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Travel: Bodega Salentein in Mendoza, Argentina

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Bodega Salentein is really special and should be on everyone’s hit list when they visit Mendoza. Not only is there lots of interesting wine on offer, there is also an impressive large art gallery, outdoor sculptures,  two restaurants and the most amazingly designed winery.  You can stay at the posada too, which if staying in Mendoza is worth your while as it’s 1.5 hours from Mendoza City.

Bodega Salentein - look at this little critter!

Bodega Salentein is stunning – breathtaking really –  set at 1200m in the Valle de Uco in the Andes – only a few miles from where I had my gaucho day as it happens (you can plan to visit both better than I did – visiting days apart and staying in Mendoza in between is not the best way to do it).

Sculpture at Bodega Salentein

Bodega Salentein is designed in the shape of a Jesuit cross, this is in homage to the origins of the wine industry in Argentina as the original vines were planted by Jesuit priests who needed the wine to celebrate mass.Things have progressed since and Argentine wines can compete internationally, and are more likely to appear on a restaurant wine list than in a church.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina
Far from traditional, the Bodega is sleek and modern yet fits beautifully into its surroundings in the Andes. The four wings of the Bodega cellar converge and meet at a circular central chamber which is it with daylight from above. It resembles an amphitheater and was inspired by ancient classical temples. This is no surprise when you are standing in the middle of it.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

When you stand in the centre and speak – or shout or sing – bang in the centre – there is the most incredible sound as your voice bounces back from every wall to great you. The wines are stored around this in stainless steel tanks and aged in French oak casks. They often have concerts here too.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

The wines were great. Three ranges at three different price levels are offered. I loved the Primus range, especially the Malbec which was rich with berries but also pepper and spice. A perfect match for an Argentine steak dinner. The lower priced Killka range had some terrific bargains worth seeking out including a lovely rich Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Magically I hit on the day when they were launching the Killka ranged and a new exhibit from a very successful local artist in their beautiful gallery. Some brilliant Argentine dishes like Locro were served up, and of course lots of empanadas.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, ArgentinaSalentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

I will have to return and stay in the posada on site on my next trip, it is beautiful and they run cookery classes, tasting tours, horse riding and much more. They also organise a Transfer + Tour & Tasting + Lunch for $150 per person.

Bodega Salentein is beautiful, cultural and delicious. Magical, I loved it. I just wish that I had more time there.

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Salentein Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

http://www.bodegasalentein.com/

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Bodega Septima: Tasting Menu & Wines

It’s very common in Mendoza, to find wineries with good restaurants. I deliberately looked for the best of these as I wanted the full food & wine experience. Bodega Septima, even in Winter was a stunner, with a large light filled terrace overlooking the Andes. The air is clear and crisp and the sunlight warm.

I started my meal with a glass of their Maria sparkling wine on the terrace. Made using cava techniques it was quite rich and full bodied (no major surprise as Bodega Septima is owned by Spanish winery and cava producer, Codorniu).

Opting for the tasting menu, I had to start with some empanadas, a delicious caprese one (basil, tomato & mozarella), and of course a mendocino beef one.

This was followed by a beautifully fresh and tender beef carpaccio, served with Septima Malbec.

More beef? I know, wasn’t I getting sick of it by now? Not yet, and I knew these guys would do such a good job I had to try it for main course too. A huge hunk of beef was served perfectly medium rare with a herb crust and a beautiful light pumpkin mousse accompanied.

More malbec was very well received.

Dessert was a delicious take on a gaucho dish of fresh cheese with fruits and nuts and it was delicious. It was nice and light after all of that beef too. We had it with a Septima late harvest Gewurztraminer, a really nice pudding wine produced at Bodega Septima. It had a slight tartness which was great with the cheese.

