Annie Shustrin is a Brooklyn-based travel writer and blogger. She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels and has made a point of tasting wine in all of them. As well as writing for her blog, Travelshus, she contributes articles and photography to other online and print travel publications.
Half of the books may be in Spanish, but reading is not the only reason to come visit the El Ateneo bookstore. El Ateneo was built in the early 1900s as a theater. It was then converted into a cinema and subsequently converted into a very unique bookshop. Sitting along the balconies looking down upon the layers and layers of books really inspires one to get lost in a novel. English or Spanish.
The stage is now the bookshop’s café. The enormous red curtains are still in tact, which gives the whole room an old-school atmosphere.
Eating good food is on the top of every Argentinian’s mind. And good food - traditional good food in Argentina almost always involves a good piece of meat. Eating at a steakhouse is part of the quintessential Buenos Aires experience and should not be missed. Traditionally, steak and other meats and sausages are cooked on a parrilla (grill) over a fire and only very lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Adding chimichurri, a condiment made of herbs, olive oil, vinegar, and sometimes chilis, is always an option, though the meat is tender and delicious all by itself. A healthy salad on the side, dressed with oil and vinegar, lightens it up and adds freshness.
Malbec is one of Argentina’s treasures. (According to me at least) Its flavor is like a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and is the trademark grape of the Mendoza wine region. Though Mendoza is nowhere near Buenos Aires, many of the country’s most famous and most delicious wines can be found on wine store shelves and restaurant wine lists within the city. My favorite: Aguijon de Abeja Malbec (Spanish for bee sting). It is smooth and flavorful – think red berries and dark cherries. I found it on the wine list at my favorite Buenos Aires steakhouse, Don Julio.
Many other fantastic wineries, at all prices points, are worth trying as well, such as Norton, Atamisque, and Bodega del Fin del Mundo. (this one’s actually from Patagonia!)
Markets. My most favorite thing about travel. And for someone who loves markets, Buenos Aires is a perfect place to go. Not only are the regular farmers markets abundant with amazing fruits and vegetables (in the winter even), but Sundays are host to some of the best markets I’ve ever visited.
San Telmo has an indoor market that is open every day of the week. You can browse through antiques, local produce, and clothing in a cavernous metal building. On Sundays though, Plaza Dorrego and Calle Defensa are completely taken over by stalls selling art, antiques, jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, oddities, and food. It could take a whole day to see everything.
Though I’ve lived in New York City – the city that never sleeps - for many years, Buenos Aires’ nightlife was thoroughly impressive. Dinners start late in the evening, with the most popular seating time being roughly 9 or 9:30. Happy hours go clear through 10pm. Tango shows are merely an appetizer. Clubs don’t even open until midnight or later. And people are out, either wrapping up a night of drinking or having a late snack, until 6am.
Though I couldn’t keep up with the locals on a daily basis, the nights I did go out to enjoy a few glasses of Merlot or dance the night away in a club like a local were some of my favorite travel nights out. Don’t miss the drum troupe La Bomba del Tiempo at Konex in the Almagro area of the city – this indoor-outdoor event features drumming, unique music, and cheap drinks.
Five Things About Annie
Name: Annie Shustrin
Favorite Travel Memory: Visiting the Panda Research Base in Chengdu, China. I was able to hold a 2 year old panda on my lap as she licked honey off the back of her paw. Epic cuteness.
Favorite Ingredient: Cilantro (or coriander). It’s so fresh and clean, and is a key ingredient in the local cuisine of several of the most beautiful places I’ve traveled to, like Mexico and Thailand.
The Friday Five is an opportunity to share wisdom, tips, and hints about food, travel, and edible gardening. Interested in participating? E-mail me at glutenfreetravelette [at] gmail [dot] com for more information!