All posts filed under: Argentina

Travel: Bodega Salentein in 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 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). 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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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.

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. 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 …

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 …

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

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. 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 …

Eating Argentina: The Unexpected Magic of a Roadside Parrilla

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 …

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). 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. 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. The fugazetta is a slightly insane extremely rich deep cheese and onion pizza. If you eat a whole one …

Palate Cleanser: A Postcard from Buenos Aires

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.

Recipe from Argentina: Rabbit Empanadas

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 …

Greetings from Buenos Aires: Now *Almost* Awake!

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 …

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 …