The tasting menu was 190 pesos (£32) excluding wine. A bargain and definitely worth popping by for the full food and wine experience! I could have spent all day on that balcony sipping Maria sparkling wine.

http://www.bodegaseptima.com/turismo.php?lg=en

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Travel: Estancia Los Potreros in the Wild Pampas of Argentina

A trip to Argentina has a few essentials. Steak (check), empanadas (check), malbec and torrontes (check), visits to wineries in Mendoza (check) and a visit to an Estancia to live a gaucho lifestyle for a few days (check).

Argentina has many estancias, the one I visited came highly recommended, indeed I was supposed to visit there with a friend last November but personal circumstances intervened. She insisted that I couldn’t miss it, and when the estancia extended an invitation, I jumped on it.

Los Potreros is an hour or so outside of Cordoba, utterly excised from the urban civilisation where I most often bang my drum, in the wild pampas of Argentina. When I visited in winter (June) it looked like a summer scene to me with a wild brown green expanse bathing in a bright blue sun lit sky. I was going to a place where I had no choice but to relax, eat good food, drink good wine and enjoy it. A perfect break.

The only way to get there is by car, and Los Potreros arrange this for you. I was pretty tired after an intense overnight bus journey (the result of an ash puffing Chilean volcano) so I dozed until we hit the track to the Estancia, which was a couple of miles off the main road. Lou & Kevin were there to greet us with some fresh homemade lemonade before breakfast.

People go to Los Potreros for two reasons: to horse ride and to relax. You don’t need to worry about anything practical. Your food is cooked for you (by their excellent Argentine cook Patricia) and you share your meal with the other guests (up to 12). Alcohol is provided at no extra cost.

I spent the first day blissfully bouncing from breakfast to lunch to afternoon tea and dinner while retiring to my wood fire warmed room to read in bed in between. It was perfect.

Horseriding must be done too, and while most guests went out twice a day for long rides, I chose to go just once. I was very happy hanging around and reading while listening to the chirpy bright green monk parakeets shout obscenities at each other and kick each other out of their  nests. My ride was a beautiful and gentle mini explore of the pampas, a condor even flew overhead.

Kevin and Lou raise cattle, so all of the beef that you eat is their own, the eggs from their chickens. They generate all of their electricity on site. Everything you eat is homemade and delicious.

Highlights were many but, the best for me were an impromptu wine tasting organised by Kevin, and the Argentine Asado, served gaucho style. Three steaks were served one after the other, starting with flank and finishing with the favourite bife de chorizo. Normally Kevin cooks this on his parrilla, which he designed himself, but on this occasion, due to some wintry rain, we had to retire indoors. Patricia’s gorgeous cakes proved irresistible and plentiful too.

I really enjoyed my time there, it allowed me to relax and de-stress after the mania of writing my book. Kevin and Lou are wonderful & warm hosts, and see that you have everything you need while you are there. I can see now why my friend goes there every year, I suspect I will be back too.

Estancia Los Potreros, Cordoba, Argentina

http://www.estancialospotreros.com/

Rates start from $340 per night all inclusive for a minimum 3 night stay (includes accomodation, horse-riding, food & alcohol).

I stayed as a guest of Los Potreros

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Where to Eat in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is a terrific city to eat and drink in. There is all that great steak, those sweetbreads, empanadas, Peruvian food including my favourite ceviche, and lots of fine dining too. There is lots of Italian food as a result of a large immigration from the Piedmont primarily from the late 19th century, but I chose not to explore that as we can get a lot of that here. One of the great things about eating out in BA is that when you compare prices to London, it can be a bit of a bargain, although prices are really climbing.

To drink there are pisco sours (a gorgeous Peruvian cocktail), and all the Malbec you can drink. Don’t just focus on the malbec though – Argentina has great Cabernet Suavignons and the Torrontés is delicious (especially from Salta – thank you Fiona Beckett for that tip!).

Notes on eating in Buenos Aires: the portions are large, the Argentines don’t like spice (even pepper) and they love beef as much as you’ve heard and they like it well done. So,you need to learn the following: jugoso is rare – pronounced WHO-go-so and medio – jugoso is medium rare. A word of warning though, Argentine beef isn’t aged like it is here so it’s a little bloody and you will really feel this on some cuts if you get them cooked rare. Otherwise, pack a little tabasco and some spices, and you’ll be sorted.

