Last week my girlfriend R arrived in Buenos Aires to spend 5 weeks here with me and travel together. It’s been wonderful to have someone who knows me from back home, and we’ve had a fun week of eating and walking around the city. I was so excited about her coming I must have blocked out the fact that she’s mildly lactose intolerant and how that would impact my ice cream shop of the week initiative, not to mention all the pizza I was planning to share with her. As if staying away from dairy wasn’t hard enough for R, red wine makes her drowsy and affects her sinuses. wahhh… Maybe there was a reason why she wasn’t born an Argentine…
But we decided it didn’t matter! I’ve switched to consuming copious amount of white wine and I’m happy to report that I’m now better versed in all the yummy whites Argentina has to offer (and we threw in some beer in there, too). R has been a total trouper and joined me on an excursion to El Cuartito last week, which put me in a pizza-fainá-moscato-flan-dulce de leche induced food coma for a few days. And she has tried a few lácteos including… helado. Don’t worry, no harm came to R during our dining adventures.
On Sunday we made our way over to the San Telmo market to feast our eyes on all the fun and interesting antiques and handy crafts. After some shopping, a couple of choripans (that deserves a separate post), and a pint of beer with live jazz music R said she was ready for ice cream. Really? She said she was sure. She spotted a Freddo but I knew exactly where I wanted to take her. I have nothing against Freddo and God knows I’m a fan of their minicucu of dulce de leche, but if you could go to Nonna Bianca why go to Freddo?
I really love the rustic log cabin feel of this ice cream store (realize that I don’t have any photos of the interior!) I haven’t been to Bariloche yet but I imagine places like this exist in the lake district or in the mountains of Patagonia. There was a long line of customers patiently waiting to get their ice creams but I had to first take a look at the menu to see what interesting flavors they carried. R, with her lactose intolerance and all, went all out for this rare ice cream treat. She decided to drown herself in a pool of helado and alcohol heaven, and got a scoop of chocolate New Orleans (it was dark bitter chocolate that had cognac in it) and kinotos al whiskey (kumquat soaked in whiskey). I opted for a cup of Tramontana (cream, swirls of dulce de leche, and tiny crunchy chocolate cookie balls) and Mantecol (Butterfinger-esque candy bar). Kinotos al whiskey and Mantecol were two of the flavors I wanted to try at Dylan a few weeks ago, so I was really excited to get them at Nonna Bianca.
My Tramontana was very sweet (too sweet) but I really enjoyed the Mantecol ice cream, and I liked both of R’s choices. Nonna Bianca has mate cocido con crema (mate tea cooked with cream) and also cerveza (beer) flavors, both of which I have a hard time imagining in ice cream form. I think my favorite heladería, Jauja has mate cocido con crema as well.. The other day I went back again and tried their lemonjibre and limsau; they were light and refreshing, and I especially liked the lemon-ginger combination. But next time (I’m sure there will be a next time), I may have to take a chance and give mate cocido con crema a try.
Jauja is still number one on my list but I thought Nonna Bianca was pretty great. Aside from Dylan and Nonna Bianca, are there other small artisanal ice cream shops in San Telmo? Will need to do a bit more research…
Nonna Bianca: Estados Unidos 425 (between Defensa and Bolívar) in San Telmo