Today I arrived in Buenos Aires.
This is not my first time to the city; once I came for pleasure, and once I came to shoot a story for Departures Magazine about the culture and Argentina’s obsession with beef. I am eager to revisit some of the places I enjoyed most in the past like La Cabrera and Casa Cruz in Palermo, El Obrero, and Patagonia Sur owned by Francis Mallman.
I flew business nonstop on Delta from JFK. Delta is not one of my favorite airlines, but it has some non-stop routes that are convenient. My preferred airlines are all Asian (Singapore, Thai, Cathay, ANA), so when I can’t fly with them I try to fly Continental out of the US, but it doesn’t fly non-stop to Buenos Aires.
I sat next to a very nice man, a stylist / fashion consultant named David Vandewal, who was on his way to Buenos Aires to oversee the Louis Vuitton men’s shoot for Fall / Winter ’09-10. He was originally from Belgium, is now based in New York, and this was his first time traveling to BA. It was a pleasure chatting with him about his work, the city, photography and some of my past days working in fashion. I wondered if he would be staying at La Faena, but he was going to be staying at the Park Hyatt on Avenida Alvear, which I’ve heard is a nice property.
My assistant, Kristin, and I gathered our bags and met our waiting car and driver sent from the hotel. We are whisked away to begin our trip, making our way into the city. It’s always funny to me that the taxis are black and yellow here, similar to the colors of the rickshaws and taxis in India. I was very much looking forward to photographing gauchos again….I love spending time with them.
It is now 11:30pm, and I’m just back from the well known restaurant Cabana Las Lilas in the Puerto Madero district. Here, in this part of the city along Rio de la Plata, are a lot of new constructions. Having been redeveloped in the 1990s, it is the most newly developed part of the city where old warehouses and grain silos are now trendy condominiums, restaurants, and hotels. La Faena is here, and so is Cabana Las Lilas.
I decided to return here for my first night back in Buenos Aires as it was close to my hotel; La Cabrera was all the way in Palermo, so I’d save that for another night. I have always known that Cabana Las Lilas is not really a restaurant for locals, but rather a place where Argentinian businessmen might bring foreigners in an attempt to impress them. It is a costly place, and most natives I’ve spoken to think of it as a tourist restaurant with average quality beef. They would never go, and this time they were right. What was most disappointing was the service; it was rushed, impersonal and pushy. My assistant and I felt pressured to eat quickly and leave. The restaurant was crowded as usual, and we sat outside. I even recognized some of the same waiters from my first trip. I ordered lomo (tenderloin), which came well done instead of medium, with puree de calabaza (pumpkin puree). Kristin ordered sweetbreads and we began dinner with their classic dish of small bites: sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, peppers, which they bring automatically along with good bread. But I spent a part of the evening apologizing for bringing her there her first night in Buenos Aires. I looked forward to La Cabrera!!