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A Buenos Aires Coffee Guide (with pictures)

5 Feb

La Helvetica in Buenos Aires

There is a procedure to ordering coffee in Buenos Aires – part explicit, part understood.

While living in San Cristobal, our favorite hangout was La Helvetica, a top-of-the-line café and confiteria. There, and with the help of some Porteño friends, we received our B.A. coffee education.

With one week left before a move to Las Cañitas, we decided to compile a list of the variations of coffee that are ubiquitous in all cafes around the city. In our efforts to assist fellow travelers, we put in our due diligence and helped ourselves to a different type of coffee every day this past week.

Most Porteños know what they want as soon as they sit down. As a result, menus aren’t usually offered, you have to request them (“Podrías traerme la carta?”). While extensive, it doesn’t offer much in the way of descriptions or sizes. Here’s some information the menu doesn’t include, which we found helpful:

Coffee Sizes in Most Buenos Aires Cafés

First, the sizes (left to right):

Chico – small, popular for afternoon or evening drinks

Jarrito – probably the most popular size

Doble – double the pleasure (of the chico)

Café con leche – An odd name for a size, but only café con leche (or crema) drinks are served in this cup.

Cappucino – Similar to the café con leche, only cappuccino is served in this cup – although you’ll see many places get creative with the sizing and style of this drink.

The glasses in the back don’t have names that we know of. They are used to serve specialty drinks like the submarino listed below.

Next, the drinks:

Café – Espresso, straight-up. (Comes in chico, jarrito, and doble)

Café Chico in Buenos Aires

Cortado – ¾ espresso ¼ milk. Means, “cut with milk.” (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)

Café con leche – ½ espresso ½ milk. (Comes in one size)

Café con crema – ½ espresso ½ cream. (Comes in jarrito and café con leche)

Coratdo en Jarrito and Café con Leche in Buenos Aires

Lágrima – 1/10 “a tear” espresso 9/10 milk. (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)

Café Lágrima (Doble) in Buenos Aires

Cappucino – espresso, cream, milk, and cinnamon (Comes in one size)

Capuccino in Buenos Aires

Submarino – milk, chocolate on the side – a Porteño hot chocolate, genius! (Comes in one size)

Submarino (Hot Chocolate) in Buenos Aires

Submarino (Hot Chocolate) in Buenos Aires

If we’ve left anything out, please let us know about it here.

Our Christmas Story

26 Dec

‘Twas Christmas day, and all through our home

candles were burning of cinnamon and plum.

The stockings were hung over the bed-couch with care.

While a fire roared for that holiday flare.

Stephen in his new slippers prepped dinner to keep pace.

Maggie decorated using her new vintage vase.

The table was set

with tastes from back home.

Merry Christmas to all and God bless us everyone!

A Day at the Feria

6 Dec

Porteños love their farmer’s markets and festivals on the weekends. Recently, we traveled with some friends about forty minutes outside of the city to one called Feria de Mataderos. Good music, great food, and gaucho games entertained the public throughout the hot afternoon.

Take a look:

It’s been a while since we posted. Recently, many of our other adventures have involved cooking at home. More on that to come!

“Just Look it up on the Internet”

17 Oct

Stephen and I walk through our landlord Graciela’s kitchen to get to our apartment.

Walking up the stairs

The family's rooftop patio used for drying laundry and the occasional cigarette

Our apartment is above their patio

The view looking straight out from our balcony

Graciela is the type of person you hope to encounter soon after landing in a foreign country. She’s welcoming, cheerful, and extremely happy to help, although for many of our problems, her advice ends up being the same. If we want to know a good place to eat, Graciela has ample recommendations. But for trickier problems, from hunting for apartments to finding the right subway, to buying a phone, she has one, universal response. “Búsquelo en el Internet,” with an Italian inflection close to, “It’s simple (you uptight American).”

Graciela is working on installing Internet in our apartment. Every day she brings up a new piece of the necessary tools for this to happen. One day, she provided a router. The next, a modem. The next, an electrical line, although it failed to connect with either of the latter. She has decided to install wifi this week, and we’re crossing our fingers that this goes smoothly.  It seems to be a much more complicated process than in the U.S.

From Stephen’s recollection, wifi was not even an option in the city five years ago.  If Porteños wanted Internet away from home, they had to rent computers by-the-minute at Internet cafes.

Like most of the world however, they’ve latched onto the service pretty quickly. The “rogue” candidate for president has even centered his campaign around a promise of free wifi to the entire country – Obama 2012 anyone?

He is also promising everyone free houses and bags to clean up after their dogs (which they don't).

For now, lacking access to the Internet has provided Stephen and me an excuse to explore many of B.A.’s neighborhood cafes and develop a taste for their café con leche, which is perplexingly better than the American cupa.

Happy after ordering my first café con leche successfully en español

Stephen happy because he just found the coffee shop he spent the past six years in L.A. searching for

It's in the neighborhood Colegiales, where we're hoping to end up

View of "The Oldest Bar" from the outside

There’s no click-of-a-button cure to missing our friends and family in the states, but we feel very lucky to have all of you and we cannot wait for you to visit this beautiful city. Worried about the cost of airfare? Todo tranquilo.  Just look it up on the Internet!

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