Buenos Aires: a trip-worth expression of Latin America’s street art

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina is where a metropolis meets an affluent heritage contrasted by its harsh current life. The epitome of untamed politics of the South American continent, democratic on the surface, but harming its own people through unstable economic policies that degrade common wellbeing, created a fertile ground for Latin America’s street art.
The Argentines with their open latin attitudes and an expressive way of being are well equipped to comment creatively on their cultural, political and social observations of daily life. Such an embracing spirit attracts also many foreign figures prominent on the global street art scene.
A savvy photographer friend of ours recommended taking a guided tour of the local street art, so we followed her guidance. Soon we were to realise how much our trip to Argentina was enriched by doing this. What’s wonderful is how street art changes so rapidly. What is on the wall one month can be gone the next or even tomorrow as the wall is painted over, the building demolished or a rogue grafitti scrawled all over the art.

We were impressed not just by the colourful diversity, open criticism and the skills of the creative ‘wall painters’, but by how much more free the contemporary street art is than most exhibited in galleries, museums and shows in the curated world of art.
Here are my personal selections of the most captivating street art that we were shown by our guide from BA Street Art.

Politically charged street art of Buenos Aires

The political elite of Argentina noticed the increasing popularity of the local street art, and vexed their interests in. Matt, our guide from the BA Street Art explained that on the fourth image above we see the ex-president Nestor Kirchner saying: “Thanks for bringing back our history”. Because of its covert nature he adds: “We wouldn’t describe this as street art or art, but rather a political propaganda as it was painted by a militant group called La Campora that is run by Nestor Kirchner’s son.”
Aside from that, Latin America’s street art is alive and sizzling with discontent. The wild latin nature can only by tamed when it is expressed, and when it happens peacefully by funnelling into this creative activity. The result is a more balanced protest against the unfavored establishment. I did not comment on the selected art, since the creators communicated their messages directly visually. It is up to you to make conclusions about the current state of Argentina. What does each of the above expressions of the street art portray personally to you?
After the tour, we bought the book co-authored by our guide titled Textura Dos: Buenos Aires Street Art by Matt Fox-Tucker & Guilherme Zauith published with bilingual texts in English and Spanish. We were poised to explore more street art around the globe. So, when I visited Athens, I took the opportunity to witness its own people’s discontent with the challenging economic period in Greece expressed through the street art.

Casa Cruz: fun with modern gastronomic cooking in Buenos Aires

Casa Cruz feels dark, modern (not contemporary) and chic. Entering the restaurant trough a giant polished brass doors resembles a hot nightclub. As you swim inside into an elegant sea of colours with red finishes resembling the hues of corals, where waiters swirl handfuls of tingling plates around the merry diners, you know that you are at a restaurant. Casa Cruz is staged around the bar, the place of seductive action. Here just around midnight, the manly representatives of sharks with mind-ravishing cocktails in their hands, hungry for a feminine pray, circle around looking for the “tastiest” lady from them all. Depending on your mission, wear something elegant to impress as sophisticated or smart-sexy to attract the appetite of the right ‘shark’. Just keep in mind fashion trends that do not stray too much into extravagance as you might startle the serious business diners that also frequent Casa Cruz. Men are advised to wear long sleeve shirt, trousers and closed shoes. Women just be beautiful and you are the most properly dressed even though this is one of the most luxurious restaurants in Argentina. “Babies are not allowed”, which says a lot about this place.

