Sunday, December 16, 2012

Flight Report: Buenos Aires to Seattle

Every trip comes to an end. We had a whirlwind trip that took us from Rio de Janerio to Buenos Aires, with side trips to Iguazu Falls and Uruguay. It's been a fantastic trip and for our trip back, we ended up flying in First on United.

The airport, EZE, is well outside of the city. There is no rail connect to the airport, so your options are to take a cab or take the bus. Buses can be extremely inexpensive, but they do take longer (up to two hours) and are not as easy. Some buses are semi-express to BA, while others are local buses. A taxi ride will run about $30, which is cheap when traveling with other people. We took a taxi, which was the right choice. We ran into traffic and would have been late if we had chosen to take the bus.

We didn't have too long, but we did take a swing through the United Club here at EZE. It's fairly basic and a little cramped, but it gave us a quick place to rest and refresh before getting on the plane.

Once on board, we took out seats in first class and settled in. While we were boarding, we spent the last of our pesos on an Oreo alfajor. Alfajores were one of the surprises of the trip, and we couldn't miss the opportunity for one last one.

Once aloft, we didn't have much to see out the window. This was the last view of Buenos Aires we had. Overall, the flight was pretty good. The United BusinessFirst seats are all lie-flat with personal AVOD. After a brief layover, we were again in the air back to Seattle. The skies there were sunny and we were treated with a view of Mt. Rainier as we were coming in. There's nothing better than that when coming in to Seattle.

After the break, we have our inflight first class meals on the Buenos Aires to Houston leg. Keep reading for the details!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

McDonald's Around the World: Non-Kosher Buenos Aires McDonald's

Last time, we saw the world's only kosher McDonald's outside of Israel, but this time we will be looking at the regular McDonald's in Buenos Aires. I present to you, Cono Oreo!

Cono Oreo!

McDonald's desserts at the Albasto de Buenos Aires Mall
The dessert menu is the pretty standard mix at most of the McDonald's. We have your McFlurry, sundae, and the cono oreo. The cono oreo was alright, but the chocolate flavor came across as burnt. The dulce de leche sundae was far more successful, with a smoother and richer caramel flavor. Argentine is also one of the countries that has been trying out the McCafe. While the McCafe brand is common place in the US, in Argentine (and other places) the McCafe stands out as it's own space inside the restaurant. Here, they offered a range of both coffee drinks and traditional cafe treats like macaroons, cakes, and the ever present alfajore. I opted in the end for a simple McFrappe with dulce de leche.

Alfajores! Delicious!

This is no LaDuree.

Assorted treats at the McCafe by the obelisk in Buenos Aires

McFrappe + Subte
Aside from the treats, we also have the South American menu. For this menu, we are at the McDonald's directly beside the Obelisk in the heart of Buenos Aires. There are a couple of things different from the US menu, but most of it is pretty recognizable. We have the Triple Mac, the CBO (which is now being run in the US after years of it being available abroad), the McRoulette, the McNifica (which I tried in Rio de Janerio), the renamed quarter and double quarter pounders, the Cuartro con Queso. They also had the premium "Angus" burger line up available.

Overall, the menu didn't hold too many local surprises except for the local focus on dulce de leche and a couple burgers with interesting names. Too bad! I was hoping for something a little more exciting! If you are interested in checking out the whole line up, end to end, check out McDonald's website for Argentina!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buenos Aires: The Food (Part 2)

One thing that Buenos Aires definitely brought over from Europe, along with much of the culture and architecture, is the food culture. Last time, we checked out steak, alfajores, Italian cuisine, and Argentine cuisine, but that was just a sampling of what the city offers. In this post, we follow up with more delicious food from Buenos Aires. We start off with the quirky cafe Malvon (Serrano 789, website) near our great (and cheap) hotel, Pop Hotel. 

This little cafe in Villa Crespo is a great place for brunch, offering both quick snack at the pastry case or a more formal sit down meal. We were there for brunch where the varied offered up something for everyone in our party: BBQ short ribs for one person, granola and honey for another, and pancakes for me personally. 

Our next delicious stop was at El Sanjuanino (Avenida Callao 1515), which focuses on the humble empanada. This restaurant has been offering up traditional Argentine style empanadas, tamales, and  my favorite, alfajores, for more than 50 years. This is a great place for lunch and is always buzzing with people. Their empanadas are moist, flavorful, and have a flaky crust that delicately pulls apart with a whisp of steam. These things are excellent, and their sangria comes in a huge, cheap pitcher.

Alfajores are my favorite treat from South America and we had plenty of opportunity to try them while we were there. Another treat that we enjoyed while there was gelato: Along with the Italians came the Italian tradition of their frozen desserts. The most famous gelato shop, Helados A.M Scannapieco, was on our list of places to visit, but the location at Av Córdoba 4826 is closed. There is a very nice plaque there explaining that the random store there was the original location of famed shop. The business continues on, but at a different location (5274 Avenida Nazca), but as a warning to any would be gelato lovers... there is nothing at the 4826 address. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of other places that offer the same frozen treat. The best that we had while we were there was at Nonna Bianca, but the San Telmo market. Everything is hand made and there is a wall full of flavors to choose from, including about 10 different types of Dulce de Leche. What exactly is the difference between Dulce de Leche, Super Dulce de Leche, and Extra Dulce de Leche? Maybe the locals know.

