Searching for the Perfect Bondiola


bondiolaBondiola is a particular cut of pork, unique in its dimensions and presentation, that can be found at any typical restaurant in Buenos Aires.  Taken from  the shoulder and neck, its nearest North American equivalent would be the Boston Butt, but porteños usually don’t cook it as an entire roast like the yanquis. You can find bondiola in  fiambre (lunchmeat) form or ready for the asador at your local carniceria.

The sandwich de bondiola, with luscious, thick slices of  pork and salsa bondiolacriolla or chimichurri or even barbacoa (if your tastes lie that way) is one of the flavors you can’t miss when you come to Buenos Aires.   Head down to Costanera Sur in Puerto Madero to sample this reasonably priced delicacy made by a professional. With an array of fresh veggies and salsas to choose from, you can’t go wrong. Order it completo  if you want them to add ham, cheese and a fried egg on top of all that delicious pork. Your vegetarian friends can order a provoleta sandwich if they are unfortunate enough to be trying to eat in BA.

mechadaFor the gourmet experience, try the bondiola rellena at your favorite BA steakhouse. Imagine tender, exquisite pork stuffed with plums, mushrooms, or even bacon if you are a glutton for porkishment. The bondiola mechada con panceta at La Cabrera comes highly recommended, if not a little pricy. No matter how you slice it, bondiola is a savory delight you can’t pass up when you visit Buenos Aires. 

Step back in time at La Epoca Barber Shop


la epoca 3   Brass fixtures, crystal chandeliers, and silver basins of all shape and size surround you as you enter the door. An antique French piano tinkles at the back playing tango classics. A working telephone booth from 1910 stands in the corner. You sit down in a barber’s chair manufactured in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the best dressed man in Buenos Aires steps up to you with a straight razor and a smile. Welcome to La Epoca Peluqueria. la epocaLocated on a side street in Caballito, you might not even notice this time capsule if it weren’t for the various antique barber accoutrements adorning the curbside. Miguel Angel Barnes, “the Count of Caballito,” is delighted to tell you the history of his collection of antique barber shop implements…it’s a living museum. Dressed in patent leather shoes,  a silk vest, and a cape (yes, a cape), his impeccable taste is reflected in the haircuts he gives. la epoca 1  Come for a haircut, lather up for a straight razor shave, or just have a cup of coffee at the cafe and take in the atmosphere while the piano plays. It’s an experience that will leave you not only looking sharp, but feeling like you have been immersed in another time. The piano player tickles the ivories from 4:00-6:00 Wednesday through Friday. On Friday nights, a play starring none other than Mr. Barnes himself, is staged right in the barber shop. Guayaquil 877 – Caballito Tel: 4903-7799 Open Monday-Saturday 9-2, 4-8:30

 

Eating in Buenos Aires


Eating in BA when bringing dollars into the country can be very affordable. The city is full of quality eating but at first glance can seem limited to steak houses (parillas) and pizza joints. With a city the size of BA every taste is catered to, but it is certainly true that the population’s Italian heritage means a lot of pizza, pasta and pastries. On just about any street corner you will find family run restaurants serving typically heavy, Italian inspired food.

 

steak

A veggie nightmare…

Before coming to Argentina I was under the impression that it would be eating steak for lunch and dinner. My wife (Argentine) had also made a big deal of the quality of meat available, and rightly so. We holidayed in Mina Calvero and the butcher there would prepare our cut of meat straight from the beast. It was great to see and the quality was incredible, a far stretch from what we get back in the UK. Unfortunately with the high inflation the country is experiencing, steak twice a day isn’t an option for everyone.

For those who are staying long term, supermarket shopping will quickly become the most cost effective option. Disco, Jumbo and Carrefour are the major players, all with similar pricing. What becomes evident, when coming from the UK, is the lack of anything Asian or Indian. You can also still spend a fortune on goods that are normally very cheap,  if you are not careful.
They also don’t seem to have a discounted or “buy one get one free” culture, or a dedicated cheap brand like we have back home. Instead they have a discount coupon policy and let you pay your weekly shops over the course of a month. A lot of what is sold in the supermarkets is produced in Argentina and again works out to be the most cost effective way to feed yourself, as what they do import can be way over-priced and usually not of a quality worth justifying.

 

 Empanadas…Like Cornish pasties.

empanadas

 

Those on a budget will find the abundance of fruit and veg shops around the city the best way to eat cheap. They are usually better value compared to the supermarkets and a great way to support the local-man. Equally bakeries can be a cheap way to eat and of great quality.

 

 

 Mmmm…gelato!

