When I Went Shopping With Shop Hop

In the treacherous unknowns of the Buenos Aires fashion world, one woman has made it her mission to lead fashionistas to light and make sense of the flashy clothes that seem illogical on their hangers.  She is Sophie Lloyd, and she taught me everything I know about BA fashion.

Shop Hop BA was founded almost two years ago by Sophie Lloyd, fashion loving entrepreneur who hails originally from the UK by way of Shanghai, where she spent a few years as a fashion journalist for Global Blue, China Daily and CNN Go.  After conquering the Asian Fashion Scene, her next challenge was to take on the Buenos Aires fashion world.

As any expat will tell you, shopping in Buenos Aires is complicated.  Most designers have small production lines, produce few sizes and the clothes are notoriously unaffordable.  Despite the rich variety of beautifully designed and constructed clothing, the population is not particularly fashion-adventurous.  Many clothes available in mid-range commercial designers are poorly constructed and still expensive.  The country is also in midst of enacting a size law, because none of us girls with butts could find a pair of jeans that could hold us.  It was a significant enough problem to require government intervention.  (because they’re so great at fixing problems.)  This may be the the beauty of Argentine fashion – that amidst enormous challenges, the fashion opportunities are great.   Enter ShopHop.

ShopHop offers private, customized shopping tours to find exactly what you’re looking for in Buenos Aires.  By combing her haute couture stylist’s eye and her knowledge of the best stores around the city, Sophie unlocks the doors to the rich, untapped glory of Buenos Aires fashion.   A ShopHop tour will take you off the beaten tourist track to see the city from the view of it’s beautiful boutique culture.  If you like shopping and want to learn about Argentine designers, ShopHop can take you behind the scenes to give you the best tour of BA Fashion.  Never one to miss an opportunity for adventure, I had to check it out.

First Sophie asked me if I was looking for anything in particular.  She offered to take me to a designer show room to to find a custom-made leather jacket, or vintage stores with vintage dresses, furs and bags.  She has helped clients on missions for specific leather boots, a vintage wedding dress, a handmade silk-lined weekend bag, or made-to-fit leather pants in several different colors.

I told Sophie that I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but rather wanted to learn more about the designer boutique fashion scene that teases me on my walks through Palermo Soho.  Sophie told me about her favorite designers including Martin Churba Tramando, Garza Lobos, and Cora Groppo.  Then we went on a fashion adventure and had a blast!

We tried on beautiful clothes,

In totally fabulous boutiques,

Admired unique designs,

And caught a first hand glimpse of the amazing artistic innovation that local designers are printing up and sewing!

I took away some invaluable advice from this shopping expert.  Sophie has done her fashion homework.  She knows the designers, and has a great eye for unique pieces and stunning combinations.  She opened my eyes to the beauty of the BA designer fashion world, and her love for it was contagious!

I really appreciated having another perspective on outfit choices.  Sure, I can look in the mirror, but it was very reassuring to have another pair of eyes to confirm that: yeah, this dress looks great, or no, those pants are way too tight.  Icing on the cake was Sophie’s lovely company.  It is so much better to go shopping with a professional, instead of your bored boyfriend, who doesn’t care, and would rather be watching soccer.

ShopHop’s real secret value is acting as an ambassador to Buenos Aires’ unique shopping culture.  From the language barrier, to rude shop girls, to the shopping etiquette and currency exchanges, Sophie eased the international-designer fashion culture shock.  She also diplomatically dealt with a very rude shop girl at Garza Lobos, who assumed I wouldn’t understand her insults if she said them in Spanish.  (I did … and I replied.)  Sophie diffused the situation with grace.  If you’re out for a fashion adventure, best to take along a trust-worthy guide!

If you’re looking for something special, look here first:

Shop Hop
Email: infoshopbuenosaires@gmail.com
(+54-9) 11 3921 0460
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NOLAChef Gets It Poppin’

Thursday afternoons in Palermo Soho are officially my favorite, thanks to NOLAChef making my life a little bit spicier with her pop-up restaurant in Tout le Monde Cafe, on Gurruchaga!

If you’re wondering what that means, a pop-up is when a chef takes over a restaurant for a day.  NOLA is the culinary nom-du-couteau of Liza Puglia, a fusion chef who blends the Creole flavors of her New Orleans upbringing with the bright colors and flavors of Mexican cuisine to create dishes executed in perfect French culinary form.

Whether slow cooking a gumbo or pazole, her favorite Mexican stew, she loves developing flavor and harmony in her dishes and revealing simplicity and freshness by using as minimal ingredients.  She is a true believer in the power that comes from nourishing bodies with natural goodness.  Liza cooks to enhance moods and is all about spreading positive energy through her cooking!

Her Mexican themed pop-up menu rocks!

Colorful veggie tacos:

Torta del res with a spicy jalapeño of awesomeness:

SUPER fresh, creamy guac:

And tons of other goodies to be had, including a blueberry-ginger margarita, for those of you who don’t have to return to the office ….

