Grit and Graffiti, the street art of Buenos Aires

What does street art and graffiti tell us about a city, its history and inhabitants?  The answer can be “a lot”, it’s an interesting way of exploring the culture. And good street art makes exploring on foot even more visually interesting.

Street Art Buenos Aires
Artist Jaz – Street Art Buenos Aires

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires I did what I always do – I started walking around the neighbourhood. There was a lot of street art on the walls, but it was only when I did a walking tour with graffitimundo that I got an insight into what was inspiring and driving the street art movement, and how different it was to other parts of the world.

Street Art Buenos Aires
Artist Jaz – Street Art Buenos Aires

The first surprise was learning that graffiti developed much later in Argentina than in places like the US, although perhaps not so surprising since there was a military government and “the dirty war” for 7 years to 1983 (one of a number during the 20th century). During this period huge numbers of people disappeared for much lessor ‘crimes’ than graffiti. When graffiti did start emerging after military rule, the first participants didn’t have much access to information about graffiti in other countries, and so developed their own norms. There was no access to spray cans so graffiti in Buenos Aires still is mostly drawn and painted, not sprayed.

Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires
Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires

Street art was not illegal so there was no need to do it in the middle of the night, instead street artists would paint in broad daylight. They usually asked the owner of the wall for permission as well. The huge economic shocks at the start of the 1990s and again around 2001/02 had another surprisingly influence on the street art culture. With life literally so hard for the population, a number of artists started painting or stencilling cute, kitsch and funny art, rather than political/protest art, to cheer people up. This style is still present today, and will always bring a smile to my face.

Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires
Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires

After three hours of walking around dozens of key street art sites (there is also a cycling version which sounds fun too), it was cool to realise that I could start to recognise the distinctive style of individual artists, thanks to the descriptive abilities of the guide, and since then I have been able to look up my favourites on facebook and see what new work they have been up to.  By its very nature, street art has a limited life span, so I would be keen do this again next time I visit Buenos Aires as I would love to see what new work is out there. And to end it perfectly, we finished up at Post Street Bar, Thames 1885, where the walls and the roof terrace are painted and stenciled by some of the best street artists, and there is a gallery if you are interested in buying their work. After all that walking is was a good place to sit and have a drink. (note: this is not a sponsored review, the author paid full price for the walking tour).

Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires
rooftop at Post Bar – Graffiti & Street Art in Buenos Aires

Degustation relaxation in Mendoza, Argentina

Wine tasting can be a tiring business, it needs real stamina. Mendoza is quite rightly a world renowned wine region,and I have already spent a day exploring and tasting by car, and another day of the same by bicycle. Now I feel the need for a little time out. My lodge owner comes up with two suggestions for me. I can either spend a day rock-climbing, or I can do a long degustation lunch at a winery restaurant (with matching wines of course).

ready for the degustation to begin
ready for the degustation to begin

Surprisingly I chose the long lunch. Now that might not sound very different to wine tasting, but this time I can sit in one spot for hours and it all comes to me, instead of getting in and out of a car door dozens of times in a day. So off I go to the Casa Del Visitante, at the Familia Zuccardi Vineyard for a spot of degustation relaxation.

The hardest thing I have to do all day is decide whether I am going for the 8 course or 12 course degustation. With a rare sense of restraint, I choose the 8 course menu (with 6 matching wines). My table is in a prime spot in a room with floor to ceiling glass and a view over the vineyards, on a sunny blue day. At times I am so distracted by the view and the food that I forget to take photos!

Cured trout from Tupungato with caramelised peas and kefir. This is a lovely light start.
Santa Julia Torrontés 

Cured Trout
Cured Trout

Lamb sweetbreads with sunflower seeds ice-cream and sweet eggplant foam.
Corn creme brûlée with brie, tomato marmalade and lamb’s kidneys. I can thank Colin Fassnidge at 4Fourteen in Sydney for getting me over my offal aversion, so that I am now excited instead of scared to see these dishes on a menu.
Santa Julia Reserva Bonarda 

Corn Creme Brûlée with lambs kidneys
Corn Creme Brûlée with lambs kidneys

Crunchy yolk wrap with tomato fondue and bacon chips. I still have no idea how they achieved a runny yolk inside a crunchy cooked filo, but it was delicious!

Crunchy yolk wrap
Crunchy yolk wrap

Lamb ravioli with smoked corn cream and crunchy leek. Crunchy leek, say no more.
Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda

Braised lamb rump with truffled beans puree. This is the most substantial of the courses, the rump is large and rich and delicious, and I realise that I am very very full already.
Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 

Braised Lamb Rump with truffled beans puree
Braised Lamb Rump with truffled beans puree

And then there are 3 desserts to finish me off:

Torrontés grappa and raspberry sorbet with tangerine and cardamon gelee. Alcoholic sorbet and gel lollies are colourful and fun

Roasted squash tagliatelle in torrontés, cinnamon mousse, Malamado viognier and apple infusion. The sweetness of the squash makes it a great dessert ingredient.

roast squash tagliatelle (dessert)
roast squash tagliatelle (dessert)

Coffee truffle filled with chocolate and black olives, mascarpone and vanilla sauce, white brownie mousse. Maybe I am just too full by this stage but I wasn’t as wowed by this dish, the olives seemed overpowering in it.

Malamado Voignier

Coffee Truffle
Coffee Truffle

Mmmmm… time for a slow wander around the vineyard (to aid digestion) and then back to the lodge for a light nap I think. This has been a delicious and interesting way to wile away a few hours of the day, one that I would happily repeat.