After a reconnaissance trip around the neighbourhood, we hook up with other wedding guests at their breezy, bright apartment (rented through alojargentina.com.ar). Across the street is an Italian restaurant, La Parolaccia, a busy high-end spot where they've made a reservation for all seven of us at the proper B.A. dinner hour of 10 p.m. This is the kind of place you'd reserve for a special occasion back home, but we happily splurge on antipasti, pasta, lomo (the Argentine word for beef tenderloin) in a mushroom cream sauce, risotto and other treats. The final bill: $382 Argentine dollars. This is my first introduction to B.A. math. We each end up owing the equivalent of $25. Imagine a week of being pleasantly shocked every single time you get out your wallet.
Wednesday shopping spree
We wake up refuelled, refreshed and ready for some serious shopping, thanks in part to a mere one-hour time difference.
Colourful separates and leather goods make a store called Prune seem like a candy shop. Nearby, a boutique called Uma favours more trendy pieces, such as shrugs and skinny jeans and multicoloured handbags to match. A summer's worth of hippie-chic and spangly accessories are found at Rapsodia, but for more formal cocktail attire, we browse Maria Marla Facchinelli.
With interior design stores seemingly around every corner, we start to form fantasies of buying and furnishing our own B.A. apartment. At Quiere Espace, for example, we eye an upscale patchwork duvet cover. Not exactly carry-on material, so we wistfully move on. At Pret, we ogle chic upholstered sofas and pretty ceramics.
But in my unofficial survey of the shopping landscape, the coolest stuff is in the menswear arena. Felix is a brick-walled T-shirt and Nikes-heavy destination for B.A. hipsters. On the same street is Bolivia, carrying everything from paisley-lined cotton sports jackets from French line Bensimon to in-house one-of-a-kind fringed piano scarves that all the jeans-clad sales dudes loop lazily around their necks. We buy some of both after I get the go-ahead that girls can wear the scarves, too. I also leave with a burlap shopping bag printed with an image from sixties spy show The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Although it's a hike, we visit another men's hot spot, Hermanos Estebecorena, which is in the Palermo Hollywood district. Here, the streets are silent until the nightclubs get rolling in the wee hours. HE's menswear is industrial design meets simple, almost 50s, fashion. But it's worth the trip just for the little $12 tins of striped socks.
On the recommendation of our hosts, we visit an "It" resto simply dubbed Lomo. My beef-loving man is full of anticipation, but as we move through the huge industrial space, past low-slung lounge seating and up a set of stairs to a second-floor dining area, I'm loving the fancy-casual effortlessness of it all. There's even a record shop suspended halfway up the stairs; we return later to buy tango and bossanova albums.
Grant sighs over sweetbreads, and follows with lomo he declares is top-notch. I nibble on langoustines, and then seven-hour-braised wild boar. There's a raucous French group next to us, which, when paired with the fine food and wait staff fumbling along with us in Spanglish, makes us feel like we could be almost anywhere in the world.
The modest civil wedding service -- the traditional Argentine precursor to the religious union -- is the next day at the city's municipal offices. Afterward, we eat our way through a catered lunch of lomo burgers, traditional corn-and-cheese dishes and an astounding layered dulce de leche cake. Kudos to the catering company, El Cierro de Oro, for the fare -- and their funky napkins adorned with deer heads.
Later in the evening, a group of us stop by the Palermo club of the moment, Mundo Bizarro, which predictably turns out to be a crowded, thumping zoo. We decide the more casual, high-ceilinged Viejo Indecente a few doors away suits us better.
Cemeteries and Cartier