Allie Lazar, Food Blogger & Writer

July 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Q&A with the author of the Pick Up The Fork blog

Allie Lazar of the Buenos Aires food blog Pick Up The Fork
[Photo courtesy of Allie Lazar]

Originally from Chicago in the United States, Allie Lazar has lived in Buenos Aires for nearly seven years. She is a freelance writer and author of the food blog Pick Up The Fork.

When did you first come to Buenos Aires?
In July 2006, as an exchange student. I “studied” Political Science at UBA (the University of Buenos Aires). It was supposed to be a 6 month study abroad program but I extended it to a year. Which later was extended to 6 more years, without the studying.

Why did you stay?
It gave me anxiety to think my BA expiration date was approaching; there were too many restaurants that I hadn’t tried yet. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of going back to the US, graduating, getting a real job and becoming an adult, so staying in BA seemed like the least sucky option.

Why did you start to write your blog Pick up the Fork?
Finding a decent restaurant back in the day was a challenge, and so often I became victim of throwing my pesos down the shitter on terrible overpriced meals with horrendous service. There weren’t many honest restaurant resources, and even less in English, so I began to put my constant restaurant visiting and annoying food picture taking to some semi-respectable use.

What’s your daily routine?
Since I work freelance, writing for magazines or websites, managing social media pages and organizing private food tours, I’m generally working on a few different projects at once – there are some weeks I’m bombarded with work and spend 24/7 at a café clacking away on my computer nonstop while also visiting restaurants. But if I don’t have a deadline or project due, there are many days when I don’t even put pants on.

How many times do you eat out a week?
Depends on the week and how fat I feel. If I’m working on an article and need to do research, I’ll eat out every day – right now I’m working on two articles, one brunch / another lunch specials, so there’s a lot of midday/morning eating going on.

What is your favourite neighbourhood in Buenos Aires?
Palermo Hollywood/Colegiales for convenience and street art, Villa Crespo for the eclectic mix of restaurants, Almagro/Abasto for the latino flava. My new favorite spot in BsAs is the lagos de Palermo on a weekday, it’s dog park central. It’s where all of the dog walkers (pictured below) congregate and take their packs – there are hundreds of dogs hanging out, it’s heaven.

A dog walker in Palermo, Buenos Aires
[Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/a1LKKS/ CC BY 2.0]

What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday in Buenos Aires?
If I were a liar (and I am) I’d fabricate some story to make my lounging sedentary weekend sound similar to what an adventurous and active person may do on the weekends, doing some kind of sport and followed by a healthy meal at a cute café.

What is your favourite neighbourhood restaurant?
Since I’m on a constant quest for a great restaurant, I rarely repeat. At the moment I really have a thing for quick, fast food spots: Shawarma inside the Mercado de Belgrano, La Cresta’s wraps are bomb (Bulnes 829, Almagro), so is El Banco Rojo’s spicy lamb empanadas and doner kebab (Bolivar 914, San Telmo). When I’m homesick, I go to La Crespo (Thames 612, Villa Crespo) for a pastrami sandwich (pictured).

Pastrami Sandwich from La Crespo in Villa Crespo, Argentina
[Photo credit: Allie Lazar, http://pickupthefork.com/2011/06/05/la-crespo-a-jewish-american-palermonites-heaven/]

Where is the best place to get coffee / steak / ice cream / a beer in Buenos Aires?
Ok, so I’ve never been good at choosing the best, so here are SOME of my favorites:

Coffee: in Bocca al Lupo (Bonpland 1965, Palermo Hollywood), I don’t know how they get it to taste so good! And the overall space is pretty perfect.

Steak: I like each one of these places for different reasons, they all might not have the best steak, but something about it makes me happy: Parrilla Peña (Rodriguez Peña 682, Recoleta), La Lechuza (Uriarte 1980, Palermo Soho), La Marucha (11 de Septiembre 3702, Nuñez), El Pobre Luis (Arribeños 2393, Belgrano), La Brigada (Estados Unidos 465, San Telmo), I could go on…

Ice cream: El Capricci’s (Paraguay 5201, Palermo) marroc y chocolate profundo, Cadore’s (Corrientes 1696, San Nicolas) nutella, Guardiola’s (Jorge Newbery 1967, Las Cañitas) passion fruit, anything from Jauja (Av Cerviño 3901, Palermo).

