Of course, it hasn’t all been doom and slow service gloom at Buenos Aires Food Week. There are obviously two sides to every story, there’s sunshine on a rainy day and a silver lining to every cloud. Back to the inaugural seven-day munch fest, and overall it can be declared a success, first for undertaking to organize such a grandiose event, and second, for getting punters who usually get emotional over a chicken escalope excited about eating.
After a rather unfortunate dining experience at Astrid & Gastón – and I stand by my word that service is usually as smooth as a baby’s bottom on any other occasion there – my other Food Week dinner was in Las Cañitas, another part of town I don’t usually frequent, indeed tend to forget about.
If only that week could have stretched out for a wee bit longer, I’d have been able to tackle more than two restaurants, which in hindsight seems a paltry number. But for me, the beauty of Food Week was checking out the 24-strong list and coming across eateries I’d never even heard of – and I like to think I know something (not a lot, but something) about the local gastro scene.
A booking had been seamlessly made via Restorando online, and so it was to Las Cañitas and Blanch (Arguibel 2813, Tel: 4779-1280), set on a chilled-out side street, that we were headed.
Arriving unfashionably early, I was escorted to our table, next to a double-hung window. A sparkling wine cocktail was brought over. How civilized! (Part of the BAFW menu, I should add). No sooner had I cheers’d myself, than I heard the word “eyelashes,” it could only mean that one person was in the vicinity – my good friend Malene. I joined her gang of ladies while I awaited the fashionably yet unusually late Mr. Links, and they gave me the menu lowdown. Salmon yes, sweetbreads yes, curry yes, gnocchi no. Good to know.
The setting is intimate, a collection of kitchenware lines one wall while a blackboard with wine and daily specials covers another. Depending on your seating, there’s a small window to check out a bit of kitchen action.
Mr. Links went for the tasting starter, comprising fried shrimp in panko, a perfectly circular pork meatball and skewered chicken with yogurt and cucumber. A varied selection presented on a pretty rectangular plate, he enjoyed them although the chicken was “a little dull but the meatball was tasty.”
My sweetbreads weren’t as crispy as I usually like to have them at an asado, but fused with Portobello mushrooms, spring onions and cream, it was enough to bring a tear to my eye – plenty of everything in that glass bowl made for quite an abundant and dreamy starter.
It turns out chef Diego Rizzi is quite the traveller, having spent time in India and the Far East, and draws inspiration from his trips. Sometimes it’s good to shake up a classic, and his interpretation of mollejas was certainly memorable.
Linksy went with the ladies’ choice of pan-cooked salmon, with guacamole and oven-roasted potatoes, all elements that were delicious individually, but didn’t necessarily go together, he said.
I ignored everyone’s advice and opted for skirt steak, a cut that I have a fondness for, with organic greens, oven-roasted pumpkin and sweet potato and homemade chimichurri. The entraña was a vast length of meat, large enough to share in all honesty. It was true to form, earthy, rustic, but by the end I was defeated by the veg. There was, however, a tiny space for banana tempura. As Malene said: “If it’s fried, I’m sold.” So was I.
A note on service. Staff smiled. They are friendly. They explain dishes. They smile. I already said that. I will be going back to Blanch because that it is a rarity in Buenos Aires. Plus I want to check out Diego’s other inspirations. This place could well be a little gem, and I want to know more.
You might have noticed that the quality of your Americano or Julep has improved vastly in the past year or two. That’s because watering holes have upped their game, and instead of having a couple of options besides hotel bars to choose from, the list is rather more substantial – Florería Atlántico, BASA, Rey de Copas, 878, Doppelganger, Frank’s, Dill & Drinks, Gran Bar Danzón, it goes on.
So it was with good reason that New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail has chosen Buenos Aires as its on-tour destination. Three days of talks, drink-making and mixologists can only mean BA’s bartenders are set to raise their game. Let’s get mixing. And drinking. For more information: http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/
To the lovely readers who dropped off some goat’s cheese for me to try this past week, unfortunately I didn’t receive it. I believe there was a case of mistaken identity as (fortunately for my waistline) I am not the owner of the fish and chip joint where you so kindly dropped it off. But I’d adore to try it and thank you for making the effort!
Published in the Buenos Aires Herald on April 28, 2013
Photo courtesy of Fuudis