Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Uli Recipe

Uli's recipe for:

Berenjenas Al escaveche

Cut up 2 kilos of eggplant and cut them length wise
Put down a layer of eggplant in a deep baking dish and cover the eggplant in kosher salt
Put down another layer of eggplant and cover it in salt and continue until you have layered all of the eggplant with salt.
Let this sit overnight in the kitchen and marvel as you come home late at night at how much water has been sucked out of the eggplant.
In the morning, while drinking mate, wash off the eggplant and then cook it in two liters of water and 250 ml of white vinegar in batches. Don’t overcook the eggplant.
Make a spice mixture of oregano, red pepper flakes, and aji which from what I can tell is ground up dried red pepper. Also add a dash or two of garlic sauce and then add enough oil to fry up a pound of potatoes. Mix this all up.
Get yourself a big ass jar.
Layer the bottom of the jar with cooked eggplant and cover this with the spice mixture.
Keep layering eggplant with spice mixture until you get bored and then dump in all of the eggplant and then all of the spice mixture. If there isn’t enough to fully cover the eggplant dump in more oil and then screw the lid onto the jar and roll it around so that the mixture fully coats all of the eggplant.
Let it sit in the fridge for one or two days, and then enjoy with your favorite asado!

Sushi Club and La Catedral

Grey days continue here but we are not letting them get us down. Yesterday, for Uli's day off, we made fresh pasta (Uli made the dough and everything) and spent a wonderful afternoon making it and eating it with our old friend Coy. As always she was full of sunshine and banished the cold and the grey out of Uli's apartment.
Josh and I spent the afternoon taking a long walk from Alto Palermo shopping mall back to Uli’s apartment, and played cards and hung out with Uli and Gus while Uli made muffins and we drank mate.

Making Pasta with Coy

For dinner we drove to La Canitas where we met up with Steph for a fancy dinner to thank Uli and Gus for being such good hosts. They chose to eat at a restaurant called Sushi Club. I was reminded when I looked at the menu that somewhere along the line somebody got confused and decided to put Philadelphia cream cheese in almost all of the sushi rolls that exist here in BA. After we scouted out the menu we found enough options without cream cheese to make us all happy and full and we celebrated everything there is to celebrate with a bottle of Champagne at the end.

Being Swanky at Sushi Club

It was only 1 am at that point so we clearly could not go to bed. Instead we went to La Catedral, a trendy Milonga that Fani promised we would like. She hit the nail on the head with this place. For those who don’t know a Milonga is a place where you can go to dance tango. They are informal places where you can meet new people, dance, or watch the tango and drink and mourn the fact that you don’t know how to do all those sexy moves. And sit and drink and mourn our lack of skills we did.
The space is wonderful. It’s almost like a big barn filled with posters of Che and Carlos Gardel and there is a statue of a giant heart hanging from the ceiling over the bar. No two glasses are alike and the wine is a good price.

Getting fancy with my new camera while this guy channels Marlon Brando

The Tango Continues

When we arrived the tango stopped and a band stood in the center of the dance floor and waited for silence. When they felt they had commanded enough respect they played a few songs for us and I enjoyed them immensely. After that we managed to find a table and sat back to enjoy the tango. Tango here is not like when you see a show. There it is all Brava, flashing costumes and all for show. In a Milonga you see the real tango, and the real passion. Here tango is a slow, purposeful and swirling dance, and in this space the music is almost an afterthought. It is a far away rhythm that pulses in the wrist of a man as he controls the woman leaning on him with a touch of pressure on her arm, or back. Here the man still holds all of the power in the room and the woman all of the beauty. At times it is almost embarrassing to watch a couple for two long because you almost feel like you are invading something very private, like a peeping Tom.
At around 3:30 am Uli suggested more wine and I suggested bed so we dropped Fani off at home and then slept as if I had been dancing the tango all night myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Great Return to San Telmo

These past two days we have been blessed with beautiful weather. Yesterday we met up with Stephanie at an organic market which was full of Argentine Hippies. I ate an organic Choripan, and the only difference I could tell was the dry bread. After, we had some tea at Fanie's and then went to Frisbee. It was great to see the smiles light up on people's faces when they realized that this wasn't another random gringo couple coming to play pick up, but two faces that they recognized very well. A lot of people were at a tournament in Uruguay but we got some quality time with a few of my favorite Frisbee players. I even played for a few points but tried very hard to avoid being sore today. I needed my arms to be ready to reach into my wallet because today we spent the afternoon at the San Telmo Market!!!! It was great to be there with money and while I didn't go crazy it was nice to be able to love something and then take it home with me.
Nick met up with us there and we made our way up and down Defensa. I was happy that many of my favorite acts were still there including the puppet show with the drunk puppet dancing tango, and the couple that looks as if it caught in a very strong gust of wind. Also, my Colombian vendor friend remembered me and even reminded me that I had supposedly promised to bring him a Frisbee from the US. Oops.

