Sweet on Sweet Buenos Aires: Indulging My Sweet Tooth in Palermo
By Sharon Salt.
Kelly Poindexter is a Wisconsin native, second time expat. When she was a girl, she remembers thinking she was an actual princess – probably sent to live in the Midwest after a kidnapping – so she demanded only the finest foods. She always wanted to move to France, where she belonged. So, much later, when she graduated from college, she received an opportunity to teach English in France, and she jumped at the chance.
In France, Kelly fell in love with two things: the pastries and an Argentine. After three years together in Europe, she moved with her Argentine beau to Buenos Aires. She decided to become a pastry chef at a culinary school in Buenos Aires. Now, a pastry arts degree, a break-up, and three years later, she’s still here.
For a while, Kelly used her pastry-making know-how to cater birthday parties and events, and she even applied to work in a few bakeries. At the end of the day, though, she decided it was too much work for too little compensation, especially considering she couldn’t eat anything she made. In fear of burning out, she decided to apply her degree in a new way.
That’s how Sweet Buenos Aires was born.
Sweet Buenos Aires, a walking tour and dessert tasting, takes place every Tuesday and Thursday around merienda, kind of like the Argentine tea time. Says Kelly, “The merienda is the secret on how to survive that long stretch of time between lunch and the notoriously late Argentine dinner.” The tour starts and ends in Palermo, but though the three destinations are within a 10-block radius of one another, they inhabit radically different worlds.
The first stop was a veritable hole-in-the-wall churreria. And when I say hole-in-the-wall, I do mean it: though it was only a half block away from our meeting point, I had walked right past it. In fact, even Kelly stumbled upon it by accident one day, and now, she says, she’s “constantly finding reasons to come back.”
You can buy churros in almost any bakery, but they’re often shipped in from other places, or, if not, are at least a few days old. This churreria, on the other hand, makes churros and only churros. They add the filling right when you order, so the outside stays crispy and the inside stays warm and creamy.
We tasted two churros – dulce de leche and pastry cream – both of which were delicious. They also sell a savory bleu cheese churro that Kelly swears is heaven with beer. (So now I’ll be the one finding excuses to go back.)
The second stop was a more modern restaurant a few blocks away. According to Kelly, they make the best dulce de leche and mozzarella in all of Buenos Aires, though those two things are not necessarily to be eaten together. “It seems like a weird combination, to have the best of both, I know,” says Kelly, “But I mean it. The best.” We had a sampling of dulce de leche-filled creations and learned first-hand what Kelly meant by “not all dulce de leches are created equal.” The mini coconut dulce de leche cakes and banana-and-dulce-de-leche licuados were my personal favorites. And yes — it was, by far, the best dulce de leche I’ve had.
From there, we went to the third and final destination. It wasn’t much of a hole-in-the-wall, but it was located in the back of a dark alley lit with tiny white lights and filled with potted plants, so again, we nearly walked past it. Surprisingly enough, Kelly found it in the last few days before finalizing the Sweet Buenos Aires itinerary, and she just knew it had to be the last stop. It was magical. (Basically, I took pictures of it for the purpose of decorating my own house one day, it was so lovely.)
I thought we had already had the height of decadence, but apparently not. There, they sampled specially blended teas for us to smell before ordering. Once the tea was served, we sipped on it as we ate sugared orange peels, sweet ham and cheese croissants, and a very large portion of Patagonian cheesecake with red fruit topping. Thankfully, Kelly had anticipated our full stomachs by giving us little brown bags in which to take home the leftovers. (And I ate them all later that night.)
I’m not at liberty to divulge the secret locations – you’ll have to take the tour! – but I highly recommend it. Kelly’s just a sweet as all the treats you’ll be eating, and no sweet tooth will leave having had too little sugar. Besides, when’s the last time you walked down the cobblestone streets of Palermo Soho on a blustery winter weekday evening, or ate pastries with a few (new) friends surrounded by clusters of lights and white bouquets? It’s the perfect dose of intimacy, and quite the sugar overload.Sweet Buenos Aires Website Facebook