I spent the month of March in South America on another food minded trip. I went to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in hopes of learning about the cuisine from each country. The trip was not only about food, but wine as well! Chile and Argentina are known for their wines. I ate and drank to my heart’s content.
First up was Santiago, Chile .
The food did not end up being our main focus while there, but we met some great people and had the best fries of the trip at Bar Yellow. I met a chef named Carlos through an online forum and had a nice meal at his place, Restaurant Fabula. The highlight of the meal was a mushroom and oyster stuffed squid – delicious! He also introduced us to some nice local beers : Kross and Capital. Thanks for your hospitality Carlos!
The port town of Valparaiso, Chile was next on the list.
Unfortunately, many stores and restaurants were closed as there are not many tourists. I managed to try a few well known dishes, a seafood stew, which was not very nice ( the seafood in it was not fresh ). I later saw them defrosting packages of shellfish, which was unexpected since we were right on the water. I also had Chorillanas; fries, topped with sauteed beef, onions, chorizo and a fried egg, kind of like a poutine! The housekeeper of the place I was staying at let me try some Albondigas (meatballs) she made with a carrot tomato sauce and (very rich) mashed potatoes, it was delicious.
A bus ride with amazing views took us to Mendoza, Argentina.
Mendoza, epicenter of the wine industry in Argentina, was a wonderful place. Amongst all the good food and wine I tried, the most memorable meal, a moment I will never forget, was a stop at a non descript old looking winery for lunch. I had taken a self guided bike tour of wineries, it was HOT and our bums were sore from hours of riding. It was time for a break. Between the view, the sparkling Chardonnay , and Prosciutto sandwiches, I was in heaven. The winery produced only 1,000 bottles of that wine each year so it seemed extra special.
Buenos Aires was THE place for me this trip.
I loved every moment of it. I loved the Porteno way of life – a coffee and media luna (Argentina’s version of a croissant) for breakfast, a long leisurely lunch with a mandatory glass of wine, afternoon Yerba Mate with friends and/or family, then a late (11 pm/12 am) dinner with a few more glasses of wine!
I ate too much good food to list, but here are my favourite restaurants:
- Cafe San Juan (San Telmo), chef owned and his mother runs the front of house, it was so good I went twice! Spanish influenced, lots of tapas, cazuelas, I love any restaurant that has two pates each day.
- Social Paraiso (Palermo), I had an outstanding dinner here, fried zuchinni flowers, Patagonian lamb and peas, gnocchi and their famous Szechuan peppercorn and dried apple napoleon.
- The most amazing Ribeye and Sweetbreads at La Cabrera.
- An absolutely perfect lunch of lamb loin and ribeye at a neat place called Resto.
Overall, the smaller simpler looking restaurants I found served much better food than the places I heard more buzz about such as Mott and Sucre. These places were larger, and although very nice looking, lacked the type of atmosphere I like in a good restaurant. They seemed cold, geared towards tourists, and most importantly, the food wasn’t as good. They sounded good on paper, but were not executed very well, they lacked care and attention to detail.
I was very lucky to have been invited for an asado at the home of the people I rented an apartment from. It was a great experience, I was introduced to my new favourite cut of meat, entrana, what we call skirt steak. For more on a traditional asado please click here (http://santelmoloft.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/argentinean-asado-101/) – We stayed in this loft. Check out the parilla (grill)!
Next I made my way to Uruguay.
Uruguay, just a short ferry trip from Buenos Aires is an absolutely breathtaking country. The trip there was not set in stone but I am very happy I made it over. Rolling grassy hills, and gorgeous beaches are my fondest memories of Uruguay. The best food I had was on the beach at shacks in a small beach town, the fish was VERY good. I also had a very memorable meal at La Huella in Jose Ignacio. Think of it as a very upscale beach shack. The fried fish fritters and an ice cold beer were perfect.
I had a great time and cannot wait to return.
I would also like to express my appreciate for the very generous and kind people we met throughout our trip. Robert, Victoria, Natalia, Gonzalo, Angela, Giancarlo, Veronica,Agustin, and many more.. Thank you for your hospitality, and making my trip very memorable. We will be back!