Six Foods (And Drinks) To Try In Buenos Aires, Argentina

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1. Steak/Lomo
Parrillas are steakhouses in Buenos Aires, many with gauchos at the front cooking the meat on big open fires. We had a late dig in at Los Inmortales so I only ordered the “mini bif.” At it $8 seemed twice the size you’d be served for triple the price in Canada. Argentine beef is so wildly praised because they are free range and pampas fed giving it a wilder flavour.

2010-07-23 alfajores2. Alfajore
The alfajore is the Argentinian twist on the Oreo – but much bigger. Basically it’s a butter cookie or shortbread sandwiched with dulce de leche filling.

Actually, dulce de leche itself is a treat to be tasted anywhere in latin america. It’s condensed milk sweeted into a caramel spread tate is used at breakfast the way we use peanut butter and then drizzled across every confection on the rest of the dessert menu.

3. Empanada
Empanadas are little hot pockets of goodness and make a great afternoon snack. We stopped at a cafe on Calle Florida and noshed on some for $2 each. Then, later that night for a bite we found them for $1.50. The menus we saw had them with ham and cheese, beef, vegetable, and caprese fillings. They are a great value for money and delicious little purses of flavour.

4. Malbec
Malbec is the grape du jour that is putting South American wines at the forefront of the world movement. The Norton DOC Malbec we were served at a banquet in Rio was rich and spicy and is a great tango partner for the lomo. Later, in Buenos Aires, we ordered a San Telmo Malbec that didn’t match the punch of the Norton bottle, but was still enjoyable at a mere $10 (menu price!) When we got home we picked up a Malbec from The Show. It was a little fruitier than the others and we couldnt decifer from the label if it was a wine that was made in California from imported juice or bottled in Mendoza and shipped north. Still worth a sip though!

sorrentinos at spell cafe in buenos aires

5. Sorrentinos
The Italian influence in Argentinian cuisine is unmistakable. Pizzas and pastas dance across every menu and the most local of them is the sorrentino. A cookie shaped ravioli, the stuffings are diverse. The ones I tucked into at Spell Cafe in Puerto Madero were drowning in cheesy white sauce and snuggled next to a pile of shrimp.

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6. Quilmes
Quilmes is a light blond beer found at cafes across Buenos Aires. I enjoyed ordering the 600cl bottle for just $5

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The Worst Airplane Seat In The World

TAM Airlines, flight 703 from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro.

The worst thing happened. In the lottery that is seat assignments, my wife and I pulled row 28.

There are 28 rows on this plane. Dead last. Back of the bus. The unreclining one against the wall. Usually a total pain, but on this 4 hour flight something else would be tossed into the mix. Not only would we not be able to recline, if the seats in front did, they’d be sitting on my lap.

the worst seat on an airplaneThe last row on this TAM Airlines flight was especially nasty since they’ve pinched 3 inches out of every row on the plane to squeeze an extra 6 seats in the back.

I’m barely 5’ 10” and my knees were scraping the seat in front of me. The width of the seat was just as tight with my shoulders straying into my wife’s airspace. Never mind fighting for the armrest, my actual shoulder was in her chin.

The TAM Airlines seats were so tight, that when we boarded our Continental flight from Rio to Houston, we felt like we were in first class despite schlepping in economy. 3 simple inches of knee room was all it took.

The last row is the worst on any plane, you can’t move your seat, everyone else can ride into your lap. The only seat perhaps worse than my 28A was 28C, the one on the aisle. Where everyone hovers over you waiting to use the bathroom.

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The Best Places To Buy Havaianas in Rio de Janeiro

2010-07-17 havaianas in rio de janeiro

As soon as we booked our tickets to Rio de Janeiro, my wife was determined to embark on a hunt to buy Havaianas, the sexy flip flop that has risen to the top of the fashion ranks.

In Brazil they are so common the company says three out of every four Brazilians own a pair. It got to the point that Brazilian model Giselle Bundchen, the face of rival flip-flop brand Ipanema, was even caught wearing a pair of Havaianas.

Named for Hawaii, these cushiony-soled sandals in fact hail from Brazil and have been around for almost 50 years. And while they may currently be riding a high-end fashion wave, they were originally designed for poor slum dwellers and sold in plastic bags at convenience stores, next to cleaning supplies.

“It’s become the people’s brand,” said Sugimara. “We say Havaianas are to flip-flops what Kleenex is to tissue and Coke is to sodas.”


So everywhere we assumed they would be, and everywhere they are. But some places are better to buy Havaianas than others. Here are few places we discovered on our long walk through Copcabana, Ipanema and Leblon.

Sheraton Rio Hotel has a shop featuring assorted Brazilian souvenirs, including Havaianas. They have a nice selection, but prices to match a higher end hotel. A pink pair with the Brazilian flag on the strap was R$29,00.

Rio Sul is a shopping mall in Botafogo that features a Havaianas store where a decent selection can be had for R$15,00 to R$21,00. My wife jumped in and bought a few pair here. Had she waited, she would have discovered a better selection and better prices deeper on the streets of Copacabana.

2010-07-17 best place to buy havaianas in rio is mg bazar

MG Bazar (R. Figueiredo de Magalhães 414, Copacabana) had them priced from $R11,00 to R$18,00 with a deep selection of flops for each nation from the World Cup, kid sizes, ones repping each of the Rio futbol teams, bright floral designs, dark gothic ones, a rainbow of solid colours and more.

According to Gringo Rio, 2 other shops to check out are Miss Bag in Copacabana and Kikarnes in Ipanema.

Hunting for Havaianas in Rio isn’t a difficult task, you can spot them in the easiest of places (hotels and shopping malls) but if you’re adventurous enough to get into the streets of the city, you’ll find better and more unique styles.

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I’m In Rio Where I’m Dancing In The Rain

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Close your eyes and imagine Rio de Janeiro.

Visions of sexy beaches, tight bodies and sun run wild in your mind. Beach soccer, string bikinis and cold drinks on the sand flood your mind. Corcovado, Copacabana and Ipanema are words that are instantly familiar.

Even the lyrics from a Duran Duran song help paint an image “.. her name is Rio and she dances on the sand ..

That is the Rio I had expected to see. Instead, in the heart of winter, I am in Rio and I’m dancing in the rain.

What are you going to do?

Today, with our jungle jeep through the Tijuca rainforest cancelled because of rain, we decided to take a car from the hotel to the other side of town and walk back, dancing from the beaches to the busy streets inside the city. We hunted for Havaianas, sipped on cervejas and snacked on street food.

Oh yeah, and we got wet.

walking route in rio de janeiro

Thank god I brought along my emergency ponchos. I’ve been carrying these dollar store goodies in my knapsack for every overseas vacation since a trek to Peru in 2003. They’ve been a great good luck charm to keep the rain away. Until now.

Oh well, here’s some pictures of Rio in the rain.

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