Apr 20th, 2009 by Amy
We’re baaaack. We had an excellent trip to South America and fell in love with Buenos Aires and the Porteños, as well Uruguay and its people. In the coming months, we will feature many posts about our trip including restaurant reviews, special meals we had, Argentinian and Uruguyan culture (including food culture), street food and, of course, we’ll be recreating some of the favorite traditional dishes we tried.
Although the cuisine of both Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay, is delicious, it’s much more varied than most people may believe. But, boy, one thing is true – they love, love, love, love, love their beef. We ate beef eight days out of the ten we were there and learned so much about all the various cuts of beef served. Needless to say, we’ll be eating salads for the next few weeks. Activia is now our friend for the next two weeks, or at least until our digestive track is back on track.
We’re just off the plane, so before we get settled back into post-vacation life again, we need to make a note of some things we learned about on our trip. Everyone knows that Argentina is famous for its amazing beef, but you might not know that they usually cook it about medium-well to well-done. Some restaurants will ask you how you want it cooked but, for the most part, it comes they way they cook it. Even well done, the meat is still remarkably flavorful and moist.
Another important thing to remember if planning a trip to BA is that dogs are everywhere… everywhere! They do not require that they are leashed-up and, often, you’ll wonder how runaway dog looks so well fed. Then you notice his owner 2 blocks away. Along with the freedom dogs feel in the city comes the freedom for them to poo wherever and whenever they want. Dog shit is everywhere… everywhere! No lie.
We started playing “poop watch” so that one of us could walk down the street for a few minutes without constantly staring at the ground. If you go, be prepared to be on poop watch too.
Finally, Porteños are extremely polite, pleasant, kind, funny, cool, social and pretty much all-around awesome. They almost never let us speak English (which we loved because it stretches us) and were never condescending when we messed up a phrase or two in our pidgin Spanish. Their accent is difficult understand at first if you are used to the way Spanish is spoken here in the States or in Spain. They often lose (or aspirate, as it’s known) the “s” (i.e.: “despues” becomes “deh-puess”) and the double “L” is pronounced with a slightly slurring “J” (i.e.: parilla sounds like pa-ri-ja and molleja, Spanish for sweetbreads, sounds like mo-jea-ha). When speaking fast it can be hard to keep up!
We have so much to write about our trip to Uruguay. We spent three nights in the capital and largest city in the country, Montevideo, which really is an amazing, and incredibly underrated, place. We also rented a car and headed into Uruguayan wine country only about 20 miles outside of the city. It’s a little known fact that Uruguay is the only place that produces the Tannat grape variety besides Southwest France. I think we’ll become ambassadors of tourism to Uruguay because we were blown away by the beauty of the country and the kindness of the people. Much, much more to come on that.
So, thanks for sticking with us during our hiatus. We’re feel much better now – well-rested, way too well-fed(!), and totally revved up for some spring cooking. Today, we’ll leave you with a delicious (and timely) spring recipe for soft shell crabs – they are just beginning to be in season now, so get your bums down to your fish monger and demands them! If this recipe isn’t for you, check out a few of the others we have created in the past include Soft Shells in Butter and Garlic and Soft Shell Sandwich with Red Pepper Aioli.
- 1 fresh french baguette – 12 inches long
- 3 to 4 soft shell crabs (depending on size)
- 1 cup of flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Garnish and Toppings: sliced tomatoes, sliced pickle, lettuce, creole mustard (see step #4 below for recipe) and mayonnaise
- enough corn or veggie oil to deep fry
What to do:
- Pat your crabs dry with a towel. In one bowl, mix the flour with the salt, pepper, cayenne, onion and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add a tablespoon of milk or water to thin out. In one other bowl, add the cornmeal.
- In a pot, add enough vegetable or corn oil to deep fry and heat up to temperature.
- Meanwhile, dip each soft shell first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the cornmeal. Set aside until ready to fry.
- Make the creole mustard if you don’t have any handy. Not sure if theis is authentic, but I mixed dijon mustard with a few dashes of worcestershire and some hot sauce to taste.
- When oil is hot enough, fry each breaded soft shell until golden brown – turn over if necessary to ensure even frying. Should take about 2 to 3 minutes. Allow to drain on some papertowels and sprinkle with a bit more salt and a squeeze of lemon.
- Slice your baguette and on one side, spread the creole mustard and on the other side, spread the mayo. Add the soft shells and top with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and pickles.
- Enjoy with a cold beer.