My favourites and recommendations are:

STEAK

La Cabrera

La Cabrera is wonderful. In Palermo, the prices reflect it but the food is very good. It is touristy but lots of locals dine here too. You can wait for a table and while you do they will give you a glass of sparkling wine.  Meals come with a tonne of extras. Have the beef, and definitely have the sweetbreads.

Don Julio

A friendly welcoming place in Palermo, Don Julio has a terrific wine list and excellent meat. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend here is the vegetables (marrowfat peas anyone?) but the ribs are great and the dulce de leche pancakes are a must for dessert.

Rolaso

An unassuming hidden gem in Palermo, the steak here was one of the best that I had in Buenos Aires. They do a terrific 40 peso lunch deal too (which I had when I went) which will get you steak, chips & wine plus another course – at the current exchange rate, that’s just under £7. One of the owers used to work at Don Julio I believe. And you can tell when you have the Dulce de Leche pancakes – delicious.

La Brigada

Go to La Brigada but don’t go there on the weekend. It’s horrible, like a theme park. Queues of tourists snapping like Will & Kate have just walked by. I thought I might die. Mid week though (and only in the off season I suspect) it is a gem. Great steak, lots of brilliant offal (try the goat sweetbreads), buffalo meat, wild boar, good empanadas and lovely provencal fries (chips tossed in parsley and garlic). Great wine list too. They do the gimmicky cutting of the steak with a spoon, but it’s worth seeing that once, even if it is shamefully touristy.

FINE DINING

Hernán Gipponi at the Fierro Hotel

Hernán cut his culinary teeth in Spain, spending time in kitchens at the Guggenheim Bilbao and Quique Dacosta’s El Poblet in Denia, Valencia, both recipients of two Michelin Stars. He has returned to Buenos Aires and runs a terrific restaurant at the Fierro Hotel. I did the 9 course tasting menu with wine matching, the menu was 190 pesos (currently £32) , the wine matching 90 pesos (£15) or 150 pesos for the premium (£25).

I treated myself to the premium one and it was so lovely, and an education on Argentinian wines. It was a great launch pad to explore as I ate there when I arrived. Considered expensive for Argentina (and worth it-  there were lots of local there), but for us, a bargain. I had a – watch out I am overusing it – terrific meal.  Hernán is a brilliant chef and I loved the food and the experience. It echoed experiences in Spain and London but had its own character.

Highlights were the sweetbreads with fennel and lemongrass matched with a terrific Rutini Gewurztraminer. In the summer, there is a garden out the back where you can enjoy your apertif.

Astrid Y Gaston

Astrid Y Gaston’s Lima sibling was the first Peruvian restaurant to make the Worlds 50 Best list this year. Housed in  big old house painted in vibrant (and tasteful) red and green, Astrid Y Gaston is quite formal (I thought I saw the Maitre D flinch when we arrived) but the service at our table was well informed and friendly.

We did the tasting menu (from memory 6 course) for 240 pesos (£40) and instead of wine matching, ordered some Animal Brut (you just have to, right?!). Highlights were the ceviche and the veal cheek. Recommended although sadly they don’t use chilli as they do in Peru as the Argentines just don’t like it.

PERUVIAN

Sipan

Sipan was an absolute highlight of my trip. A brilliant example of the Buenos Aires fixation of ceviche and sushi joints, the food is excellent, if pricey. Dishes circle 100 pesos (£17) but they are to be shared between at least two. Definitely have the salmon with passion fruit and some causa (cold Peruvian potato dishes, much better than they sound). Wash it down with some pisco sours Also eat in the downtown one, I have been told that the food is better there.

