Sunday, April 19, 2009

BIO in Palermo

Eating healthy is certainly a luxury.  The first page of the Buenos Aires organic and vegetarian restaurant Bio menu explains the benefits of eating foods sans toxins and chemicals, perhaps trying to justify the prices that follow, which for Argentina, are a little steep.  Granola North Americans who are used to shelling out for organic produce at co-ops or farmers’ markets may be delighted by these prices, but when I can get a plate of mashed pumpkin for 8 pesos (US$2), I am less pleased to spend 35 pesos (US$9) on curry vegetables.

But for a Saturday afternoon splurge, Bio provides the protein that vegetarians may be missing during the week.  The 5 peso (US$1.35) cubierto [table charge] includes thick wheat bread with a pumpkin dipping sauce and a shot of pear juice.  Appetizers go for as little as 4 pesos (US$1.08) for the empanada of the day to as much as 28 pesos (US$7.57) for an elaborate starter salad. There are as many salad options for entrees as warm prepared dishes, with the favored grain being quinoa. 

My main complaint about Argentine cuisine, besides that it revolves primary around thick slabs of meat, is that it is quite sosa [plain], and this can be extended to some of the food at Bio.  My dining partner, who ordered pasta, kept complaining that it was too dry and needed more sauce or flavor.  I was warned before ordering my curry dish that it was muy picante [very spicy], but after my brief pepper-garlic sauce phase earlier this year, my meal didn’t even phase my palette.  So perhaps I cannot fault the restaurant for this complaint so much as the Argentine culinary tradition in general.

The atmosphere leaves nothing to be desired.  On the corner of Humboldt (2199) and Guatemala, the small space in the neighborhood of Palermo is well utilized with a lime green motif on the exterior of the building extending inside to the placemats and seat cushions.  The color is reminiscent of the green movement and accurately suggests that the food going into your body is as good for your health as it is for the environment.  There are as many foreigners present as porteños [people from Buenos Aires], and this fact is reflected in the menu translated into English.

Although the portions seem small at first glance, like sushi it is deceptively filling.  I made my home walking through the Plaza Serrano to see all the chic designers’ crafts and clothes and promptly returned home to take a long siesta, very satisfied that I ha just eaten “nada más ni nada menos que alimenos [no more or no less than simply nourishment].”    

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