Beer: I’m more of a cocktail drinker, and I just made a list of my favorite bars on the Pick Up The Fork Drink Drank Drunk guide.

What was the best meal you have eaten in Buenos Aires?
Hernan Gipponi just started a new concept on Monday nights with one communal table (called One Table), where he cooks and serves the food table-side. The wines are paired by their sommelier (one of the best in the country) Andres Rosberg, who also happens to be the president of the Argentine Sommelier Association. I went last week and it was phenomenal meal and a wonderful overall dining experience.

What are your favorite shops?
I don’t shop for shoes or clothes, instead I spend all my money on ridiculously expensive cheese. Barrio Chino in Belgrano (pictured below) is like my food mecca. Mercado de Progreso (Avenida Rivadavia 5430, Caballito) and Mercado de Belgrano (Juramento 2527, Belgrano) are also good places to shop.

Barrio Chino in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/9aQTLp/ CC BY-SA 2.0]

Where do you go for a romantic night out in Buenos Aires?
I like to take that special someone on a romantic stroll for a smoky truck of greasy choripanes.

What is your exercise routine?
Pfffffff. It generally consists of two hours debating whether I should work out; sometimes I get far enough to put a sports bra on but ultimately decide that my new work out / diet routine will start tomorrow.

Do you have any collections?
I save a lot of menus, ideal bathroom reading material.

What are your favourite websites and blogs?
I’m on Gawker and The Onion daily. I also read way too many food blogs, my favorites at the moment are First We Feast, Thug Kitchen and The Perennial Plate. And of course Daniel Tunnard’s blog, author of “Colectivaizeishon, one man’s pointless quest to take all the buses in Buenos Aires.”

What are the most played songs in your music collection?
At the moment I listen to mostly NPR podcasts. Yes, I’m 27 going on a liberal, grey haired 55.

What do you never leave the house without?
A bad attitude.

What is the most unusual thing you have been asked by a stranger in Buenos Aires?
A stoner with mulletlocks (dreadlocks + mullet) approached me at Plaza Francia and asked: “No me prestás un zapato?” (Can you lend me a shoe?”)

What is your favorite porteño saying or expression?
All of these.

What three places or things to do would you recommend to a visitor to the city?
Wander around Chacarita Cemetery (pictured below), guzzle lots of cheap wine, visit some of the more unknown café notables.

Pugliese in Chacarita Cemetery, Buenos Aires
[Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/ck2Nwh/ CC BY 2.0]

Any insider tips?
You can see all the famous sightseeing spots in less than two days, and most are overrated (cough La Boca cough). The best way to experience Buenos Aires is walking around, going café and restaurant hopping.

Thank you Allie! Questions? You can leave a comment for Allie on her famous food blog Pick up the Fork. And if you are an interesting expat/local in Buenos Aires and would like us to interview you, feel free to get in touch and tell us why.

Dan Perlman, Expat Chef

April 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Closed door restaurant owner and prolific blogger

Dan Perlman preparing dinner for his guests at his closed doors restaurant Casa SaltShaker

Originally from Michigan in the United States, Dan Perlman lived in New York City for 23 years before moving to Buenos Aires in 2005.  He is a  trained chef, pastry chef and sommelier and has written several books about food and wine.  The author of the SaltShaker blog and chef at Casa SaltShaker, his ‘closed door restaurant’ (a restaurant in a private home that is by reservation only),  he lives in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. And yes, he’s the second subject (and second Dan!) of our series of BuenosTours interviews with interesting expats & locals.

When did you first come to Buenos Aires?
In 2005. It was not my planned vacation. I was supposed to go on a two week culinary tour in the Benelux countries but the tour operator cancelled on about a 3 days notice. With time off from work already planned, I scrambled to find a cheap and quick alternative. A friend suggested Argentina, given the economy then.

