Sunday, December 10, 2006

A MILONGUERA'S CHOW GUIDE: December 10, 2007
Restaurant: Pepito
Address: 383 Montevideo (off Corrientes)

As avid readers, we decided to dedicate part of our Friday checking out the used bookstores that dot Corrientes. Wanting a break from our usual restaurants, we stopped at Pepito, located near Paseo La Plaza with its little shops, eateries, and theaters.

This cafeteria-style restaurant is well-known and, as I have been told, very portenan. The restaurant remained practically empty, except for the two of us and a family of tourists, until about 9 p.m. when the locals started pouring in. By the time we left, the place was bustling.

I was feeling guilty from the previous night's carbo-load at Marcelo, so I dined lightly on a basic chicken noodle soup (sans chicken) and canned sardines with tomato and onions. I felt virtuous, but was unimpressed by my dinner. My boyfriend, on the other hand, feeling the warm fuzzies of being in a typical portenan restaurant, ordered the classic "puchero de gallina".

The puchero, or pucherito, if you want to be more "carinoso", is a vat of boiled veggies and several different pieces of meat. The water in which these ingredients are boiled go into whatever soup the cook decides to make. In our particular pucherito, we found a 1/2 piece of sausage, a chicken thigh and boob, and a slab of fatty pork, along with carrot medallions, chopped chard, a whole peeled potato, cabbage, and garbanzo beans.

I am sure this concoction warms the cockles of many portenans, though I am hard-pressed to understand the reason why from my taste of this particular pucherito. My very first pucherito tasting sometime last year left me unsatisfied, too. First of all, the sausage was radioactive-red from all the preservatives, but it was probably the only item that was close to having any kind of flavor. Everything else tasted flat and boring. With a little salt, the pucherito became a flat and boring culinary experience with salt.

The place has some positive aspects, however. Tourists wanting a taste of Argentine cuisine that doesn't include a side of cow can have their fill of "minutas" (the Argentine version of fast food that includes mystery meat breaded and deep fried), pastas. If you need to have beef, you can, of course, get your fix here. In addition, it is in the heart of downtown BsAs, and is close to the theaters.

Think first before coming here. While our dining experience was not horrible, I would encourage you to save yourself for other restaurants featured in the Chow Guide.

Atmosphere: Very large, non-descript, cafeteria-style restaurant.

Service: Friendly and efficient

Bathroom: Clean

Total damage: 58 pesos

Overall: Clean, efficient, and thoroughly unremarkable. Come here if you need to feed, but not for pleasure.
THE VIRTUES OF A CLEAN BATHROOM: A Special Report for A Milonguera's Chow Guide

You've probably been wondering what my deal is with the bathroom report in my Chow Guide. I wouldn't call myself a neat freak or a germophobe. If you had seen my car and one of my old apartments, you would know that nothing could be further from the truth. Matted dog hair, sticky cup holders, unidentifiable and dehydrated vegetables in the back of my fridge. It was pretty gross, I have to admit.

However, while the rest of my world could have been growing fur or serving as lab experiments, my bathroom was always clean. How did such a slob become such a proponent for a clean water closet? As many psychotherapists like to think, it all goes back to one's family of origin.

My mom worked for hospitals and the American Red Cross. We'd take our shoes off at the door and wash our hands as soon as we arrived to prevent bringing any germs from the world outside into our house. When I was little she instructed me to stand on or hover over the toilet, or to line the seat with an inch's worth of toilet paper to prevent any contact with other people's germs. She disinfected the kitchen and bathroom with such environment blasters as Comet or Ajax. God love her.

These childhood experiences have been burned forever in my memory, so that I cannot review a restaurant without also checking out the bathroom. Of course, I could probably do a kitchen tour, but, as my boyfriend says, I should just stay away from the kitchen. Besides, the bathroom tells me plenty. It reflects, in part, how the kitchen personnel will care for the food I will put in my body. If the bathroom is downright nasty, or if the soap dispenser is empty or the toilet paper is missing from the stalls, how much attention are they going to give me and my chow?

