BUENOS AIRES: LA BRIGADA & A LATE NIGHT
It may sound corny, but, as I am discovering, Buenos Aries only really comes alive at night.
It’s streets never look better than they do in the declining light of the early evening and its people seem to rise from a somnambulant state at about 6pm to begin to think about supper, drinks and a bit of a party.
I was lucky that my new best chums The Gils invited me to join them for an evening’s entertainment.
First though, I had the day to kill and spent much of it walking along the relatively recently developed Puerto Madero with its spiffy gleaming new buildings and lines of lavish looking restaurants aimed at those with large expense accounts and little brain.
It is all perfectly fine in the way that any sterile converted waterfront area can be, but it held little appeal certainly in the dining area. So, I surreptitiously followed a gang of construction workers on a break and ended up along side a reservoir where any number of small stalls were set up offering grilled meats and sandwiches.
For about £1, I was able to treat myself to a Bandiola, a sandwich made with big strips of Bife de Chorizo, enough to send me back to the apartment I am renting and to bed for a bit of a nap.
By 8pm, I was up and ready to face the world and hopped in a cab back to the St Telmo district to meet my new friends at what is considered BA’s finest purveyor of meats of the grilled kind, La Brigada.
I was in expert hands as Martin Gil was one of the founders of the Argentinia Slow Food movement and knows his Argentinian grills inside out. He took charge and I was soon faced with a hot chunk of provoleta which, he assured me, was the benchmark for any parrilla.
Next, some innards. I love innards and there are not many varieties that I have not eaten in my forty three years. However, this was a first, delicate mollejas (sweetbreads) followed by chinchulines (intestines or chitterlings) both of which I had indulged myself in many times, but these were different having being separated from something which previously bleated rather than went ‘moo” Martin is pleasingly specific and instructed me to "only add five drops of lemon to wake it up" who was I to argue? Slightly charred on the outside and melted to a liquid inside, they were as good bits of offal as I can recall eating in a long, long time.
The main event was a large chunk of Bife De Chorizo and a slab off the short end of a rib. Both excellent and cooked, as they tend to here, to medium rare which worked well with an excellent wine from Mendoza whose name I could not drag from the fuzziness of my brain if you pointed a gun at me. It began with a “Q” if that helps at all.
As Martin put it “you either liked grilled meats or you don’t, but you are not going to find any better than this in the whole of Argentina” ‘nuff said.
In yet another one of those astonishing displays of hospitality I am encountering just about everywhere, the Gils insisted on picking up the tab and then invited me to join them at a friends birthday party.
So, after at least letting me buy them a drink in the old world elegance of the bar at The Plaza Hotel, they whisked me to another part of town where a party was just getting going (it was only midnight after all) more food, plenty of wine and a rather fun performance from a local entertainer whose songs I did not quite follow but guess they involved wanting to kill herself because a man broke “mi corazon”
One more night in this fun town, if I can last the pace. Then I am off to sit on a beach in Brazil for a bit of a rest