It took me six weeks of living in Argentina to have my first dulce de leche ice cream. Maybe I waited so long because deep down inside I knew that when and if I started down this sweet road of ice cream heaven there was no turning back. Well, on Friday I finally opened my own Pandora’s box of icy, creamy, caramel-y goodness and I am now a happy resident in the world of Argentine helado.
Anyone who has spent time in Manhattan will tell you that there is a Duane Reade and a Starbucks everywhere you turn. Here in Buenos Aires, instead of a drugstore chain like Duane Reade (although you’ll see a fair amount of Famacity) and a generic coffee shop (there are a few Starbucks here as well), you’ll see a neighborhood parrilla, a heladería, and a café on every block. I haven’t cracked the code on how one stays slim and healthy on a constant diet of meat, coffee, wine, and ice cream like these Porteños, but it seems as though the entire city consumes copious amounts of things that for those of us from the U.S. are conditioned to stay far away from. Maybe there is something in the water or maybe something in the air, I don’t know. What I do know is that in order to live like a local, I’ve decided to fully embrace this ice cream culture (I’m not quite there yet with the meat/parrilla and coffee/café culture just yet). I’m starting an “ice cream shop of the week” initiative.
Each week I’m going to a different ice cream shop and will try their dulce de leche ice cream (OK, maybe one other flavor of the chocolate variety). Last week, it was the ubiquitous “Freddo,” which can be found all over town. There is one just a few blocks away from my apartment… well, then again, within a 5 block radius of my apartment building there is no less than 6 ice cream shops. If I do say so myself, the restraint I have shown in resisting the creamy delicious temptations in the 90+ degree heat of the BA summer is remarkable.
On Friday, with some encouragement from my friends I finally caved and had my first dulce de leche and chocolate con almendras (chocolate with almonds) ice cream. Note, ice cream is goooood here but not cheap; a small cone or cup with two scoops will run you 20 – 25 pesos ($5 – $6USD). Much later that day (actually at 2AM on my way home from dinner), I had another dulce de leche ice cream on a mini cone (minicucu) for which Freddo has specially priced at 5 pesos. You get a cute little scoop of ice cream on the smallest of all crispy waffle cones. It’s awesomely perfect. Have I mentioned that I got this ice cream at 2 in the morning? Along with all the bars and clubs that were “happening” at that hour the busiest places were the ice cream shops, bursting at the seams with Porteños. Argentines really do love their helado.
I am not an ice cream connoisseur and liked Freddo‘s ice cream just fine, but everyone’s been telling me about their favorite heladerías. Since my “ice cream shop of the week” initiative is just starting I will use Freddo‘s as my baseline and start from there. Who knows? By May or June I may become an ice cream connoisseur. On the other hand, here you can buy ice cream by the kilo in giant styrofoam containers (it’ll set you back about $20 USD) and they will deliver ice cream to your house. I will NOT be participating in the “gain 5lbs per week” initiative. I will repeat the word “moderation” as I make my heladería visits… at least that’s my intention right now.
Freddo: various locations all over Buenos Aires