Details and impressions are important, as we all know from tango. A tweak to one's hip or a turn in one's head can make all the difference in the world. A careful consideration of one's partner in the dance many times reveals a careful consideration of others in general. Of course, I may be having an "off" day and could care less about my hip alignment, as these restauranteurs may be all about the kitchen and nothing else, but putting forth the effort to attend to such details marks the difference between a good experience and fantastic experience on or off the dance floor.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Restaurant: Marcelo Ristorante, Cocina Italiana
Address: Alicia M. de Justo 1140, Puerto Madero
Tel: 4342-8689/4342-8243

I believe in signs and symbols. I read my horoscope in the Sunday supplement and my fortune from Chinese fortune cookies. I try to decorate my home according to the tenets of feng shui, and will occasionally say a novena to the St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, when I'm especially desperate. Given my touchy-feely-California grooviness, how could I consider the fact that one of my favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires and my boyfriend share the same name to be a mere coincidence? Impossible! It's a sign.

Oh, I could dedicate a whole blog to extol the virtues of Marcelo The Boyfriend, but then you'd have to throw up. Instead, I will sing the praises of Marcelo The Restaurant.

Marcelo Piegari, son of Daddy Piegari (who owns the famous "Piegari" restaurant) and long-lost younger and shorter cousin to Tom Selleck, has made his mark on the restaurant scene of BA. Having eaten at his father's more formal and more expensive restaurant located in the underpass near the Four Seasons downtown, which is also home to Mirasol and other such high-priced and high-brow restaurants, Piegari Junior blows his dad out of the water. True, Piegari Senior has established a fine Italian restaurant for those who like a little more intimacy with dark wood paneling and brass, but I believe Marcelo and his co-conspirator, Adolfo Astigarraga have founded a fine restaurant known for their excellent and abundant Italian cuisine and outstanding service at a price that's hard to beat. In fact, you'll find Marcelo taking care of his baby almost every night. On especially busy nights, you may even find him playing both maitre'd AND parking attendant.

Having burned what seemed to be a few hundred calories on the dance floor at El Beso on Thursday night, the Tango Goddess was sweaty and ready to eat. Our party of 3 shared the following: a salad with lettuce, tomato, and onion, melanzane parmigiana, pizza margherita, taglionlini bolognesa, and an amaretto ice cream for dessert. First, the appetizers. I wasn't really in the mood for a salad, but it looked so fresh that I had to give in. Who would of thought of asking for the salad ingredients to be cut julienne-style would make eating salad so much more fun and easier to eat? Thanks to our friend for the tip. The melanzane/eggplant parm rocked, even though I thought I was ordering our regular melanzane a la siciliana, which also rocks the house, by the way. The eggplant a la siciliana is chopped and marinated, and comes without the cheese. The pizza, your basic cheese pizza with the usual extra chopped garlic, was a revelation. I have to say now that I have found pizza paraiso. Dare I say it is better that Casa Mia's pie? YES! It had a thin crust, with just the right amount of cheese for it to be slightly goopy, but not messy. A plus for when you're dressed up.

The utter lightness of the pizza allowed me to indulge in my other Marcelo fave: pasta with meat sauce. Come on. It's pasta with meat sauce. How pedestrian! Seriously, folks, it's absolutely delicious. We always choose the thinnest possible pasta because, according to Marcelo The Boyfriend, it holds the sauce better. I happen to disagree. I mean, what about penne or any other pasta with a hole? But, hey, who is an Asian American to argue with an Italian? The pasta is never over-cooked here, thank goodness, or there would be hell to pay. The meat sauce is TO DIE. The difference, I think, is the fact that you can see the chunks of meat in the sauce and that it's a much more "suave" taste, not at all like the super-tomato-ey red bolognese sauce I'm used to. The order of pasta was enough for the three of us!

Their desserts are wonderful, too. The amaretto dessert topped with cream was sinful, but I have also had their chocolate volcano which is always a good choice, especially when you need a chocolate fix and/or are nearing that time of the month.