Lastly, those with a sweet tooth will not fail to miss the vast amount of ice cream parlors (heladerias) around the city. The ice cream is great here, just make sure you like chocolate and Dulce de Leche flavours…

ice creamWhich brings us to Dulce de Leche. Like some best kept culinary secret, it’s the one Argentine product that should be readily available worldwide, but isn’t. A milk based caramel that the Argentines use in just about everything sweet, it’s perfect. It’s good, promise.

Adam

Traveling in Argentina by bus or plane


Argentina is a beautiful country and has so many things to see! If you have some time outside of your classes at lvstudio, go and travel around Argentina! Whether it’s Salta, Jujuy, Cordoba, and Iguazu in the North or El Calafate, Bariloche, and Ushuaia in the South,  it’s all worth seeing! You can travel through Argentina two ways: by bus or by plane.

Do you want to take the bus ? airplane bus

Argentina has an excellent bus network. Buses here are surprisingly comfortable. The providers offer three different services depending on the number of stops and type of seats: Regular, Semi-cama (semi-bed), and Cama (bed), with Cama being similar to an airline’s airplane bus seatbusiness class. This last one also includes meals, while the others don’t serve food unless you buy it yourself in advance. If you have a long way to go, overnight buses are the way to go. They save you a night’s accommodations and keep the daylight hours for pleasure. Hundreds of bus companies serve the different regions with different classes. Check your destination on www.plataforma10.com and compare the prices of the different companies!

 

Or do you prefer taking a plane?airplane

Travel by air is becoming more popular due to the size of the country. Every province in Argentina has its own airport. Flying with certain airlines can be financially comparable or even cheaper than covering the same distance by bus. Demand is heavy and flights, especially to Patagonian destinations in summer, are often booked well in advance. So if you know your dates and destination, take a look at http://www.despegar.com.ar/ and compare the different companies.

 

Still have questions? Ask in lvstudio at the front desk and we will be happy to help you!

An Englishman’s struggles with language abroad


I started travelling late in 2009 and like a lot of Englishmen I had had very little experience with foreign languages, especially when compared to other Europeans. There isn’t an emphasis on learning languages in the UK like in other countries. Also, I would be lying if I said I didn´t have a slightly bullish attitude to foreign languages, in that I expected everyone else to speak enough English for me to get by. Travelling throughout India I found communication to be a mixed bag. Most people spoke good English in the southern states (it is the official language) but up north it was either very broken or nonexistent. Getting about wasn’t too hard but it was a shame that due to my lack of Hindi I couldn’t form proper friendships with a lot of the great Indians I met. taj

Last March my wife and I holidayed in Japan and it was the first time I came across such a definitive language barrier. The Japanese were wonderfully polite and you could see that they wanted to help when we asked or enquired, but such distinct and different cultures and languages really did stop any true connection through speaking to one another. As you can imagine there was plenty of body language and pointing from our end and plenty of awkward, polite smiles and bowing from theirs!

taj 2 An impression I got from experiencing India and Japan, to some degree, was that they didn’t expect foreign travelers to understand their languages. That didn’t make it any easier getting around, but there was an: “Ok, so I can’t understand you, you can’t understand me, let’s work this out the best we can” attitude that helped.

Coming to Argentina has been by far the biggest eye opener in the language stakes. My wife is Argentine but we never talk in Spanish and so I came to Argentina with very little Spanish vocabulary. I have been fortunate because my wife’s family all speak English well enough, but of course tend to talk Spanish when we are together socially. My bullish attitude of expecting everyone to speak English around me has been well and truly shot down!

I have so far struggled to pick up Spanish which has made it difficult at times. I get the impression that there is an expectation to know Spanish when you want to engage with Argentines (and rightly so!) and so understanding conversational Spanish is all the more important.taj 3

What I’ve learnt when on the road is that if you want to travel and just do the tourist traps then a limited understanding of that country’s language will get you by, just barely. But, just doing the tourist traps means that you are missing a big part of travelling. Going off the beaten track is how to experience a country’s true culture and people, and this requires you to put effort into learning their language.

Adam

The Passive Voice


Which facts about Seattle do you think are true and which are false?

  1. The basketball team “The Lakers” are from Seattle
  2. It often rains in Seattleseattle
  3. Silicon Valley is near Seattle
  4. Bill Gates and Microsoft are located in Seattle
  5. Chrysler cars are manufactured in Seattle
  6. Bruce Springsteen was born in Seattle
  7. “Grunge” music comes from Seattle
  8. Seattle is in the Southwest of the United States

My Hometown

Many years ago, I was born in Seattle, Washington USA. Seattle is located in the  northwest corner of the USA. Recently, Seattle has become the focus of much international attention. Many films have been made there, probably the most famous of which is Sleepless in Seattle starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Seattle is also known as the birthplace of “Grunge” music; both Pearl Jam and Nirvana are from Seattle. For older people like me, it should be noted that Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle! NBA fans know Seattle for the “Seattle Supersonics”, a team that has played basketball in Seattle for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, Seattle is also famous for its bad weather.

