Friday, March 28, 2008


Thanksgiving, I am told, is quite a big deal amongst our former colonial cousins. I don’t know about that. The only thing I normally give thanks for is that, because of certain minor 18th Century skirmishes in far away places, I have the blessed good fortune not to be called Josh or Brad.

That not withstanding, these same persons with their cosmetically enhanced smiles and boobies also tell me that Thanksgiving is all about family.

Now that, I can understand. I am big on families. Not just my own small family, but my extended family of friends who come under the category of “would take a bullet for” rather than those I would not put out with my own urine if they were on fire.

That being the case, I am fortunate to have a rather large family dotted all over the globe and a family that has grown larger still since I began the EAT MY GLOBE trip. I have, however, never encountered a family like the one I met in Santa Cruz. But, I am most extraordinarily glad that I did.

One of the first, if indeed not the very first e-mail I received when I announced my intention to quit work and head out on the road was from a fellow food blogger and internet forum regular, Tana Butler. I knew little or nothing about her except that her posts were often very funny, intensely personal and accompanied by photographs that made mine look like the holiday snapshots they were.

I rather liked what I read particularly because, like me, she seemed to piss off as many people with her posts as she attracted. Bearing in mind there are people on these food boards who will get in a car and do half a day’s drive to find reasons to be pissed off at someone they never have and probably never will meet.

The e-mail offered the opportunity to come and visit for the Thanksgiving holiday where, I was promised I would be able to eat enough food that I would give thanks not to be in a coma the next day. How could I refuse?

It is a short drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. But, I still managed to scratch my car within thirty seconds of leaving the airport car park which I put down to a strange car with the wheel on the wrong side rather than bald stupidity.

I still let out a series of expletives that were hardly fitting with the holiday season, but, switched on the radio and listened to a bit of Stykx and Kansas until my brain stopped working and the pain subsided as I pointed my “Ford Focus or equivalent” towards Highway 1.

It’s a pleasant drive, longer than the inland route, but less crowded on the holiday and more scenic.

Tana had suggested a couple of possible hotels. All of whom were going to gouge me for the pleasure of a room and a “free” bowl of multi-coloured cereal in a Styrofoam bowl every morning. But, that is just another aspect of the holiday, I guess and as I pulled up outside The Hampton Inn, it seemed a harmless enough spot to rest my head for a few days. Hell, I even managed to unpack all my clothes from Big Red and to iron a shirt or two for the first time in two months.

I had swapped mails with Tana for well over six months and I knew that I would like her when we finally met. I was wrong. When we finally met, I did not like her. I adored her. There are few people in this world with whom you make an immediate connection. Tana was one of those few.

Sharp witted, funny, vulnerable, open-hearted, generous, spirited, she was, in the nicest way possible, mad as a bag of ferrets. From the moment she spouted her first words to me in person “I hope you are feeling strong, we have a 25lb turkey to carry” I knew that the next three days would prove to be one of the highlights of the whole EAT MY GLOBE trip. Thanks to her and her family, nuclear and extended, it was.

Santa Cruz is patently a weird place. It supports my theory that the West of every country attracts all the oddballs, kooks, waifs & strays and people who don’t fit in anywhere else. If that is true of San Francisco, then Santa Cruz obviously attracts the people who don’t even fit in there. It is gloriously mad and filled with an abundant energy that can only come from a place where there are too many group hugs for an uptight London boy to be altogether comfortable with. If ever a town should smell of incense, then Santa Cruz is it. I rather liked it although, for a while, I did feel like Sir David Attenborough discovering a new tribe.

First up, however, a trip to The Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market. Here, I differ from Tana. As her licence plate and her estimable website ( shows, Tana loves farms. Me? I love the stuff they produce but sometimes, the people who produce the goods can be well, how can I put this politely? I can’t, they can be thick as a Ghurka’s foreskin and should certainly never be allowed to speak to normal folk in a retail way. Too often, they act like they are doing you the favour by letting you buy their product and not the other way around. They may be passionate, dedicated and hard working, but they can also be ornery, rude and lacking in social skills.

