Buenos Aires is a wonderful place and the people are friendly beyond measure. Special thanks need to go out to Gutavo Carstens who picked me up at the airport and coordinated a watch party for the Olympic basketball game between USA and Argentina. Another big shout-out to the very kind Patricio (Patrick) Marshall who introduced me to the city, marked many interesting things on a city map, and urged me to go to the street market held each Sunday near San Telmo.
The DISC was well-attenend and held in the stunning YPF office tower overlooking the city. Thanks to all!
The Buenos Aires DISC 2012 class. Bearded guys in the back: Gustavo (center) and Patrick (right)
If you come to Buenos Aires, and I hope you will, there is much to see and do. But I want to tell you about just one. It is a plea, a screaming rant of recommendation. It is the best meal I have ever had, and that is saying something. My wife makes meals 4 times a week that are better than anything most men ever taste. I've dined all over Spain, in Italy, France, and dozens of other countries. In short, I have had a lot of great meals. But the Buenos Aires restaurant Dora stands alone.
I'm not a food critic, but I know what one should say about Dora. Not all of Buenos Aires is nice, not all of it safe. But step into Dora and feel a waft of the old times, where waiters watch patrons closely (but not obsessively) to anticipate what is needed next; real waiters who do it for a living and have for generations. No pretension, no haughty indifference, no demeaning glances. A pride in trade and work that the modern world has long forgotten. If this were all, there would be other contenders. But then comes the food. For starters I had grilled langostinos (thin rock lobsters) halved in a beautiful sauce. Then came the Cazuela Dora, a house special seafood stew with saffron rice on the side. It was a symphony, not the drippy rehash kind of symphony nodding to the real thing, or a quirky modern symphony that is little more than a jumble of noise aimed at glorifying the sad creatures who write and direct it. No this was an old school, honest symphony of taste. A fragment, a remnant of the guilded age when a symphony was a symphony and if you wrote one you had damn well better get it right or be out of a job. The food spilled over an ample plate, the wine, of course, was malbec, rich and full-bodied and lots of it. I ate until I could eat no more, then ate more. The waiter tried to clear the table a couple of times, but I would have nothing to do with it. I did not want the meal to end. Finally, reluctantly, regretfully, with remorse I let it go.
I know what the food critic should say about Dora, but this is a tainted age of tiny multicolor pyramids parading as food on vast plates with artistic drizzles of sauce, a time when the chef is a reality TV star and a lacky runs the kitchen. Yep, I know what the critic should say, but have no faith it will ever be said. Go to Buenos Aires, go to Dora, eat, live.