Wine wall at the back of the restaurantCasa Cruz gained its fame for an original take on Argentine ingredients blended with Italian cooking, but I would add a bit of French and Spanish touches. Starting with a Provolone cheese souflé with red onion compote or a lighter Organic Greens Salad with goat cheese and crispy nut bread, both underline the modernity of the food at the restaurant (think 80s and 90s New York and London fine dining). The naughty looking cheese souflé, was not too heavy, but rather fluffy and deep because Provolone is rather smoky. In the Organic salad the colorful lettuce was made more interesting with a crisp slice of hazelnut bread that was in a perfect synergy with the fresh goat cheese.
Salad with crispy nut bread
The main courses turned to be a bit more exotic for some of us. Half of our table ordered the Baby Goat served with rustic potatoes, lemon and dried tomatoes. Well, I got a bite of all of it, but must say that goat meat is not in my Top 10. It was too dry so dipping it generously into the accompanying lemon sauce and dried tomatoes paste saved the dish for me. Luckily, I went for the Grilled Octopus, Corn cake and Tomato Compote. The octopus was superb! I prefer a meaty texture of this tentacled sea creature, crispy on the outside and juicy inside. The corn cake was like Italian polenta, the dryness of which was moistened with the succulent tomato compote.
Baby Goat
Do not skip the deserts here if you have a sweet tooth. We indulged in the Vanilla Créme Brulée and the exquisitely delicate Flan with Dulce de Leche. Pears with champagne also looked seductive, but perhaps we felt we had enough wine already, we did not go for the ‘sparkling pears’. I am curious how it might taste. Let me know if you try them so I can sleep easy without the recurring dream of ‘fizzy pears’ I might have had tried at Casa Cruz. If your heart does not need ‘sweetening up’ then you can get various cheeses from Argentina and elsewhere as your “postre” (Spanish dessert means literally the last plate after the main course).
Flan with dulce de leche
The restaurant’s back wall decorated with full bottles of wine gives a good hint about the wide selection of wines at Casa Cruz. Argentine wine fans will like this place. There are 250 labels and 20 wines by-the-glass. If you want wine from the old world then you might be disappointed, but why not trying an Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec that this multi-rooted country does so well? After all, most of the winemakers are descendants of the Italians, French and Spaniards that once made wines in Europe. On the top of that the Argentine Torrontès can be so aromatic that it blows away most white wines made from this grape anywhere else!
Cuisine: Modern urban of the Western 80s & 90s with then popular French influences, some Argentinian touches.
Visit: December 2012
Price: High (Casa Cruz is a popular hotspot for anyone who is somebody in the Argentine celebrity scene).
Opening hours: Only dinner Mon-Thurs: 8:30pm-midnight, Fri-Sat: 8:30pm – 1:00 am.
Address: Uriarte 1658, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Contact: Tel: +(54) 11 4833-1112

Sipan: modern peruvian cevicheria in Buenos Aires

Pisco sour
Price: Medium to high (by many diners in 2012 it was “the best ceviche in Buenos Aires so it does not come cheep, yet not too crazy).
Intimate yet buzzing atmosphere in the back room
Atmosphere: Young creatives, buzzing and quite low-key considering that it is located at a fancy neighborhood hotel Palermitano. The service is off-beat but effective. Wear anything you want, although anything youthful looking would fir in the most.
Food: Ceviche is a must here and was refreshing, juicy and intense as it should be. The white fish was fresh, corn kernels crisp, onion invigorating and the lime-based “Tigre di leche” sauce the server poured over it just after laying the plate on our table was not too sour, just right to add even more zest to the dish.
From the starters we got the Spicy shrimp, that were to our taste a bit over-flavored. The shrimps were sautéed in sundried chilly, garlic and yellow pepper sauce, served on fancy spoons to slip easily into your mouth at one bite. Unless you had a mouth of a whale you ended up hardly chewing the contents of the spoon as there was almost no space to chew in your mouth. I found it easier to grab each shrimp with my chopsticks and dip it in the rich sauce if needed, but to my taste not much of it was necessary.
Spicy shrimps
The Tiracuya Salmon tiradito (thinly sliced fish) had a perfectly delicate texture, yet it is better to share it with at least three people other wise you might end up a bit “over-salmoned”. It was served with passionfruit sauce bringing sweet and sour tone and with a crispy thin noodle-like topping, that was a bit tasteless yet fun to crunch on.
The Sipan roll looked superb, yet the super-sweet home-made teriyaki sauce made it more of a dessert rather than savory roll with shrimp, salmon tartar, cream cheese and avocado.
Sipan roll
From the warm main courses we went for Seared seafood with vegetables that we saw our neighbors were having. We though that they could not finish it because of the portion being too big for them, yet, as we tasted in just a couple of moments later, it was too salty that eating it all might cause you a heart attack. The seafood was of a great quality and well cooked, just someone had to add an extra pinch of salt each time he stirred the veggies with the seafood.
Seared seafood
Overall, I would come back to this restaurant as it was better than the legendary South American chain of fancy peruvian eateries Osaka, but I would order just pisco sour and all kinds of  ceviche from the menu.
Cuisine: Peruvian, modern blend with Japanese – Nikkei cuisine
Visit: December 2012
Drinks: I had one of the best – if not the best – Pisco sours in my life here. Go for it as an aperitif before your dinner or sip this refreshing cocktail based on a grape spirit pisco, egg-whites, lime and sugar during your meal. Pisco sour works wonderfully with the modern peruvian dishes. Wine is an option too. Alsatian Riesling, steely Pinot Gris or even the spice-bomb of a Gewurtztraminer are my favorite choices with this type of food. Although Argentina makes some of the later as well. We got a bottle of Gewurtztraminer from Rutini and liked it, except it was a bit more sweet than we craved for, so keep it in mind.
Address: Hotel Palermitano, Uriarte 1648, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Contact: Tel:+(54) 11 4897-2100 or +(54) 11 4311-6875

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