The Santa Cruz market was better than many and much better than the one I was to visit and loathe in Berkeley, and the people there obviously adored Tana. But, when she suggested that we head off to collect the holiday turkey, I was more than ready, more than willing and more than able.

It was a big old bugger too. 25lbs gets you a lot of bird and, apparently, we were going to have two of them at the dinner. As Tana reeled off the items she and other people at the dinner were going to prepare, it soon became clear that staying away from the multi coloured cereal in the hotel would be a good strategy. We lugged it to the car and headed back to Tana’s home on the a few short blocks drive away.

As we approached, Tana spoke up

“ I was worried about asking you to come to my house. It’s not that fancy”

I made an overstated gesture of examining myself in the mirror and turned to Tana saying “as far as I can tell, I have not suddenly turned into The Queen Mother”

And, that was it. From that moment, Tana made me feel like her home was my home and I spent much of the next three days simply hanging out there, cooking and talking.

That first evening, we cooked one of my favourite meals of the whole trip. It was nothing fancy. In fact it could not have been anything more simple. Roast Chicken and mashed potato. But, in the comfort of a family home with a new friend and her family, including Husband, Bob and Tana’s irrepressible grandson, Logan, few meals have tasted better.

Given that we had a lot to do the next day, I headed off to bed early and was pretty much asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I awoke early and began to do some writing until Bob arrived to collect me for the day’s festivities. Tana was already hard at work. The bird was cleaned and ready for the oven, eggs were ready to be devilled and Tana was up to her elbows in stuffing.

There is only one thing for a good Bengali man to do when hard work is required. I sat down at the living room table and opened a bottle of wine. To be fair, I did a little work. A bit of chopping here, a little slicing and stirring there but, mostly, I just ate and drank and watched Tana get more and more nervous about the end result of her roasting and basting.

She need not have worried. The golden bird that emerged sizzling from the oven did her credit. So to did the roasted giblets, which I saved from being deposited in the trash and shared with Bob over a glass of something red.

It was, by now time to head over to the Thanksgiving Dinner venue at the beautiful home of Tana’s chum, Laura. When we arrived laden down with our own contributions we were greeted by nearly thirty other people, all of whom had brought food and wine.

It was a uniquely Santa Cruz affair. The women, Goddesses one and all, were very much in charge and the assembled throng all seemed to be linked to one another through a labyrinthine series of marriages and relationships that I never quite got my head around.

It would be easy, being a stranger in such circumstances, to be intimidated and awkward. But, I can say for certain that I felt immediately welcome and rapidly accepted into this crazy, mixed up, oddball extended family. More so than I can ever recall happening before. I made up my mind, as I sucked on the bone of a turkey wing, that I would, if at all possible, head to Santa Cruz every year for Thanksgiving, whether they wanted me to or not.

It was a magical evening. Guitars appeared, songs were sung and so much food devoured that I had to raid my special stash of extra strong Zantac on my return to the hotel.

Amidst it all, was Tana. Taking photographs here (all the good ones on this post come from her hands) cajoling Logan to eat there and making sure that everyone was well fed and enjoying themselves. Very much a person in her element.

By the time we rolled out of there at past midnight, I knew that my dreams would be accompanied by flowing meat sweats. But, it was worth it.

The next day, I wanted to say thank you to Tana and her family for all their help and generosity. There are few better ways of expressing your appreciation for people who love food than by cooking for them. In this case, as I often do, I offered to prepare some Indian food.

None of us thought we would have the appetite to eat much after the excess of the night before. But, as Tana and I shopped and then prepared a simple meal of dahl, chicken and breads, our hunger popped its head up from the bunker and we were soon happily chatting over another home cooked meal.

And that was my time in Santa Cruz.

