Tuesday, November 27, 2007

La Huella Restaurant in Jose Ignacio

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On our trip to Punta del Este, we stumbled upon one of the greatest seaside dives—Parador La Huella.

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According to Peggy Knickerbocker at Gourmet Magazine, several chefs consider it the best beach side restaurant in the world. It is the kind of place that would be right at home in Austin. Despite attracting an international A-list crowd and having one of best chefs in the region, it is the kind of place where flip flops are the attire of choice.

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The restaurant is in a "shack" right on the beach in the seaside village of Jose Ignacio about a 20 minute drive up the coast from Punta Del Este. Jose Ignacio appears on the surface to be just your average sleepy little South American fishing village.

But behind those small little fishing casas are some of the most expensive homes in South America. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon, Michael Eisner, and Ralph Lauren are just a few of the neighbors in this small town.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Punta del Este

As I mentioned previously, I took my family across to Uruguay for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. We picked the beautiful beach resort area known as Punta del Este.

Punta del Este is THE place for porteños to get away to. During summer, many families in Buenos Aires just pack up and move there for three months. It is easy to see why. It is a very beautiful place.

Punta del Este

Many famous beach resorts in the US, Europe or Mexico end up looking like one giant stretch of tacky tourist shops all selling the same cheap "I went to XXXX and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" kind of crap. Their initial beauty overwhelmed by excess commercialism to the masses. Not Punta del Este.

Some of the best designed apartment buildings and vacation homes can be found here. Most are modern masterpieces right out of the pages of Dwell. Yet despited all of the high-end design and well heeled visitors, the place has a very relaxed, laid-back feel.

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We stayed at the Mantra Resort. A very nice resort on the north end of town. The room was one of the best I've stayed in. However, the service was very lacking. I think those in the know end up renting one of the sleek, modern bungalows on the beach. That is what we plan to do next time.

As for our trip. We didn't get to spend much time on the beach. The weather was cold and cloudy on Friday and Saturday. It turned nice on Sunday, but we had to leave by 8:00am so we could drive back to Montevideo to catch our Buquebus ferry.

We still had fun. It was nice to just get away and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Oh, and we had some great food too. But that is another post.

If you ever come to Buenos Aires, make sure you carve out time for the trip north to Punta del Este.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Beach... No Turkey for Us This Year

Empty Bucket at Punta Del Este
While our friends and family were stuffing themselves with turkey this Thanksgiving, we headed to the beach.

Our daughter was out of school for the holiday even though they do not celebrate it down here. That gave us the perfect opportunity to hop the Buquebus across Rio Plata to Uruguay to renew or tourist visas that were set to expire last week.


Lots of other families from my daughters school thought the same thing. The ferry was full with my daughters classmates.

Unfortunately, the beautiful weather we had last week did not last. It turned cold and ugly. But we didn't care. We were having fun falling in love with a whole new country.

Argentina, you have some competition next door!

More to come once I've had time to go through all the pics.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mexican Food... What every good Texan misses most.

What does the typical Texan miss most when away from home?

Mexican Food! What else? To be technically correct, that would be Tex-Mex. But when you are desperate, any form of Mexican food will do.

Everyone finds it hard to believe that the food down here is mild. In fact, it is blander than the food in from Great Britan. Yes, it is that bad.

Most people in the States use the following logic when summing up Argentina: It is south of the border, they speak Spanish (or so they are told), so therefore they eat Mexican food. Or at least something similar.

As a side note, when word got out that we were moving to Argentina, one of my daughter's friends actually asked, "they speak Mexican down there don't they?"

Well I wish that logic held true (even the speaking Mexican part). I MISS MEXICAN FOOD!

Great news. After disappointing outings at three restaurants that attempt Mexican food, I've finally found the real deal. 5ta. Esencia in La Lucila (Av. Del Libertador 3986).
We started with the ceviche tostadas and they were perfecto! We then had a sampler with several tacos, quesadillas, taquitos and other items. They were all great even though they didn't exactly look like the fare from home or Mexico. But, they came damn close.

