Monthly Archives: January 2011

Shot of the Week

Sorrento, Italy by TKGO

The city of Sorrento is situated along the Mediterranean, except the majority of the buildings and activity in town are located quite a bit up from the water. Sure, you can walk down no problem; it is the walk back up that isn’t so fun. Of course, it is all worth it for the views. And pizzerias. (Such as Pizzeria Aurora, which I wrote about in a TKGO post back in August.)

Karina for TKGO

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Asado in Ushuaia, Argentina

Before setting off for Antarctica in December 2006, we expeditioners spent a few days in our port city, Ushuaia—the southernmost city in Argentina, and the closest in the world to Antarctica via the Drake Passage.

Ushuaia, asado, Argentina, lamb

It was here I had my first introduction to a lifelong obsession: the Argentinian asado. The traditional asado is a four-hour method for grilling meat that locks in the succulent flavor and moisture without adding much additional seasoning except salt. Here, they made lamb in an upright position, but most at-home asados take place horizontally, over a three-foot long grill, out of convenience. The one thing they always have in common? Open fire.

asado de cordero, lamb, Argentina, Ushuaia

The typical side dishes at an asado are other meats, such as chorizo or morcilla (blood sausage). Salad consists of chopped lettuce, cubed tomatoes and sometimes onions—in three separate bowls—each with vegetable oil drizzled over the top. Though potatoes aren’t as common, they were an accoutrement at this asado, likely to satisfy the tourists’ palate.

asado, Ushuaia, Argentina, cordero, lamb

Serve your asado with red wine or a stiff drink (may I recommend Fernet Branca and Coca Cola?) and spend all day at the table enjoying the company. (It will take that long to consume all that cordero!)

Tara for TKGO

What Argentines Love

Argentines do enjoy their red wine and steak. Many do tote around their mate gourds and thermoses and, for a night out, will mix up Fernet and Cokes. Perhaps a couple Argentines can slide through a few tango steps. Some of the stereotypes of this country can be true, same as for any other country or culture.

What I am always drawn to discovering when somewhere new is the more nuanced cultural affinities of the place; things beyond what first comes to mind when people hear the name of the city or country. They’re the tendencies and favorites that take some time to notice, and they’re often more insightful as to how people live their lives and what they enjoy than any stereotypes could be.

I’ve listed out some of what I find to be the most interesting, funny or unexpected Argentine favorites I have noticed over the course of my months in Buenos Aires. I’ve limited it mostly to physical objects, because I could go on forever about Argentine cultural phenomena, such as the proclivity to making and taking national holidays as much as possible, (ie: Immaculate Conception Day on December 8 when everyone puts up their Christmas trees) or the all-pervasive grungy look in vogue here right now.

rollerblading

Blissful in my first time in rollerblades in years; at Parque 3 de Febrero

The coolest, fittest way to get around is rollerblading. People rent blades for hour increments in parks, or strap on their own high-tech, aerodynamic pairs. Rollerblading lives far beyond the 90s in Buenos Aires, and I am definitely not too cool for it. One of my favorite Sundays in the city was spent blading laps around Parque 3 de Febrero.

tang

Tang, courtesy of Rejon on Flickr

Similarly, that crazy orange powder drink oh-so-inventively represented with an orangutan enjoys its popularity well past the ’90s in Buenos Aires. One common way to enjoy it is to pour it in with mate to cut the caffeinated drink’s bitterness.

stella artois

Stella Artois billboard at Humboldt and Paraguay, by Karina for TKGO

While we’re on the subject of drinks, people love their Stella here. Argentine beer Quilmes is a prideful favorite, but imbibers who want to take their drinking a step classier go for the Stella.

delivery

Volta helado delivery, by Karina for TKGO

Want to stock your departamento with Stella but couldn’t get to a market to pick some up for the night? Call delivery! Alcohol delivery, ice cream delivery, McDonald’s delivery, even one-cup-of-coffee delivery; it’s all coming right to your door.

wifi

Mama Racha, one of many Palermo establishments with free WiFi, by Karina for TKGO

Lacking WiFi (pronounced “wee-fee”) really undermines an establishment’s legitimacy, because in Buenos Aires the majority of all cafes, restaurants, bars and pretty much all enclosed indoor spaces, including the Buquebus station, offer free WiFi. I’m not sure why someone would go to a bar with a laptop, but the service is there—and not necessarily secure—if you want it.