It had been one of those leap of faith occasions. We had not known each other before I announced my trip and it could have been an awkward disaster. It was far from that. I made a host of new friends who I hope I shall know for a long time. I made friends with a small boy called Logan the thought of whose smile still makes me beam a few months later

and I met an extraordinary woman called Tana Butler whose strengths and weaknesses, passions and prejudices, successes and failings are dealt with more honestly than anyone else I have met on the trip.

Truly a human being and that alone is worth giving thanks for.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I wont go into detail about the rest of my time in Brazil.

To be honest, with the exception of the fact that I made some good new friends, I rather disliked my time there, which seemed to consist almost entirely of bed bug bites, sunburn and looking over my shoulder to make sure I was not the latest tourist crime statistic.

By the time it came to say goodbye to my new friends there, I was glad to be on my way back to the USA.

I was not, however, looking forward to the journey. A relatively painless flight from Salvador to Sao Paolo followed by a twelve hour layover and a twelve hour flight from their to Atlanta. Another four hour layover and then a four hour flight from Atlanta to my final destination, San Francisco.

I won’t lie. It was bloody murder. At Sao Paolo airport, perhaps the shittiest I have ever encountered, I dumped my bags and approached the tourist counter and asked if they could point me in the direction of some good eating in their fair city.

Well, the idea seemed to throw them but, after a short while the woman behind the counter reluctantly scribbled something on a piece of paper and said “give to cab"

So, following her advice, I dumped my bags in left luggage and did indeed give paper to cab. Where did he take me, I know you are dying to find out? Some of SP’s fine Japanese food? The source of the finest feijoida in the known world?

Nope, a dodgy old food court in the nearest shopping mall where the best I could manage was a slightly grim “by the kilo” place that provided me with some greasy pork to take my blues away.

There was at least free wi-fi and I could mail one of my new found friends in Salvador with the simple words, “I have descended into the very pit of Hell”

Well, that enjoyable interlude managed to kill, oh, about an hour. So, by the time I finally left Brazil, some eleven hours later, I was very happy to extend the middle finger to the least favourite country of my trip so far through the window of the rising plane

Bye Bye Brazil and good riddance.

OK, taking into account the long flight, by the time I finally touched down in San Francisco, I was to use the technical term bloody knackered. Fit for nothing in fact, which was a bit of a shame as I had an invitation to a rather lovely party from the splendid Melanie Wong.

Like any true Englishman, I girded my loins and dragged myself under the shower to wake myself up and then met Melanie about forty minutes after I had checked into the hotel.

It was a splendid party, as much as I recall. Great food, some excellent wines and good conversation. But, I was so bushed that I took the offer of an early departure to head back to my hotel and to bed.

I was not feeling hugely better the next morning. This was that sort of tiredness that makes you weary to your bones. The sort that a good night’s kip can’t help. I had even developed that twittery eye thing.

I was ready to stay in bed the whole day which would have been a bit of a shame as I rather like SF and only had a couple of days to kill there before heading down to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving.

So, it was just as well that I had made an arrangement to meet another chum, Alexandra whose foodie credentials I had tested once before on a fleeting visit to the city and who had been incredibly helpful suggesting and organising things for me to do on the West Coast leg of EAT MY GLOBE.

First of all, a trip down to The Ferry Terminal, which was pretty enough but a decent hot chocolate aside, did little to lift my spirits.

What did help however, was Alexandra’s suggestion that we head across the bridge to Berkeley and, after a rather splendid fried chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty’s go on a bit of a gelato crawl.

First up a visit to The Latest Scoop for whom Alexandra was doing some work. After a quick chat with the owner, Peter, we dived into the cold storage room and came out with about 10 packs of different flavoured ices and sat down to have a bit of a sampling. Strangely, this seemed to make me feel a lot better and when Alexandra suggested moving on to try a couple of other places to make a comparison, I was beginning to think I might be up to the task.

If I was up to the job, the other places were not. In fact, the gelato at two other places (whose names escape me) we tried bordered on the actively rank. The shops looked the part which, this being Berkeley, they would, but the ice was more air than taste

“air is free” Alexandra intoned wisely explaining the basic economics of style over substance. Something Californians do oh so very well.