But the most exciting part is that Liza will be opening a new closed door restaurant!  NOLA will open doors mid-July to host Saturday night dinners with wine pairings for intimate ten seat dinners.  A closed door, unlike a pop-up, is small dinner party  hosted in the home of a chef.   Her menu will showcase her french background and many flavors and popular dishes from the South, such as gumbo, bisques, jambalaya, etouffee, grits and blackened fish, with touches of Mexican flavors added to some dishes.  The meal will be paired with wines selected by her own, personal sommelier (aka boyfriend).

So. Excited.  Can’t. Handle. It.

Liza blogs about cooking tips on her awesome blog, where she creates amazing inventions like Pecan Pesto, so check her out online or in-person on Thursday!

Nola Pop-Up
Tout le Monde Cafe
Gurruchaga 1417
Thursdays from 3 – 8pm
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The Things I Discovered at TASTE

Buenos Aires Delivery has turned two!  I’ve been a big fan ever since I wrote about them almost a year ago.  Their growth and success have continued and in June they hosted TASTE – an event to say thank you to customers and restaurants.

TASTE featured samples from some of their best and most popular restaurants and was a great chance to learn about some of the awesome new options to break out of your delivery rut.  We sampled delicious new dishes and mingled with expats and locals alike.  I saw and tried some new restaurants that I wouldn’t have otherwise ordered from, but I will now!  Here were my favorites:

Caracas Bar

I am regrettably novice when it comes to Venezuelan cuisine, I discovered when I tasted a delicious mini arepa.  Can’t wait to try this again.

Green Monster

This place rocks!  Their food is super natural, vegetarian, fresh and loaded with veg – the way food should be.  They have super delicious hummus and their sandwiches are killer.  At TASTE I sampled a mini veggie burger topped with pesto.

Nazca Peru

If you haven’t had Peruvian food, you should.  It’s crazy, fresh and colorful.

Atlanta Wings

High on the list of most missed expat foods are chicken wings: spicy, crispy, succulent wings.  Atlanta solves the problem and serves them up hot.  The whole restaurant is dedicated completely to wings.

Top it

While most kids got ice cream, we were all about the frozen yogurt at my house.  I don’t think I could survive BA without knowing there is good, natural frozen yogurt to be had.  Top It is a favorite, the salsa maracuya is so good!

Any other good places I missed?   TASTE was an awesome event – what a huge turnout!

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Happy Birthday Nora!

Some friends, the most cool and confident friends, are big enough for a blog post.   Nora has a lot of confidence, she is one inspirational woman.  Today is her Birthday.

I met Nora in a grocery store two winters ago.  Laura and I were burning some time before going to see a movie by making fun of the food products in Disco.  As we laughed over the plethora of gummy candy varieties in a country with so few culinary options, someone spoke at us from the other side of the aisle:

“English!”

A pretty and tall girl, with whispy waves of soft brown hair, and an even taller gent, well dressed in a stylish trench introduced themselves as James and Nora.  We’ve been friends ever since.  Almost two years later, when Nora was living with me, we realized that the apartment was just around the corner from our Disco of Destiny where our friendship was conceived.

Since then there have been countless dinner parties, new jobs, English students, breakups, despedidas, heart-to-hearts, polo weekends, balcony sessions, crazy cab rides,  new apartments, late night recaps, spa days, and juicy stories over even juicier steaks.

When Nora turned 25, every sentence began with ‘Now that I’m 25….’.  I was envious and couldn’t wait to turn 25, just so I could assert the same introduction to all of my sentences.  Now that I’m 25, and looking back at us a year ago, I’m even more excited to see what life will be like now that you’re 26!  Check us out.

Then:

Now: (ish…)

Happy Birthday Nora!  Throw your hair over your shoulder like only you can and show us all what the world is like ‘now that you’re 26!’

Con mucho amor,

Veevs

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What Is

‘What is love?’  I asked Liam.  It was a question we revisited often.

Liam took a drag of his cigarette and said: ‘What IS?’

Yeah, man.  I don’t know.

We looked out at the view of the park in front of us.  It was pretty.

‘I like those trees.’  I indicated to a pair of tall palm trees that seemed eye level to the tenth floor balcony view.  I wanted to reach out and grab them.  They seemed so tangible, touchable, yet completely unreachable.  It’s a strange feeling, being eye level with a treetop.

‘I want to fly to them.’  I closed my eyes and imagined being weightless,  lightly lifting myself off the ledge of the balcony, delicately, and gliding across the sky, over the street, and landing on the treetop.

I opened my eyes.  ‘What is, Liam?  What IS?’

I don’t know.  I’m not sure we’re experiencing the same reality.