Osaka

Osaka in Palermo is quite Japanese to look at but serves up lots of ceviche too. Sit at the bar and watch them work, it’s fascinating. I had a ceviche tasting plate for 100 pesos (£17), where you choose three of their ceviches. I had a classic and two fusion ones and tow fusion osaka style (the best Japanese technique with the finest Peruvian ingredients). I should have known when I was told it was only a medium portion that it would be huge.

PIZZA & EMPANADAS

El Cuartito

Pizza?! Not just any pizza but cheese thick and rich Buenos Aires fugazzetta. Try the faina too and the empanadas. It’s positively buzzing here and expect queues but it’s a great experience.

San Juanino

I was told the best empanadas in Buenos Aires, and I would have to agree. Try the branch in Recoleta.

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And that was Argentina! Some highlights

So, that was Argentina. I am back, it’s only 5am BA time , and I have already been awake 3 hours. My flight back was rammed with a noisy school tour and lots of turbulence, so I am, well, very sleepy!

What a trip though. It was wonderful. So much to write about. For now, the first in a two part photo post, a little trip down memory lane for me and some highlights and a peek at future posts for you.

Roadside Parrilla in Buenos Aires

Ceviche at Sipan in Bueos Aires

Street tango dancer in Buenos Aires

Wood roasted empanadas in Mendoza

Veal cheek on the tasting menu at Astrid Y Gaston

Agronomists at the Argento Vineyard

Rush Hour Mendoza

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Eating Buenos Aires! La Cabrera: Your Sweetbreads, are My Weak-Ness

(the title should make sense to those compos mentis in the 80s ;)


In Argentina, you seek out beef. That’s a given. The Argentine and particularly gaucho diets until relatively recently consisted almost entirely of beef and all sorts of offal. All cuts fired over parrilla flames and served toppling on platters.

Nothing is  wasted when an animal is slaughtered here, Argentines absolutely love offal. The sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas) are some of the best that I have ever eaten, simply cooked with lemon juice over some hot coals, the crisp offal taste rich and delicate. The chewy rich chitterlings (intestines) are fought over by children. When the bullocks are castrated, the testicles are slung on the parrilla to be eaten. It’s a time of year that all farmers here look forward to.

Wine list at La Cabrera

So, the Aubergine Parrillas (BBQs) are a must and they are everywhere. In Buenos Aires, I explored and visited quite a few. I have 3 favourites (so far!), the first being La Cabrera in Palermo.

Palermo is like the Notting Hill of Buenos Aires. Once quite a rough area it is now all glamour and gloss, with the associated price tag. It does have some really good restaurants though, and naturally the tourists flock here. With La Cabrera there is a lot of hype and so it is insanely popular (even now in low season) but it really lives up to the chatter.

It is actually split over two restaurants, and we chose to sit outside as it was a beautiful sunny day. We were lucky that we didn’t have to wait, but worry not if you do, they will give you sparkling wine to ease the torture.

Provoleta at La Cabrera

A must when in Argentina is the provoleta, a hallmark of the strong Italian influence here, it is an Argentine variant of Italian provolone cheese, waxy and firm, it cooks beautifully. Cooked in cast iron little pots until gooey and crisp, usually with herbs and olive oil it’s incredibly more-ish. A rich starter when lots of meat is due, but it is a must.

La Cabrera in Buenos Aires

La Cabrera is famous for its sweetbreads so we had to order those. We also, wisely, ordered a large rib eye between 3, and trust me that at lunchtime, with all of the side dishes and the salad (simply to ward off scurvy you understand!), it was enough. We needed to leave room for dinner.

Spinach with Tarragon / Mustard Sauce at La Cabrera

A word of warning when you order here, the Argentines like their beef well done, so be sure to order it to your liking. The sweetbreads arrived, and were enormous. Beef pancreas I expect.. I was grateful that I wasn’t eating on my own as I often do.

Sweetbreads at La Cabrera

A thin crisp coating gave way to a succulent rich mass. An uninitiated diner described them of tasting of delicious crispy fat. I couldn’t put it better although it does ignore the gorgeous lighter interior. The steak was rich and large. And all of those sides (all delivered with every order on the house) were playful and a nice distraction from all of that meat. Some spinach with a tarragon mustard sauce was gorgeous and we just slathered it all over the steak.