The flavors were great, including a very rich and smooth melon that I ended up devouring before I could get my camera out. At another shop in Palermo, I had a bit better luck (see below). 

Next time? Even more food, including a non-kosher McDonald's.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Buenos Aires: The Food (Part 1)

One of the biggest draws of Buenos Aires was the food culture. As a European melting pot and with access to some of the best beef in the world, Buenos Aires offers a wide variety of delicious and top notch food from around the world. From Italian pizza to the finest steak, there is something here for everyone. We could have spent months exploring all of the corners of the city, but with our few days there we had to sample some of the best restaurants out there (and one or two duds). For our last entry, we explore our top picks for restaurants in Buenos Aires.

Our first stop is Don Julio (Guatemala 4691), which is an upper crust steakhouse in the Palmero district. The steak here is fantastic and the vibe of the entire restaurant is very much old school. We got in at 8pm, which is early by Argentine standards, and ended up with lomo (tenderloin) which is pictured above. The cut is generous and the beef itself is phenomenal. This steak paired with a malbec is what makes restaurants like this famous. Reservations here are strongly recommended.

Steak may be well known, but it is certainly not the only traditional food for the city. With a strong Italian cultural influence, pizza and pasta are staples of the food culture here. For our pizza fix, we tried El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937) which has been serving up pizza since 1934.

This is a well loved spot full of locals. The walls are covered with sports memorabilia from a mix of sports (including a poster of Michael Jordan playing for the Bulls). Overall, a no-nonsense welcoming pizzeria. We were a little out of place as tourists, but united by our love of pizza and beer. This pizza pie was a bit different from a lot of pizzas, with uniformly thick crust underneath all of the toppings and green olives as a mandatory topping. After nearly 80 years, they have this down to a science and both of the pizzas were delicious. The crust was just substantial and crispy enough, with just the right amount of cheese, and great flavors. My favorite was the Atomica, seen below with the tabasco sauce on it.

Want to see more of the restaurant scene in Buenos Aires, along with what has to be the all time, best treat from Argentina? Keep reading after the break!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

McDonald's Around the World: Kosher McDonald's in Buenos Aires!

I love visiting McDonald's when I travel. Whether it is finding out about the McHotdog in Kyoto, trying some Swedish Pancakes in Stockholm, or the биф а-ля рус in Moscow, visiting McDonald's while you are traveling can often be surprising. Despite what many think, they are not all the same and in Buenos Aires there is one that is unique to the Americas: A Kosher McDonald's.

Buenos Aires is home to a strong Jewish community with a long history. Argentina is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world and is third in the Americas behind the United States and Canada. In Israel, there are kosher McDonald's, but outside of Israel they don't exist except for  here in Buenos Aires.

So, what is on the menu and how is it different? We start with the McNifica, which is identical to the Big and Tasty that was offered in the United States awhile back. The difference is in the name alone and that this one comes with no cheese. The Happy Meal is the same basic combination, but with a limited choice between a hamburger and chicken nuggets. If you are starting to wonder where the cheese is, it is because mixing meat and milk is not kosher. No cheeseburgers are on the menu at the kosher McDonald's.

Overall, the menu looks pretty normal. The Doble McNifica ends up being a half pound burger with the same toppings at the regular McNifica. The Big Mac here is just like the regular Big Mac, but without the cheese.

Want to see more of the menu and find out what makes a kosher McDonald's kosher? Read on after the break!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Well, what do we have here? 50,000 page views today!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buenos Aires: The Funkier Side

After seeing the sights, it is always nice to check out some of the more offbeat attractions of the city. Top on the list were two attraction in the southern side of the city: The San Telmo Antique Market and the origin of the tango sound, the Caminito.

The San Telmo Antique Market was our first stop. To get there, you can take a cab or hop on the Subte Line C to San Juan (Subway Map). From there, it is a half mile walk to the market. Once there, you are in a top notch antique market that fills the entire square. Each table has it's own thing and vendors of seltzer bottles stand right next to tables full of original art, books, or clothing. There is something a the market for everyone, including me: I bought a 50 year old subte token to add to my transit pass collection.

The market is huge and most of the things on sale reflect both the prime location and popularity of the market. Things are expensive, but do not be afraid to haggle. The first price you get is likely double what they will actually take in many cases (especially for nick-nacks like my token). The market is large enough to easily soak an hour or two of your time, or more if you aren't hurrying off to the next place. It's well worth a visit and the one of the best markets I've been to.

After the break, more from the San Telmo Antique Market, the famed (but overrated?) Caminito, and Street Art galore!