A good Thai curry is pretty hard to come by in South America (although on occasion, it can be found), so I've been suffering some serious Thai withdrawal. That's why tonight, for dinner in the city where any and every cuisine is available 24/7, I couldn't help but go for Thai. Went to a little joint up near the bottom of Central Park, on 9th Ave, and got some great chicken and stir-fried vegies, in a spicy coconut-milk soup. I'll save the Indian for when I get to London. And I'll save more Thai for... well, for Thailand!
So I'm walking down 2nd Ave in New York, looking for a place to eat. And what do I see, but a store that claims (in bold letters) to sell "New York's best egg cream". So what do I do? Of course, I go into the store, and I say to the (Pakistani) guy behind the counter: "give me an egg cream please". No — actually, I'm not a bald 50-year-old Jewish man, I'm an Aussie backpacker; so I say "I'll grab an egg cream thanks, mate". And I must say, it did taste pretty good. You don't have to be Jewish to understand this — but as they say, it wouldn't hoyt. :P
There are many countries in South America where you can find great, fresh, delicious tropical fruit juices — from fruits such as papaya, mango, guava, passionfruit, and various berries. But only in Brazil can you find açaí. This delicious — and incredibly nutritious — fruit is found only in tropical Brazil, and it's used to make some of the most extraordinary juices and smoothies known to man. I had some açaí for breakfast this morning, and by G-d, the stuff was simply out of this world. If you're in Brazil any time soon, don't go home until you've tried some of it — and once you've tried it, you won't want to go home at all.
I told myself that after Argentina, I was done with massive all-you-can-eat barbeque dinners. Well, so much for that — tonight's sizzling grill at Aquario was simply too good to resist. Juicy cuts of steak, phat chorizo sausages, and blackened local fish was just the beginning — we also had a line-up of every accompaniment you could ever ask for, and more. My final bottle of Argentinean Malbec red wine went down great with the BA girls. And the free caipirinha went down great with me.
If you went to Brazil and you didn't have a caipirinha, you must have been living in a cave. It's the national cocktail of Brazil: and like most things in this country, it's sweet, lethally strong, and divine — all at the same time. Made with lime, sugar, and cachaça (fermented sugarcane), the caipirinha tastes a bit like the lime cocktails you can find up in the Caribbean, such as Mexico's margarita, or Cuba's mojito. Only it's better.
Farofa is a simple dish consisting of raw flour from manioc (the root of the yuca plant), which is fried and sometimes flavoured. Usually served as an accompaniment to beans and meat, farofa is one of the staple foods, and the hallmark dishes, of Brazilian cuisine. Most gringos can't stand farofa — on account of it tasting like sawdust, to the uninitiated — but I'm starting to get used to it, and even to like it. Apparently it's very healthy, and it also keeps you going for quite a while.
Lunch today was my last meal before the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur (the holiest day in the Jewish year) — therefore, as far as quantity went, I wasn't playing around. This afternoon, Oly and I went to a great restaurant in San Telmo, called Desnivel, where I ordered a bife de chorizo mariposa (butterfly T-bone steak) that was bigger than me. Had to have been the largest piece of meat I've eaten in my life. Getting through the fast this year is going to be no problem at all :P.
I ordered this dish (en Español: "ñoqui de cuatro estaciones") at a little café this evening, where I went for dinner with Oly, Michal and Or. Not only were the gnocchi balls themselves sensational: the sauce was also the richest and the tastiest cheese sauce I've ever eaten. They obviously used some very fine, European "smelly cheeses" in the sauce — and the result was out of this world. Mmm, gnocchi: "contigo, la vita é bella".
I spent the second day of Rosh Hashanah much as I did the first: that is, praying and eating (and plenty of both) at "Chabad La Metayel", here in downtown Buenos Aires. We did a lot better with getting a minyan this morning, which was good: the service had already started when I arrived; and we had time to do it properly, with all the singing and the joy that really (in my opinion) makes a shul service special. And as with yesterday, we had plenty of shofar sounding interspersed throughout the prayers; and a long and cosy (and totally over-catered) lunch in the afternoon.
I continued celebrating Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) today, with first day shul services and communal meals. I spent the day at "Chabad La Metayel" (run by my mate Menachem), which is conveniently located about 3 blocks from Hostel Clan, just a 10-minute walk down the street for me. Unfortunately, when I got there (at 11am) the service still hadn't started; and we had to sit and wait until 1pm, when we finally got a minyan and could start doing shacharit. This forced the rabbi to jam the service into a mere 2 hours, at the expense of all singing, and through some serious (true Chabad-style) rapid-fire prayer. However, we still managed to fit in all the soundings of the shofar, which ushered in the New Year with a bang.