About three weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I had to leave the city. It was beginning to suffocate me. I chronically suffer from cabin fever, and this time, I craved endless land and beautiful landscapes. I drew up a rough itinerary that would take me through the mountainous provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. My plan was to keep moving on up—in terms of both direction and altitude. And, I was really looking forward to tasting the famous empanadas salteñas.
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I sauntered up to the tall black gates when the uniformed groundskeeper approached me and asked if I had a reservation. I didn’t. And it was a Friday night. He corroborated both facts, and added that there would be a 45-minute wait. As many onlookers would agree, La Casa Polaca imbues an air of exclusivity and intrigue. A tiny sign by the gated entrance whispers the presence of a restaurant, and a few small windows at the ground level peer into a curious dining salon. And so, we were especially excited about getting in when the news came of an available table.
I came across the tea room Barruel by chance, before heading into a shopping expedition in Palermo Soho one afternoon. My thoughts were interrupted by something equally as shiny and pretty: an impeccable life-sized dollhouse evoking old-time British luxury. The daintiness of this tea room—the glistening china sets, white garden chairs and plush sofas—beckoned me through the glass windows.
A tropical celebrity playground in the 1950’s and 60’s, Brazil has enchanted Brigitte Bardot and Rita Hayworth, and now more recently, served as a backdrop for Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” music video in 2002. Only a stone’s throw away from Argentina, a flight to Rio de Janeiro takes three hours from Buenos Aires. I, like many others before me, couldn’t resist the temptation to explore the flavors of South America’s most seductive country.
My best friend Jessica Bartolini and I used to enjoy the $4.95 lunch menus at the Indian restaurant row on 6th St. and 2nd Ave on Manhattan’s Lower East Side whenever we had a half day in high school. During my five-year vegetarian phase (quite the shocker), we both made a habit of ordering the vegetable korma for its creamy coconut and cardamom goodness. I later moved onto the chicken korma, half wishing that the Indian chefs would just go ahead and desecrate the cow and serve up some beef korma.