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A Ride Home During Moyano’s Strike

My breath was shaken by the nearby explosions when I got off the ferry from Colonia.  I could hear the cannons firing for Moyano’s strike when the cab driver picked me up at the station.  I wondered what it felt like to live in a war zone.

“Luckily you’re going to Palermo, because el microcentro es un quilombo, esta todo cortado.” The taxi driver told me.  “150,000 protesters today and it is only going to get worse.”

“Why are they protesting?”  I feigned naivety, a young woman’s greatest secret weapon.

“It’s all for power.  Nothing changes.  They aren’t fighting for the Villa or the Obrero.  They are fighting for who has the most power.  It is always the same.”

“Are they mad with Christina?”  I implored him in my poorly accented and stuttered Spanish to continue his rant.

Christina es….,” he grumbled.  “Last year I had to work 12 hours and today I work 14 to make the same money.  Vos, how long have you been en Buenos Aires?”

“2 ½ years.”

He turned around and looked at me in shock and disbelief.  “Pero, why?  Seguramente you don’t earn the money that you could earn in Los Estados Unidos.”

I shrugged.  “I guess I don’t care about money as much as I should.”

Pero, mi amor,” he leaned over his shoulder to look me in the eye, and I looked away, careful to maintain the etiquette of non-engagement.  “Without money, no anda nada.”

“I have to eat.  I have to pay for my children.  I have to have to wear clothes and buy petrol.  I don’t even drive my own taxi, I am an employee.  I have my own car, but I can’t afford the documentation to operate it independently.  Taxes, inflation – they get you in one way or another.  Igual, I live my life and enjoy it.  If you think too much about money, you will go crazy.  It’s like power for the protesters and politicians – no matter how much of it they have, they always want more.”

“I’m not sure any amount of money nor power could really satisfy a person.”

He rambled on but I got lost between his Spanish and my own thoughts and I recalled a passage from Steinbeck:

And Samuel could remember hearing of a cousin of his mother’s in Ireland, a knight and rich and handsome, and anyway shot himself on a silken couch, sitting beside the most beautiful woman in the world who loved him.

“There’s a capacity for appetite,” Samuel said, “that a whole heaven and earth of cake can’t satisfy.”


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León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia Exhibit MALBA

Untitled, 1986 (San Pedro), Collage over paper.  source

I spent a leisurely Sunday strolling through the inventively curated gallery spaces of MALBA, or Museo de Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires.  I was caught off guard and completely entranced by the June exhibition: León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia.

Sin titulo, 1986 (Ropa Roja), from the series: Relecturas de la Biblia.  Collage on paper. Source.

Mixed media artist León Ferrari was Argentine born, but had his creative start in Italy.  His work spans film, print, collage, script, photography and mixed media and his use of multi-cultural and mismatched historical, religious and political iconography has established him as a leading figure in ‘Conceptual International’ art.  The exhibit includes a series of collages enhanced with Braille script and a shocking and provoking collection of collages which combine 19th century Japanese woodblock prints with the heraldry and religious figures of early renaissance paintings.  His work has been highly criticized, so that’s how you know its good.  Don’t miss this exhibit.

MALBA
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415
4808-6500
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Winter’s Open Window

Reflected in a mirror.

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Tapas in Villa Crespo at La Esperanza De Los Ascurra

Despedida (farewell) season is in full swing.  This week it was Sophia’s turn, and we took her out for lunch to console ourselves in oily Spanish tapas at La Esperanza de los Ascurra, a Spanish tapas and vermouth bar in Villa Crespo.

This place had a lot of personality and was decorated with the most unusual art.  The walls were covered in abstract and unframed posters with a point to make, and the tall stools were all uniquely painted.

Alright, but enough of that, we all know everyone reads food blogs for the pictures of food.  We ordered several dishes to share between seven of us.

Spanish Tortilla, which is in my humble opinion the most difficult dish to execute was prepared perfectly: crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

A vegetable lasagna was my personal favorite, I highly recommend ordering this dish.

Roasted red peppers soaked in oil and sprinkled with garlic and herbs made for a delicious topping to the fresh baked  basket of warm bread on the table.

Muzzarelitas Gauchitas, or fried breaded mozz slices topped with a creamy tomato sauce – no way that isn’t going to be delicious.

Pollo al aglio – tender bites of chicken in a creamy garlic sauce with crispy cubed potatoes sprinkled with paprika.

After heavy debate we ordered the eggplant – Berejenas Escabeche.

Mmmmmmeatballs.

And since we were celebrating our wonderful time with Sophia, short-lived though it may be, we had to have some sugar to sustain her sweet presence to the very last drop.  So we ordered dessert.

Chocolate cake.

Maracuya.

Nothing on the menu disappointed, and the service was great too, so I took a picture of our waiter.  I found him quite photogenic.

Definitely check this place out.  Although I was never a fan of Spanish cuisine, Esperanza may have converted me.

La Esperanza De Los Ascurra
Aguirre 526
2058 8313
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