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Exploring the cuisine of Argentina

Laura Keller is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed foodie from Chicago, currently embarking on a year-long honeymoon around the world. You can follow her food and travel adventures at www.RoundWeGo.com or @RoundWeGo.

Epicurean delights in Buenos Aires

Arriving in the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina you’ll discover a chic, progressive and world-class city in the heart of Latin America. Boasting a unique fusion of the sophistication and richness of European style with a vibrant Latin flair, Buenos Aires has a seductive appeal. It is a richly textured and colorful city where the people, the language and the culture exude an addictive energy. And it is this city’s restaurant scene and culinary treasures that put it on the map as one of today’s best food destinations in the world.

Argentinian BBQ

The culinary declicacies of Buenos Aires

Due to the weakening Argentine peso, Buenos Aires has recently become one of the most inexpensive cities to visit south of the equator, allowing big spenders and budget travelers alike the chance to live like royalty. From the elegant and refined Recoleta, to historical La Boca and charming San Telmo, Buenos Aires is broken up into barrios (neighborhoods), each with its own character and personality. You will find, however, the grand avenues, rich history, architectural masterpieces and eclectic boutiques are only part of this city's armory.

Half Moons and Strong Brew

With the state of the peso, there's no need for self-catering. Start your day off right by partaking in the city's lively cafe culture. Take a step back in time and visit one of the city's historical cafes, such as Café Tortoni (825 Av. de Mayo), La Biela (596 Av. Quintana) or Café Richmond (468 Calle Florida). At these cafes, attentive waiters clad in tuxedos serve exquisite pastries on fine china and piping hot chocolate out of silver kettles. Charge yourself up with a traditional Argentine breakfast of café con leche (coffee with a little bit of milk) and an order of medialunas (sweet, flaky croissants named for their half-moon shape) while lingering for a couple of hours and taking in the scene.

Chic Eats

After the coffee buzz begins to diminish, wander around the hip neighborhood of Palermo Viejo. Here century-old homes lining leafy boulevards have been transformed into the city's most innovative restaurants and bars. Paying homage to Argentina's Spanish and Italian roots, you'll discover sumptuous menus with creative takes on traditional lunch dishes like milanesa (breaded and fried meat), empanadas (small turnovers containing meats, cheeses and vegetables) and homemade pastas. For a tasty lunch menu while taking in modern decor and sleek surroundings, check out Bar 6 (1676 Armenia) or Bar Uriarte (1572 Uriarte).

Needless Nibbles

After work, Argentines head to confiterías (cafés) to drink cortados (espresso) and have an afternoon snack to tide them over for the late dinner hour. Nosh on a rich picada, a platter of cheese, meats, anchovies, olives and peanuts. Or choose to satisfy your sweet tooth by opting for a classic alfajor, a shortbread cookie sandwiched together with dulce de leche (Argentina's national obsession and famed creamy, caramel-like spread).

Saddle Up

For those with carnivorous appetites, rejoice. Buenos Aires has the highest per capita meat consumption in the world and menu offerings willingly oblige this high protein diet. In every neighborhood, there is an array of delectable parrilla (barbecue) restaurants serving up the finest quality of meat. In typical Argentine fashion, start out with a few empanadas and a proveleta (grilled cheese soaked in herbs and oil) while leaving room for your entree: the parrillada.

The parrillada is a sampling of steak and other meats no carnivore should miss. It's typically prepared to mouthwatering perfection over a charcoal or wood fire grill and includes cuts of beef like asado de tira (ribs), colita de cuadril (rump steak) and vacio (flank steak). The meat lover's feast is not prejudiced in its offerings, also including the normally unmet but equally appetizing chinchulines (small intestines), riñones (kidneys) and morcilla (blood sausage). Chimichurri, a savory garlic and parsley-based salsa, is the classic accompaniment and will ensure your parrilla experience is one not to be forgotten. For an authentic parrilla experience, check out La Brigada (465 Estados Unidos), El Primo (302 Baez) or Des Nivel (855 Defensa). Early birds, beware; your body clock will have to adjust as dining around midnight is commonplace for most Argentines.

If you can handle the pace, cap off your night enjoying a drink in the garden of the beautifully-renovated old mansion Bar Milión (1048 Parana) or relax on the outside terrace of swanky Congo (5329 Honduras).

Buen provecho!

Can't make it to South America? Try these recipes at home:

For more delectable tales of global cuisine, visit www.RoundWeGo.com.

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