You may have already heard from my Instagram that I’ve been to South America and had a wonderful time. If not, here it goes again. I HAD A WONDERFUL TIME.
Now, as you can tell from the title of this post, it sounds like its going to be pretty much about one thing – steak.
I WILL be showing you mouth-watering evidence of how Argentina and Uruguay have nailed the Parilla (or grill on an open fire). But I will also tease you with other sumptuous bites.
So, steak. Let’s begin.
As a foodie, I was never particularly excited about steak. We never really ate much red meat at home. As I was planning for Argentina and I was looking for suggestions on what to eat, I nearly jumped off my seat when I saw how many ice cream parlours were selling dulce de leche flavoured ice cream.
I did, however, book one steak place for the 1st night we were to be in Buenos Aires. And I’m so glad I did. Parilla don Julio is noted to be one of the long-standing steakhouses; serving premium cuts of meat cooked over a traditional parilla, it really does offer a great introduction to the Argentinian steak. They do great sides too and have an excellent wine list, stocking plenty of Malbec from Mendoza (the wine country in Argentina). The setting is formal so expect great service. If you do decide to visit, do book well in advance, as there is a queue every night and it could last well over an hour.
If you want to experience parilla in less of a formal setting, I would suggest heading to a market, like the Feria de Mataderos in Buenos Aires. This market is a bit of a journey (an hour by bus, to be precise) from the city centre, but it’s worth the trek in order to escape the tourist crowds and get to see the gaucho horseback-riding competition and folklore dancing. Not to mention the various food stalls.
You’re also going to want to pass by the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo, Uruguay for some proper asado (or barbeque). Not unlike Argentina, you will find the word asado commonly used. This is were it gets confusing: asado itself means two things: a cut referring to short ribs and more significantly a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue. You will find many locals having asado on the street of Argentina and Uruguay. It is at precisely that point, you will begin to kick yourself for not mingling enough with the locals.
Giving steaks a break, another typical meaty dishy is the lovely choripan. It took me a stupid 5 minutes to realise that the word choripan was a combination of the two words chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread).
So yes, it’s a hot dog – Argentinian style! They grill those juicy pork sausages, place them in bread, and drizzle them with chimichurri.
At the Feria de Mataderos, I also found a stall preparing fried empanadas and they were simply wonderful (the empanadas and the empanada makers). These pastries were of two different types: one filled with beef and potato and the other with ham and cheese.
And this is my sweet sister, who almost devoured the empanada before she allowed me a shot. Thankfully, I was quick enough.
I also tried seafood empanadas and I only found these at the San Telmo Market, in Buenos Aires. This is another place you definitely have to visit for its various bric-a-brac shops, antiques and food stalls.
And don’t forget to grab yourselves some wonderful dulce de leche ice cream, which comes in various varieties. For those who don’t know, dulce de leche is a staple in Argentina. With an appearance and flavour similar to caramel, you’ll find it in practically everything sweet, but mostly ice-cream, churros and alfajores – a soft, crumbly cookie popular in South America.