By the time Alexandra dropped me off back at my hotel, I was beginning to feel more like my normal self (who said “fat, ugly and stupid?”) and decided to go and treat myself to the one meal that I always crave when feeling slightly under the weather in the USA, a big fuck off steak.

Alfred’s is one of the great institutions of San Francisco and served up, as it had done on previous visits, one of the best steakhouse experiences in the whole of the good old US of Stateside. There are few combinations better for curing a middle aged man of all ills and, by the time I had sucked down a couple of excellent martinis, swallowed up a plate of crispy calamari and gnawed at the bone of a top steak, I was feeling as close to as right as rain as it is possible to get when one has a face like mine.

And, with that, I hit the hay feeling much happier than I had the night before.

The next day I did the tourist thing. Well you are forced to aren’t you?

I walked along by the piers to Fisherman’s Wharf, which was as dreadful as I recall.

I looked at The Golden Gate Bridge, which was as unimpressive as I recall.

I stared across at Alcatraz which was as foreboding as I recall and I ate lunch at a place in Chinatown which was as underwhelming as I recall.

That evening, I had arranged to meet the lovely Deborah Morales. “Who she?” I hear you ask. Well, without Deborah Morales, there would be no EAT MY GLOBE. Without her help and the excellent service of, I would never have been able to figure out my flights to all these far flung prices at all these odd little times at a price that would not involve me selling my house.

Inevitably, I found Airtreks on The Internet at the end of a frustrating day searching for a way to fly into Tokyo and out of Helsinki (go one, you try it) Finally, more by luck than judgement, a Google search of “multi-city flights” brought up the website to Airtreks and, after sending in my request, I was contacted by Deborah less than 24 hours later. Since then, she has show the patience of any number of saints helping me fly from New York to Guadalajara and from Hong Kong to Yangshuo.

I wanted to see what she looked like in person and she offered to buy me a drink at a wine bar close to her office. I forewent the offer of supper as I was beginning to fade once again and had to be up early the next day to head down to Santa Cruz, but it was great to put the face to the name. I really recommend them if your travel needs ever require a little more imagination.

San Francisco had served its purpose. It always strikes me as the sort of place to pass three days and no more before boredom sets in. I had hardly done it justice, but, as a place to rest up after the rigours of my recent journeys, it did alright by me and it was better than Salvador, Brazil but, that ain't saying much.

Next stop, Santa Cruz.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When I first thought about going around the world eating food. I envisioned that it would be a trip filled with smiling faces, tables over burdened with food and local lasses offering me their tastiest, er titbits.

What I did not expect was to be prodded in the chest with a gun by a Brazilian airport guard.

Welcome to Brazil.

The journey had begun badly with a flight on Brazil’s flying gulag, TAM. We landed at Sao Paolo on time and were told by the stewards to stay on board if we were continuing on to Salvador.

So, I stayed put.

Then, we were told that we had to get off here and clear customs and immigration.

So, I got up to leave

Then, we were told that we should remain seated and would clear customs and immigration in Salvador

So, I sat down again

Then, we were told to get off the plane and clear immigration and customs in Sao Paolo.

So, I got off the plane

When I asked where I should go, the staff just shrugged their shoulders. I finally found the baggage claim area and lugged Big Red (remember? It’s big and it’s red) through customs.

I found myself outside the airport and with not clue number one where I should be going.

I tried to get back inside, but was stopped by security and told to join a queue about a mile long. I told them I had a connection and tried to walk past the guard at which point he pinned me to the wall with his rifle. A lovely, lovely introduction to Brazil.

I was not the only one. There were others on my flight who were in the same predicament. One, an old lady, was sobbing loudly, another was carrying a small child. It was a scene right from Hell.

Finally, I found a member of TAM’s staff who did not pretend that they could not speak English and the group of about twenty of us were led past the Security guard and into the airport. I flicked him the UK "V" sign. I am glad looking back on it that he probably did not understand.

