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  1. None of my suggestions need reservations except for possibly El Desnivel, just because it gets crowded fast there. They might not accept reservations until the day of, however. And not to steal Tee's thunder, but I enthusiastically second the recommendation for Club del Vino. You'll probably need a reservation there, just to be sure (Tee, would you agree?). I've never eaten at the restaurant, but I saw a tango orchestra perform there over wine and picada (traditional meat/cheese platter). The group I saw was El Arranque, and if you like tango music (this is the music without dancing), I recommend them.
  2. I'm going to take back my earlier suggestion on Bar 6 - I still find the atmosphere a lot of fun, but I've had some boring meals there lately. I second the recommendation for Cabana Las Lilas on Puerto Madero. If you want excellent, much less expensive parrilla in a more neighborhood setting, I like El Desnivel in San Telmo. Yes, it's in all the guidebooks and can be touristy, but the food is fabulous and San Telmo has a lot more character than Puerto Madero. For pizza and atmosphere, I like Piola (Santa Fe/Libertad), but be prepared to work hard because the knives are really dull (my only complaint). Filo (San Martin 975, around Marcelo T. Alvear in the Microcentro) also has good pizza and is popular with the after-work crowd, so you can even eat dinner there early on a weeknight - like at 8:30 p.m. - and not feel like a total nerd. Fun places for drinks are Central (Costa Rica 5644 in Palermo Viejo), Soul Cafe (Baez 246 in Las Canitas), Milion (Santa Fe/Parana in Barrio Norte) and Mundo Bizarro (Guatemala 4802 in Palermo Hollywood). These recommendations are all based on ambiance, so unfortunately I can't tell you if the mojitos are any good (they all taste fine to me). Soul Cafe is one of the few places you can hear hip-hop music in Buenos Aires; Milion can be touristy but is in a gorgeous old mansion; and Mundo Bizarro is a neighborhood favorite where you can feel like a Palermo Hollywood regular. (Very dark inside, though.) The newest places are springing up in the neighborhoods of Palermo Viejo/Hollywood/SoHo. It's definitely worth just strolling around and seeing what catches your eye because I'm always stumbling on just-opened places. Oh, and if you're ever around Honduras/Bonpland (I think that's the intersection) in Palermo Viejo stop in at Terra, an outdoor cafe, and see if they have freshly baked medialunas. I had some warm out of the oven once and they were heavenly. Terra also has nice homemade lemonade, not that common in Buenos Aires. Have fun in Argentina! You'll love it here!
  3. I'm thinking of buying my mother a cookbook stand/holder for her birthday and was wondering if anyone had recommendations or warnings. There are a number of choices and prices on Amazon, but I'm tempted to just buy the one from Williams Sonoma. I live overseas and won't be able to see any of these products in person, so any input on sturdiness, durability, and clean-ability would be appreciated. Thanks very much!
  4. Alas, I've arrived too late to this forum to contribute any more puns on food and music! But my suggestion is that you should have guests try PopRocks with soda. I've heard that they explode in your stomach if you eat them together. (Also, if you're putting on your slap bracelet and you hit a certain vein on your wrist, you can die instantly.
  5. Senior year of college, I shared a house with six good friends. We started noticing an absolutely nauseating smell in the second-floor kitchen, so we washed all the dirty dishes and did a thorough refrigerator cleaning. The smell lingered and it was making us crazy. One afternoon, a roommate noticed another roommate's stock pot on the back burner of the stove. The pot always sat there, but we assumed - as any reasonable person would - that it was because of limited cabinet space, and that she cleaned it after each use. Wrong! My roommate lifted up the lid and the smell that was released made her double over and gag. It turned out our roommate had been using that pot for everything - boiling pasta, steaming vegetables - without ever rinsing it out. Thus, old pasta and veggie bits had fermenting in the same water for about two months. Unbelievable. The offending roommate wasn't home, so we dumped the pot's contents in the backyard and put the foul thing in the basement, where no one ever ventured. The Pot Incident led to many passive-aggressive written messages being exchanged on the kitchen whiteboard between us and the one roommate, but eventually we got over it. Oh, but that smell...
  6. Not to drag this thread off the more relevant discussion of Saltine recipes, but I seem to remember a juvenile urban legend (for lack of a better term) where it's supposed to be scientifically impossible - or some such nonsense - to eat a certain amount of Saltines in a prescribed timeframe without drinking anything. Apparently (I feel dumber and dumber as I type this), there's some magical required ratio of sodium content to saliva production and no one can crack it. My friends and I tried this in the college dining hall on a slow night once, with one guy trying to eat some ungodly amount of Saltines within a minute or something. Eventually, all that chewed-up cracker just wadded up in his mouth and hit a critical mass that he couldn't swallow in time to make the time limit. Friends of mine - at a different college, mind you, so this wasn't just a Northwestern thing - also tried this and my friend ended up spewing un-swallowable Saltines all over her bed. I'm happy to say we've all graduated and are circulating in the grown-up world now...
  7. I've seen those referred to as "love letters" also. Do Love Letters refer just to the brown variety that are lined with chocolate on the inside? That was always my impression, while just plain "egg rolls" are the yellow kind without chocolate.
  8. Jon, I'm pretty sure you're right. The literal translation of the name of this snackfood, at least from Cantonese, is "egg roll." (I'm also looking at a tin of these on my office desk, and they also call them Egg Rolls in parentheses above the Chinese characters.) I love these things, especially when you're done eating the whole rolls and can eat all the little bits with a spoon. Anyway, not to add more semantic confusion to the thread. Now back to our regularly scheduled discussion on egg vs. spring rolls...
