Cafe Rivas, Jazz, and an Umbrella

4 Jun

A Romantic Night at Cafe Rivas in San TelmoWe were standing on the cobblestone in San Telmo at midnight. It was wet, but not raining, and after an amazing dinner, it was simply the most natural thing to do. We paused to soak in the romance of the evening before heading back home. Then we heard a man calling out to us from down the street. We had forgotten our umbrella in the restaurant and the waiter trailed after us to return it.

Oddly, it was the perfect conclusion to our evening spent at Cafe Rivas.

Of the four or five times we’ve dined at Cafe Rivas, not once have we left disappointed. With live, talented musicians jiving on old standards almost every night, and a gorgeous building and ambiance nodding to an earlier era, it’s easily become our favorite restaurant in the city.

Inside Cafe Rivas

Cafe Rivas Traditional Menu

Cafe Rivas Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

The menu is also smartly done. For less than $40-50 pesos a person, you can have a consistently delicious and filling meal. The prices grow steeper as you tack on wine, starters, and dessert, or opt for the Rib Eye steak. Which, by the way, has surprisingly been the best meat (not just steak) I’ve had in Buenos Aires, only second to the ribs at Estancia La Candelaria.

On Thursday nights during the warmer months, the jazz trio sets up outside on the street sweetly complementing the charm of the San Telmo neighborhood. On a previous visit to Cafe Rivas we also hung around outside after dinner — dancing on the opposite street corner — hesitant to end the evening.

Cafe Rivas Jazz Trio

Cafe Rivas Jazz Trio


Part Two: Dinner with Friends

As a farewell dinner for our friends, Galen & Laura, who will be returning to Canada on Thursday, and Scott & Ashley, who will be in Santiago, Chile, for a month, our normal crew of eight went to Cafe Rivas at our recommendation. They loved the food and atmosphere, and since it was a Thursday night, the jazz trio was playing upstairs as we ate like royalty. Here are some photos of the amazing night with great friends.

Left to right: Kara, Matias, Stephen, Galen, Laura, Scott, Ashley, & Maggie.

The Rib Eye (“Ojo de Bife”). Seriously, the best steak I’ve eaten in Buenos Aires.

So good!

Kara (and Laura) celebrating their gazpachos in a glass.

Good ol’ Matias, the only Porteño in the crew. He teaches us so much, but especially to not ask, “So, how you do say … in Spanish?” too many times in one night.

The Mango Flan. Unique and delicious.

Chocolate Marquis: the most amazing bite of chocolate Maggie has ever tasted. No exaggeration.

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Las Mujeres Plus One in Buenos Aires

23 May

Maybe it’s because we have to regularly answer the question, “Why did you move to Buenos Aires?” But, it seems most long-term expats I’ve met here are all endeavoring to improve themselves in one way or another. Learning to create a more balanced work-life ratio has definitely been a focus of mine, and a recent visit from the fam was a happy way to check up on how I’m doing.

Case in point, when I lived in Los Angeles, I never took the trek through the Hollywood Hills, until some of my oldest friends made the trip out to visit.

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson-

I never made the journey to the Grand Canyon until my mom road-tripped with me back to L.A. for my second year of TFA (Teach For America), and we did everything possible to prolong our arrival.

A trip to Flagstaff should really never end with out heading south to Sedona.

I never even made it to Disney Land until one my best friends, a badass hair dresser in New York, visited and giddily insisted on frolicking about the Magic Kingdom for an afternoon.

This is not an app.

So, when my mom and sister’s trip to Buenos Aires approached, I was delighted to find that I already had an extensive list of “my favorite” places to take them. This served as proof that amidst the flurry of daily life, I was managing to accomplish one of my goals here – to have an outside-of-work life … on a regular basis.

Moving to a foreign country in part demands this. Unlike the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, which will always be somewhat accessible in the States, very likely, this period of time is my one chance to understand Argentina through the way it displays its art, creates community, and parties on the weekends.

And so, thanks to my own homework, and the helpful advice of some generous students (and despite a raging stomach flu), I managed to show off the parts of this city I love, conquer some new adventures, and appreciate my many blessings in my life.

If you’re currently in Buenos Aires and contemplating what to do with traveling loved-ones (or about to come yourself), here are some suggestions:

1. Estancia La Candelaria

One of my students from the town of Lobos suggested to go here for a “dia del campo,” and it was a perfect start to the trip. Going through Lobos Bus, it takes about an hour and a half to get there. I highly recommend it!

First reason why: There’s the comforting familiarity of Starbucks on the opposite corner of the bus station.

Second reason: At the estancia, they feed you all day long, and the grub is DELICIOUS!

The day kicked off with some traditional empanadas. They reminded us of the ones our kind friends made us at SPCC before our move:)

Meat roasting from the time we arrived.