It appeared that we should have stayed on the plane and it was about to leave, with our without us so everyone, including, if you recall, woman & child and elderly lady had to sprint to our gate where we arrived to be told that we had just made it.

It was, of course the same plane and I was in the same seat next to the same man who had flown with me from Argentina.

“how did you get on so quickly?” I asked him

“Oh, I am used to it” he replied “I just stayed in my seat. I thought it was strange you getting off”

I am not sure who I wanted to kill more, the people of TAM or him for not telling me.

If any experience was going to sour you to a country, this was going to be it. But, I wanted to give it a chance, so sat back and tried to calm down for the short hour of the flight to Salvador.

My pick-up, at least was there when I arrived and, as we drove to The Barra, the port area of Salvador, I began to think that this might just turn out alright after all.

I felt even better when I saw my guesthouse, The Estrelo Do Mar which was basic but beautiful with blue tiles and wide balconies. Best of all, it was a few minutes walk from the stunning beach.

I changed into my shorts immediately and headed out to explore, my backpack over my shoulder.

“you are not going out with that bag are you?” The man behind the reception said.

“well, er, yes” I replied

“I wouldn’t advise it” he added. “just take enough cash for dinner and keep your camera hidden. There have been quite a few muggings”

Oh great. Just peachy keen. I knew Brazil had a reputation for these things, but I had also heard that Salvador, particularly by the beach was OK. I had a friend who had been here a few weeks before me and had no problems at all.

Once I went outside, I could see what he meant.

I know fear breeds paranoia, but in Salvador, I never really felt safe. I felt as if ever eye was watching me and every person was viewing me as a potential mark. It may have been unfair, but it was a feeling that never really escaped me.

A great shame as the beach area is lovely including, men selling coconuts from which they swipe the tops off with worrying looking machetes before inserting a straw for you to suck the chilled liquids through

I had a supper which consisted of meat, rice and chips washed down with a Brahma beer and headed back to my hotel slightly dispirited about the thought of spending the next five nights looking like a walking $ sign.

The next morning, however, after a good night’s sleep, I decided I was going to make a good fist of it. I started with a superb breakfast, one of the selling points of the guesthouse. Fresh fruits, semolina cakes, warm bread and strong tea. I felt better immediately and began to strike up a conversation with a young Chilean woman called Macarena, sitting at the table next to me.

She too was having a few days break and told me that in The Pelhorinio that evening it was going to be party night with bands playing and lots of dancing. She did not want to go on her own, so I said that, despite my aversion to all things dance oriented, I would join her.

After breakfast, I set out to explore, without bag, of course.

I must have walked about ten miles. Up from the beach area, through the town and down to The Pelorinhio I had been chatting about at breakfast. In the day time, it was, quite frankly, an ugly tourist trap where every corner held a hustle. I rather disliked it and could only hope that, in the evening it would be a bit more fun.

I fought my way through the peddlers and cab drivers to the Elevador Lacerda, a huge elevator, which links the top of the city with the lower city. At the bottom was a market and stalls selling food where you were able to sit and watch young men from the local projects performing Capoeira, that distinctive form of martial arts developed by slaves under the guise of native dance.

It is impressive as, indeed, is the ability of the men performing to prise money out of anyone who stops and watches them for more than three seconds.

I will be honest, at this point, Salvador had not impressed me and, if I had the choice, I would have high tailed it out of there less than two days into my stay.

Fortunately for me, it was going to get better. Not that the town itself ever held any great allure for me, but that night, when I arrived to meet with Macarena for the evening, I found that we had been joined by three others in the guesthouse. Chiara was an Italian working for The Red Cross, Tom & Barney were travelling around Brazil celebrating thirty years together.

They were a lovely crowd and it promised to be a fun evening as we headed up to the old town and joined in the party. Every Tuesday night the locals and tourists get together and have a big old shindig. It is a hell of an event with live bands playing, drums sounding and deafening noise wherever you turned.

