Thursday, February 22, 2007


To my dining companion's dismay, I had not tried a bakery-made alfajor in Uruguay until today; nearly five months after arriving in Uruguay. One time in desperation of a sugary fix, I purchased a packaged alfajor, only to be greatly disappointed in taste, freshness, and quality. One bite and it was in the trash. And actually, I did indulge in a chocolatey version while in Buenos Aires, which melted in my mouth like a soft truffle. But today at tea time I was determined to have freshly baked and superior quality dulce de leche treat.

I have yet to elaborate on dulce de leche, and how much the Uruguayans love it, but as a preview, the alfajor is the perfect representative of the national sweet.

An alfajor, pictured above, in its most simple form is a type of masa or masita, which are small cookies that normally have a filling. The alfajor in particular has two soft round cookies held together by a generous dollop of dulce de leche, and then doused in powdered sugar.

I thought I had had my fill of dulce de leche, but I bit in and I was hooked. With powdered sugar covered fingers holding on to half of my delicate cookie, the freshness of the masa and sweetness of the filling lingered on my tongue. One more bite and the little treat was gobbled up...leaving me wanting more.

So where does this delectable dulce come from? The spelling of the word gives a clue, and history confirms that it comes from the Middle East. Alfajor is derived from the Arabic word, al-hasu, which means "stuffed." Making it's way to Uruguay in mid 1800's, the alfajor has continued its popularity here and on other side of the river. In fact, it is said that in a population of 36 million Argentine inhabitants, 6 million alfajores are consumed daily!!

There are, of course, variations on the theme. Some alfajores in the confeterías will be covered in nieve or snow of coconut flakes. They vary in size as well, ranging from bite size to the size of a small donut. As mentioned, packaged alfajores are a different story. Most are covered in either white or dark chocolate, and have two layers of dulce de leche between three layers of cake. Oreo has marketed a type of alfajor, which is a cake like version of 20th century America´s most consumed cookie.

Ok, so who wants me to bring some home for them?

Now if any savvy readers could just shed a little light on a alfajor mystery of mine....
What is "agua helada"??

'Till next time....que aproveche!

Recommended location for the sugar fix:
Oro de Rhin,
-Punta Carretas Shopping Mall and
-Centro, Convención 1403 esq. Colonia

Argentine's famous Alfajor

Popular Uruguayan packaged Alfajores

Monday, February 19, 2007

La Perdiz

I know pictures are worth a thousand words, but words alone will have to suffice for this next the food was so good and the conversation with friends too great to stop and take photos.

We have discovered a handful of Basque restaurants here in Montevideo, and recently returned to La Perdiz. I was in search of a special dinner, that is an extremely tasty dinner, as we were introducing some new friends to Montevideo. Our friends are great lovers of food as we are, as a result my restaurant choice was carefully picked. I am happy to say our selections at La Perdiz exceeded my expectations and pleased everyone's appetite for good food.

We sat inside, as threatening clouds loomed outside, but on a nice day you can enjoy the partially covered outdoor patio. A friendly waitress brought us our menu, and we began to peruse our choices. La Perdiz offers the standard parilla, pasta, and milaneses but specializes also in fish entrees.

We decided to choose mostly seafood, as these were the Basque food selections. For appetizers we choose a Basque dish of squid stuffed with baby octopus, potato croquets, and one of the specialty salads of the day.

The first dish is a regular on the menu. Served in a ceramic dish, the squid is cooked in a delicious sauce accompanied with parsley infused rice. My limited exposure of squid has been fried calamari, and this was a whole different world. Tender, not chewy; flavorful, not bland. We were delighted in the freshness of the seafood and the flavor it carried. Croquets were a nice accompaniment, again another regular on the menu and a very economical choice. Our final selection was a gorgeous salad. Mixed greens, marinated eggplant and mushrooms, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and even a bit of spice...jalapeño. Tossed in a light vinaigrette and presented in generous quantity, this salad could have been a meal in itself for any veggie lover.

As for our main dishes, three of us choose the "pescado a la bizkania". La Perdiz offers a wide selection of fish including fresh salmon, lenguado, and merluza to name a few. "Bizkaina" varies slightly depending on the restaurant, but here it is a tomato sauce with red bell peppers and fresh parsley. The fish is not battered, but pan fried giving it a crispy out layer and flaky interior. I chose the parsley infused rice as my accompaniment, while my companions chose "papas fritas." Last but not least, the fourth diner opted for "lasagna del mar," a rich and creamy entree, perfect for any one who loves cheese. The noodles were thin, and resembled crepes, while the filling was a mixture of soft cheese, small pieces of seafood, and a perhaps a bit of cream. Again, it was rich and decadent, and could definitely be shared among two diners.

Other variations for fish included a butter, white wine and caper sauce, salsa de mariscos, and a simple grilled fish with lemon.

To "wet our whistle" during this feast, we selected a Tanat Merlot. Wine lovers, I recommend indulging in the Tanats during your time in Uruguay, they a perfect choice along side your meal.

Total for dinner including "cubiertos", beer, water, wine, appetizers, and entrees - $375 pesos/person

La Perdiz
Guipúzcoa 350 esq. Balineas
711 8963

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tres Tías

Last night for Valentine´s Day, my husband and I returned to Tres Tías, a teteria and (dare I call it gourmet?) restaurant in the barrio of Pocitos, Montevideo. We had discovered this spot back in September, when we were still fumbling around for apartments and getting to know the city. We had fantastic lunch that day and have returned since for desserts and coffee, but for some STRANGE reason had not been back for a meal until last night.

Suffice to say it knocked our socks off.

What Tres Tías prepared was a special set menu for "El Dia de los Enamorados"
Here is what delighted our taste buds:

Entrada: Hojas verdes, ricota, nueces, chips de panceta y anana con chopito de manzana, curry, y yogurt.
Principal: Pollo hecho al vino blanco con salsa de pimientos, mani, almendras, jengibre, y un toque de chocolate amargo

Desgustacion de Postres: Seno de Novicia, Carlota de los Amantes, y Espuma de Venus


Spinach salad with ricota, walnuts, crispy panceta, and pineapple. Served along side a shot of cold soup consisting of blended apple, curry, and yogurt.

Chicken cooked in white wine with a salsa of peppers, peanuts, almonds, ginger, and a touch of bitter chocolate.

Dessert - Chocolate mouse with fresh creme, slice of chocolate and white mouse torte, and a small fruit and lemoncello smoothie.

Now maybe the locals reading know something I don't....but I have not found items like this at my local Parrilla or Pasiva!

Every bite was mouthwatering, and truly one of those meals that I was sad to finish, because you can't really ask for seconds at a restaurant.

(or can you?)

While I enjoy their strudel de manazana y pasas, tortas de chocolate, y submarinos, I have to give credit as well to the fanastic savory meals the chefs, Mariana and Elisa, prepare each day. During the lunch hour, a "menu del dia" includes an appetizer, main dish, beverage, and dessert. They prepare everything from salads to soups, chicken to fish, and of course meat and pasta options. ($140 pesos/person)

During the tea hour Tres Tías offers a wide range of sweet and savory times including tarts, scones, cakes, hot sandwiches, fondues of either cheese or chocolate, and various drinks ranging from smoothies to cappuccinos with bailey's.

As mentioned, last night's dinner was special, in that it was set menu. I am curious now to partake in their dinner options they offer nightly. I believe the choices are some what limited, but are bound to be delicious.

Open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Ellauri 798 esq Jaime Zudañez
710 7539