Atmosphere: This may not be a suitable place to take your sweetie on his or her first date with you, but it is in pretty Puerto Madero and located on the water. Unlike Piegari, this restaurant is more like a refined cafeteria with linens. This place packs 'em in during the weekends, and, therefore, gets pretty loud and crazy busy. You can even see the waiters tense up. However, everyone's usually very well-behaved-no foodfights to report-although there are the occasional rugrats who roam freely. There is a separate, closed-off space for smokers.

Service: These waiters work their butts off, and are always very polite and professional.

Bathroom: CLEAN and always stocked with soap and toilet paper!

Total damage: 3 people, including water, wine, and tea = 147 pesos. This, I believe, is a bargain, considering that the portions are big enough to share, at least between two people.

Overall: It's love, I tell you.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


December 2nd marked the 2-month anniversary of the BsAs government's non-smoking ban in public places smaller than 100 square meters. Those locales with more than 100 square meters are allowed to dedicate 30 percent of their space to smokers, provided that this dedicated space is enclosed and has its own ventilation system.

Now, when this new law was being debated, tango goddess thought, "There's no way in hell this law is going to be put into effect." She has witnessed people running red lights as police hang back and watch, dogs doing their business in the middle of the sidewalk without their owners' cleaning up, cartoneros digging through people's garbage for things to recycle (always very cool) and leaving garbage strewn all over the sidewalks and streets (so not very cool), kitchen personnel licking plates in the back after customers' have finished eating (eeewwww), and friends being taken on the more expensive scenic route to their destination by taxi drivers. Granted, I am certain that such things happen in the U.S., although I am sure I would be hard-pressed to find restaurant personnel licking customers' plates. However, it seems that people can get away with murder here, or, at least, it appears that there is, as one Argentine observed, no sense of civic duty.

The night before the start of the ban, I told my Argentine boyfriend that this law would be loosely applied, certainly in the milongas, given how many of the milongueros and milongueras smoke. I was prepared to continue carrying my asthma medication with me everywhere I went, and to continue stripping off smoke-perfumed clothing after every milonga. He swore up and down that non-smokers like him would rise up, take to the streets, and fight for their right to breathe! I wanted to believe him.

On October 2nd, I walked into my favorite neighborhood cafe to have my cafe con leche descafeinado, and, lo and behold, they had declared the place smoke-free. To my pleasant surprise, many cafes taped hand-written "libre de humo" signs on their doors and windows. Still, would hard-core milongueros and milongueras obey this law? I was certain they wouldn't. After all, the milonga is a business, and business means getting as many people packed into one's milonga, and many of these people are used to sitting their in their cloud of Marlboro humo.

As I walked into El Beso, I found, again, to my pleasant surprise, that it, too, had been declared a smoke-free environment. Not only that, they had a copy of the law posted at the entrance. My jaw dropped. "Yo te dije, y no me creiste," he said with a grin, but I know, somewhere in that pesto-marinated Italian heart of his, that he, too, doubted that the law would take effect as well as it did.

The smokers of the milonga scene, who come armed with mints for their oral fixation, and who must now step out of the milonga for their breath of fresh nicotine, declare this law to be "a verguenza". If I had any balls and confidence in my Spanish skills, I'd retort, "You know what the verguenza was? Having to sit next to smokers and giving up my right to breath." My boyfriend, who has balls and Spanish skills, tells them to look at this as an opportunity for them to stop smoking. Many people, according to recent statistics, have begun to shake the habit, and more power to them.

Thanks to the the BsAs government, the tango goddess now roams freely in the tango jungle, smelling sweetly once again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A MILONGUERA'S CHOW GUIDE: November 19, 2006
Restaurant: Mia Casa
Address: J.A. Cabrera 4570
Tel: 4777-2723

When your feet are killing you and you've worked a week's worth of calories off on the the dance floor, there's nothing like having a down-home dive around the corner from the milonga...and I mean DIVE.

