|De niña yo tuve un sueño
que hoy se ha hecho realidad,
poder sentirme a tu lado
a traves del cocinar.
Hoy estoy aqui en Palermo
mezclo sabor y amistad.
Veni, sentite en tu casa,
podes entrar sin golpear!
|When I was a girl I had a dream
that today has come true,
that i may -through cooking-
feel like I’m at your side.
Today I am in Palermo
mixing flavours and friendship.
Come on over, make yourself at home,
enter without knocking!
This is the message handwritten on a chalkboard tacked to the wall of what at a glance seems to be just another beautiful Palermo home. But the board grabs your eye, and then the big old wooden spoon dangling next to the heavy doors, which, when yanked, sets a bell tolling and announces your visit to Cusic, a turn of last century home turned haven of rustic cuisine.
Quite often you will be greeted by Cusi herself at the door, flour stained apron tied over a sunny floral dress and a shock of bright red hair leaving one with the impression that she might be the unlikely prodigy of Nigella Dawson and an Irish Amelie – a master (or mistress more aptly) in the kitchen who has never quite gotten over the simple joy of sticking her fingers in the dough.
Passing a few simple wooden tables under a lush weeping willow and walking in, the calm but whimsical interior does nothing to change this impression. Bathed in soft rich sunlight from one side and fairy light from the other, there are little playthings for the eyes scattered everywhere – piles of teacups, books, toys, a lazy brown leather sofa, colored paper globes suspended from the ceiling, colours, shapes, the giant chalkboard on which the entire menu is noted with a wink and a sparkle and muffins, a big pile of downright sexy muffins.
And that is what it really is all about, delicious, spongy baked goods. And lemonade; there’s magic in the lemonade that just might be the perfect cure for any Buenos Aires scorcher. It’s winter? No fear, the cold weather counterpoint in Cusic is an Argentine classic – el submarino – a mug of hot frothy milk into which you judiciously lob hunks of chocolate and stir it until it turns into a thick sludgy healing brew. The white chocolate version is a must.
On Cusi’s list of things not to miss are chipas, a traditional bread made of cassava and cheese from her native Misiones in North-East Argentina and of course, her soft fluffy scones; both freshly baked to order. The number one on her list though, tells you all you need to know about her – bread. Her greatest of I suspect many pleasures is the daily baking ritual using an old family recipe. At breakfasts it is a perennial hit, served toasted with marmalades made by mum from fruit grown by dad back home on their farm. Some things just seem to run in the blood.
Cusic is open for breakfasts and lunches every day of the week except Tuesdays, with lunch specials daily. New this year are Thursday evening curry nights which are ‘a la gorra’, evenings where customers pay whatever they feel is just for their dish.Cusic
El Salvador 6016
Palermo, Buenos Aires
4139 – 9173/74
Greg de Villiers, a South African food photographer and travel writer, lives – for now – in Buenos Aires. To see more of his work, visit: gregdevilliers.com. To find out more about his life philosophy, sit yourself down in the most beautiful place you can imagine, with the best bottle of wine you can find, and drink it all; slowly, lovingly but all of it, down to the very. last. drop.