BEEF! Lots of beef at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires

Meaty spread at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires

We toddled off happily after. Not slayed but pleasantly full. Which is an acquired talent when eating out in Buenos Aires. A siesta is always in order here though, especially after a parrilla indulgence, so make sure you fit one in.

La Cabrera, José Antonio Cabrera 5127, Buenos Aires

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Eating Argentina: Horseriding in the Andes and a Gaucha Lunch

So, if you’ve been reading for a while, and especially if you are on twitter and follow me there, you will know that this trip to Argentina has been delayed twice.

I was supposed to go last November, after I won a trip for a piece published on Bibendum Times, sponsored by Argento Wines with my friend Denise, The Wine Sleuth. I watched from the sidelines (through wet Irish windows) as Denise explored, extended and eventually stayed for 3 months. Pure torture, I couldn’t wait. I had to postpone to January, and then had to postpone again. But, finally I am here, and it’s almost winter, but winter here is like Spring in the UK and it’s lovely.

I finally caught up with Argento Wines in Mendoza, and visited the Bodega, Casa Argento and had a wine tasting (more on that later, for now my favourites, as – almost – always, were the reds, especially the reserva Cabernet Sauvignon & Malbecs). The absolute highlight of the 2-day trip to visit them was a trip to Walter Subillo at his estancia, Estancia San Pablo at the foot of the Andes. I say the foot of the Andes but it’s actually at 1200 metres, which is higher than Ireland’s highest mountain (no great claim I know!).

Walter is a real life gaucho, farmer, and winemaker and lives self sufficiently here with his family. He takes people out on gaucho days, horse riding and fly fishing the traditional gaucho way. So, my crash course in being a gaucha began.

We started with a terrific breakfast of hot crispy gaucho bread with jams – one a lovely stringy melon one and the other cherry – with walnuts before progressing to some horse riding in the Andes.

Horses are notoriously big and cranky, and I am a bit unpredictable myself, so I was nervous but I really wanted to do it. After loading my carcass on to the horse we proceeded and I was thrilled to see that my horse was as lazy as me so we plodded along gently, always behind the others. I was afraid to use the accelerator (by kicking him) with much force.

We rode through the river, up a steep mini mountain, back down, up another, you get my drift. For about 2 hours. I was very proud of myself on my return until I saw a 3 year old get up on my horse. I know my place.

The day really kicked into gear with a terrific lunch. The Andes can be a harsh environment so food is preserved as much as possible, and mostly in Walter’s case it is homegrown.


In his cave were lots of preserved peaches in jars, brined olives, sun or woodoven dried tomatoes with herbs, a leg of ham, homemade salami, lots of jams including cherry. And lots of wine too.

We started with olives, homemade salami and tomatoes and – WOW. Those tomatoes were some of the best that I have ever eaten. The salami and olives were terrific too. Two plates towering with empanadas were too attractive to resist. We washed it all down with some Argento Malbec and proceeded to the next course.

Walter cooked up some trout he had caught in the river and some vegetables over an open fire and served it with a gorgeous fresh salad, more tomatoes with his own vinegar and bread. Delicious and so fresh tasting, it was nice to get a break from the meat.

And then the kid goat was served. Again, Walter’s own animal. Everything was served and I was very impressed to see the kids run to the wood oven and request the chitterlings. Walter’s 9 month old daughter was teething and nibbled on a warm goat bone. Argento Cabernet sauvignon accompanied me as I chowed down on some gorgeous kid goat ribs.

And then the beef. A big plate of beef. I was almost defeated but could fit a bit more in. It was – you guessed – terrific. New adjectives please.

Then to the fire where we had dessert of homemade fresh cheese, with some of those conserved peaches, homemade membrillo, Walter’s walnuts and preserved cherries. Beautiful and fresh, I was grateful for it, and left my coffee sit next to the fire to stay warm as I ate it. I envied the cat and dog sleepy underneath it. But they don’t have tv, eh?