Part of the charm of this pizza/comidas arabes joint is its diveness. Currently devoid of any artwork, except for one poster from the 80's of an Arab woman dressed in traditional garb, and lacking any kind of aesthetic sensibility whatsoever with respect to table setting, this restaurant has become a milonga institution by its proximity to Salon Canning. It draws much of its customer base from that milonga, as well as from the budget-conscious locals. These guys took a hit when the milongas closed in late 2004/early 2005 after the Cromanon incident.

The other part of its appeal comes from the two owners, whose names, of course, escape me. The woman zips around in the kitchen whipping up Arabic specialties from your basic hummus to kebbe and, with help from her very capable co-cook, great pizza. The woman never stops to take a break. Her charming and diminutive husband/partner plays maitre d' and waiter.

Here's some dip: The woman owned the restaurant with her then-husband. Her current husband was the waiter. I don't think I need to say more. Let's just say there was a lot more cooking in the kitchen than just pizza and pita bread.

And thank goodness the cooking didn't stopped with their affair!

Last night's menu consisted of our usual sauteed berenjenas (eggplant and tomatoes), a small pizza napolitana with extra garlic for my Italian boyfriend, a 1/2 carafe of the house wine, and a bottle of soda water. It was just enough for me to feel full without busting the seams of my jeans. For those of you used to a Chicago style thick-crusted pizza or a NY style thin-crusted pizza, this crust is sort of in the middle. Not too thick, but definitely not thin. The cheese is decent and gloopy enough, but sometimes, depending on the brand they use, looks a little on the pasty side. Lately, though, they seem to be using the cheese I prefer, giving the pizza a nice smooth flavor and consistency. The added tomato slices make me feel healthy. The wine gets poured out of a big unmarked jug, but, damn, it's good stuff. Slightly sweet and light in the mouth, but after a few glasses, the world is alright with me...which is basically my criteria for a good wine. Don't expect a Chateau Lafitte or whatever hell other red wine brand you have to pay 100 bucks for, but over a slice, it's perfect.

My only beef with this place is...I hate to say it...the cleanliness. OK, I know, I know, I'm not in the States where the Health Department closes down restaurants that don't have soap in their dispensers. I like to think the ovens obliterate any germs or bugs that may have made their way onto my food, and I will continue to think this, thankyouverymuch. The people are so friendly, humble, and eager to please, and the food is so good and cheap that this place will always having me coming back for seconds.

Atmosphere: Atmosphere?! Think, "dive", and add food. No linens, no china, no chairs or tables featured in Architectural Digest. Good music and good people make all the difference in the world.

Service: Superb! The owners want you to have a great experience in their restaurant.

Bathroom: Since this is a review, I have to say that the bathroom could use some cleaning with lots of Comet or another industrial strength cleaner. The last time I used the bathroom there, I swore I would never use the bathroom there again. Denial is a good thing sometimes, psychotherapists be damned (and I'm one of them!).

Total damage: Dinner for two: 19 pesos. The most expensive thing on the menu was a large "completa" pizza for 20 pesos. There are a lot of cheap eats for 8 or 9 pesos, Arabic food you can just grab and run.

Overall: Great chow if you think nice thoughts and plan to use the bathroom before coming.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Restaurant: El Manto
Address: Costa Rica 5801, Palermo
Tel: 4772-2409

El Manto, Sagrada Cocina Armenia and Bar (Holy Armenian Cuisine and Bar), will leave you screaming, "Oh, God! Yes, Yes, Yes!"

One of the pleasures of living in big cities, like D.C., NYC, or L.A., is being surrounded by international cuisine. I loved having my occasional falafel sandwich, stuffed grape leaves, and hummus. I loved turning a corner and downing some pad thai, then skipping over to the indian restaurant down the street for those sticky honey balls. When I left the States, I thought I was going to have to turn carnivore. Imagine my surprise when I found this little gem in Palermo!

