I am slowly trying more and more vegetarian places here in Buenos Aires, and one I will definitely be going back to is Algaia in Colegiales. Algaia is a restaurant, a place for cooking classes, and a provider of ready made meals (viandas in Spanish) that you can put in the freezer and pull out for a quick yet health and nutritious dinner. The owner, Nicolás, is a chef from France, trained in the French classic culinary tradition, who ended up cutting out animal products and alcohol. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires he worked at famous San Juan Café, and then later started Algaia.
Anyway, the most important was that the food was great! I had “meatballs” made of celery and oats, I think, and they were amazing. Tasty, fresh, delicious. For dessert, a very healthy brownie. Looking forward to going there again! We went on a weekday, when they have a shorter menu, so I am excited to go back on a weekday when there is more variety.
For the newest students of Norwegian, I channeled my inner Martha Stewart: I made sugar cookies, decorated them with red, white and blue sprinkles, and put them in tiny individual cardboard boxes. On each box I glued a white card that said “My name is” in Norwegian and then the student’s name, and a small Norwegian flag. I may not be a great teacher but my cookies are pretty good! (I am a teaching twice a week at the Instituto Sueco Argentino – it is a nice way to help out the Norwegian community and those who are interested in it. Although I think I am a pretty bad teacher; I love learning languages myself but find it pretty hard to teach!)
Precios cuidados is a government program where certain products are supposed to be made available at a cheaper price and not go up as quickly as inflation. Oh the irony – the government, which has caused the 40% inflation the country is experiencing, then tries to freeze prices… Anyway, this caused me a chuckle: even Coca Cola (only regular, not Light or Zero!) and Fernet, the Argentineans’ drink of choice, is under the program! Is Coca Cola really where we should be concerned to keep prices affordable…?
Photo from GuiaOleo
Today I tried a new-to-me restaurant in San Telmo, Hierbabuena. I had read good things about it as an almost-vegetarian, and very vegan-friendly, restaurant, and decided to try it out with some vegetarian friends. In the end, it was a somewhat mixed experience. The place is adorable, they have done a great job with the decorations and it feels cozy and inviting. I was also impressed with their flexibility in letting us order from the dinner menu even though it was before 20:30 – other places might have said no. But all in all I wasn’t thrilled with Hierbabunea. The bread they put out was delicious – whole grain bread with a really nice spread – but our waitress was very, very clumsy! As soon as I sat down she broke a glass basically on me, with glass shattering everywhere. We saw her drop other things through the evening! Also, the order of service wasn’t very good: We ordered drinks, and some of them were very much aperitivi, but she brought out the soup right away anyway – I would have enjoyed my Aperol spritz more on its own than together with the soup. (A small bowl of butternut squash soup was included – good but nothing extraordinary.)
For my main course, I had ordered a falafel salad. The salad had WAY too much oil, and the falafel wasn’t crunchy at all; it felt like balls of mashed potatoes. I can understand not wanting to fry them, but they could at least have baked them until crunchy? My friends both had the mushroom burger – the burger itself was good but it didn’t have a bun and while the potatoes were delicious, there was only half of a small potato…
As I said, the place was very cute and inviting, and the menu looked great. But all in all it was way too expensive for what it was. For instance, they had a 28 peso service charge, which seemed crazy at a place like that. 96 pesos for a salad was also way too much… We discussed leaving after seeing the menu, but decided to give it a try – in the end I wish we hadn’t.
I am still not a “real” vegetarian, because I do eat a little bit of fish (however, very rarely) – AND because I yesterday broke a six-month veggie stretch with a delicious crispy chicken sandwich at NOLA Buenos Aires!! I have written about NOLA before, when chef Liza came to Puesto Viejo, and I had the pleasure of visiting her closed-door restaurant in January. (That would have been a good blog post – especially the fact that we were several hours late! The highway was cut off because of protesters and Liza and Ticol still received us warmly.) Liza and beer-making boyfriend Ticol then took their closed-door restaurant to the next level and opened the gastropub NOLA on July 18th. They have quickly become a neighborhood favorite and half of Buenos Aires’ food blogs are filled with photos of people devouring Cajun-style fried chicken.
I stopped by for a drink on opening night, sort of to show my support, even though it wasn’t really necessary, they were already full! – and then had the pleasure of trying the famous sandwich last night. I also had a delicious cocktail made of Cynar and grapefruit. Yum! And a steal at 35 pesos – it is hard to get a cocktail anywhere in BsAs for that price. The sandwich totally lived up to its expectation: the bread (baked by Liza) is tender and soft, and the chicken is a perfection of crunchy goodness with nice flavors. There are sauces with different spice levels (awesome!) and while I haven’t tried the other offerings, they look delicious as well. (Actually, I did try the gumbo back in January.)
I will leave you with a photo I have borrowed from the NOLA website, and encourage you to check it out! (Gorriti 4389, esquina con Julián Alvarez. Closed Tuesdays. Great happy hour deals!)
Photo courtesy of NOLA (www.nolachef.net)
I got myself a little Argentina merchandise for this afternoon… Probably won’t use the hat since it is quite warm, but I will paint a flag on my cheek and braid my hair with the ribbon!
For my Norwegian readers: Jeg skriver om fotball, politikk og populisme i Argentina: Fotball for alle (Minerva)