I can’t talk about Argentina without mentioning two of the best things on offer there; steak and red wine. Both were unbelievably good.
The steaks were at the top of my list to try; several people I know had raved about the size and quality of them. So one of the first days we were in BA, A and I went in search of a good steak lunch. We had been told about a restaurant in Puerto Madero that offered an all-you-can-eat meat feast for lunch. Siga La Vaca (Follow the Cow) did not disappoint. For just over $20 were were given a bottle of wine each and invited to choose whatever we wanted – and however much we wanted – from the grill, which was loaded with an inordinate amount of steaks, sausages, chops and various other meat cuts. There was also a salad bar, but we had little use for that. We settled in for the afternoon, it was going to be a long meal.
Lunch that day took around three-and-a-half hours, partly because I tend to view all-you-can-eat restaurants as something of a challenge (doesn’t everyone?) and partly because the food was so tasty I wanted to try as much of it as I could. We waddled out of the restaurant sometime around five and caught a cab back to the hostel because we were too full to walk.
Our second – and to date best – Argentine steak was at a restaurant called La Cabrera. This restaurant in Palermo is well known, not just for the quality of their steaks, but also because they have a happy hour during which the somewhat pricey meals are discounted by up to 50%. Happy hour starts at 7pm and you have to be out by 8pm, so to be sure of a table we were lining up outside the restarant just after 6.30pm.
With one of the girls from the hostel, we decided on sharing a 600g ribeye fillet with a 200g chorizo as a side. Yes, it was meat with a side of meat. I can’t remember if we ordered vegetables, but once again they seemed fairly irrelevent. The meal arrived and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bigger slab of meat in my life. The steak was cooked beautifully, as was the chorizo, and as we started eating all conversation pretty much ended, as we were so intent on stuffing ourselves with this delicious food. After that dinner, no steak has really stacked up since, and this is despite enjoying several Argentine asados at various hostels and restaurants.
Then there is the wine. Those who know me would tell you that I am a pain to go to dinner with because I don’t drink red wine. I am the one ordering a pinot gris to go with a hearty steak. I don’t like the smell of red wine, I don’t like the taste of red wine, I just don’t drink red wine.
Well, I didn’t drink red wine. I didn’t drink it until I came across the Argentine Malbec. Very light, with a delicate flavour, this little grape has changed my mind permanently about red wine. After a few weeks in Argentina, I was regularly heading to the wine section of the supermarket to pick up a bottle of Malbec. At ridiculous prices I might add. When decent bottles of wine are going for about $4, it really just would be rude not to drink it.
After starting on Malbec – though this is still by far and away my favourite – I’ve happily broadened my tastes to Merlots and the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon. Turns out I don’t mind the smell, and I really don’t mind the taste. I think my friends will be pleased when I next head to dinner with them. The best thing of course is that red wine goes so well with hearty steaks…so I’ve been able to enjoy them, a lot of them, together. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before!