It's hard to describe the cuisine of Cher's ancestors. Greco-Middle Eastern? Whatever it is, I'm calling it, "DEELISH". Here are a few of my favorites. If you're going with a group, I'd get the mezze appetizer platter that has a little bit of everything. Use the warm pita bread to dip. If you want to make more of a committment, the Ensalada Belen, with its blend of veggies, golden raisins, and cashews, is excellent. I'd recommend the hummus, the babaganoush, the filo triangles stuffed with cheese, or stuffed grape leaves (grape leaves=parra), too. The falafel is a little on the hard/crunchy side, but one can always ask for a side of their plain yogurt-also a pleasure, as yogurt here tends to be sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners-for dipping. I'm usually full by the time I polish off the appetizers, but, hey, a girl's gotta eat.

For the main course, I almost always get the mousaka. The Patagonian lamb with rice is also an excellent, albeit very rich, choice for those cold nights. The vegetable terrine is rather bland for me, but their dish with rice and strips of chicken and makes up for it. Their gyros are very good, too, but I usually save them for lunch, when I don't want to be so formal. Their lunch special (between 19-25 pesos including drink) is a good buy, by the way, and includes the gyro on the menu. The main plates are plentiful, so I always share with my boyfriend, especially after the appetizers.

For dessert, I usually go for a nice mint tea (real tea leaves!) that comes with the platter of desserts that is enough to satisfy a sweet tooth or to share with another person if you are counting calories. It includes baklava, and cookies stuffed with pistachios. There are other items made with filo dough, as well, but their names escape me.

Atmosphere: Sort of industrial looking with the unfinished concrete walls and floors. Subtle lighting. Awesome marble (but surely uncomfortable) throne for those big celebrations when you want to feel like a queen or king. Great music.

Service: We have never had problems here with the service, except when we call to make reservations. For some reason, restaurants in general are hesitant to give away their prime seats (against the windows), saying that they are reserved. If we pester them enough when we get there, they'll give them up.

Bathroom: Their women's restroom is a bit closet-like and could use more lighting. I love the communal sink outside the bathrooms, though. I feel like I'm washing my hands at some natural water source in a far-off Armenian village.

Total damage: Lunch-between 19-25 pesos, Dinner-around 60-70 per person including wine, water, and dessert.

Overal: Great chow!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I'm a fairly liberated woman. When I know what I want, I have no qualms bonking him on the head and dragging him back to the lair myself. The milonga, however, relies on a little more subtley.

The cabeceo an art. To do it well requires a woman to fine-tune her feminine wiles.

1) During the intermezzo, check out the room. This is the time to shop. Trust me, everyone is checking out prospective partners.

2) See the hot Italian guy you want to dance with? Look at him, smile at him, bat your baby browns. Work it. He'll get the message. If he looks away, don't be discouraged. Keep your sights on him. If he continues to look away everytime you look at him, move on.

3) During the first couple of notes of the tanda, look at your prospective partner. If he looks at you when the tanda begins, for godsake, don't look away. He'll think you're declining. This is no time to be shy.

4) If you've managed to peak his attention, you need to hold your gaze steady. When he gets up to walk toward your table, keep looking at him until he is standing before you. DO NOT GET UP UNTIL HE IS STANDING IN FRONT OF YOU. The reasons for this will be covered later.

5) Face the music, and dance.

Note to numero 4: Ladies, ladies, ladies...I know there are more men than women in the world, but we have got to be good to each other. Can't we all just get along? If the man wants to dance with the woman sitting beside you, and is giving all the signals of wanting to dance with her instead of with you, why...WHY do you get up and steal what is rightfully hers??? Why do you lean over to block her view of her prospective partner? Why do you immediately jump up to grab her partner?

I had a few women steal a few tandas that belonged to me. How did I know they belonged to me? Because he never took his eyes off me, even when he was standing near my table. But, being the kind, generous person I am, I kept my claws to myself so as not to embarass the other woman. An Argentine woman will not put up with this. In fact, some will never dance with the man ever again or will at least give him the cold shoulder for a few weeks. They argue that the other woman is a shameless, conniving ho-bag who knows exactly what she is doing. OK, maybe not a ho-bag, but definitely shameless and conniving.