Our group was adopted by young local, Elvis who took us under his wing in the hope of getting a few $ at the end of the evening for looking after us. He was a nice kid and offered to show me where I could go and buy a few cans of beer to drink while the bands were playing.

When I came back to our group, I saw that we have been joined be another woman, Sybil who, it turned out, was from L.A. it threw me a bit because, despite her looks (she is originally from The Philippines) she spoke as if she was from the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.

It also turned out that she was staying at a guesthouse close to our own and that was it, we could not shake her off no matter how hard we tried and, God how we tried.

As the clock struck midnight, Elvis suggested that it was a good time to be heading back to the relatively safe enclave of The Barra and poured is into a cab after we had pressed a few notes into his hands.

The party may have been over, but we were not. We were all starving and headed down to a restaurant near the front where we drank far too many Caipirinha and shared a Moqueca, the local seafood stew made with coconut milk and the rather noxious Dende oil that is used to cook just about everything in this part of Brazil.

I am not quite sure what happened after that. I am told I went dancing which is as unlikely and image as it is unpleasant.

It was a long night and I think I got to bed about 2am, which for a man of my advanced age is none too shabby.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If you have been reading the blog for a while, you may recall that, in June of 2007, I was invited on an incredible 24-hour adventure courtesy of the good people of Beefeater Gin.

On that day, I was lucky enough to meet Fernando Cwilich Gil, officially the coolest person I have ever met. Long haired and laconic with dark, Argentiean looks, it is little wonder he was constantly surrounded by the girls on that particular day.

My last sight of him was flopped in the in house bar of Beefeater’s factory in South London sporting a pair of paper slippers he had collected from the hotel we had only used for enough time to shower and change clothes.

He lived in BA and promised me that, when I visited, he could point me in the right direction of what to see and, more importantly what to eat.

Unfortunately, when I arrived, he had been asked to head to Uruguay on a freelance assignment. But, we managed to move things around so I could at least get to hang out with him for an evening.

Even better, Fernando, who it turns out knows just about everybody in the whole city, arranged for me to have supper on the two following nights of my stay with relatives of his and with friends.

His Uncle, Martin was a great expert on Argentinean food and one of the founding fathers of The Slow Food Movement in that country. He invited me to join him and his lovely wife, Ljiljana for supper the next evening.

They were taking me to La Brigada, arguably the best place for steak in the whole of the city and Martin suggested that I should probably take it easy in preparation for what was to come.

Did I listen? Well, after a fashion, yes. I spent the next day going on one of my marathon walks which included a stroll through Puerto Madero the new port development with its expensive restaurants and bars “only for tourists and fat businessmen” Martin told me dismissively later that evening.

He was right, there was little to attract me to any of the restaurants on the front, but near to Puerto Madero alongside the main canal,which feeds into the port, was a much better proposition. A strip of stalls selling more of Buenos Aires favourite snack foods,bondiola and choripan. I plumped for the latter and was presented with thick slices of beef in a crunchy roll, which I was invited to lace with chilli and chimichurri from small bowls on a table to the side.

The meat was tough, but had incredible flavour, which repaid the considerable effort needed to work my way through the sandwich.

The Bondiola kept me going for the rest of the day and, by the early evening I was just getting to the right side of peckish and headed off to meet up with Martin and his wife.

It is at night that Buenos Aires comes to life. After a brief shower and with the declining Sun shining on its slippery streets, I could see why this is a city that haunts people and brings them back here time and again. That, and the cheap beef, of course.

La Brigada, is deep in the heart of St Telmo and, as arranged, I met up with my hosts at the agreed time of 8pm. Martin apologized for the shamefully early dining hour explaining that, for most people in BA, supper begins no earlier than 10pm. However, he explained, before my arrival, they had already committed to attend a party and so had to fit in supper beforehand even though, as Martin explained, eating so early “plays havoc with your digestion”

It is not just the dining hour. It may well have something to do with all the meat. I thought I liked meat, but next to Martin and Ljiljana, I am like a supermodel nibbling on a bit of lettuce.

