Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh Buenos Aires, you.

OMGYOUGUYS. I have too much content today. I have FOUR DAYS of Buenos Aires to cover. This will be impossible - there is not enough coffee in the world, and I can feel the sun on my ankles - it is a delightful burning - and also it is only a matter of minutes until the Kitty Patrol comes and sits on my computer. Oreo and Melita are the Holiday Enforcers, the Vacation Guard, and if there is one thing they will not stand for, it is the presence of a laptop on a sunny balcony when you clearly  have two hands capable of more than tapping away at a keyboard:

Like rubbing tummies.

So for now, in this brief window, I will attempt - perhaps in vain - to at least cover the weekend. Here we go!

First, let us start with our friends who are hosting us, Palermo-style. This is them plus their Lily-Allen sister, Pia:

Meet Vik and Pablo. They are artists, influencers, and socialites to the nth degree (more on this soon). They are also warm and funny, and they know EVERYTHING. We've loved them since we met in London many moons ago. I should add that Vik, in addition to being a famous illustrator, is also a singer. We will also see this in action soon.

This is their shop, Monoblock. They have two of these in Buenos Aires - one in Palermo, and one in the Galeria Liceo, which is pictured below. Everything in their shop they have produced in collaboration with local artists (and one from Londres, woot!). It is awesome: 

Sidebar: can I tell you how weird it is to celebrate Christmas when it's a million degrees outside? There we are, walking down the streets, sweating and dusty and wondering where we can find a lemonade, and there are baubles and reindeers and glitz in all the shop windows. Feliz Navidad? YOU ARE MOCKING ME.

Back to Monoblock! Remember the Lily Allen Sister? She is a chef and this is her deli, snugged away in a courtyard behind the shop and full of tattooed hipsters. Her food is gorgeous, leading me to believe that between her and her sister, there is a bit too much total talent for one family. But that's why I am not in charge. 

You want to go to here:

After lunch, Alan and I finally quit stalking our hosts (me, pawing Vik's hair, murmuring nonsense) and headed to La Recoleta Cemetery. Youguys. You know my history with cemeteries: they do not want me in them because I Know What's Going On. For the most part I am happy to oblige, but sometimes, rules must be broken. I will tell you now, though - cue foreboding music here - just because I am willing to compromise, doesn't mean the graveyard will. Our understanding is in place for a reason, and this will become apparent very soon.

But first, let's start off when things are good and happy and I am merrily skipping about the mausoleums. Aren't they stunning? Aren't they spooky and magical? *click click snap snap* I wonder where Eva Peron's is? I hope these pictures capture the atmosphere. Why is it that cemeteries always look gloomy? Can the sun not penetrate here? --Ooh! Look at that angel statue! *click click snap snap*

Then, we turn down one of the teeny tiny labyrinth-like paths, and:

I see this for the omen it is - because Not My First Graveyard - and turned us down a different path to get away from his Curse. And am immediately confronted with this sky:


I turn and look back at him.

In that half-moment when my back was turned, the sky grew to this:

STOP IT, KITTY! You are summoning the overlords! 



I lingered long enough to photograph This Graveyard's Wrath - because some people never learn - and that is when THE HAIL BEGAN.

An angel dispensing doom like so much salt over fried potatoes.

This was the gate leading out. It took me years to reach it. 

The graveyard clearly won. We had to take refuge in a cafe across the road, attempting to dry off with the warm comfort of Malbec, as the rain lashed the windows, still trying to get at us. When at last we could move again, I got close enough to shoot this church and then got out of there as fast as I could. I knew my place.

This is clearly not it.

Then to Floreria Atlantico! This is one of those super-hip cocktail bars that looks like a flower shop on street level because So Secret but then they open the magic door and you go underground and ooh la la So Dark and Sexy and Look at That Typeface and This Cocktail Menu is Written in More Than One Foreign Language and I Don't Care What It Is, I Want to Drink It and Is That Eucalyptus Infusing in That Bottle? 

In short: exactly right.
I don't know about you, but the more steps I have to take for my negroni, the better it tastes.

And then dinner, wherein we take a full 180 from the sophistication of Floreria and head to El Cuartito. It is the whole package: flourescent lighting, full of locals, and home of the squidgiest gooeyiest pizza you have ever put in your face. Also, that guy:

My new favourite pizza is the one on the bottom left - yes, I was so hungry I took a bite before I photographed it, don't judge me - it's called Fugazzetta, and it's basically crap-tons of mozzarella and onions. At El Cuartito, they also stuff the crust and add cream cheese. I WILL TAKE IT ALL, PLEASE.

And Oreo just sat on my arm. Apparently I have been given enough time. I got Saturday done, though! Progress!

I will now leave you with the view from our roof terrace - pictures of rooftop asado coming soon! - and take my leave. Today is San Telmo Day! 

Big hugs and lots of love,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On brain pickings, high art, and much much lower neurosis

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. - Anne Lamott

OMGYOUGUYS. Have you discovered Brain Pickings yet? If you have, don't judge me, I'm a little late to the game on this one. (And I owe it to Kyle that I came across it at all.) Don't think for a second of following that link unless you're prepared to lose the next hour(s) of your life, because each link leads to ten more interesting links, and those to ten more, and next thing you know, the sun's gone down, you're fumbling for your glasses, and you feel a strange urge to go to a poetry reading and hug people.