And that was it. Not quite a gaucha (yet) but what an experience.

Details

Estancia San Pablo http://www.estanciasanpablo.com.ar

I did: US$150 per person horse riding or fly fishing with breakfast and lunch

Also available: US$250 per person for a full day horse riding /fly fishing / breakfast / lunch / dinner / accommodation

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Eating Argentina: Mendoza! We’re in Empanada Country Now

Best Empanadas Ever? Well, so far, yes :)

Where are the best empanadas in Argentina? Everyone says Mendoza but where exactly in Mendoza you will only know if you are a local. Happily I was with one.

I was feeling a bit peckish so asked if we could stop off for some empanadas after a long day whizzing around wineries. (It’s a hard life!). It was 5 hours since lunch but still 3 hours from our Argentinian dinner time so my tum was protesting severely. Sure, of course! And she promptly picked up the phone and put in an order.

Home of Amazing Empanadas!

20 minutes later we were at a small typical house outside Mendoza in a small town called Chacro. These are the best empanadas in Mendoza, I was confidently informed, she is very famous and lots of people come here.

An old lady in an apron answered the door and proceeded to joyfully tell us all about a local wedding the week before where one of 5 daughters of a local doctor married an Irish guy and 100 people from Ireland came for the wedding (we do that kind of thing!). She was very proud and thrilled to be there herself.

I got a quick tour of the rotisseria, I was only sad it was too late in the evening to try it. At the side were big jars of preserved peaches and large bottles of homemade tomato sauce. She proudly showed me her enormous outdoor wood oven where she makes her empanadas and her specialty, suckling pig. I was salivating.

Amazing Woodoven, Terrible Photo (Sorry!)

Then came the empanadas. In exchange for 25 pesos (£4) she gave us a paper wrapped parcel which I could not wait to open. In side were twelve gorgeous wood blistered empanadas, about half the size of their bigger Buenos Aires cousins, filled with the traditional Mendocian filling of beef, onion and eggs. Some use olives too but not these ones. apparently that is something the younger people do.

I wondered if we had over egged it, 12 empanadas for 2. I quickly discovered I had no trouble demolishing my 6. The crisp roasted pastry, incredibly savoury and with a gorgeous bite from pork lard, encased a rich gorgeous beef, onion and finely chopped egg filling.

Sadly, and appropriately, the recipe is secret. But, wow, another trip highlight. How will I ever leave Argentina? (I shouldn’t tempt that volcano).

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Eating Argentina: The Unexpected Magic of a Roadside Parrilla

Well, hello! What's this?

Some awful days have the most amazing ways of turning themselves around. Take last Monday. I was stranded in Buenos Aires due to that nuisance of a Chilean volcano ushering an ash cloud east. No flights were to be had out of Buenos Aires so my long planned Mendoza trip was on hold and I was at a loose end. What to do?

I took a random decision to hit Buenos Aires on a bicycle and see what the city might hold. It was a wonderful day, made extra special by my phenomenally bad sense of direction leading me to a motorway on my bicycle.

I know.

(But don’t worry it has a great ending)

Bicycles aren’t allowed on the motorway, as I quickly found out, and so I got off and walked only a short distance before I spied some red chairs and a food truck. Well, what could it be?

Next to a crazy motorway where trucks whizzed and dirt whirled was the most amazing roadside parrilla (Argentinian BBQ), run by a young guy and girl and frequented by truckers.

They thought my arrival curious and hilarious, so promptly handed me the most terrific sandwich with a slice of meat cut from some beef ribs and some super spicy chilli sauce (most unusual in Argentina, they don’t like spice).

My pigeon Spanish wasn’t much use but enthusiasm and hand signals powered me through, and that terrific sandwich, the fantastic two who run the parrilla and those truckers made my holiday.

I loved it so much and found it so magical, in an attempt to share it, I turned it into a cartoon for you (from my photographs).