True, mishaps do happen. Distances may be great, and you may be having a contact lens malfunction, but the key is waiting until he gets to your table. If no one stands up, and if he is still looking at you expectantly as you squint back at him, he is yours.

Monday, June 12, 2006


A girl has got to dance, right? But how the hell can you with all these heads in your way? No one can see you hidden away in the gulag near the bathroom or in a far corner. The seats you need to set your eyes on are in the front row. For example, in El Beso, these seats are the front rows on either side of the dance floor. In Maipu 444, they are the seats against the far wall in front of you as you enter the hall, as well as the first row on the right side of the dance floor. The seating heirarchy for the men is the same.

So, how can your work your way up the food chain so that you, too, can be queen of the jungle? It's the same stuff you have to deal with in the workplace. It's who knows whom. It's performance. It's schmoozing. It's politics, baby. You are under surveillance, guilty until proven innocent. It comes to this: The people who run the milongas look at how you dance, with whom you dance, and how often you dance, because having a milonga filled with good, popular dancers makes them the money.

True, being your hot, charming, witty self can open doors, and you'll probably have milonguero slobber all over you before you can say "agua con gas." Ultimately, though, it won't earn you respect as a dancer, only the lust of the men and the disdain of the women. Worse still, though you'll probably dance, you will not dance your best, and you will not be challenged to improve, which is something which we should be striving for in every area of our lives. So, why not show them that you are also a woman of substance and not just a pretty face with a hot bod?

When I first came to BsAs, I had no clue. No one knew me from a hole in the wall, so I found myself seated consistently in a no-man's land, whether that was four rows back from the dance floor or in a corner. The only men who would dance with me were the ones who approached me directly...a big milonga no-no which will be explained in a later blog entry. It was to my detriment that I accepted, because people watch each other dance, and what they saw was someone who couldn't dance.

The only chance I had to save myself from milonga purgatory was -- and this is the first law of jungle politics -- to
DANCE WELL. For me, this meant taking lessons to work on my technique, and implementing these changes at the milongas. Slowly but surely, people started to notice. The better dancers started asking me to dance, which meant I had to sacrifice dancing with the C level dancers, even if it meant not dancing for several tandas in a row. If you watch very carefully, the better milongueras, and milongueros, for that matter, do not dance a lot. They wait because they know they have the pick of the litter. People WANT to dance with them, so they can afford to be more selective...which leads me to the second law...

If you are going to dance, DANCE WITH THE BEST. OK, it's a hard, cruel fact that there are fewer men than women, and it's even more difficult reality that there are even fewer men in the testosterone pool who can actually dance. So, do you save yourself, or do you lower your standards? It sounds so high school, but why settle? You expect the best, so start choosing the best, damn it! If you are uncertain of the level of your perpective partner, ask around. You'll be surprised how the women keep records of how different men dance.

I must add a caveat to this second law, however. Sometimes, one likes to dance with someone out of friendship, because he or she is a gosh-darn nice person. This is so totally cool. I do it, and make no apologies. However, I have deliberately stopped dancing with people because they just weren't good for me any more. I had outgrown them. Think about this in terms of personal relationships. If you've outgrown a relationship, there is no point in staying. You'll be stifled, and you'll stop growing. You need to develop the capacity to let things go so that you can welcome new experiences. I am still pleasant with these people, but some have asked me when why I stopped dancing with them. I casually tell them (because who wants to hurt someone's feelings?) that my feet hurt; or I didn't see them; or I had so many invitations that night. After a few weeks of avoiding their invitation, they usually get the message, and don't bother looking my way.

The third and final law of jungle politics is -- ta-da! -- DANCE!!! But, wait, didn't I just say that the best dancers don't dance often? Why, yes, I did, but I didn't mean be a waste of space. I didn't mean be bump on a log. You worked hard, working your poor feet in those dance classes, so it's time to show people what you've learned. At least start looking at the people with whom you want to share a tanda. Before you know it, you'll be having three guys walking toward your table at the same time thinking you looked at them!