Seattle has also become one of the fastest-growing business areas in the United States. Two of the most important names in the booming business scene in Seattle are Microsoft and Boeing. Microsoft was founded and is owned by the world-famous Bill Gates (how much of his software is on your computer?). Boeing has always been essential to the economic situation in Seattle. It is located to the north of Seattle and famous jets such as the “Jumbo” have been manufactured there for more than 50 years!

Seattle is positioned between Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. The combination of its scenic location, thriving business conditions and exciting cultural scene makes Seattle one of America’s most interesting cities.

Chrysler cars are manufactured in Seattle          Chrysler manufactures cars in Seattle

Which sentence is ACTIVE and which sentence is PASSIVE?

The passive

The passive voice is used when focusing on the person or thing affected by an action.

  • The Passive is formed: Passive Subject + To Be + Past Particple

They built the house in 1989         The house was built in 1989.

  • It is often used in business when the object of the action is more important than those who perform the action.

Over 20 different models have been produced in the past two years.

The passive uses the same patterns for the other tenses:

  • PRESENT CONTINUOUS: is/are + being + past participle

Susan is cooking dinner                 Dinner is being cooked by Susan

  • PAST: was/were + past participle

      James Joyce wrote “Dubliners”      “Dubliners” was written by James Joyce.

  • FUTURE: will/going to + be + past participle

I will finish it tomorrow.                 It will be finished tomorrow.

 

 Practice using the passive

1. They make shoes in that factory.

Shoes      —             are made in that factory.

2. People must not leave bicycles in the driveway.

Bicycles      —             must not be left in the driveway.

3. They built that skyscraper in 1934.

That skyscraper      —             was built in 1934.

4. The students will finish the course by July.

The course      —             will be finished by July.

5. They are repairing the streets this month.

The streets     —             are being repaired this month.

Change these sentences into the passive voice

1. They had finished the preparations by the time the guests arrived.

2. You should take care when working on electrical equipment.

3. They are going to perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony next weekend.

4. Someone will speak Japanese at the meeting.

5. Karen is going to prepare the refreshments.

 

 

Crowdsourcing New Language Skills with Memrise


Looking for a unique and fun way to learn new vocabulary? Memrise is an online learning tool that uses flashcards augmented with mnemonics partly gathered through crowdsourcing and the spacing effect to boost the speed and ease of learning.   memrise

It was founded by Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory, and Greg Detre, a Princeton neuroscientist specializing in the science of memory and forgetting. It works like planting a seed and watering the plant until it has grown into a plant with flowers. After certain periods of time (working alongside the science of how our short, medium and long term memories work) you must water and harvest new seeds to keep learning new vocabulary. You can follow friends and see how they are getting on with their flowers and you gain points which puts you onto a leader board.

It is a great and fun way of learning a new language as well as learning
other things too!

 

 

 

Shopping in Buenos Aires


calleflorida   Whether you just came to Buenos Aires for a short vacation or whether your visit to Buenos Aires is part of a longer journey, it is definitely a good place to go shopping and get your money’s worth. If you just arrived in Buenos Aires, you are probably spending some time in the neighborhood of Palermo. Just walking around this neighborhood you are likely to encounter loads of stores that offer everything from jewelry to jeans. If you happen to be there during the weekend, make sure to check out Plaza Serrano where every weekend the streets turn into a small, open air shopping mall. Moreover, all the bars that at night allow you to enjoy nicely chilled Quilmes convert  into small markets during the day. You can find clothes and jewelry here that will definitely be cheaper than in a normal brand store. If you are in Buenos Aires a bit longer, this is perhaps not the place you want to go. So now you are asking yourself, “Where then should I go shopping?” Ask in any hotel or hostel and most likely they will tell you to try your luck on Florida Street. Which is very nice to see and is the closest that you will find to a “European” style shopping street. The street is closed for traffic and so you can easily shop at your own pace and enjoy looking at whatever it is you are looking for. However, that being said, it is worth considering just sticking to looking at things and not buying it there. It won’t be a surprise that to find the best possible shopping for the best price, go where the locals go. In this category there are  two options that you might want to consider, depending on how much you want to buy and  how long you are staying in Buenos Aires. The easiest option would be to go to Avenida Cabildo. This street is easily accessible from Subte linea D and takes you right from Plaza Italia or Palermo to the heart of the Porteno’s shopping street. Leave the Subte at station Juramento and you will find yourself surrounded by stores and the more familiar food chains. You will also notice that there won’t be as many tourists hanging around  there, although that’s definitely not the only reason to go.
In case you are staying for a bit longer, maybe to learn some Spanish before starting your travels throughout South America, there is one other place that might be worth visiting. The name is La Avellaneda and that is where you will find good quality clothes for an incredibly low price. It is easily accessible since you can take the Metrobus that leaves from Palermo station and which will take you just a couple of blocks away from where you’ll need to be. The only catch is that to get a cheap price in general you will have to buy at least a couple of items in the same store. But no worries, in general you just have to buy 3 articles of clothing in the same store, which is often still cheaper then buying just 1 article on Florida Street.
So if you are not afraid to explore a little bit and are looking to buy good quality clothing for traveling, or if you are just looking for something to take back home, Buenos Aires will definitely serve you well.

