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Archive for December, 2010

Spice is Found!

First, per usual, quick updates:

I’m continuing my massive project at my internship, which I’ve titled, “archiving to change the world” – I’ve been surrounded by piles of papers for two weeks, but at least I have a steady, independent project to do, and the folks in the scholarship office love me for doing their dirty work; they reward me with vegan chocolate cookies and tell my boss I’m a genius.  Tyler is continuing Spanish classes… We’ve become good friends with some of our former roommates (translating for them at a police station helped quite a bit) which has improved our moods, and thanks to going to Mar del Plata with my internship, I have some local friends as well, which as also made things more fun.  We have also finally taken our first tango lessons, and even made it through a dance in a very crowded milonga!

We’re still trying to decide what plans to make for Christmas, as we both have almost 2 weeks off work and school. We will most likely travel somewhere in Argentina, either up north (Salta/Jujuy) or west (Cordoba/Mendoza).  Our home-stay has gotten quiet as all the other students except for us have left…and our neighbors across the street have put up Christmas lights that play irritating, mechanized Christmas jingles…all…the…time. But, at least there’s a few signs of Christmas spirit here!

Also, a few more pictures have been posted here of our recent forays, not too interesting but I will share nonetheless.

Now, for the dish, on the dish. As some of you may know, we’ve gotten into the  habit of going to Chinatown on weekends in search for food that actually has flavor, and, if we’re lucky, spice!  On our last visit, I noticed a Thai restaurant, and even though I was so full of chow mein and kung pao chicken I thought I would explode, I drooled over the menu for about 10 minutes and vowed to come back.

This past Saturday morning, I did some internet research about Thai restaurants in Buenos Aires and made my pick (don’t go to the one recommended in the Lonely Planet, it got terrible reviews…).  Ironically, my “pick” was the very restaurant I had vowed to return to some weeks earlier.

As soon as we entered the door, I knew it would be great.  For one, it had great decor, and a great vibe.  Two, everyone was ordering this mysterious, delicious-looking minty-green blended deliciousness drink.  We sat down, perused the menu, and decided to go with a classic order we would place in Seattle, a classic testing strategy: spring rolls, phad thai with tofu, and a curry (red curry with mango, I think).  We ordered some “te rojo frio” hoping that would be some sort of strange interpretation for thai iced tea (it was not) but it was delicious and nonetheless, I think it had rose water and orange in it – interesting flavors!  Eventually we caved and ordered one of the “green drinks” (seriously, Tyler asked for the “traigo verde”) as well, which turned out to be blended mint lemonade, and perfect.

phad thai

 

The phad thai was surprisingly good, though it helped that my expectations were quite low.  There was definitely NO spiciness whatsoever (all it needed was some chili oil and red pepper flakes) but the flavors and ingredients were spot-on.  The noodles were wider than we’re used to, but they tasted great so I can let is slide.  The tofu was a little…different…sweet somehow, but not bad, not bad at all.  Overall, I would give this 4/5 Sharon Stars, a rating system I just made up.  It gets a slightly higher score because phad thai is fairly difficult to find, and it had limes!

Next up – spring rolls.  I have long been obsessed with both egg rolls and their delicious tiny brother, spring rolls.  While this spring rolls lacked the traditional “spring roll tiny factor” they made up for it in flavor, and unique dipping sauces.  While we did have the usual sweet-hot chili sauce available from a strange starter of sort of, Indonesian style puffed rice-chips, the spring rolls themselves were served with a choice of two sauces: a tamarind sauce, or a soy-garlic sauce.  I preferred the tamarind. The spring rolls were also near-perfect – filled with yummy vegetables and cilantro (a nice touch) but, I despise when food, especially appetizers which are meant to be shared, is served in odd numbers.  They should know better. Great presentation though!

 

curry

 

Next up, the star of the show: the curry!!  We like spicy food, really spicy food. We usually order things with 4 or 5 stars.  We always complain that food here lacks both flavor and spice.  We like the Chinese food because we could at least get a hint of spice, more than can be said for Mexican food we’ve found here.  Here, at this wonderful Thai restaurant, we found a spice we couldn’t even handle. Maybe we have become whimps due to our lack of exposure recently, but I doubt it (I was sick, the whole reason I wanted curry was so I could taste something…). That “flower” is made out of a pepper.  It was almost as spicy-hot as that time at Rasha Thai that Tyler actually had to ask for a glass of milk (they only had half-and-half).  But not only was it spicy, it was delicious, perfect for a stormy Saturday and me with my congested head.  For a few glimmering, sweaty minutes, I could breathe freely.  I could burn my taste buds off.  I could chug my (Tyler’s) drink.  It…was…glorious.  The only downsides were that Tyler ordered it with pork, not my favorite, the mango was inconsistent (sometimes bordering crunchy, rarely sweet, never juicy), and for some reason, the concept of “pour curry over rice” doesn’t exist here, so eating was a bit awkward.  But, having finally found something that’s genuinely spicy makes it all worth it. 4/5 Sharon Stars.

The other overall downside, and it’s a big one, was that our Saturday lunch was as expensive as it would be in Seattle.  Seriously. The same price.  Dinner at Rasha in Seattle, or dinner/lunch at Neo Lotus Thai in Buenos Aires.  Same price.  This is not a touristy neighborhood, but it is damn expensive; the exchange rate does not help you here like it might in other restaurants. But, in my humble opinion, it’s totally worth it for food you can actually taste, good service (which translates to “amazing” by Argentine standards), and it’s got great ambiance. 3.5 out of 5 Sharon Stars overall.

Now, I know some of you may be wondering, why does it take Thai food, beer, or Mexican food to warrant a blog?  Shouldn’t you be blogging about Argentine food?  Shouldn’t you be looking for the local restaurants?  Why seek out food from home?  Well, I have some answers: one, home food is comfort.  Two, we eat “local” food every day.  It is not great. And when we have gone out to amazing local restaurants (a parilla in Iguazu, to be exact) I was too excited about it to take pictures (much like the amazing ice cream at Volta).  Also, pizza, pasta, empanadas, and dulce de leche, the stars of Argentine food, do not photograph well and aren’t that interesting (they’re all brown/beige!). But, we will try to post about it more in the future!

More serious posts to come.  Happy Holidays!

 

 

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