Tag Archives: argentina

Recipe: Alfajores de maicena from Argentina

Alfajores de maicena are Argentinian cookies that literally crumble in your mouth. They’re delicious and easy to make! Here’s my favourite recipe for them.

Ingredients
150g butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 egg white
smidgen vanilla extract
swig of rum or other alcohol like brandy
3/4 cup regular flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 and 3/4 cups cornflour
1 jar dulce de leche (from a specialty shop, or you can make your own)
shredded coconut for rolling

Tools you’ll need
Large bowl
Fork
Sieve
Rolling pin
Rolling surface
Small, round cookie cutter
Fridge
Baking paper
Oven tray
Glad wrap
Cooling rack
Spreading knife
Plate


Steps
1) In the bowl, mix the butter, egg yolks, egg white and sugar with the fork until fluffy
2) Add the rum and vanilla essence and stir in
3) Use the sieve to add gradual amounts of the baking soda, flour and cornflour, mixing in well with the fork
4) The mixture may be quite crumbly at this stage, so get your hands dirty and press it all together, kneading well
5) Once it’s all in a big lump, wrap tightly in glad wrap and place in the fridge for at least two hours. I left mine overnight
6) After two hours (or the next day), take the lump out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into three sections
7) Preheat oven on 160 degrees
8) For each dough section: Sprinkle flour on rolling surface and roll out the dough to about 1cm thick
9) Cut out circles with the cookie cutter and place each on the baking paper on the baking tray
10) Bake for about 10 minutes, keeping a close eyes on the biscuits – they must not turn golden!
11) Take biscuits out of the oven and cool on a rack
12) Once cooled, spread a layer of dulce de leche onto the base of one biscuit, then sandwich to another one so thedulce oozes out the sides
13) Even the dulce out with a knife, then roll in the shredded coconut

Enjoy!

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Top 6 must-see places in Argentina

Perhaps I’m feeling nostalgic. Perhaps I’ve got the travel bug again (back with a vengeance, kinda like the bedbug problem in the States right now). Or perhaps I’m just in a sharing mood. Whatever the reason may be, I’m compelled to retrace my steps from March to May of this year and announce my top 6 spots in Argentina. 

6) Iguazu 
Laid-back and tropical, Iguazu is a nature-lover’s haven. Do you want to see animals or do you want to stand in awe at the mouth of a huge waterfall? Here you can have both, and in a town that is friendly, arty and has excellent accommodation at very reasonable prices. Plus, it’s only 18 hours from Buenos Aires in the most comfortable buses you’ve ever been in. 

5) Bariloche
Surrounded by lakes and mountains, San Carlos de Bariloche is perfect for water-sports, skiing and trekking. But if you’re not so inclined then you can just go there to eat amazing chocolate, thanks to its history of Swiss settlers.

4) Ushuaia
“The end of the world” is fierce and edgy – not to be messed with or taken for granted. Home to a plethora of wildlife, Ushuaia is the last port of call before the perilous Cape Horn, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet in a savage encounter. 

3) El Calafate
Popular with trekkers, El Calafate sits on Lago Argentino and is only 80kms from the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness a piece of ice detach from the glacier and smash into the water below with thunder-like clap of menacing sound. 

2) Cafayate
Close to the northern city of Salta is a town called Cafayate – red, rocky and dry. What makes it so beautiful to me is the contrast between the rusty tones of the earth and the deep blues of the sky….and also the quality of the wine that comes from here.

1) Buenos Aires
What can I say? This is the real deal. A true nocturnal city where the traffic is frightening and the meat is abundant. Architectural beauty, enormous streets, ham and cheese toasted sandwiches, dog poo, subway queues, San Telmo markets, Boca Juniors, dulce de leche, Palermo cafes, Recoleta shops….it doesn’t end. I love this city, and not only because it’s my place of birth, but because it’s a delicious combination of European sophistication with Latin-American passion.

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A meat injection of gastronomic proportions – the Argentinean asado

Sadly, our time in South America has come to an end. I could feel tears welling in my eyes as I hugged my aunt, uncle and cousins goodbye on Monday morning. They have been extraordinary hosts during our Buenos Aires stay and naturally did not let us leave before treating us to an Argentinean asado on Saturday night. Here’s what it consisted of:

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  • Asado de tira (a strip of ribs)

  • Lomo (tenderloin)

  • Colita de Cuadril (tail of rump)

  • Chorizo

  • Salchicha Parrillera (a type of sausage containing both beef, pork and bacon)

  • Morcilla a la Vasca (blood sausage with spices, nuts, raisins, bacon and don’t ask what else, but it’s delicious)

The parilla (the grill where the asado is cooked) is located upstairs on the terrace of the house. While the fire is heating up the coals, the meat is seasoned and salted, and the parilla is cleaned with newspaper of any residue. The various cuts of meat are then placed on the parilla with the burning coals underneath. 

Slow and steady does it and the end result is delectable. All you need to add is a simple salad selection, fresh bread and a few bottles of Malbec….and it’s all even better if you have great company, like we did. It was the perfect culmination to our time in Argentina and if there is anything I was certain of as the plane ascended over Buenos Aires it’s that it won’t be long until I’m back there again. 

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Iguazu Falls slideshow compilation

Last week we visited the magnificent Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinean side. Here is a compilation of images and footage from that visit but be warned – I like cheesy soundtracks. 

