|Road up into the Andes|
The following few days in Argentina were a whirlwind of excursions and travel. After a high Andes tour where we went up to the Chilean border to view Mount Aconcagua, we stopped at a roadside eatery. This modest restaurant had a surprising array of stews with potatoes and rice. The beef stew with malbec and the white beans in tomatoes and bacon were astonishingly good, wholesome and honest food.
That evening we had one of our most enchanting restaurant experiences in Argentina. We went to Siete Cocinas (Seven Kitchens), a contemporary restaurant where they are putting a modern spin on traditional ingredients from the seven different states of Argentina. The result is unique and creative food. We found a table near the window to the kitchen with it’s prominent clay oven. We ordered a bottle of bonarda off the restaurant's iPad app (in lieu of a printed wine list).
Our meal began with firm veal sweetbreads on thin soft wafers, followed by pork sausage and black sausage that was earthy and mouth-watering was smeared on the fresh baked bread, which had come out earlier warm from the oven and perfect with the intense olive oil, cold-pressed from the local vineyards that produce the olives along side their grape vines. My main course of rabbit cannnolini was nearly submerged in a striking green sauce and had a almost sweet crepe-like consistency around the slow-roasted rabbit meat
Dessert was simple and elegant fruit with mint and sorbet. The chef very graciously allowed us to visit the kitchen and he discussed his philosophy of cooking, his background of Spanish and Italian family and experience working in Mexico, Australia and Spain. To come back to Argentina and cook with local ingredients, but with different techniques and approaches learned overseas was clearly a source of pride for him.
From Mendoza we went to El Calafate in Patagonia for our first dinner at Casa Los Sauces, we ate at the Club House of our comfortable spa and hotel. The Club House was a casual grill featuring outstanding parilla or Argentine BBQ. I ordered a flank steak: a perfect 10 out of 10. The meat actually came out quite rare, but sent back and brought to medium, the meat achieved a perfect crust of salt-crusted caramelization and newly burnt charcoal edge. S had a lamb rib nearly the length of her arm. On either end were rich flavorful hunks of Patagonian mutton that kept juicy bits of fat that once trimmed away, left behind juicy, intense flavor that exemplified the essence of the meat: mountain grass and spring water-fed and free from the industrial apocalypse of modern agriculture.
|Roast Patagonian lamb on the spit|
The flank was rich and flavorful and exceedingly tender like you wouldn’t expect normally from a lean steak. This elevated ordinary meat to another level. You knew that you were eating an animal that wasn’t stressed out. Superb!
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