Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Julie's Good Time, Part III

You can scroll down for my day from the beginning.... In conclusion I will just present these photos and say nothing more but that these people leave me in awe.

You can't believe how fast these men move. I have video of this, and if I can upload it I will of course share.

A beautiful day - no, really. Now I need to sleep.

Julie's Good Time, Part II

One last arty cow picture...

... before they go off their fate and I go to the sausage plant. Unfortunately, they don't let me take pictures here, but it is absolutely mind boggling. My friends at Fleisher's would lose their SHIT. You know guys and their heavy machinery... well the machinery here is about as big as you can get, meat-wise. Endless rooms of sausage, of prosciutto drying. They stuff bladders for sausage with a stuffer ten feet tall. It is wonderful. It is frightening. The workers look like Oompa Loompas in their funny hats. I am happy.

Then a lunch of ribs, sweetbreads, bean salad, wine and coffee ($27 for two) before visiting a second processing planning, where I can take pictures.

Here they break down sides of beef like this into their parts.

Some of what they do is very different from what I'm used to - witness one of many handsome butchers removing what they call the metambre, a cut we throw in the grinder for burgers, but which they value most particularly:

Other things seem familiar, if on a much larger scale than I'm used to:

And shit I'm out of space again. Okay, party III coming up, like it or not...

Yes, this is my idea of a good time, why do you ask?

Prepare for an arduous photo journey. This will be the first of at least two parts.

This is where I began my morning, long before the sun:

The Mercado de Liniers has a maximum capacity of 30,000 head of cattle, but today there were only 10,000. They had come the day before - novillos, vacillos, torneros, old broken-down vacos - all destined for the slaughterhouse by the afternoon.

By dawn, the bidding had begun:

Pictures cannot really get across this experience. It was all about the noise - the bidding, the bells, the lowing of the cows, the gauchos galloping about shouting. I have a video of it but as of yet have not figured out how to load it up online. When I do I'll let you know. For now, trust me when I say it was pretty astounding and great. I mean, if you're really into beef. Which, needless to say, I am.

Here's a typical corral:

I have to admit, they were heartbreakingly cute.

This guy in the beret and poncho with the cell phone around his neck, on the horse, is the buyer for Argentina's biggest and oldest chain of grocery store. He is a grand eminence at the meat market, as you might imagine.

Okay, I've run out of space for pictures on this post.... Will be back with more directly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Got your waterfall pictures here.

Words cannot explain how beautiful and mind-boggling Iguazu is. Neither can my shitty camera. I have 70 waterfall pictures, and none of them get this across. Though it says some little something about their magnificence that my shitty camera did capture at least one vague approximation of a cheesy postcard:

In addition to my 70 waterfall pictures, I also have about 10 failed monkey photos. Monkeys are hard. Coatis, however, are easy:

Cute as little buttons, but they will steal your stuff in a red-hot second. I had to keep shooing them out of my purse.

Since I returned yesterday to Buenos Aires, I have eaten two fabulous meals - one southeast Asian, at my new friend Santiago's restaurant, and then I guess you would call it Spanish meal at a wonderful magical place called Miramar, where I was the only person there who wasn't a 75-year-old Porteno bachelor. Sadly, I didn't have my shitty camera with me, so I have no pictures. But since I will be there practically every day - except for the days when I'll be fasting so as to avoid becoming as big as a house - I'll have plenty more chances.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yup, that's what you're seeing alright...

That is indeed a giant stack of broken caskets. In an underground crypt with broken windows.

And, at risk of being accused of OCD,

These are a couple of the cats of Recoleta Cemetery.

Evita was in there too, but that didn't interest me quite as much.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Cats.

So I went back to the Cat Park today, also known as the Charles Thays Botanical Garden. It's a beautiful place, full of statuary and gorgeous sculptural trees, but I was obsessed with only one thing.

How many cats co you count here? I think there are 5 but I could be missing one or two. In any event, there are hundreds in the parks as a whole. Hundreds of aggressively friendly cats.

This one is indeed climbing my breasts. I would like to promise my Granny from beyond the grave that I bought some antibacterial handwash immediately after this picture was taken.

I went to the park right after meeting at Standard again. Owner Santiago:

(Blurry picture, but adorable man, no?) has introduced me to Armando:

(Slightly less blurry picture, equally adorable man), who is going to get me into a slaughterhouse, hopefully, and find someone to take me to the famous meat market in Buenos Aires, which serves basically as a national stock market for meat prices. Apparently it's just like watching trading on the floor as NASDAQ. I'm so excited I can't see straight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And at the end of it all, Argentinian Flag Day!

So, after a depressingly uneventful day, I finally got some work done. I went to Santiago Gatart's restaurant, The Standard.

There I got connections for meat stuff. Going to get to go to a slaughter house, hopefully. To see water buffalo get killed. This, I must confess, is my idea of a good time.

Afterwards, in this weird way that people who have just done me a great favor have, I was treated to a free meal.

Cheese Empanada, spicy beef croquetas, lamb ravioli, roast kid with raisins and pine nuts, and a sort of candied fig crepe thingy. All DELICIOUS.

And then I came home to the sound of firecrackers outside my window. It is Argentinian Flag Day. To which I say Huzzah!