We made our way to La Plaza de Mayo which was bathed in a setting sun's light and made our way back to Uli's neighborhood where we bought meat for our first big asado since we've been back! Lots of friends came for the asado and the company was as good as the meat. There was music, dancing, eating, more dancing, drinking, more eating, and more eating. And even a brindis (a toast) to Josh and me for bringing everyone together and for the wedding. The asado only ended on the early side (12:30 ish) because everyone except for us had work the next day. I myself was exhausted and very full and grateful to go to sleep!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back in BA

And we're back! Its Julia and Josh! From the blog of course. It’s been almost a year since our last post and I have the greatest fortune to be blogging once again from South America! We made our return today and it was slightly epic. We left Newark at 1:30 pm yesterday and three flights later we landed in still dark Buenos Aires. The flights were mostly eventless except for when a woman behind us stopped breathing in the middle of the night. Somehow the crew and her son got her breathing again and everyone went back to sleep but for a few minutes there I thought that I was sitting next to a dead person.
And while all of our flights departed and arrived on time, we had the misfortune of ending up in a taxi with a driver who did not believe the address he had been given could possibly be right. After driving around Buenos Aires for an hour, some conferencing with a co-worker and our instance that this address does exist we ended up at Ulises' apartment just in time to wake him. Manzi, of course, greeted us with some barking and some pee and I didn't know who to say hi to first!! Manzi has a haircut now and looks adorable. She sort of has this mullet thing going. Its amazing.

She's still one sassy bitch

Josh in the taxi on the way into Buenos Aires in the first light of the day

Uli, Josh and Manzi in Uli and Gus' kitchen

It really is amazing to be back here. At first I felt as though nothing had changed. Political graffiti urged passerbies to vote for Christina in the upcoming election. People honked at the toll booths if they waited longer than a minute, demanding their free toll (it’s actually a rule that they have to let people by without paying if they have to wait longer than a minute in line at the toll). Street sweepers swept dirty water in the early dawn light, and people waited in long lines for buses and whatever else people wait in line for here. But throughout the day I have noticed many changes. One of the most exciting is the addition of bike lanes throughout the city and a transmilenio type bus line that has its own lane (like a trolley but a bus). Another is Nick's long hair and that he has a girlfriend now (already love her and talked to her for a lengthy time about food), and of course Uli's amazing apartment that looks over a soccer field and has an amazing porch with a parilla to boot! Everyone has moved on and grown up since Cochabamba, and the people that I have seen so far seem to be doing very well.

Josh and Uli on the train platform on our way to Palermo

Taking the bus to Costanera with Nick, his girlfriend Flor and a visiting friend and walking to El Rey for a Bondiola felt as natural as breathing. Sitting in the sun on a bench overlooking Puerto Madero with Josh afterwards felt just like the many times we had done that same thing when we lived in San Telmo. But Uli reminded me many times today that I am a tourist and that I can't forget to watch my bag! We had an amazing dinner at La Brigada with a large group of old friends and again it felt as if we had never left. Then there were two great differences. One: we took a taxi home (instead of a bus) and two: I remembered that in eleven days I wouldn’t be able to see these people again until maybe our wedding. I had a sad moment where I thought about how much I love these people and wish I could see them every day and then I decided that there is no point in being sad. I obviously just need to enjoy this trip to the maximo. Josh also made me make a speech announcing our engagement to everyone. We made a big cheers and I warned everyone that they better start saving their plata because I really want them all to be there.

Serious chow down at La Brigada

Already this trip is bitter sweet but more than anything it feels really good to be back. Being in San Telmo tonight was amazing since I have felt San Telmo pulling at me since I’ve been here. Calling me home. I can’t wait to see what this city holds for us tomorrow. Our adventures as half tourists will surely not dissappoint!