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Crossing the border into Bolivia with altitude sickness

The day we entered into Bolivia was a long one. Up at 5.45am, we were collected by a cab at 6.30am after rapidly inhaling some breakfast. Our bus from Salta to La Quiaca left at 7am, and after countless stops in small towns and villages, we arrived at the Argentinean border city at 2.30pm.

This is where it got a little confusing, and perhaps the altitude was getting to me by this stage. We actually left Argentina without realising (and thus, without getting an exit stamp) so we had to go back to the Argentinean side to get our stamps before entering Bolivia. The Bolivian border city is called Villazón and here we filled out our forms in a little room inhabited by more flies than people, then changed some cash over, put our clocks back one hour and caught a cab to the train station.

The magic that is the World Wide Web had advised us that at least in southern Bolivia, the train is preferable to the bus so we bought our tickets in first class to Tupiza, put our bags in the hold and hopped on a carriage that was filled solely with foreigners, including two Australians that had been at our hostel in Bariloche. The 2 hours and 45 minutes on the train only cost us 51 Bolivianos each which is roughly $10, and included a sandwich, a bottle of Fanta, a long-drop onto the train tracks, The Perfect Storm on the TV and the first glimpses of spectacular Bolivian landscapes.

By the time we arrived in Tupiza the dull ache in my head and my tired, droopy eyes were enough to be putting me in a little bit of a grumpy mood, but after a solid 8-hour sleep the only remnant of altitude sickness was breathlessness from walking around*. At 3,650 metres above sea level the air is thin.

*Note: I spoke far too soon – more on altitude sickness to come in an upcoming post

The following day was a lazy one – all we did was sleep in, book our Uyuni tour and wander around the town. Here are some fun facts and a few hints about Tupiza:

  • There are 4 sizes of pizza: Small, Medium, Large and Gigantic

  • They don’t have the cocktail ‘Sex on the Beach’ but they do have ‘Sex on the Glacial Lake’

  • Most of the restaurants appear to be Italian

  • You can get an entree, main dish and a soft drink for about 20 Bolivianos (or NZD$5)

  • When you go to change currency, change only half of what you want to change and see if they offer you a better rate if you come back and change more the next day

  • That being said, change your money at the border because you’ll get a better rate than in the smaller cities

  • Further to that, ensure you have cash (Argentinean Pesos, USD or Euros) as there are no ATM’s in Tupiza and only one in Uyuni (which apparently doesn’t always work)

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Llama meat and other culinary delicacies

A day trip from Salta to parts of northern Argentina (including Purmamarca and Humahuaca) on Friday last week gave us the opportunity to sample three delectable dishes:

1) Tamales (a mixture of corn and meat steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper)

2) Llama meat

3) Locro – a stew containing meat, corn, chorizo and vegetables

My favourite was definitely the locro – highly recommended!

 

 

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Cafayate – where you can try unfamiliar wines and try to spot the Roadrunner

Yesterday, several good things happened:

1) We discovered Torrontés and Tannat wines
2) I had a Cabernet wine icecream
3) We were amongst a Martian-like scenery unlike anything I’ve ever seen before
4) We didn’t get spat on by a llama
5) We met some cute puppies on the road

And all of this happened at or on the route between Salta and Cafayate, in the Calchaquí Valley. Argentinean geography has completely captivated me – I’ve never seen so much diverse scenery and land formations in one country.

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Photos: Ushuaia – El fin del mundo

The southern-most city in the world is unquestionably beautiful. Nestled in a bay surrounded by mountains, it is considered the gateway to Antarctica with passenger cruises leaving regularly from its port. And with icy winds that laugh in the face of your thermals, polar fleece, gloves and “windproof” jacket, you really feel as if the white continent is merely around the corner. 

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All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

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What’s in a place name?

When travelling you have more time to question why things are the way they are, and one aspect of that question “why?” has led me to ask, “why is this place called what it is?”

 

Here are the interesting results of some of the answers, some of which you may know already but if you don’t, they provide a great insight into history and culture (the places are all in the south of Argentina, where we were from the 19th to the 30th of March):

 

Bariloche – The name Bariloche comes from the Mapudungun word Vuriloche meaning “people from behind the mountain” (furi = behind, che = people). 

 

El Calafate – named for the evergreen shrug, the calafate, which is found in Patagonia.

 

Perito Moreno (glacier) – named after the explorer and academic, Francisco Moreno who was known as Perito Moreno. ‘Perito’ means expert or specialised. 

 

El Chalten – “Chaltén” is a Tehuelche word meaning “smoking mountain”, as they believe it was a volcano due to its peak being covered by clouds most of the time. 

 

Ushuaia – The name comes from two Yámana words, ‘ushu’ (at the bottom/end) and ‘waia’ (bay/port) and means “deep bay” or “bay at the end”.

 

Beagle Channel – Named after the ship, HMS Beagle (captained by Robert FitzRoy).

 

References: Wikipedia

 

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Icy a glacier! – Perito Moreno photos

80kms from El Calafate in Patagonia lies the behemoth Perito Moreno Glacier. As it advances, chunks fall off the front and smash into the water with the sound of dynamite blowing up. It is nothing short of astonishing and shows the power of nature in a spectacular way.

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All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

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