One more caveat: Sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how bad-ass you are on the dance floor, the dueno (the person running the milonga) just doesn't take to you. There's bad blood or karma between you guys, and you don't get the seat that you want. In the end, it doesn't matter, because a good dancer will always have dance partners. Your partners will seek you out. Of course, you have to make your presence known. Pass by their table on the way to the bathroom, and say, "Hello!" I experimented with this once, and, sure enough, although I was sitting further away from the floor than I would have liked, my "clients", as I like to call them, still sought me out.

So, to recap the laws of the jungle: 1) Dance well; 2) Dance with the best; and 3) Dance. These three rules will help get your booty closer to a prime seat near the dance floor where you belong!

Friday, June 09, 2006


To "manejar" through a jungle filled with Juans, Marios, and Ricardos (oh, my!), a girl needs to be prepared. Here is what I always stash in my bag:

1. Handwipes! OK, ladies, the ugly truth is that there are some people who don't wash their hands after they do their business...and I mean, men AND women. It's gross. And then these guys wanna get their paws all over my dress. Are you kidding me?!?! At the very least, YOU can be hygenic. I should hand these out like condoms. Hand-sanitizing gel would work, too.

2. Face wash or facial wipes. I like to put in 100% when I'm dancing. I like pressing my cheek against my partner's cheek. It just feels so nice and intimate. Unfortunately, you don't know where that cheek has been. Just think about it. If he's a really popular dancer, imagine how much muck from other women is collecting in his pores? And then there's HIS sweat. That muck and sweat is getting all over YOU. It's worse if he has a 5 o'clock shadow because he's basically scratching up your cheek and imbedding all the "mugre" into your pores. My dermatologist here saw lots of microscopic scratches and clogged pores on my right cheek, and I am RELIGIOUS about my nighttime skin cleansing regimen. Now, I try to wipe down a few times during the milonga.

2. Breath mints. You need them even if you think you don't. If your partner is particularly offensive, share the wealth.

3. Kleenex. Runny noses, little accidents, spare toilet paper.

4. Spare tampons. Because you never know.

5. Hand lotion. Washing your hands can take a toll on your skin. To keep your hands feeling and looking as young as a baby's ass, slather the stuff on. The guys will thank you.

6. Band Aids. I have my share of battle scars from other women's heels. Throw a few in your bag, and you're good to go.

7. Spare change. In case you need to tip the bathroom person for your allotted 2 squares of toilet paper.

8. Extra make-up. To think I use to envy the thin lips of my caucasian classmates in elementary school. Now I'm pouting it up like Angelina Jolie. I'm a Blistex/lip balm addict, and lipstick and lipgloss are really only primping products that I use on a consistent basis.

9. Business cards. I got tired of having to write my info. on napkins, so I picked up some pretty and cheap business cards with my name, e-mail, and (will be adding my) cell phone number. They come in handy if you happen to meet the love of your life or of the moment at a milonga.

10. Meds. Yay for self-medicating! My girlfriend does it by shopping. Another friend does it with vodka. I do it with magnesium. Apparently, it's suppose to help with stress. I also throw in some aspirin or Advil, and I always go prepared with my asthma puffer in case I'm surrounded by nicotine addicts.

Keep in mind that your bag doesn't have to end up looking like the local CVS or Walgreens. Buy travel size items, or empty one of those millions of little bottles of hotel shampoo you've stolen over the years, and go to town!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Restaurant: Zadvarie
Address: Uriarte 1423, Palermo
Tel: 4831-2719

My boyfriend, in his attempt to sate my need for culinary variety, took me to the Zadvarie for lunch yesterday afternoon (Saturday). The business card reads,"Concina de Inspiracion Peruana, Sabores del Altiplano." I was expecting a llama (as in the South American animal, not "como se llama.")smorgasbord, but their menu proved to be inventive, a superfresh palate extravaganza.