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Eating Buenos Aires: Pizza, Fugazzetta & Empanadas at El Cuartito

So you’re in Buenos Aires. Well, you’ve got to eat like a Porteño and go get yourself some pizza. You weren’t expecting that now, were you?

El Cuartito has been making pizza in downtown Buenos Aires since 1934. Not just any ole pizza, they serve the pizza peculiar to Buenos Aires, the fugazzetta (or fugazza con queso).

Fugazzetta at El Cuartito

Why pizza? There was a huge influx of Italian immigrants, particularly from Genoa in the 19th and 20th centuries to Argentina. Now, 25 million Argentines are of Italian descent (that is up to 60% of the total population). So, this naturally has had an enormous influence. There are Italian restaurants and pizzerias all over Buenos Aires, and El Cuartito is one of the old standards.

El Cuartito

Why go?

It’s brusque, big and noisy and fun. Bustling and joyful, I loved it. Eat at the counter or queue for a table. Either way, you will be having a proper local experience.

El Cuartito

The fugazetta is a slightly insane extremely rich deep cheese and onion pizza. If you eat a whole one I will clap you on the back and then call the ambulance. A couple of slices though, particularly at the end of the night, is heavenly. You haven’t been to Buenos Aires if you haven’t tried the fugazzetta.

El Cuartito

Empanadas are very good. Try the spicy beef one and the jamon y queso one.

El Cuartito

They serve fainá, a traditional chickpea based flatbread. You have to try that too.

El Cuartito

So go, and love it as much as I did. And don’t make the same mistake as me, have the dulce de leche flan. The fugazzetta and empanadas floored me and I couldn’t face it. In my defence, I had had a big lunch and dinner!

El Cuartito, Talcahuano 937, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Palate Cleanser: A Postcard from Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Streets - gorgeous paper shop in Palermo

So, here in Buenos Aires it is definitely all about the food. From the parrillas to the Peruvian ceviche, the asados to the empanadas.

There is so much more here though, it would be a crime to speak only of the food. Colourful shops and streets, eccentircities and lots of style. So, here’s a little palate cleanser before my next food post of things I’ve noticed and loved on the Buenos Aires streets and a few other random bits.

Buenos Aires Streets

Lovely light in my hotel room

Buenos Aires Streets

Buenos Aires Streets

Buenos Aires Streets

Superb ( and huge) breakfast at Fierro Hotel, Buenos Aires

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Recipe from Argentina: Rabbit Empanadas

Rabbit Empanadas at the Fierro Hotel, Buenos Aires

Rabbit Empanadas! I loved them. You loved the idea of them. I couldn’t just sit there and scoff them while tweeting the pictures then blogging about it so you could covet them, now could I? Well, I could but I didn’t think that fair. So, I asked the chef at Fierro Hotel – Hernán Gipponi – if he wouldn’t mind sharing, and very generously he did, and in English too. Thanks so much Hernán.

I read the recipe and thought, but of course! Rabbit confit, that explains why they were so rich and delicious. The wonton wrappers give a crisp, light and delicious shell. And the piquant little bites of apple, the sweet onion and the crunch of the pecan nuts. Well, I have to stop typing as I now want to order them again.

Make them, do! They’re gorgeous.

Rabbit Empanadas Recipe

Ingredients
1 Rabbit (clean, about 2kg)
rosemary (to taste)
garlic (to taste)
Olive Oil (enough to cover the rabbit)

2 Granny smith apple
2 onions, finely diced
50 grs pecan nuts

Wonton dough (8cm x 8cm)

1 egg (beaten)

Preheat the oven to 90 C. In a deep oven tray place the rabbit, crushed garlic and rosemary. Cover with plenty of olive oil. Confit for 45 minutes per kg of rabbit (about 90 minutes for a 2kg rabbit).

