Friday, August 31, 2012

The Buena Vista's Irish Coffee - San Francisco, California

When I was buying Irish coffee mugs for my flight attendant friend from Ireland who was getting married, I wanted to find an exceptional recipe to include with the gift. (I ended up buying a book instead about speciality coffees). In my searches, I found the location of The Buena Vista in San Francisco, which brought over the Irish coffee via an international travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who had been served this coffee at the Shannon, Ireland airport in the early 1950’s.

This is a perfect drink for the often blustery, fog-shrouded City by the Bay. The recipe calls for one full jigger of Irish whiskey, which even though it is poured into the coffee and is drunk though the cream that floats on the top, the first pull will let you know this drink means business. After my first sip, feeling the power of the Irish whiskey over the coffee and cream, I wondered how many patrons have sat on the same barstool I was sitting on and after a few of these potent coffees, ended up on the floor at some point.

The Buena Vista had a fair mix of locals and tourists; most of the locals sat at the booths while most of the non-residents sat at the bar to have their obligatory one Irish coffee in order to tell their friends and family back home this was checked off of their to-do list. I watched the musical chairs of customers rotate filling the seats at the bar, then head across the street to jump on the famed cable car for the ride to Union Square. There is no doubt, if I lived in San Francisco, I could easily become a regular drinking these hot toddies. Mine seemed to disappear way too fast.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Confiteria Anahid - Buenos Aires, Argentina

There has yet to be a time I have been in the Confiteria Anahid bakery on Hipólito Yrigoyen street and not seen a line inside of customers waiting to place an order. I always have to pull a numbered ticket from the red machine. Being that I am not versed in my numbers in Spanish, I have to watch which paper numbers are impaled on the metal stick to know when its my turn that is called. It is an even divide between patrons buying pastries, and those purchasing empanadas. I buy both - every time.

Often by 2:00 pm, most of the empanadas are gone: the spinach and onion, the jambon y queso, the plain jambon. I have eaten these filled puff pastries in Spain, in Puerto Rico, and in Miami, and in Buenos Aires. None compare to these at Confiteria Anahid. Located on a street corner in San Telmo, the outside of the bakery, with its sheaths of wheat logo painted in red, is quite the antithesis of the pretty patisseries of Paris, but it’s front belies these empanadas inside that are worth traveling across the city for if necessary. On my last flight from Buenos Aires back to JFK, one of the Spanish speaking flight attendants on my crew took one look at my empanadas and tried to talk me out of having them at all costs, saying that by looking at the texture of the pastry and the consistency of the filling, he just knew these empanadas were excellent. He quickly wrote down the name of Confiteria Anahid. 

As much as I love the empanadas, and I buy two for every 10 hour all-night flight back to JFK from Buenos Aires that I work, it is Confiteria Anahid’s chocolate dulce de leche cookies that have me singing their praises. Yum-YUM! If I could buy all of them in the case, I would; like the empanadas, often when I get there, most of these off-the-chart cookies are sold out. The smooth texture, the luscious and creamy flavor of milk and caramel, the freshness of having been baked that morning - unbeatable!