speed

 

Speed Unlimited advertised at Club One, by Karina for TKGO

Back to the subject of drinks, Speed, an energy drink similar to Redbull or Rockstar, is a favored Argentine mixer. Speed with vodka is a frequently ordered drink for girls or guys, and people often order cans of speed with a bottle of champagne to mix together. (The champagne-Speed combination is a taste my friends and I are still trying to force ourselves to enjoy, but still just don’t understand.) Four Loko managers reading this, have you considered a foray into South America?

sushi

Kaiseki sushi, by Karina for TKGO

Sushi is so chic in Buenos Aires, just as it’s a ‘trendy’ food in many parts of the world. I am not much of an expert on sushi, but from what I have gathered from friends more knowledgeable in the field, it seems the sushi here is not all that inventive. Many of the more daring fish, like eel,  are missing from most menus, and for some reason, rolls with salmon almost always come with Philadelphia cream cheese. Still, you have plenty of options if you’re craving sushi in Buenos Aires, from the sleek SushiClub to one of the three delivery places on your block, like Kaiseki near my house and pictured above.

american skate and surf clothing brands

Billabong, courtesy of Karola Riegler photography on Flickr

Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver and similar skate/surf clithing brands are everywhere, from the gyms to the clubs. Teenage boys through male 30-year-olds sport shirts with the brand names emblazoned on, usually accompanied with some artsy design.

American brands are pretty coveted in Argentina in general, as an iPhone (or any Mac product) is a status symbol and Nike sneakers are a must-have for many.

This could easily continue for paragraphs, to include things like rugby and field hockey (the former is one of the most popular sports for guys, the latter for girls), Mafalda, pool parties in the summertime and bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, but for now my list of Argentine remains curated to the items above. Been in Buenos Aires and noticed something por todos lados you’ve found interesting? Please post it in the comments!

Karina for TKGO

Shot of the Week

Junks in Halong Bay, Vietnam, by Olivia for TKGO

This shot comes by way of my sister, who returned just days ago from a two-week trip through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. One of the most stunning vistas, she said, came from this viewpoint over Halong Bay, Vietnam, about two hours from Hanoi. Junks haul tourists on two-day cruises through the towering islands, where monkeys swing on branches hundreds of feet overhead and rivers have carved caves perfect for kayaking excursions.

Tara and Olivia for TKGO

Shot of the Week

Car in Cojimar, Cuba

This photo is from Cojímar, Cuba, outside La Terraza restaurant. During my week-long trip to Cuba last March, our group slipped outside the bustle of La Habana for lunch at La Terraza, one of Hemingway’s frequented spots.

Karina for TKGO

Celeb Spotting and Architecture Peeping in Naples, Florida

What does Judge Judy have in common with a retired banker? You’ll find both walking their dogs (in strollers) in the gated community of Bay Colony in Naples, Florida. Naturally, the houses and condos they vacation in are often more impressive than their careers.

Bay Colony's mansions on the beachWhile the series of high rises in Naples are full of condos worth seeing, the real high rollers have their own private houses on the beach at the end of Bay Colony Drive. (Tom Cruise was rumored to have owned one!)

Bay Colony's mansions on the beachBay Colony's mansions on the beachBay Colony's mansions on the beach

In the market for a vacation spot and have a loose $12.9 million? Four bedrooms, six bathrooms and a den make up the nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of the above beach house. Guests have their own tower, on the right. Click for photos of the inside of this Bay Colony property.

The below mansion, with five bedrooms, five bathrooms and a den in over 7,000 sq. ft., runs for $10.9 million. A slideshow of the rooms inside can be found on the same site.

Bay Colony's mansions on the beach

The houses are rarely occupied, but if dinner in the tower of a mansion is your idea of a great Wednesday night—or your kids plan on marrying into money—Christmas is your best chance of running into the owners. Good luck!

Tara for TKGO

Shot of the Week

Deadmau5 Congress Theater ChicagoThe green of electronic musician Deadmau5‘s mouse ears are the centerpiece of the neon stage at the October 22, 2010 show at the Congress Theater in Chicago.

Tara for TKGO