For their lunch special, they offered a curry vegetable puree soup which warmed the bones, followed by cappeletis stuffed with chicken in a (relatively light) cream sauce. It rocked. The Man (the boyfriend, sidekick, bossman) ordered a salmon gravlax (gravlax=a way of preparing the salmon that involves dehydrating without leaving it completely dry) that came with 2 sides: quinoa with mango and bulgar/couscous. I think I ate half of his dish, too. Then, I ate almost all my mandarin cheesecake, which was just so lovely and light, and another dessert with algarroba (a tree indigenous to Paraguay and Argentina whose seeds are used for cooking) and chocolate drizzled ice cream. Delish. I ended up working out before going to the milonga that night AND doing more aerobics this morning! SO worth it, though.

Atmosphere: Minimal, yet warm. White tables and chairs, raw concrete walls. Funky sixties light fixtures. A clean, simple atmosphere which allowed the fantastic cuisine to shine.

Service: Excellent. Waiters were attentive, even as they were eating their lunch, which lasted all of 10 minutes. They always made sure their eyes were on the kitchen so they delivered our food the minute it came out.

Bathroom: Unfortunately, didn't think about this when I was there. Was too busy eating. (And, hey, this is my first restaurant review.) I will assume, however, that the high standard in the dining room can also be found in the bathrooms, as well. Will update when I return, which will be really soon, I hope.

Total damage: 50 pesos, including 2 non-alcoholic drinks

Overall: GREAT CHOW!

Friday, June 02, 2006


Hola, and welcome to my blog, fellow milonguera!

A few months ago, I was talking to an American girlfriend of mine about starting some kind of website or blog to inform women about the milongas and all the funkiness that goes along with being part of this scene. Voila! A few months later, out pops this blog. I'm hoping that it will serve women from all over the world who want an insider's look at the tango scene, an atmosphere that is unlike anything most people have ever experienced.

A little about moi. I'm a former psychotherapist/counselor/struggling actor/successful figure model who grew up in L.A. and lived in Arlington, VA until April 2005. A friend of mine introduced me to Argentine tango in D.C. in the mid-90's (God, doesn't this sound like it was eons ago???), and I've been dancing on and off -- through boyfriends and hairstyles, divorce, and graduate degrees -- since then.
At my most fanatic, when I was dancing almost every night, I decided to do my dissertation on the tango (as metaphor for soul...more on this later). Of course, one can't possibly do a dissertation without doing some kind of research, so I bought my ticket to Buenos Aires to experience what it was like to dance in the very birthplace of the tango.

I wish I had known then what I know now. It would have saved me a lot of frustration and embarrassment, and would have probably improved my learning curve in terms of my dancing. Because I didn't know the codes of the milonga and was way too eager to dance to take the time to learn about the idiosyncracies of the tango culture (and, indeed, it is a culture in itself... see how much my BA in international relations degree helped?), I danced with the worst dancers, which marked me as a tourist, an outsider, and "extranjera" only here to hit on another Argentine man. I learned by making a complete dork out of myself (which included slipping in front everyone at a milonga, being groped by a slimey guy as I danced, asking a guy to dance, etc. Oh, yes, and let's not forget not knowing the language well enough to defend myself!).

Now, after having lived and danced here for more than a year, I find that I am now dancing with some of the better old school milongueros, those who, had I not learned to say, "No" to some of the more unsavory characters, would have continued to ignore me, or alternatively, only shown interest in me to do the horizontal mambo, if you dig what I'm saying. Plus, the women are nicer to me, too! So, while I'm still an "extranjera," I am now an informed, educated extranjera who isn't going anywhere for a while. I like to think that I earned my seat in the "primer fila," a subject which will be discussed in a future blog.

But wait, there's more! What?! No, way! More bang for your buck? Yesiree. I'll be including a weekly restaurant review called the Milonguera's Chow Guide, a list of where to get decent clothing and tango shoes, teacher suggestions, what to do if you happen to fall in love with one of these milongueros, and a whole lot more! Ideas are just flying out of my head!

So, I welcome any advice, comments, suggestions, updates, or questions you may have. We, women, have got to stick together because it's a jungle out there!

Cheers, and happy tango-ing!

Tango Goddess