  9. So here's a cry for help addressed to adept chopstick users: How do you pick up a slippery dumpling, spring roll or similarly awkward item? Is there a trick involved, or does it just take practice and fine motor skills? I'm Chinese-American but my horrible childhood chopstick technique went uncorrected, so I'm still a failure in young adulthood. I'm OK with the etiquette, though, since my mom was very big on not pointing chopsticks and serving with the other end. Is there a rule - this escapes me now - on how and where you should position them when not in use? Ideally there would be a chopstick holder at your place setting, but what if there's not? Several years ago, I was in Hong Kong visiting all the extended family and while at dim sum, everyone said, "Let's see if our American relative still remembers how to use chopsticks!" I picked up a spring roll and ended up launching it across the table. It hit my uncle in the chest.
  10. My mistake, then, on the cottage cheese. I'm sure I must have had some horribly insulting "what are you doing putting cottage cheese in lasagna" argument with my mother in the last couple of years. Will have to call and apologize for being a snotty daughter.
  11. Dexygus, I don't think it's ever too late to start appreciating food. I'm also from a Chinese-American (Cantonese) family, the first generation born in the U.S., and was a nightmare of a picky eater growing up. I didn't gain an interest in food until college. But now that I'm learning how to cook, I find myself calling my parents constantly for recipes and tips so I can recreate their char siu spare ribs or fried rice or wontons. It's been a nice bonding experience and it makes me happy to know that I can at least carry on part of the culture, despite big shortcomings in language and other areas. Home-cooked meals were almost always Chinese growing up, though McDonald's was a regular Saturday afternoon fixture. (Side note: My parents adore McDonald's - that's where my dad asked to go for Father's Day. Hmmmm.) As a result, I'm picky about steamed vegetables and tofu firmness and white rice stickiness. I also have no qualms about chicken feet, whole fish with eyeballs still in place (great for poking with forks and zinging across tables!) and smelly, unidentified dried foods. Special "American food" treats were Kraft macaroni+cheese (still a guilty favorite food) and Hamburger Helper. My mother also made lasagna with cottage cheese, which could have been an English misunderstanding - she heard "ricotta cheese" and thought it was "cottage cheese," I think. One last note on the learning curve for food appreciation. I used to think my parents were unable to enjoy anything but Chinese food (and McDonald's) because no matter where we went on vacation, they would try to seek out the Chinese restaurant. But I've been noticing over the last year that they've been branching out, even though my brother and I are no longer at home to drag them to new restaurants. I wonder if the turning point was a visit to Trio - we went there around November 2002 with super-foodie relatives - and my mother still raves about it as her top food experience.
  12. I really hate celery and will gag if I unintentionally stumble upon it in a dish. In elementary school, when served ants on a log, I would eat the raisins and lick the peanut butter and throw away the celery. I also do not like jicama. I know you're thinking, celery and jicama? I must have some kind of hang-up about crunchy vegetables. But I promise it's the taste. Can't stand either. Wait, is jicama a vegetable or something else? Time to Google!
  13. I will never again...neglect to remove the plastic cover from the top part of my meat thermometer. Yes, I almost melted part of my meat thermometer right into the 1.3 kilo roast beef I was cooking on Sunday night. I checked the roast at 20 minutes and was horrified to discover that the top part (the little round meter with all the markings) was a liquefied green blob. (I had, by the way, taken off the plastic sleeve that covers the poky part of the thermometer. I'm not a complete disaster.) I yanked it out right away and was relieved that nothing had dripped onto the roast. But now I didn't have a meat thermometer and eight people were coming over for dinner in an hour. I didn't even know what temperature my oven was at because the stupid relic - which is about the size of an EasyBake, by the way - doesn't have temperature markings around the dial. It just has a gauge reading "Templado [Temperate]...Caliente...Muy Caliente." I called a friend down the block to see if she had a meat thermometer. No one answered. I called another friend. No luck. Then I called my mother in tears, long distance from Buenos Aires to Chicago. She told me to throw away the roast - she thought the entire thermometer had melted into the meat. Her advice made me cry even harder and I ended up hanging up on her. (A contrite e-mail followed the next day.) Eventually I calmed down. I had to crack open the salt crust ahead of time to saw into the roast, but it was worth it to make sure it was done properly. The roast turned out just fine and no one got sick. The meat thermometer cost me 37 pesos ($1=ARS2.955). I'll consider it my stupid tax for the month.
  14. Here's an easy one, I think - when a recipe calls for egg whites to be beaten into stiff peaks, how long do they take to form? I had my little handheld mixer whirring away in a bowl of three egg whites + two tablespoons sugar yesterday and the mixture, half an hour later, was thickening but definitely far from peak-dom. I was getting tired and stressed, so I did a Bad Thing and just folded in the egg mixture, sans peaks, into the rest of my chocolate torte batter, and hoped for the best. The cake turned out all right, thankfully. But I'm still puzzled over the stiff peak issue. And my left arm is sore this morning from holding up the mixer, though I suspect that is more a function of my lack of exercise over the last year.
  15. I had no idea there was such a wide world of Pocky varieties out there - I ate nothing but the plain chocolate version when I was younger and now I'm feeling a little bit cheated! I moved to Argentina nine months ago and there's not much Pocky here, but I haven't given up hope yet - you'd be surprised what random imported products make their way over here. I think I saw Beer Pocky once at a grocery store. Did I hallucinate this?
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