After our seemingly-endless flight (1.5 hours from Bali to Jakarta, 7 hours from Jakarta to Sydney and finally, 15 hours from Sydney to Buenos Aires - not counting the stopovers in three airports), we arrive early on a Monday morning in springtime Buenos Aires feeling bedraggled and bewildered. First thing we do is head home to our borrowed apartment on chic Avenida Alvear and freshen up before walking the five blocks up the road to our favorite parrilla restaurant - El Mirasol - for a quick lunch of empanadas (meat-filled fried pastries), mollejas (sweetbreads) and asado de tira (short ribs) accompanied by papas paille (actual translation is hay potatoes but are actually shoestring potatoes). Halfway through our first Argentine asado meal, we feel the effects of the 12 hour time difference and end up packing up most of our food to take home, where we head straight for bed in the early afternoon. We all wake up at midnight and kill time waiting for a decent cafe to open nearby.
At dawn, we get ready and finally walk the one block to La Biela, one of Buenos Aires' historical cafes which sits on a tree-lined prime spot in Recoleta. Here, we are surprisingly not the first ones in for breakfast as many locals come here for early morning meetings along with tourists who come later in the day. We sit at one of the indoor tables as the day is overcast and still chilly in the early morning. Menus are brought over by white-shirted and black-bow-tied waiters who are as much an institution as the actual cafe. We settle on the set breakfast of cafe con leche (milky coffee), jugo de naranja (fresh orange juice) and 3 medialunas, Argentine croissants, which are either sweet manteca (butter) ones or salty grasa (lard) ones. We all choose medialunas de manteca and some (mainly A, our 9-year old and the nanny) ask for the ubiquitous dulce de leche (caramel milk jam) to slather onto their medialunas while our 3-year old and I have them plain. We have a long leisurely breakfast, linger over our coffees and watch the regulars have their coffee before we head out into the sunshine for a long post-breakfast walk around the neighborhood.
Av. Quintana 600
Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Tel; +54 11 4804 0449
*Open daily from early till late.