Will write about the family I encountered at the restaurant on my MySpace (I know, I know...) Page.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cats and Dogs, Living Together - Kinda.

So, in Buenos Aires there are a lot of dogs. I mean, a LOT. Here is an average - well maybe a bit more than averagely heroic - dog walker.

The thing that is weird about BA is that there are both incredibly highly pedigreed and well-cared for dogs, and a few semi-starved strays.

And then there are these other dogs. The Tramps.

These dogs look to be in good shape. Sometimes they have little makeshift collars. But they are always alone, and totally in charge of themselves. Many of these dogs are rottweiller-colored, but smaller, and more terrier-shaped. I watched one of these dogs consider crossing a VERY high-traffic street, then choose to walk the other way, with the traffic. He was walking in the road, along the curb. When a taxi honked at him, he without pause or nervousness just smoothly moved back onto the sidewalk. It was amazing.

But it was making me think. I was walking through the streets of BA, thusly:

And I hadn't seen any cats at all. Until I came to this one fenced in park. I saw it from a block away. Cats EVERYWHERE. On every park bench, under every tree. I came close to take a picture... and the MOBBED me.

It was like the fucking Birds. They were rubbing against my legs, meowing. But they looked good. Well-fed. Well-groomed, even. Kind of adorable.

A policeman thought it most amusing I was taking pictures of them. "Quiere comida," he said. Well, yeah. Perhaps I'll go back and be crazy cat lady for them one of these days.

Except they sort of scare me a little:

More photoblogging....

Some cool building on Avenida de Mayo:

My courtly Brazilian friend Eugenio:

A strip club called "Pelvis":

A few of the many many dogs of Buenos Aires:

Oh, and so you should know - I'm sort of randomly blogging in two different places now, so if anyone wants to check out my MySpace page (I know, I know...), you can see it here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The dangers of photoblogging

Buenos Aires had very fancy coffee maker shops.

It has ads with George Clooney for its very fancy coffee shops, and Portenos have no idea why I would want to take pictures of it.

Buenos Aires also likes Paris. So it makes its publics works buildings (I'm not sure but I think this is the public water company) look like Notre Dame. Or something French and old, anyway.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Cold Is It?

Take a look at this picture and guess:

20 degrees? 15? You of course can't see in this photo that many people actually had their scarves wrapped entirely around their heads.

It's 50 degrees out. I was wearing a sweatshirt and no socks.

These portenos think winter is HORSE SHIT.

Day 2

So far I have managed to find an adaptor for my laptop - after hiking the city for hours, including through the very chi chi and GORGEOUS part of town where S.A.'s only Mac store is located; eat Argentinian steak and pizza, which is this whole big thing here as well; get chatted up by a trio of courtly Brazilian legislators; take a siesta (I feel another on the way, must be the pizza); and get both locked out of and let back into my apartment.

Everyone here is bundled up with gloves and huge coats and scarves bundled up around their faces like it's 15 degrees. I just checked on, and it says it's 48, but it doesn't feel it to me. I was walking around in my Brooklyn Industries sweatshirt, feeling just fine.

I stick A LOT here - everyone calls me "Ingles" and speaks in English to me even though they can't actually speak English, but they're polite and helpful and, mostly, gorgeous, so I don't mind.

All day long a group of unseen children - sounds like thirty of them or more - scream and yell outside my window. It's charming, but endless and without explanation and therefore sort of creepy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Well, I made it.

Every self-shanghai-ing fiber in my body to the contrary. Mis-remembered my flight as being two hours later than it was, but did in fact check. At 6:23 pm. 8pm flight. Inhaled chicken pad kee mao on the way through horrid traffic to the airport. But I made it. In part because the flight was delayed for an hour. Which made me very nearly miss my transfer in Santiago. But all is well. I'm installed in my apartment, which is lovely, listening to tango on the radio, and steeling myself to go out into a (very loud) Buenos Aires in search of an adaptor for my laptop, since neither of the ones I brought work.

I'm feeling a little lost here. I guess I'm not used to being alone. Especially without booze which I'm determined to (mostly) do without while I'm down here.

I might even scout out a running route for myself.

What is wrong with me?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The $32 burger

Well, we did it. We went to DB Bistro and we had The Burger. Stuffed with short ribs, foie gras and truffles. Served with mustard on the side. We split it 8 ways.

This makes me a terrible person, I know it. But I would give various limbs to eat it again. I am GOING to eat it again. And this time I'm only going to split it with one other person.... Now I just have to decide who the lucky one will be. Eric's the favorite, but there are some dark horses in there....

Speaking of dark horses.... OMG. Fucking Rags to Riches. Good god almighty, is that a fucking horse.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oh my god in heaven.

So every time I say something about how Alice Waters is a wee bit smug or how green markets, while awesome, are not practical for everyone, or how occasionally food writing/blogging/obsessing is tiresome, some rabid foodie or other tries to tear me a new asshole, and I feel bad for awhile.

And then I read something like this, and I am reminded that Yes, I am fighting on the side of the angels.

(Sorry - you may have to pay or some shit if you're not a NYT subscriber. If so - Dining Section today, below the fold. "Dinner at the Foodies'", it's called. HORRID stuff.)