Funky and Fun: Bangalore and Shanghai Dragon, Palermo


Bangalore and Shangai dragon

We are going to be bringing you guys a weekly bar review type thing, because we care about your time in the city, not because we like going to bars *wink*. So as this is the first one, we’re going treat you to two bar reviews; Bangalore and Shanghai Dragon in Palermo. They are similar, as they have the same owner.
They go for the same unique pub style and both pull it off.

Shangai Dragon

Walking into Shangai Dragon, you really feel like your in pub in east London. The layout, the furniture and the indian influenced menu, it is not your typical Buenos Aires bar. Both have good taste in music and dabble in a bit of everything from old jazz to more recent indie rock.

Bangalore

In Bangalore you have two options for food, bar and restaurant. Both are amazing and it all depends on what your in the mood for quick bite before going out or a nice meal with friends.

Both are perfect pre game bars, although it can be difficult to find a seat in Bangalore so get down early.

3 Pruebas que Demuestran que Buenos Aires es Religiosa


¡Advertencia!

Esta nota fue escrita desde la perspectiva de una extranjera, de una mujer estadounidense, heterosexual, de 26 años, con lo que ella considera una mente abierta. No pretendo entender las complejidades de la cultura porteña en su totalidad, sino examino algunas costumbres que me parecen interesantes, chocantes, diferentes, y que me hacen llegar a conclusiones generales(claro, a veces equivocadas). Les agradezco sus comentarios, sea positivo o negativo.

1. Se persignan al cruzar una iglesia

La señal de la cruz. Sign of the cross, las únicas veces que me persigné fueron en la iglesia o ante una comida en lo de mis padres. Soy católica, me crié en una familia Católica, y entiendo lo que significa, pero nunca se me ocurrió persignarme al pasar una iglesia. Sin embargo, si te subís a un colectivo en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, y llegás a cruzar frente a una iglesia, te apuesto que el 20% de los pasajeros levantan su mano derecha, y suspiran el padre, el hijo, y el espíritu santo.

2. La formalidad de casarse en la iglesia

¿Le creerías si te diga un yanqui que el o ella mism@ casó a su mejor amig@? Supongamos que una pareja poca religiosa quiere algo del estilo de ceremonia, pero no en una iglesia. Eligen a un intimo amig@ para que realice no solamente una ceremonia, sino que consiga las firmas de testigos y cierre el lado legal también. Hecho! Cómo consiguen estas credenciales? Por internet, obvio.
Esto es interesante considerar, porque por más que la cultura porteña sea religiosa en sí, está completamente separada del estado. Se casan en la iglesia, pero después tienen que hacer su ceremonia civil. Yo me casé 3 veces con la misma persona. Me casé con un argentino en USA por civil, y me casé por iglesia en Argentina, y de nuevo por iglesia en USA. Me impresionó lo que tuvimos que preparar para que nos casaran en la iglesia Católica acá en BA. Realizamos una entrevista con el cura, que dio la sensación de haberme vuelto a las oficinas de imigraciones de Los Angeles para demostrar la legitimidad de mi matrimonio.

3. El (no) vivir con la pareja hasta que se casen

Esta es una discusión en sí, que no creo que tenga todo que ver con la religión. Hay razones de las que nos llevan a vivir con nuestros novios en USA que no compartirían la gran mayoría de porteños (ni tampoco mis padres! Ups!). Acá no existe la costumbre de huirse de casa a vivir solo cuando se empieza la facultad, y por eso no existe ese momento de rite of passage, un rito de transición, lo cual que no volvés a vivir con tus padres nunca más.

Yo no creo que sean tan espirituales ustedes porteños, simplemente son muy para la costumbres, y disfrutan estar rodeado de buena gente, en particular cuando van a la iglesia, no?