Why did you stay?
I didn’t stay that time, but I did like the city a lot and met Henry, who was working at the B&B where I stayed. We kept in touch and a couple of months later I decided to come back and explore more of the country. Henry and I became “an item” and my stay turned into a longer stretch. After about six months I decided to move down here.

On a typical day, what is your routine?
I don’t sleep much, so I’m up by 8am. I usually start the day with a large mug of black coffee and checking the usual nonsense on the internet, answering e-mails, and, a couple of days a week, writing a blog post. If our restaurant, Casa SaltShaker, is open I head out to the markets to do my last minute shopping, then come back and start preparing. That pretty much ties up my day until late afternoon at which point I take a break and then dive back into dinner service, usually finishing up around 1 am. If the restaurant isn’t open I often hang out with friends or check out a new restaurant for lunch, or, I stay in and experiment with new recipe ideas. Maybe once a week we go out to dinner.

What is your exercise routine?
I manage to drag myself to the gym a couple of times a week. I’ve been studying and practicing martial arts for years and so I continue that on my own here (there is no kenpo school here in BA) and even teach a little bit of it. And, I supplement that with some Tai Chi, now and again.

What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday in Buenos Aires?
Relaxing. Brunch with friends, reading or playing online games. I’m a big dungeons & dragons geek.

What is your favourite neighbourhood restaurant?
In my neighborhood Recoleta, it’s Tarquino (Rodríguez Peña 1967) – very creative Argentine cooking. And best when someone is treating us to dinner there as it’s kind of a budget stretcher. A neighborhood style restaurant, i.e. something casual and comfortable – Las Pizarras in Palermo (Thames 2296). Again, really creative Argentine cooking, but at a much easier on the wallet price.

What are your favourite festivals / events in Buenos Aires?
Last year I had great fun at the Peruvian Gastronomy festival along Avenida de Mayo – hopefully they’ll repeat that one!

Making picarones, a deep fried squash based dough served with fruits syrup, at the Peruvian festival in Buenos Aires, July 2012

[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/suedehead/7671445664/ /CC BY 2.0]

You are a trained sommelier, what are your favourite Argentinian wines?
My favorite Malbec is the Villa de Acequias “Viña Rosedal” from Luis Segundo Correas. I love the Semillon “Tomero” from Carlos Pulenta. Recently I’ve really become enamored with the Red and White Blends from the Nicasia Vineyard of Catena Zapata, particularly the Cabernet Franc base on the red side and the Viognier base on the white.

What have been some of the best things to have happened at your closed door restaurant, Casa Saltshaker?
My favorite story happened early on. Two couples, in their late 50s, from the midwest U.S. arrived, separately. The man from one couple and woman from the other kept looking at each other, puzzled. They got to talking and realized that they’d been high school sweethearts and hadn’t seen each other since graduation day – he’d gone into the army and by the time he came back she’d moved away. The two couples ended up spending the rest of their vacation together.

Any fights?
We’ve never had any real serious fights – we’ve had some political arguments and we had a couple break up their engagement at the table, in front of their respective parents, but it turned out they’d staged it. We once had two people who’d had a bad business deal years before happen to end up at the table together, both guests of a mutual acquaintance – one of them fumed a lot, the other just ignored him.

Who have been the most interesting guests at Casa Saltshaker? Anybody famous?
Oh my, I’m not sure I could get into that. We’ve certainly had some local television and stage folk come, and a couple of local polo players.

Where is this best place to get empanadas in Buenos Aires?
I think my favorites, at least in this neighborhood, are from La Cocina (Pueyrredón 1508), where they have Catamarqueña style empanadas.

Argentinian empanadas like the ones Dan Perlman likes from La Cocina in Buenos Aires

[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foradoeixo/6882355852/ /CC BY 2.0]

What are your favourite food stores?
I love shopping in Barrio Chino (China Town) in Belgrano, and usually go to the “original” store along Arribeños.