Back home, we have a saying about Mexican restaurants. You can judge how good the place is by the chips and hot sauce they serve when you sit down. The chips here look more like Fritos and not the familiar triangles we are use to, but were good. The hot sauce at first was as bland as katchup with zero heat. I asked if they had real hot sauce and was brought liquid fire in a bowl. I was in heaven.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Tree on my Balcony
Reports from back home are of the Indian Summer you guys are experiencing in North Texas.

Keep in mind that things are reversed down here south of the equator. Not only does water drain clockwise not counter-clockwise (as proven by Lisa Simpson) but it is spring, not fall here.

And while Texans are out on the lake enjoying an endless summer... WE ARE FREEZING TO DEATH!!

We awoke today with the temp hovering at 9 celcius (48F—I know, I know that is a long way from freezing... but remember I'm from Texas!) and the wind was blowing like a bat out of hell. My fellow expats from Chicago (mike and frank) probably felt right at home.

The great thing about the weather in Buenos Aires—stick around it will change. Ahh, just like back home.

I wonder if they call it an "Indian Winter" here.

I'll leave you with images from when the weather was a little more spring like. The Nike 10K was held here last weekend. The images are from the Cartel Endorfina site. Please click on the link to see more amazing shots of Buenos Aires.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ahhhh..... Volta!

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OK... The downside to having to go out to eat after 9:00pm with a 3 year old? He often falls asleep through diner. Add the fact that my daughter needs to wake up before 6:00am to get ready for her bus, and you can forget about ordering dessert. Get the entré and get out of there is all we have time for.

Volta to the rescue!

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Porteños are crazy about ice cream. And this is a city where just about anything can be delivered right to your doorstep. So of course the ice cream places all deliver. Volta is one of the best.

So here it is 11:00pm and I've just placed my order. It should be here a few minutes after I finish this post. And boy will it be good. I can't wait!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Finally Moved to Belgrano


Over the weekend my family finally moved to the Barrio of Belgrano. We've been wanting to for some time so our daughter could be closer to school. Plus, we just love the neighborhood.

Friends and family have been screaming for pics of the place. So here it is. As you can see above, we went a little over our normal budget for this place. It was well worth it.

We splurged because we finally decided NOT to buy and are going with the the temporary rental apartments for the mean time. It was a tough decision. But with the increasing inflation here (the real number approaching 30% annually), the cloudy outlook for the economy and the bubble like atmosphere in the BsAS real estate market, it was hard to justify that kind of investment.

The other factor was my daughter. The honeymoon has worn off and she is having a tough go of things. Most likely, she'll get through it. Most parents that have similar age girls have said it gets rough but most snap out of it and relish their expat lifestyle.

To help my daughter, we've agreed to only be abroad for a year. With that short a timeframe, it is kind of hard to justify buying an apartment here. Sure, we had always planned to rent it out. But the shorter timeframe with the economic situation here, we just had to say no.

Besides, we were spending too much time looking for housing and not enough time enjoying this wonderful city.

After two months, we are finally set for the real fun to begin. Now we even have the flexibility to pickup at the drop of the hat and see the rest of the country. Say move to Mendoza or Bariloche. Even hike Patagonia for month or two.

BTW, here are a few more shots of our new digs...


Friday, November 2, 2007

Choripan...Heaven on a Bun.


I have to admit, I'm not the kind of guy who's into buying food off of some street vendor's cart. Unless it is the fish tacos on the beaches of Mexico, or the hot dogs off streets of New York, or the burritos and egg rolls off the carts around the University of Texas campus. And of course, corny dogs at the Texas State Fair.

OK, so maybe I am into street food.

Well, nothing comes close to the goodness of the Choripan. Choripan vendors can be found all over the the parks of Palermo and they serve up heaven on a warm tasty bun.

I guess Choripan is short for Chorizo y Pan (Sausage and bread for you gringos back home). Only the chorizo sausage is not the same firery, spicy-hot variety us Texicans are used to. Porteños don't like anything hot or too spicy.

The chorizo here is just a good old fashion sausage similar to what they have in Spain. Not very hot at all. But boy is it good.

Grill it up and throw it on a toasted bun and you have the closest thing you'll get to fast food here. Only 100 times better.