Clean the rabbit and shred the meat (taking care of not leaving any bones)

Saute the onions in a little olive oil. In a bowl mix the shredded rabbit meat with the apples, onions and pecan nuts (all finely chopped).  Season to taste with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Place the mix with a spoon in a wonton dough square and paint the edges with egg. Fold in the middle forming a pocket and squeeze tightly so the empanadas won’t open while cooking.

Deep fry or bake the empanadas until golden brown.

Serve with a sweet & sour sauce dip of your choice. (we use a Hoisin / Worcestershire mix)

This makes about 60 empanadas, that can be kept in the freezer.

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Greetings from Buenos Aires: Now *Almost* Awake!

Rabbit Empanaditas on the terrace (oh YAWH!)

Greetings from Buenos Aires folks. I am on holiday – true – but have also been working writing more recipes, so I don’t feel like I am on holiday just yet.

Tomorrow.

The beauty of being on holiday here in Argentina, is that in the lovely hotel that I am staying in (Fierro Hotel), I can work from my desk in my room and eat Rabbit Empanaditas (with rabbit, onions, nuts and apple) served with a gorgeous sweet and sour sauce. I will definitely have to try and make something similar when I get home!

Otherwise there has been steak, and it’s as good as you’ve heard. The portions are enormous too. I had a half portion of steak ribs for lunch yesterday and had to waddle home after. (I had also had another large empanada and some morcilla – you just have to try, don’t you?).

I had such steak and malbec confusion that I tried to pay the waiter 4 times the price in the wrong currency. Thankfully he was honest and kind. He was actually quite cross with me and told me off. I then gave him a really generous tip in thanks, which seemed to annoy him further as he clearly thought I just didn’t get it. Hey ho.

Gorgeous heated roof top pool (*sad face*)

And it is for this reason sadly, and for many similar ones that preceded this, that I won’t be exposing my empanada pocked bod-ay at the rooftop pool. Next time when I am a slim jim once more! When I started blogging I was a svelte size 10 and a big eater, so it should be ok to get back to it, no?

Sorry, I couldn’t hear you, I was eating an empanada.

Ciao for now folks! Back soon with some steak stories and some Buenos Aires tasting menu action. A supper club too! (Although they are called something else here).

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A Sleepy Hola from Buenos Aires

Greetings from Buenos Aires, folks! You remember that trip to Argentina that I have had to postpone twice? The one to Argento in Mendoza and also a little while in Buenos Aires back in November, rescheduled to January, then rescheduled to, well, now? Well, finally I am here. Yeehaw!

I arrived this morning after a night flight so I am a little fuzzy, but I have had my first meat and malbec escapade in a local Parrilla so I am happy. Very pleasant half bottle of malbec, very pleasant bife de chorizo, chimmichurri to rub it all in, a big pile of mash and a lovely pickled aubergine thing. A huge basket of bread too. Just me to eat it all!

The steak was lovely, even though they cook it well done here, it was still very nice. Never thought I would say that. I have been practicing the Spanish for rare steak since as imagine how much better it would be?  It all came to £20 and was a lovely afternoon. Who’s complaining about how the steak was cooked? Not me, I just want to try it rare, that’s all.

The hotel I am staying in is billed as the hotel for gourmands in Buenos Aires. Happily, it’s also near lots of the places that I want to try. I somehow completely missed that the restaurant here is supposed to be great too. I just don’t generally expect that in a hotel.

How so? For one, there are goat sweetbreads on the menu, which I am very excited to try. Also, a rooftop pool, but I am more excited about the sweetbreads. That’s my priorities right there for ya! It’s linked, those kind of obsessions don’t make for a good bikini body.

A sleepy over and out for now. Apologies if this is meandering, that’s the way my brain is set right now. Clogged with cakes, steaks and a little veen-oh. I fear that I shall be like a mis-shapen dumpling in a dress with two peg legs by the time I return. But I will be happy, won’t I? I think so.

I will be back soon with more including details on the hotel, dinner et al. I know lots of you have plans to visit Buenos Aires and you have asked me to tell you all about it. Well, I would have anyway, wouldn’t I? Because that is what I do :)