Archive | August, 2011

Sunday-Wife Rituals

23 Aug

Ok, ok, even though today is Monday, it was treated like a Sunday due to the long weekend. On Sundays, I usually spend the afternoon and evening cooking and baking, preparing food for the work-week ahead, like a good little wifey.
Today I had a craving for something sweet and fluffy, and I decided to make muffins. I think muffins have gotten the unfair reputation of being somewhat healthy to eat, certainly better than a cupcake or cookie, right? But in all fairness, the ingredients don’t vary much and most recipes still call for butter, egg, sugar and milk, thus making a healthy snack option not-so-healthy afterall.
That’s why the Bran Muffin was created. All mighty healthy, full-of-fiber bran. Still a bran muffin wasn’t going to kill my craving for something naughty and gooey to accompany my afternoon Starbucks coffee…I decided to sneak in a few chocolate chips….and to reverse the effects of the chocolate, I threw in a banana for good measure.
The result was a moist, chewy muffin with just the right amount of sweetness and easy to make. Recipe follows, try it out and let me know how you liked it!
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5 Things to Do on a Long Weekend in Buenos Aires

22 Aug

We’ve had the unfortunate luck of being blessed with a long weekend on, what must be, the coldest weekend this year. I’m talking temperatures in the mid 40’s during the day…aka “Springtime in Wisconsin”…bbrrrrrrrr.

Normally, a frigid weekend like this would keep me inside, on the couch, watching re-runs of Sex and the City, but my poor little house, although it is cute and stylish (thanks to my decorating skills), only has two small, powerless heaters and 4 (yes, 4) doors that lead to a sunless patio, which often means that it’s warmer outside than in. So, Vic and I bundled up and headed it, in hopes of finding some warmth in Buenos Aires.

Summer in Buenos Aires

Dreaming of these summer days...

Here are some of the things we planned for this long weekend:

1) Rollerblading. At the Rosedaal in Palermo you can find several roller blade and bicycle rental places. We opted for the roller blades because you have to move a little bit more, thus working up a nice, hot sweat. At 13 pesos for 1/2 hour, or 20p for 1 hour, this is a great deal…if you don’t mind stuffing your feet into some roller blades that hundreds of people have already sweated in. Yes, that’s right….they don’t clean them afterwards…ew. Continue reading

The Truth About Living Abroad : 5 Things You Didn’t Expect

16 Aug

I often get strange comments from people back home, who apparently think that living abroad equates to being on a perma-vacation. A friend of mine once asked how I was liking Buenos Aires and I started ranting about the rain, and being poked by umbrellas in over-crowed and humid subway cars and my brand-new rainboots that leaked everytime I stepped in one of those toxic-looking city puddles….and the response “WOW! That sounds so amazing!” Mind you, this friend of mine is a very positive person, but honestly, living abroad doesn’t automatically make your life an enchanting fairy-tale. In fact, it can be a down-right pain-in-the-ass, and only the very brave (or very stupid) should embark on this journey.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 things you may not have known about living abroad, and that you might want to take into consideration before making any plans. I’ll be highlighting one each week, please feel free to comment if you have your own ideas!

Number 1: Loss of language

The Culprit

Many people these days are moving abroad in order to have that “total immersion experience” in a foreign language. I can vouch for the fact that living in a foreign country will speed up the process of mastering foreign language X, and will also allow you to speak more naturally and avoid sounding like you’ve learned everything from a text book.

But what those Study Abroad brochures don’t tell you is that you will probably, very likely, lose your native language. Not all of it silly, but after a good, solid invasion on foreign language X, you’ll notice that certain words just stop showing up when you need them. You might even start speaking incorrectly, using strange grammatical structures or translating phrases from your new language. My mom always makes fun of me when I say “You have to profit from the fact that you’re on vacation!” In my mind, “profit” has come to mean “take advantage of.”

The first time I noticed that I was losing my English was a cold, autumn night in Soissons, France. I was walking down a dark, cobble-stoned alley with a fellow American friend and we were discussing, for some reason, facial hair. I turned to my friend and said, “I really don’t mind facial hair too much, but I can’t stand a dirty moustache.” When I said the word “moustache”, I knew something was wrong….it came out sounding like a cow : moooo-stache. I stopped and grabbed my friend’s arm: “What did I just say? How do you pronounce that word? Is it maw-stasshe, moo-stach, muh-stach-e??”

