Hot chocolate is undeniably big in Buenos Aires. Writer Kathleen Boyle tells us where to go and what to try in the Argentine capital.
When the wind howls and the rain pours in Argentina, there’s comfort in the country’s innovative hot chocolate scene. Under the radar when you compare it to the nation’s tango and beef, Argentine creativity extends into the realm of this delicious, spirit-lifting drink.
Most notable is the submarine, a glass of frothy milk served with a small dark chocolate bar at its side. Part of the submarino ritual is the careful submerging of the bar into the glass. And yes, it is a glass, better to see billowing clouds of chocolate as the bar melts into the steaming milk.
Next comes the stirring, to better distribute the melting chocolate. Of course, uniform distribution is impossible, even if you wanted that, and as the winds howl outside and perhaps a passing downpour begins, slowly sip your submarino as the mixture becomes more and more chocolate toward the bottom of the glass.
Although the perfect antidote to a chilly day in Patagonia, the submarino is reputed to have been invented at La Giralda in Buenos Aires, a brightly lit confiteria, or café.
As an epicenter of Argentinian style, there are many places to get a hot chocolate fix in Buenos Aires. At the well-known Café Tortoni – a deeply wooded café full of stained glass, bow-tied waiters and tinkling spoons – the chocolate caliente comes with a different ritual. The thick, dark chocolate is served in a small pitcher, with an accompanying smaller pitcher of steamed milk.
The drinker pours and mixes into the classically styled teacup, sipping as they mix, again looking for that perfect blend, adding sugar to taste if necessary. The Argentines recognise hot chocolate palates vary, and one size does not fit all.
When in Buenos Aires, a quest for the perfect hot chocolate is a worthy one. La Giralda is also at the forefront of deliciousness when it comes to traditional hot chocolate, and at Las Violetas, another beautiful, high ceilinged café, the chocolate comes in copper cups. Also famous for its chocolate con churros is Confiteria el Vesuvio. Then there’s El Gato Negro…. When it rains so hard in Buenos Aires that everything and everyone stops, duck into a confiteria and explore these hot chocolate innovations.