Where is the best place to get coffee / steak / ice cream in Buenos Aires?
Coffee, that’s easy, Est. General de Café (various locations), there’s no better coffee in the city that I’ve found. I don’t know about the best steak, but the best steakhouse experience for me is Don Julio (Guatemala 4691, Palermo) – between ambiance, food and wine list, it’s a winner. Scannapieco was my favorite ice cream place when it was on Avenida Córdoba, and they have recently reopened by the Mercado de Pulgas on Alvarez Thomas 14 (and Dorrego) in Colegiales.

Where do you go for a romantic night out in Buenos Aires?
Pura Tierra (3 de Febrero 1167, Belgrano). It’s our “go to” place for our anniversary and occasionally other life events. Romantic ambiance, fantastic food, great service.

Do you have any collections?
Stories and egg-cups (pictured below).

Some of the egg cups in Dan Perlman's collection at his closed doors restaurant in Buenos Aires

What are your favourite websites and blogs?
There are a few food blogs I read all the time – from Yotam Ottolenghi in London, the Baker’s Banter blog from King Arthur Flour, Ideas in Food for things that in general I will never, ever do with ingredients. Outside of the food world I’m a big fan of the Strange Maps blog, Letters of Note, and I usually check in on the latest videos on both FORA TV and TED once a week just to see what’s new and interesting.

What do you never leave the house without?
My keys. Really, that’s about it. I’m not someone who feels the need to be in constant contact and often don’t even bother to take my cellphone with me. I usually, though not always, have a camera with me.

What is the most unusual thing you have been asked by a stranger in Buenos Aires?
I was standing at the corner of Pueyrredón and Las Heras and a couple asked me where Retiro station was. On the surface it seems an ordinary enough request, except that they were holding their tablet computer up with an interactive map that showed the station situated right there at the corner. They were a little miffed that they had about a 2km walk ahead of them.

What three places or things to do would you recommend to a visitor to the city?
The walk from the Casa Rosada to the Congreso, with stops at Cafe Tortoni and Palacio Barolo. Museo Xul Solar. The Rosedal.

The counter in the historic Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires

[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pontodeak/3331021603/ /CC BY 2.0]

What are the best souvenirs or gifts to bring home from Buenos Aires?
Wine and leather goods.

Any insider tips?
Use xoom.com for money tranfers (for people with a US bank account). Don’t complain that taxi drivers and kiosks won’t take 100 peso notes. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you get to behave like an ass because you don’t think you’ll ever see these people again. Don’t eat steak every single meal, there’s plenty of other food available here. On the flip side, did you really come all the way to BA just to eat sushi with cream cheese or a plate of spaghetti with bolognese sauce? Don’t use Google maps here and expect to end up where you want to be.

Thank you Dan! If you are an interesting expat/local in Buenos Aires and would like us to interview you, feel free to get in touch and tell us why.

Buenos Aires Expats – which are you?

July 2, 2007 by · 4 Comments 

Expat Life in Buenos Aires

A fun Buenos Aires blog called Exnat is well worth a read if you think you might be interested in “the existential crises of an expat in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 21st Century”.

If you are more specifically interested in stereotypes, it seems Nathan is too – he, and his team of expert, expat researchers (i.e. anyone that comments on his blog), are putting together a list of the different types of expats, using generous helpings of stereotypical generalization as their main source of power.

So why not go over and contribute to this list of expat archetypes, and while you’re at it, stay around to read some more interesting expat commentary.

beer expat

[Picture credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/2150088956/sizes/m/in/photostreamCC BY 2.0 ]

Choose your currency:

Close
Converted prices are for reference only - all orders are charged in $ US Dollars ($) USD.
  • USDUS Dollars ($)
  • EUREuros (€)
  • GBPPounds Sterling (£)
  • AUDAustralian Dollars ($)
  • BRLBrazilian Real (R$)
  • CADCanadian Dollars ($)
  • HKDHong Kong Dollar ($)
  • NZDNew Zealand Dollar ($)
  • CHFSwiss Franc
  • ZARSouth African Rand