World Dinner Club

World Dinner Club
World Dinner Club

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Argentine Odyssey: Glacial Heights

At the Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC I found some great Argentina products to include in a specialty subscription box available in September to our subscribers.  Meanwhile, sit back and let me tell you more about this amazing country....

 We got up early one morning in El Calafate, Patagonia to the cold, dark morning and walked briskly to the clubhouse at Casa Los Sauces, for breakfast. On seeing the sumptuous breakfast buffet, I easily convinced myself that I needed to consume as many calories as possible to keep warm that morning. Stuffing my face with pastries and a local air-dried ham with a strong resemblance to prosciutto, I made a heroic effort.

 We took a bus and then a ferry into the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, an enormous national park that covers not just the Perito Moreno Glacier, but also several mountains, including Fitz Roy Massive and Mt. Torres. A few minutes to tie on some crampons, and we were trudging out over the glacier over packed snow that was about 2000 years old.  

The technique takes a little time to get used to, especially if like yours truly, you have exceptionally poor coordination. However, I managed not to twist an ankle and was pleased to find at the end of the hour-long walk that we were to stop for a drink. The guides declared that the ice was older than the whiskey.  Indeed!  Rather suitably the booze poured was Jameson. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day!

Another pleasant surprise was the lunch packed for us: our hotel prepared smoked salmon sandwiches with crème fraiche and thinly sliced cucumber. This was happily followed by desserts of caramel flan and fresh-baked alfajores (shortbread sandwiches, filled with dulce de leche caramel). Surely some of the most refined outdoorsy food, I’d enjoyed in some time.

After an afternoon watching the glacier break into the lake, we returned to El Calafate. Casa los Sauces didn’t let us down at dinner either: a trio of smoked Patagonian game (trout mouse and smoked venison with a wild berry chutney over a potato croquette), large lamb raviolis and grilled Patagonian trout followed.

The following morning, we took the bus to El Chalten to visit Lago des Torres where we had view of Mt. Fitz Roy and Mt. Torres.  

On our way back to El Calafate we stopped in a small café for pancakes with pears and cinnamon topped with fresh cream and a couple café con leches. 

Dinner in town was at Casimiro Bigua, on the main strip through town, where we ate delicious Patagonian lamb cooked on a vertical spit and lamb tripe, which was grilled and crispy and surprisingly tasty for not having been braised into oblivion with lemon juice on top. All washed down with a deep, rich malbec, of course.

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