Every combination of vowels we tried sounded foreign and misplaced. We calmed down a bit, “Ok, let’s try this again – we’ll say it very naturally, as if we were in the US and never had spoke a word a French.”

“So, what do you think about moo-stasshh-ezz?”

“I can appreciate a nicely-kempt muh-sta-ch-uh…”

We looked at each other knowingly…this would be the first in a long line of linguistic mishaps.

What Everybody Should Know about the Best Brunch in Buenos Aires

3 Aug

Living in France defined my life and heavily influenced who I was, am and will be. But after three years of rubbing elbows with the Parisians in the smelly metro (really…why does it smell so bad??), living in a tiny room that I shared with my fiancé and having to hear 10,000 “uhhh, bahhh oui, ah!” a day, I said enough is enough! Bring on South America! I wanted palm trees and exotic foods, hot music and sexy, sweaty men (Ok, I admit I didn’t know that much about South America before moving here..)

One good thing about leaving France for Argentina was that I realized how much I love France and how big a part she has played in my life. (Please, please take back!!) Although, I’m sure that when I go back to Europe, I’ll be desperately missing my querido South America.

Such is life. But, one thing that I have brought with me from France to Buenos Aires, is my love of food, good food. My last year in Paris I spent studying the art of French bread and pastries, I scoured the city as if on a treasure hunt for the best baguettes and described wildly to my fiancé the complex process this mixture of flour, yeast, salt and water must go through in order to create such a flavor explosion in your mouth. “Do you know how this is made?? Cold-fermentation, my boy! That’s the ticket!”

Somewhere during this bread quest, I stumbled upon Le Pain Quotidien. Probably the best brunch in all of France. They fill your table with an assortment of baguettes, pain de campagne, pain au chocolate, confiture, yaourt….oh là là! And the restaurant itself was stunning to look at; big wooden tables, cabinets filled with dainty tea pots and cups, I’d call it feminine rustic…or femustic.

Bread at Le Blé

Photo by Martin Volman

That’s why when I walked into Le Blé last weekend, I knew I had hit the jackpot.

One of the questions that most expats or visitors in Buenos Aires ask themselves, I know I did when I first moved here, is: Where can I eat a great brunch?

I used to think there were several answers to this question.

1) If you want to eat really well and don’t mind slapping down 80p, then Olsen in Palermo Hollywood is your best bet.

2) For an authentic American brunch for the budget-concious traveller, Gringa is a must.

3) If you’re stuck between sweet and savory and looking for a café style atmosphere Café Crespin serves up some amazing French toast and equally amazing Tuna Salad Croissants.

I’m happy to announce however, that I have discovered the truly best brunch in Buenos Aires, and you won’t find a single pancake or eggs benedict on the menu. People, I’m talking about the all-mighty European-style brunch. We all know that European is better!

Le Blé offers a weekend brunch that is hard to beat. For 50 pesitos, you can eat all you want and drink as much OJ and minty, ginger lemonade as possible. The brunch is set up on a large, wooden table in the back and includes baguettes, eggs, creative sandwiches, cheese and cold cuts, yogurts, muffins, dessert and much more. Best of all, it’s absolutely delicious.

Muffins at Le Blé

Photo by Martin Volman

Now, I won’t say this is an AUTHENTIC French restaurant…the owner is actually from Belgium, and that may be why the bread and pain au chocolat aren’t exactly quite right. Don’t get me wrong, they are good, but if you are really looking for authentic French breads and sweets, than I do recommend L’Epi, which tastes as amazing as anything you’ll find in France. Unfortunately, L’Epi is only a boulangerie, and there is no where to sit down.

So, here comes the finale, the big secret….I went to Le Blé on Saturday and loved it so much that I returned on Sunday!! And I’m going back this weekend!! Ahhhh, I absolutely nuts!!

What about you? Where do you enjoy brunching in Buenos Aires?

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