Absolute Travel’s culinary explorer Robyn Mark introduces her new feature: will-travel-for-food
Chorizo, lomo, bondiola, vaca, ojo de bife, chinculin, mollejas, morcilla. And that was just one meal. Empanadas, tamales, dolce de leche, ceviche. The list can go on and on. To say that my recent journey to Argentina was a gastronomical adventure does not do it justice. I milked cows, ate omelets made from eggs straight from the hens house, picked fresh vegetables for my meals, and created my very own wine blend.
Food aside, Argentina is a wonderful destination from New York for a number of reasons. For one, flying on a direct overnight flight allows you to travel without losing any days, and if you sleep the way I do on a plane, you get a full nights rest and still feel right on schedule. Plus being that its the opposite season, making the trip during the thick of our winter doldrums is the very beginning of their autumn – the perfect respite of temperatures in the mid-70s, sunny days, and cool, crisp nights.
After meeting with the owners of El Colibri Estancia during their visit to Absolute Travel’s office I couldn’t wait to step foot on the property. My days were filled with bike rides at sunset through perfectly manicured polo fields, learning how to shear sheep using just a pair of scissors, and horseback riding through the 300 acres of farmland.
And the food! Our waiter laughed when my cousin and I ordered “one of everything,” at each meal, ensuring we could taste each dish. From fresh steak tartar, to a simple medley of garden fresh vegetables, everything we were served was innovative, simple, designed beautifully, and hit every taste bud. Rabbit ratatouille garnished with roasted red peppers and rosemary was a highlight, and ending each meal with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream was the perfect subtly sweet finish.
From Cordoba I traveled to Mendoza, where I toured different wineries, sampled olive oil that was cold pressed just feet away, and learned why a glass of Malbec in the afternoon (or several) truly makes you feel like you’re on vacation. For anyone going to this region, the trip will not be complete without an evening at Francis Mallman’s infamous restaurant, 1884. Tucked away at the end of a rather gritty nondescript road, once you arrive you immediately feel like you’ve discovered a hidden wonder. The façade of white brick crumbling walls led to a long entrance covered in vines and flowers. After passing through the tall glass and steel doors I immediately noticed the large chapa (cast-iron griddle), a clay outdoor oven and a parilla (barbecue grate) over hot coals and pieces of meat in all shapes and sizes being sprinkled with salt and pepper. Surprisingly, I went vegetarian that last night after almost a weeks’ worth of meat, and I was still blown away. Each simple dish embraced the idea of cooking with simplicity, using the best ingredients possible. Mallman utilizes every aspect of the fire from the flames to the hot ashes, so even my piece of grilled squash with toasted pinenuts and shaved parmesan was cooked to perfection.
Next I traveled through the Northwest regions of Salta and Cafayate, driving through stunning mountainous roads and stopping along the way to marvel at the views. I learned the Torrontés grape produces a crisp clean white wine also known as “the liar” for its sweet smell but dry taste. And I relaxed at the beautiful House of Jasmines Hotel where I couldn’t stop taking pictures, hoping to replicate the décor in my own home.
House of Jasmines, Salta
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without a few days in Buenos Aires, filled with shopping, more food, and a couple of perfect nights at the Park Hyatt and Four Seasons. After just twelve days away I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and very very full.