On Friday, before we wrench ourselves out of "our" neighbourhood, we discover Maldito Salvador, a mish-mash of a restaurant featuring red, white and blue tiles so haphazardly arranged it looked like a deconstructed Mondrian painting. There's a stage at the back and lots of flyers for "arty nights" to drill the point home.
Our waitress returns to our table, asking if I want something with my smoked trout salad. Something specific that I can't understand. I nod my head, just to find out, and she brings ice to keep my red wine chilled. After all, café culture is firmly entrenched here, so guzzling your drinks just isn't done. (This proves challenging, since one of my goals is to sample as many of the under-exported Argentine Malbecs as possible.)
We decide to visit Eva Peron in her final resting place: the La Recoleta Cemetery, which dates back to 1822. We travel across the city to the Recoleta barrio in a Radio Taxi and, like the other throngs of people seeking out perhaps the nation's most famous historical figure, we enter the maze of mausoleums armed only with a map.
It's easy to imagine that Evita and the others interred here have been reincarnated as the army of stray cats that prowl around. We watch one feline not so much jump as creepily levitate onto a stone ledge, and decide we should leave well before dusk.
We move on to the Avenida Alvear district, the Fifth Avenue of Buenos Aires, where posh hotels and ritzy boutiques such as Louis Vuitton and Cartier abound. We browse upscale leather at Lopez Taibo, where we try on buttery jackets and eye sturdy brown carpet bags.
Then I strike gold at Filia Artisanis y Cultura, where hand-crafted furniture meets delicate scarves and fashionable ponchos. I buy long wool scarves in cream and mocha for about $40 each.
We check out the menu of La Cabana, a famous steak house nearby, but decide instead to hit a classic snack bar. The Confiteria La Rambla is a wood-lined spot filled with bourgeois families grabbing a post-prep-school snack, and fabulously dressed older gents stopping for a quick coffee.
Here comes the bride
Saturday is the wedding day. "I'm serious. You have to take a nap," David tell us, warning that the party will last till dawn. So we stick close to "home," which is no struggle.
We start with espressos and mini-croissants called medialunas at Calera on Plaza Cortazar. Out in the Palermo labyrinth, I adore a store called Mariana Dappiano, a cavernous space filled with wooly art-chick clothes in rich fall colours, along with inventive handbags and Costume National-like ballet slippers. A few doors away at Tienta Tres, it's girly handkerchief dresses and floaty tops.
We plan for a pre-nap late lunch at what is apparently a must-visit restaurant called Bar Uriarte. Behind a nondescript façade lies a stainless-steel kitchen. Then the room opens up into an enormous dining room flanked by a long bar. Grant noshes on potato pizza and entrada (skirt steak), while I choose hojas verdes (salad with beef strips on top).
David wasn't kidding about the wedding, which takes place in a beautiful old clubhouse in a massive equestrian centre called Tattersall. The invitation reads 8 p.m., the wedding starts at 9, we are sipping our first champagne at 10, with dancing shortly thereafter. The main course: lomo at 12:30 a.m.
A morning-after marketplace
We're surprisingly spry for a big tourist outing the next day in the celebrated San Telmo Sunday market in the crusty old Plaza Dorrego. We pass scores of dusty antiques stores, including Joe Camello Antiguedades and Las Pulseras de Popea, on our way into the square.