The Argentineans take these things very, very seriously and, Martin took control of the ordering. He had a long discussion with the waiter about the cut he wanted, the amount of cooking and what was to come with it.\

First, some provolone cheese, a sign Martin said, of the quality of the restaurant. Followed closely by some offal action with goat sweetbreads and chitterlings.

Finally, the main event, the Bife, a cut across the bone to give the most flavour. I tucked in with undue abandon. Martin chewed more slowly and with consideration before declaring it “passable” As I said, they take these things very seriously indeed in Buenos Aires.

The wine too and Martin, determinedly in charge, ordered a spectacular Malbec whose spicy damson notes served to bring out all the flavours from the meat.

A hugely enjoyable meal.

After supper, Martin and Ljiljana invited me to join them at the party they were to attend. The hosts, they told me, were interesting people and would not notice or mind another body at their bash.

So, I found myself in a strange part of the city (I could not tell you where if you put a gun to my head) attending a party for two local artists. When we arrived, a well known local singer was setting up to perform. For the next hour, she sang her little heart out. Which is just as well as every song, by law in Argentina, must contain the words “Mi Corazon” at least once. That is true, in fact, throughout Latin America and indeed Spain.

In sixty minutes, the poor love had her heart stolen, stamped on, stabbed and broken in any number of painful ways. But, she kept going back for more, so I guess it is her own stupid fault.

Martin and Ljiljana appeared at my side and asked me if I wanted a lift home. It was 2am. How the hell did that happen? The party was still in full swing, but I was sung out by then so gladly accepted the left back to a warm and welcoming bed.

Another great night in Buenos Aires.

My last day in the city was much quieter. More walking, a bit of snackage with some more empenada and a decedant afternoon nap which ended when I realized that I needed to pack before the evening.

My plane to Brazil was at some ungodly hour in the morning. So, I had not planned to sleep.

Fernando had been in touch with his friend, Flor who was The Head of P.R for one of the most glamorous hotels in the whole of South America, The Faena.

To describe The Faena as a “hotel” is a bit misleading. They describe themselves as “A Universe” and you can see why. It is where all the bueno porteneos of BA go to hang out and where every star who comes to the city clamours to stay.

Built during the middle of Argentina’s great crash, it was the dream of wealthy businessman, Alan Faena who bucked the economic trend to turn a former grain silo (which used to house over 40% of Argentina’s grain) into a hotel complex with its own theatre, restaurants and bars and a pool area that could only be more alluring if Natalie Portman was swimming in it.

I was to have supper in The Faena Bistro, a misleadingly simple name as the room itself must have cost a large fortune and was redolent of turn of the 19th Century Paris society.

That would matter not a jot if the food was lousy, but the hotel had recently persuaded the wonderfully named Mario Cid De La Paz, a 33yr old acolyte of Mr. Adria to give up his job at the Molecular magician’s hotel in Seville and to return to his native Argentina to look after this restaurant.

It was causing quite a storm in BA where foams and fancies are still seen as imaginative rather than tiresome and De La Paz has the chops of someone who has worked at the source rather than just picked up a foam gun at a cookshop.

Over three hours I tried course after course of food that overcame the problems getting real primo ingredients and the local reticence to let the chef go “all out” The most memorable dish of all a red mullet, filleted and surrounding a superb romesco sauce. Each course with a matching local wine.

By the end of it, I was, to be fair, a little woozy and totally unaware of the time. When I noticed what hour it was from the watch on the waiter’s wrist, I gave a girlish squeal and declared that I was going to be late for my flight.

I said my “thank you” and “goodbye” and rushed off to meet the car that I had pre-arranged to collect me for my ride to the airport.

I had only been in the city for four days and had barely scratched the surface. On top of which, I had not been able to fit trips to Mendoza or Salta into my tight schedule. There was nothing more to be said. Argentina was just another country I would have to add to the list of places to revisit.

I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that EAT MY GLOBE could become a full time job. Now, there's an idea.