My latest foray into BP was when I followed a link to Anne Lamott on Grief, which then led me to an article on how we keep ourselves small by people-pleasing, and then WHAM, there's Jorge Luis on writing, F. Scott on love stories, and Dani Shapiro on the Creative Life. It's all just too much, youguys. Get in there. When you're done, you'll want to create something wonderful. Or messy. Or anything. Because as Neil Gaiman will tell you, it doesn't matter, just do it.

I really like this stuff because while I'm not a producer of art, I really love people who are. I find what they do impossibly impossible.

Speaking of Jorge and Vik, Argentina is fast approaching! FRIDAY, youguys. That's how fast. FRIDAY. That is, like, three days from now. I have about a book's worth of google maps and flight confirmations and driving instructions and STILL I have the sneaking sensation that I am forgetting something. I lie in bed at night, mentally packing my bag. Virtual sandals, check. Virtual passport, check. Virtual camera--CAMERA! Tripod! BATTERY CHARGER! Where is the last place I saw the battery charger?? The living room socket behind the speaker?? WHERE IS THAT THING! WRITEITDOWNSOMEWHEREBEFOREIFORGET! I lunge for Evernote in the dark hours, tip-tapping away at a thousand lists, syncing and re-syncing, determined to start packing, like, yesterday.  I'll be so exhausted by the time I arrive, I'll probably sleep through the entire holiday.


Big hugs and lots of love,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On hot sauce, yet more veg, and what are you reading?

Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life. - Terry Pratchett

OMGYOUGUYS. I just made hot sauce with all those chilis I had to pluck from my dead chili plants. Well, I *think* I made hot sauce. I whacked them all into a pot with some vinegar and garlic and salt and in about half an hour I'm going to whizz it up and hope for the best. I didn't even bother deseeding them because who has got that kind of TIME and also what's the worst that can happen? It sets my stomach on fire? LET'S DO THIS CHILI THROW-DOWN.

Speaking of food, look at this gargantuan beetroot I got in this week's veg box. Isn't this ABSURD? I can barely palm it, which is a far cry from the ping-pongs I usually get:
Don't even get me started on the carrot. I almost photographed that instead, but I felt mildly uncomfortable just HOLDing it. 

And how is this for authentic? I actually washed off most of the dirt before taking this photo. I swear they put dirt IN the box, just to make me dig for my vegetables. Like an added bonus, a Look! You're a Farmer! experience, as you root around with your trowel, hands growing rough, hoping for a bountiful harvest.
My beets and carrots were pretty bountiful, alright. 

And now we've got the brussels sprouts. SOMEONE. TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THESE BRUSSELS SPROUTS. I was going to make this flatbread pizza to get away from my usual method of FRYWITHBACONBACONBACON but if anybody has any better ideas, let me know. There are enough here to last me a MONTH.
Stop looking so innocent and baby-like. I know what you're about.

In other good news, NPR's Book Concierge for 2014 is out! I can't even handle it. There are so many books in there I want to eat. I love stuff like this, because my usual method of looking for books is either finding out what Cassandra's reading, or going to the library and hoping they've got ANYthing published after 1978. Speaking of, I was there yesterday getting some travel guides to Argentina, and since  'ANG' follows 'ARG' and my library has an impeccable cataloguing system, this book was right there. I couldn't resist it, immediately dropping all the Time Out Buenos Aires Guides that I knew I wouldn't read anyway. Any book involving prostitution and drugs in San Francisco is a day's win!
Some things just make you nostalgic.

Now if you'll excuse me, I clearly have a busy day ahead. Plus tonight is the Annual Dinner for the British Guild of Beer Writers* and it's supposed to be QUITE the fancy pants affair. I have even heard mention of SPARKLES, and that from the MEN. I've got to get to work - these sweatpants aren't going to bedazzle themselves!

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Of COURSE I'm in the guild! Look at all this beer I blog about! I'm also a Young Furniture Maker in the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, because OBVIOUSLY.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On crafts, the winter sky, and fairy wings

Is my paranoia getting completely out of hand, or are you mongoloids really talking about me? - John Kennedy Toole

OMGYOUGUYS. So remember how I had the World's Most Anemic Christmas Decorations to put up? Well, GUESS WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY. This Christmas banner, handmade by the Indomitable Little Wing:
This is exactly the sort of thing I'd look up how to make on Pinterest, eff up within seconds, and end up buying on Etsy.

Sidebar: I was just double-checking this photo for anything embarrassing prior to posting and I have just realised I have the handiwork of another design genius on display: That Wonderful Bowl. You can't tell, but it's WOODEN and steam-bent and then held together by WOVEN CORD. Of course it was made by the brilliant Aya:
I think we're all reaching the same conclusions from this. 

On a semi-related note: Look at the light quality of the above photo, whose brightness was actually amped up with a filter. This was taken mid-morning in an east-facing room. I intentionally didn't photograph the banner last night because I wanted to show it in natural light, forgetting that we're officially approaching the Shortest Day and that is no longer a thing. This is as bright as my brightest room gets; I have the lights on all day now.

The winter sky in London looks like this: it's not gray, it's a wonderful, flat brown, and if it's not raining, the air is just delightfully WET. A tangible, visible mist, impossible to combat with umbrella, hood, or sword:
 And people wonder why I don't leave the house.

So that's today's cheer for you!

Okay, I really should be going. I just saw a quiz on fb asking What Kind of Wings I Have* and while some might say that's just LUDICROUS and GOING A BIT TOO FAR, I think it's safe to say that FINALLY there's a quiz that tells us something valuable and meaningful about ourselves, and now I can finally prove I'm more dragon than fairy. Because #science.

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Totally not kidding.  High-five for #angels and #dreams and #unicornsparkles!