Argentine brunch. These ribs seasoned with nothing but salt were the best of my entire life.

The friendly, talented dancers/gauchos/servers made the camp feel a bit like Kellerman’s. One of the men even strode up to our table and all but demanded a dance with Baby-I-mean-Emily (not pre-choreographed).

Reason #3: The estancia provides the space and amenities to do a lot of normal family stuff that small Buenos Aires apartments don’t really accommodate. Such as …

Reason #4: It also provides a bunch of more unique activities.

Getting pulled by a horse while sitting on cowhide

Horse back riding

Walking tree-lined country roads

Visiting old churches

2. Walk the Palermo Park

Walk Los Bosques de Palermo. Serene stroll by day, transvestite street worker locale by night.

End up at El Rosedal

3. Visit Evita’s grave at the Recoleta Cemetary

Pay the small entrance fee for a view of the catacombs where you can peer out the windows of the monastery the monks never left and see a modern version of what was their only glimpse of the outside world.

4. Plaza de Mayo

We skipped the Obelisco and opted instead to check out …

La Casa Rosada

When I asked my students about must-see sites in Buenos Aires, Cafe Tortoni was hands-down the most popular recommendation. The old-school cafe embodies Porteño nostalgia.

It’s super touristy but worth the trip for a cafecito and look into B.A.’s past. Hi Stephen! (My family is infamously terrible at taking pictures, and Stephen’s behind the camera in most of these adventures – thanks:)

5. San Telmo Market

Check out the San Telmo market on a Sunday afternoon.

6. Colonia, Uruguay

Why get one stamp in your passport when such a pleasant boat ride can get you two? This was my mom and sister’s big vacation for the year, and Colonia – particularly the beautiful vista at the Radisson in Colonia – was the perfect place for them to relax.

7. Tango Show

The quintessential touristy tango show will have you sitting amongst a bunch of foreigners. But you will still feel totally entranced by the other-worldliness of the dancers and especially the musicians. I couldn’t recommend more La Ventana – with their phenomenal six-man accordian orchestra. I’ve been twice and loved it both times.

(Had the stomach flu not crept into their visit, I also would have definitely taken them to a Tuesday night dance lesson and Milonga at La Catedral – a favorite venue among all locals and expats who have ever been there.)

There’s nothing that makes you feel loved like having your friends and family take time out of their busy lives to join you on your own adventure. Mom and Emilita, come back any time!!!

An Afternoon with Horses (Polo Game)

3 May

horse polo statue buenos aires

I’ve been wanting to go to a polo match ever since I saw that there were fields here in Buenos Aires. Our recent move into the life of luxory brought us just blocks away from the two fields in Palermo. So, one afternoon in March at the suggestion of our friends, we got together for a little free polo action.

Before the action started, I was taking pictures of the horses from outside the fence on the sidewalk.  One of the guys brushing and braiding their tails called over to me and told me to come in for a closer look. I couldn’t believe that just feet from one of the busiest avenues in Buenos Aires I was standing even closer to 30-plus horses ready to chase a ball around. They didn’t look as excited about it as I was.

polo horse buenos aires

polo horse buenos aires

polo feild stadium buenos aires

polo field stadium palermo buenos aires

That’s our new neighborhood, Las Cañitas.

polo field buenos aires palermo

polo match buenos aires field horses

polo match buenos aires field horses

It was pretty funny as we tried to learn the rules by watching the game. I was trying to cheer for the black team, but got confused when the blue team was scoring on their goal. Apparently, after every point scored, they switch directions!

Even though it took us a while to figure out the basics of the game, watching the horses sprint across the field, stop on a dime, and bump one another entertained us plenty.

polo field bueno aires

horse polo statue buenos aires

If you’re in Buenos Aires during the summer and fall (Dec – May) there are many games at the fields in Palermo (Campo Argentino de Polo). Many of them are free and it’s a wonderful outing for families in a relaxing setting. Here’s a Spanish search results page of “Palermo” on the official polo site that is helpful in finding about games and tournaments.

Meat, Cheese and a Photography Lesson

5 Apr

One of our new friends, Jaco, recently took Maggie and me out for lunch at one of his and our favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires, Las Cholas. We loaded up on the “Parrillada Completa” (complete grill) and “Provoleta de Cabra y Rucula” (Argentine provolone goat cheese and arugula).

In the US, we’re not accustomed to eating the non-muscles parts of a cow. Here in Argentina, they eat just about everything, so we ventured out and tasted “morcilla” (blood sausage) for the first time. It got one thumb down from Maggie and two thumbs up from me.

After stuffing our faces, Jaco gave us an amazingly in-depth and helpful photography lesson in crayons. Just in time for Maggie’s mom and sister’s visit!