Sunday fairs and closed-door dining

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What’s not to love about the gentle and good natured jostling that surrounds antique and bric-a-brac markets? Sunday morning we joined the sharp-eyed locals and tourists alike, all heading along the sleepy streets towards Plaza Dorrego and the Feria de San Telmo.

We made our way along cobbled streets with low storey colonial buildings, still shuttered to the sun and ducked into Walrus bookstore, the only English one in town; it smelt of leather-bound and well thumbed paperback books, sandalwood and timbered beams. Leafing through the more serious tomes on philosophy, astro physics and the ilk, I spied what I had come in search of … A trash novel I could trade later along the way. Patricia Cornwall for a tidy price of 10 pesos!

Antique Siphons at Feria de San Telmo

Stall at Feria de San Telmo

The market was packed with personality and charm with vendors selling everything from vintages soda siphons, Christolfe silverware, Panama hats and jewellery to bags and rugs you can find pretty much in any hippy market from Camden to Ibiza.

Panama hats at Feria de San Telmo

Hats galore at Feria de San Telmo

Buskers worked the crowd and groups of tourists gathered around the tango shows that popped up in the square; full of tautness and desire, the dancers conjured up passion and mystery for a few pesos.

We were tangoed in more ways than one … Having dismissed a chap waving flyers as we ducked into a bar for beer and quick bite, we were slammed with a ‘tango charge’ for the couple that gracefully and theatrically weaved their way across the floor whilst we ate our parrilla y salade. Serves us right!

Next stop was Playa de Mayo, with it’s Piramide de Mayo, an obelisk built to mark BA’s independence from Spain, the impressive facade of the Banco de la Nacion and the Catedral Metropolitana – the towering pillars give no indication of the delicate murals and stained glass inside. Did feel rather sorry for two soldiers in full dress uniform guarding the tomb of General Jose de San Martin.

Having walked the streets of both San Telmo and Congresso, we had built a healthy appetite and were really looking forward to our ‘closed-door’ dining experience, Puertas Cerrades, at Casa Saltshaker with Dan and Henry our soon-to-be-hosts.

We arrived outside the appartment and noticed a few people lurking apprehensively…fellow diners? Full of Dutch courage after apperitifs en route, we rang the bell and announced our arrival in Spanish. Henry appeared and ushered us into the apartment block…. Along with the other four people. Thankfully Dan made introductions as we headed into the garden. Result!! The other dinner guests hailed from Portugal and the US. Relief flooded through us as this meant we could focus on enjoying our five course supper, rather than making conversation in faltering Spanish!

The highlights? Toughie as a really balanced meal with thoughtful wine pairing, but here goes…..
Gazpacho d’oro, sorbete de cilantro – a smooth sweet gazpacho with the added twist of a coriander sorbet with a hint of chilli…. Washed down with a glass of Atemporal Brut
Lomo de conejo, pure rustico, ruckus selvatica – loin of rabbit (not that easy to come by) on a chickpea and potato mash, with rocket and mustard dressing .. Paired to perfection with Padrillos Pinot noir
Cheesecake de miel, compote de ciruelas – not a pudding fan in the slightest, the homemade plum compote worked a treat with the honey cheesecake.
Casa Saltshaker

Conversation flowed as freely as the wine; we traded travellers notes, anecdotes from home and our future holiday plans…Cindy, Sarah and Marcus especially, added to the pleasure of the evening. As Dan said, you never can tell how these sort of evenings unfold and ours was definitely a resounding success.

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