enough, the service was a bit hasty, and not terribly friendly.
Checking out reviews for other German restaurants, most of them have middling “atmosphere” scores. But is that any surprise? I don’t wish to alienate a whole nation, but surely all a German waiter of heritage wants is to get the hell out of there after a long shift and drink ein bier…
So I kept it super-local, within seven blocks, and returned to an eaterie I’d had the pleasure of attending for a Man’s lunch (I humbly remind readers that I am not of that sex) in aid of Christmas: Gambrinus.
Although it is called a cervecería, don’t be lulled into a sense of false security — it’s pretty much just Quilmes on tap. But do pull down a seat at one of the wooden booths and gaze up at the vast, booze-inspired, paintings which have adorned the walls ever since it was called Otto and owned by failed businessman José Palenk some 50 years ago (the waiter’s words, not mine).
In fact, he was a veritable star, and in my haste to wolf down sausages I forgot to ask his name. But he was happy to chat, spill some beans, and said to call him over despite the fact that he, too, was lunching with his colleagues and the local copper.
Heart-warming, my two bratwurst served with chucrut should probably have come with a heart warning. They hit the spot, despite the chucrut being a bit too greasy, until I tried Mr. Links’ Frankfurters, which despite exploding after too much time in hot water, were tastier thanks to the smoked flavour.
But the mission was accomplished, the saus-urge was sated, and lunch for two cost a reasonable 102 pesos, meaning that with careful selection, Gambrinus could well qualify as a “Change from 100” dinner-time candidate.
Humberto Primo 899, San Telmo
Santa Fe 3902, Palermo
Federico Lacroze 3779, Chacarita